Back in 2009 at the Tokyo Game show, Keiji Inafune, creator of Mega Man, Onimusha, and Dead Rising said the following: "Man, Japan is over. We're done. Our game industry is finished."
But as this E3 is quick to show, this is hardly the case. Perhaps Inafune’s comment ended up being a wake-up call—a game changer, if you will—for those in the industry. Because between third-party titles on the PlayStations 3 and 4, and the Nintendo first-party titles on the Wii-U and 3DS, the future is looking awesome as far as Japanese games are concerned.
So let’s take a look at some of the biggest Japanese companies and which are kicking ass at E3 this year.
The Japanese studios at Square Enix had a lot to show off at E3 this year: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD ports, and Bloodmasque—an iOS game starring you. But easily the most buzz was caused by the rebranding of Final Fantasy Versus XIII as Final Fantasy XV, and the good chunk of gameplay released to tweak our interest bigtime. After seven years of speculation, who knows if it can live up to the hype. However, if the gameplay trailers are to be believed, it does look spectacular.
Oh, and they also formally announced a little game no one’s ever heard of called Kingdom Hearts III. So that’s a thing too, I guess.
So far, the biggest problem with the Wii U has been its less-than-stellar library. Luckily, Nintendo has stepped up its game with a score of first-party titles. A new Donkey Kong Country and Smash Bros. are in the pipeline, along with a new Pikmin and Mario Kart.
But to me, the game that really stands out is Super Mario 3D World, a four player co-op game crossing last year’s Super Mario 3D Land with my personal favorite in the series: NES classic Super Mario Bros. 2.
Add in the 3DS sequel to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Nintendo is looking to have an excellent upcoming year.
While it took a major fan outcry to get a release, Xenoblade proved to be one of the most acclaimed JRPGs of the past console generation. Now, the same team is working on a new game—only known at this point under the codename X. The new trailer showcases an open world design similar to Xenoblade’s. It also has flying, transformable mecha, making it look exciting to fans of both Xenoblade and the PS1 classic Xenogears.
Platinum Games has been doing fairly well this year with the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. But now they’re going back to one of the games that put them on the map with Bayonetta 2. The first game was filled with over-the-top action and excellent tongue-in-check humor and the newest iteration looks to be more of the same—which is totally a good thing. It also looks to be one of the Wii U’s most promising exclusive third-party titles.
While we’ll probably never get Ace Attorney Investigations 2, at least we’ll be getting Ace Attorney: Duel Destinies, the fifth game in the core series. And if you want more of the comedy and over-the-top drama the series is known for, it certainly looks to deliver.
Bandai Namco is bringing a ton of great games out of Japan this year, including the Tales 25th Anniversary game Tales of Xillia and the Sega/Namco/Capcom crossover TRPG Project X Zone. And if you love One Piece and need a bit more Dynasty Warriors action in your life, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 at E3, too.
After the acclaim and popularity of soul crushingly difficult games Demon Souls and Dark Souls, there was never much question that we’d be getting Dark Souls 2 before too long. At E3 we got to see it in action and it is shaping up to be exactly what fans of the series are looking forward to.
Konami is pulling out the big guns with all the attention they’ve been giving Metal Gear Solid V at E3 and the weeks leading up to it. Awaiting us is a new Snake voice and as the gameplay footage showcased brilliantly, a much more open world than we’ve seen in a Metal Gear before—not to mention classy good looks courtesy of the new Fox engine.
Square Enix isn’t the only company bringing a big name RPG to the West. Atlus will be releasing Shin Megami Tensei IV in just a matter of weeks. We’ve looked at it more than a little here at Kotaku over the past few weeks (as it is already out in Japan), and it is safe to say it’s both an incredibly difficult JRPG and an engaging one as well.
So there you have it, a taste of the Japanese games hitting the West this year. And best of all, this is hardly all of them. So the next time someone says “Japanese gaming is dead,” you know what to tell them.
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