Saturday, October 19, 2013

Import Impossible - The Language Barrier Wins...

I've developed a basic system to writing about imports exclusive to a language I don't understand: if I can play it despite the language, write about it. If I can't, then don't.
That said, it's important to note which games hold firm roots in language-required structures or not, particularly because there's nothing that separates those that do and don't as being desirable. While I've neglected to write about these titles (because I have nothing to say), I'm going to compile a brief list here just to give the basic low-down on those that defeated me.
*Note: I've been learning Japanese on-my-own for about a year collectively (meaning much longer, but that I'm terrible about sticking with it), with breaks between and long gaps of not knowing where or how to continue learning. I wouldn't put my understanding of Japanese even at an Elementary level, and so if you think you're somewhere around an Intermediate range these games might just be more accessible for you. Then again, maybe not.*

7th Dragon 2020-II
This one might seem pretty obvious, seeing as the 7th Dragon series is a hardcore "Job-Class" JRPG. No less, like the rest of the games in this list, despite 7th Dragon 2020-II being, indeed, a hardcore JRPG exclusive to the Japanese language--- I mean, it looks like a downright bad-ass hardcore JRPG exclusive to the Japanese language, and I just had to give it a whirl.
If you're wondering why I chose the sequel to 7th Dragon 2020 instead of the original--- it's because it was cheaper.
Job-Class, 1st-Person JRPG that it is, I was actually able to get into the "swing" of things relatively easy. While I could not comprehend the long-term positives/negatives of the several class types, for the most part I was able to recognize swiftly what it was that separated my Samurai, Destroyer, and Trickster apart from one another, and had no issue discovering what special abilities did overall.
No; the issue with 7th Dragon is one that is the constant complaint throughout this list; a dialogue-based revealing of where you need to go, or maybe how you need to go there, or with what you need to go there with; something that is strictly impossible to understand unless you can read the language. Within the first 2 hours I hit a point in 2020-II that had me doing circles around the relatively large home-base (with lengthy load-times between each floor also, mind you) before finally talking to the right person. For this I was rewarded with an equally uncertain person or place to go and so spent another hour just trying to do that.
Eventually I got to play an entire dungeon, and even fight one of the dragons one would expect from a title called 7th Dragon--- but, the moment I was done and back at home-base, I was again told to go somewhere and just never could find out where that was.
I don't know if it's import-impossible, but this game is an absolute chore if you don't understand Japanese.

Grand Knights History
Borderline have nothing to write about Grand Knights History other than that within the first hour I was totally lost as to where to go or what to do. Combat was typical turn-based goodness, loaded with that Vanillaware animation charm, but without having any direction what-so-ever I was truly up against a wall almost immediately.
I later learned that a large portion of what made this game so great was playing it online. Exactly what you did online I don't know, although it has recently been revealed that the servers for GKH are coming to an end. So while I never have the online-portion a chance, at this point it doesn't matter; personally, I could not get anywhere in the single-player portion, and as there will soon no longer be an online mode, I'd say this game is downright strictly impossible for the non-Japanese-understanding.

Akiba Strip

Akiba Strip was probably the biggest bummer for me. Right away the game is loaded with lengthy dialogues and all sorts of "exclaimed" and "tell me more" expressions. Afterwards I was finally allowed to do a little bit of running around Akihabara, aggressively stripping school-girls and armed policemen alike, but it was unfortunately a bit shallow. I wanted to progress; I wanted to strip the important, more materialized characters (you understand, yes?) that would naturally come with the main-plot.
And that's where it slammed me right to the friggin' ground. Finding the location of the first key-point was a challenge in itself (nothing on the map; no "where to go" hints), but afterwards I was totally, completely lost about what to do. I talked to everyone in the city, went in every store--- but nothing.
Actually, about three months ago, I was able to find out what to do next by using Yahoo Answers. Turns out you had to wear a friggin' bear costume and then talk to a certain somebody--- this, quite simply, was something I would never have understood to do, and from what I understand the rest of the game is loaded with quirky and bizarre situations just like this.

Senritsu no Stratus
Again, this was another title that stumped me due to "place of interest" being inserted somewhere or another in the dialogue between important characters. Honestly though, I didn't give this game anywhere near as much a chance as I did 7th Dragon 2020-II, because by the time I got around to playing this I was getting rather fed up of my persistence on buying RPG's in a language I didn't understand.
I had fun with what I was able to play with Senritsu no Stratus; it's an action RPG that runs on a 2.5d plane akin to most brawlers. While the backgrounds are somewhat bland there was a good assortment of color and activity with the individual models themselves, and special attacks, which incite an on-screen anime face-portrait, were pretty exciting to witness also. For the PSP, this is one of those rare action RPG's that are a genuine product--- but, again, it is an RPG, and one that expects you to understand the language as the overall theme and progression is decidedly mature and sophisticated.
It might be okay to import, but again; you are 100% going to end up lost at some point, aimlessly going places and talking to NPC's--- it's just not worth it, because any game that is designed in such a way is probably focused on telling a quality story alongside the gameplay. Missing so crucial an element in a title such as this turns the gameplay experience, however fun, unfortunately shallow.

Conception: Ore no Kodomo o Unde Kure!!
Simply by looking at the cover of this game there is a readily apparent reality that this is based heavily off of characters. As the main character is a young man, and all of the side-characters are girls, and that the game is titled Conception, I think it's obvious that this game is, indeed, a dating sim (of sorts) wrapped around a highly unique JRPG system. For anyone who has not seen a dating-sim in action, it goes like this:
Dialogue-Dialogue-Dialogue-Make Dialogue Decision-Much, much, much more dialogue.
This might seem like an obvious "No-No" for any non-Japanese-understanding gamers mildly intelligent, but unfortunately I am not quite that. Rather, I was really impressed by the combat of Conception, which has you going into this alternate world with your theoretical children from the girls you've dated/slept with, and battling monsters inside of a 4-sided circle, where you can warp around and flank/surprise enemies with your plentiful gang of children. It reminded me a lot of The Last Remnant, a flawed game that I was still crazily impressed by, and so I allowed that totally unreasonable similarity blind me into buying this.
But, to be totally honest, I barely even played Conception before selling it. For those interested in the combat there is a demo available, and from it you can take a guess as to whether or not you "get" it. By using a dictionary I was able to grasp the tutorial's key-components, but what really put this game off for me is exactly what I said in the first paragraph; the game is all about maintaining and establishing relationships with girls of the several zodiac signs, and while there is the possibility of doing this correctly by simple trial-and-error--- I mean, it just wasn't "fun" for me. I have no idea if the story is enthralling or not, but I certainly wanted to experience it rather than just guess.
Conception is equally based off of dialogue-immersion as it is gameplay, I suppose. If you don't know Japanese, than you're going to be missing out on 80% of the game. Even though it might be playable without knowing Japanese, I just don't believe it's worth it.

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