Posts tagged ‘import gaming’


In which I respond to aspersions cast by an internet necromancer

by wfgodbold

Nearly two years ago, I posted an overly long and verbose piece on why, despite my preference for region-free consoles and gaming, consumers don’t have the right to region-free games. This was mainly in response to Nintendo’s decision to region-lock the 3DS. Early this morning, through what I can only assume was the use of the necromantic arts, someone responded to that post. Because my response to that comment would have been far longer than a comment has any right to be, I chose to respond in a new post. Consider this a sequel to that original post.

In the two years since my original post, Nintendo launched the 3DS (region-locked), and then had to drop the price because it was too expensive and no one was buying it. I still have not bought one (the last Nintendo console I bought was the DS Lite–I haven’t bought a Wii and have no plans to buy a Wii U), though I have bought a PS3 and PS Vita in the meantime (both of which, you will notice, can at the very least play out-of-region physical games).

This, dear reader, is a little thing I like to call The Market.™

Sony has made choices with which I agree, and to support those choices, I am willing to pay for their consoles and games (and I have games for both systems from both the US and Japan).

Nintendo has continued to region-lock their consoles and games. The prices of those consoles and games have not dropped to the point where I would be willing to forego the ability to play games from all regions on one console, so I have not bought them (even though I would dearly love to play Tales of the Abyss with load times that aren’t measured in geologic time, and Project X Zone looks ridiculous enough to be awesome).

Sullivan, in his comment, says,

And Nintendo doesn’t owe you anything? You are a customer. Neither Nintendo nor their shareholders would make ANY money without the customers. They sure as hell owe you. And what you get for your money is that they patronize you and severely restrict your freedom. It is not okay. And telling people not to buy the system because of that is just stupid. It is not a solution. It was not the game developers’ choice to make games region locked.

In response, I would like to point out that Nintendo does not owe me anything.

I bought a DS Lite. Nintendo fulfilled its side of the bargain bye delivering what was promised–a region-free handheld gaming system. Since then, I have not been a Nintendo customer–I haven’t bought anything because I don’t want to pay them to restrict my gaming options. If you buy a 3DS/Wii/Wii U knowing that it’s region-locked, Nintendo still doesn’t owe you–you’re still getting exactly what you paid for.

I don’t owe support to game companies. Game companies don’t owe me good games, bad games, mediocre games, region-free games, or region-locked games. If a game company has a game I want to play, I buy it, and the relationship ends there.

Not buying the system because it’s region-locked is not only the solution, it’s the cheapest solution (it’s certainly cheaper than trying to get a big enough block of Nintendo stock to control the company’s decisions). If you’re not willing to give up the ability to play the games that come out despite the region-locking that Nintendo has foisted upon consumers, then you’ve made an economic decision that region-free gaming is not worth as much to you as it is to someone who chooses not to buy a Nintendo console because of the region-locking.

Nintendo is free to choose to region-lock their consoles and games. Sony is free to choose not to region-lock their consoles and games.

And the consumer is free to vote with his wallet and support whichever philosophy he agrees with, if he even cares. Sadly, I suspect most consumers don’t care about whether or not their consoles are region-locked.


One of these things is not like the others

by wfgodbold

One of these things is not the same.

I should point out that the region-free list* after the jump (since it’s a pretty long list) is not exhaustive.

The PS3 has been region-free since its launch six years ago (with one slight scare with Stranglehold before it was released without a region lock).

And yes, I am mocking ATLUS. Mercilessly**. They deserve it for reviving the (supposedly) dead spectre of region locks on PlayStation console games.

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More TGS: Tales of games and PS Vita news

by wfgodbold

Bamco announced two new games in their popular Tales of series at this years TGS, hot on the heels of the smash-hit Tales of Xillia’s release (in its first week, it became the best-selling Tales of game of all time with ~525,000 copies sold).

The first game is a PSP action game in the style of Dynasty Warriors, called Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave; from the trailer, it looks like you choose pairs of characters from various games and then rampage through hordes of enemies.

The second, Tales of Innocence R, is a reimagining of the original DS game; it’s scheduled for release next year on the PS Vita. I never played the original; I might give the remake a shot, though.

Coupled with the official news that the PS Vita will be region-free* (take that, Nintendo!), it’s looking more and more likely that I’ll get Sony’s new handheld system long before I get the 3DS.

*I should note that I’m not that surprised by this news (though I am glad it’s finally official); when Sony first announced the PS Vita (then merely known as the NGP) in January, I speculated that they would continue their region-free gaming trend. I’m pleased that they’ve continued down the path they started on with the PSP and PS3, and will let any region’s console play any region’s games.


Tales of Xillia impressions

by wfgodbold

I’ve finished the first part of the game (though I’ve no clue out of how many), and my party finally has all of the playable characters in it, so I thought I’d collect my thoughts.

First off, I got one of the first print copies; these included a Cless costume for Jude and a Stahn costume for Milla. My preorder was also early enough to get me a bonus cell phone strap dongle, which was Jude in the Cless costume (the other three possibilities were Milla in her Stahn costume, and both characters in their regular costumes).

When you start the game, you see a short anime intro for for Milla and then one for Jude; after those, you pick which you want to use as the main protagonist for this playthrough (when you get separated, your control reverts to that character, and you will miss out on various events that only happen to one or the other). I chose Jude, and after wandering around the medical school he’s a student at, I ran into Milla and followed her into the first dungeon.

Once you finish that dungeon, you’re done with the prologue, and the actual opening animation plays; depending on your chosen protagonist, you get either the Jude version or the Milla version.

The whole game looks gorgeous; Ufotable’s animation is excellent, and the in-engine graphics are extremely well-done. The environments are large and detailed.

The combat is a combination of Tales of Graces’s CC system (though in ToX, the points are called AC) and the more traditional Tales TP system; each attack, regardless of type, costs one AC to complete, and if it’s a special attack (an arte or a magic attack or whatever), it also costs TP. Regular melee attacks regen TP, and, depending on your skill selection, you can regen AC when you hit critically or dodge (you also regen full AC when you guard briefly, or after pausing in your attacks).

Instead of the overlimit gauge we’ve had in the past few games, system in ToX is conflated with what they call a Link Artes system; your character is joined to another in your party by an ephemeral blue line, and when the overlimit gauge has been filled 20% (and the icon is flashing), after an appropriate arte attack the two linked characters can combine their powers and do a linked attack (generally combining the attributes of the individual attacks). When the gauge is completely full, instead of just one linked attack, it’s possible to chain them; “chain chance” will flash on the screen just after the attack, and if you hit the button for a different arte (that has a link arte with the character you’re linked to), the pair will execute that linked arte without having to do the regular arte first. You can swap your linked partner on the fly with the D-pad, even during chains; if you time it right, you can get in four or five linked attacks before the gauge empties.

In addition to being able to change your linked partner during battle, you can also swap in characters who aren’t in the active party; by pushing R3 and the corresponding direction on the D-pad, one of your backup party members will take the place of an active one. This is a first for the Tales of series, I think.

The crafting system isn’t as extensive as it’s been in the past several games; it’s practically nonexistent, in fact. Instead of collecting raw materials and using those to upgrade various items, you use raw materials to upgrade shops, and those shops then sell new items (you can also spend money to upgrade the shops as well, but it’s a bit expensive; you get XP multipliers for shops, making it far easier to use items than gald).

So far, I’m very pleased with the game; it could be the best Tales of game yet!

The forums at NeoGAF have a long thread full of screenshots and gameplay information, if you’re interested.


Here’s hoping Sony takes this survey seriously

by wfgodbold

Because a UMD drive peripheral for the NGP PS Vita would be the best news regarding their new handheld console since we first heard it would be region free.

Ideally such a drive would let you copy the UMD to the PSV’s onboard storage, but even being required to play with a dongle of some sort would be better than all your PSP games only being playable on your PSP (aside from whatever PSN purchases you’ve made).

The PSV is perfectly capable of playing PSP games; Sony has already announced that it will be able to play games downloaded via the PSN; since not all games are available on the PSN, this would kill two birds with one stone: the PSV would be completely backwards compatible, and gamers wouldn’t have to rebuy any games they’d previously bought to play them on the PSV.


Nintendo falls from heaven…

by wfgodbold

Mainly because of extremely poor 3DS sales (though another large factor is the strong yen, especially relative to the dollar).

To try to move more units, they’re cutting the system’s price in Japan by ¥10,000 (to ¥15,000) and in the US by $80 (to $170). That’s closer to what I’m willing to pay, though I’d be far more amenable if it weren’t region locked.

The new lower price point should make it more competitive with Sony’s PS Vita when it launches this winter, since it will be priced at $250 (for the wifi model; 3G will run $299). In the meantime, though, Nintendo will have to hope that software sales make up for the loss they’re going to be eating with every 3DS sold. With a big enough increase in the user base, that should be possible.

And if you do buy a new, lower priced 3DS (starting August 12th), pay no attention to that burning sensation in your eyes. That’s entirely normal.


On playing video games in a foreign language

by wfgodbold

Some commenters on today’s Xenoblade letter-writing-campaign against Nintendo piece on Kotaku (wow, that’s a mouthful) suggest that the only way to be sure you’ll get to play the games you want is to import, and that people who are complaining should instead spend their time learning Japanese.

Other commenters point out that any Japanese you learn in a few months’ time isn’t going to let you fully understand the game, and so why bother? It’s better to lobby for the localization of the game, so that they don’t miss any of the plot!

I’m of two minds; on the one hand, I play games in Japanese all the time, and understand probably 80-90% of the text. On the other hand, I’ve spent a few years studying Japanese, including almost ten months in a homestay program in Japan. Not everyone has that kind of time to devote to learning a language just so that they can play video games that might or might not come out in English.

On the gripping hand, the argument that you have to be able to understand everything is flat out stupid; most of the actual important gameplay related instructions are going to be in normal Japanese, as are the various quests and such. If you can understand “Go to location X, kill monster Y, and bring me item Z,” then it doesn’t really matter what those MacGuffins are, just that you be able to recognize those names when they pop up again.

I first realized this several years back while playing through Xenosaga on the PS2 in Japanese; at first, I was struggling to pause and translate every bit of dialogue in the cutscenes. After a couple hours of this, though, it struck me: I was translating technobabble.

It wasn’t going to actually mean anything whether I glossed over it in Japanese or strung together a bunch of sciencey English words; it’s all made up as fancy window dressing. You run into the same effect in fantasy games; the magic sword of magic is just as magical if it’s powered by angels or faeries or song or whatever. The details are unimportant.

Aside from technobabble/magicbabble/mechababble, most of the dialogue in video games is going to be standard dialogue that you would go over in a language class; once you’ve learned the right verbs, following the plot becomes easy (unfortunately, my classes didn’t cover important vocab like fight, kill, attack, magic, and such; I had to pick it all up on my own).

While a basic understanding of the language is obviously necessary, you don’t have to be fluent to enjoy import gaming.

All you need is a console that can play import games (PS3, PSP, DS), and a willingness to take a bit longer on your playthrough than you might with a game in your native language.


Looks like I was half right.

by wfgodbold

NCSX has started taking preorders for the Tales of Xillia PS3 bundle, and it’s $599.90, just like I figured it would be.

The standalone game, though, is only $98.90. They didn’t mark it up much at all.

Play Asia has priced the Japanese release at $94.90, but since they ship from Hong Kong instead of NYC, the shipping makes up the price difference.

However, there is still hope; unlike NCSX, Play Asia has also listed the Asia release, and it’s priced as a much cheaper $69.90. If it’s like most other Asia releases, it will still be in Japanese, but there might be a card included with Chinese and English instructions.

Play Asia also has created a page for the PS3 bundle, a page for the Famitsu DX Pack, and a page for the Kyun Character Pack, but they haven’t opened preorders for those items yet. NCSX has yet to create pages for those, or indicate that they will be accepting preorders for them.

Because of the nature of those two deluxe bundles, I imagine that they will be more expensive than usual; any time a premium package is released through an exclusive retailer, it drives the import price for that release through the roof. Instead of being able to buy the game at cost (like NCSX and Play Asia did for the standard release; it’s priced at approximately the converted yen price), they have to import it at retail price and then mark it up to recover their investment.

I’ll probably end up buying the standard release from NCSX; they’ve been very helpful in the past, and they’re good about shipping promptly. Good customer service is important!


Mark your calendars and consider refinancing your mortgage…

by wfgodbold

Because September 8th is the official release date for Tales of Xillia (in Japan).

The game alone is priced at ¥8,379 (~$103 at current exchange rates); various special editions will set you back ¥12,980 (~$160), and the gorgeous special edition PS3 bundle will tip the scales at ¥37,980 (~$470). Going by past special editions, I imagine NCSX will markup the game to ~$120 or so, the special editions to ~$180, and the PS3 bundle to ~$600.

And yet, in spite of the exorbitant price, I still want the PS3 bundle.

I don’t have a problem; I can quit any time I want.

I just don’t want to quit.

As part of the festivities at the Tales of Festival 2011 (where this announcement took place), the first gameplay trailer for ToX was revealed:

Some people are rabid Final Fantasy fans; I’m more of a rabid Tales of fan, I guess.


For those of you who’ve been under a rock since the PSN went down last week

by wfgodbold

Your personal and credit card information could be at risk.

The official PlayStation Blog has the whole press release.

It’s because of incidences like this that I’ve not chosen to entrust Xbox Live and the PSN with my own credit card information; when I’ve bought DLC (or downloadable games), I’ve used PSN cards and Xbox Live point cards (if you’d rather buy content from the Japanese stores, NCSX and Play Asia can set you up (since inputting credit card information for each region requires a billing address in said region, cards are the only effective way to purchase out-of-region content)).

Of course, that’s kind of useless right now; with the PSN down, you can’t change your password, or personal info, or delete whatever credit cards you had linked with your account. So in the meantime, just watch your card history, and be prepared to cancel if some Russian guy buys a bunch of stuff.

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