Posts Tagged ‘Dragon Quest IX’

With Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, is a hit for the PSP at hand?

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Gamers at Yodobashi-Akiba playing their PSPs at a PlayStation Spot

Gamers at Yodobashi-Akiba playing their PSPs at a PlayStation Spot

Sony’s PlayStation 2 has had a remarkably long life for a home video game console. Released in 2000, it has sold over 140 million units. In Japan alone it has sold over 21 million units, and game developers continue to release new titles, even after Sony debuted its next-generation PlayStation 3 in 2006.

The times are changing, however, and handheld consoles are more and more often becoming the chosen platform for game developers.

Peace Walker: The newest game in the Metal Gear Solid franchise

Peace Walker: The newest game in the Metal Gear Solid franchise

By offering games that casual users are interested in, such as “brain training” games and cooking games, the Nintendo DS, released in 2004, has already surpassed the number of PS2 units sold within Japan for a total of 30 million consoles, or one for every four people in Japan. In turn the huge success of the console has attracted game developers who covet the large market.

The most surprising example of the change the DS has caused is Dragon Quest IX. The Dragon Quest series, which had been a home console staple for years, chose the Nintendo DS for its ninth installment, which was released last year to enormous sales.

The success of the DS has also made it difficult for other handhelds in the market; the PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sony’s handheld video game system, has sold half of the number of units the DS has. Possibly to help prop up the PSP in its battle against the Nintendo DS, Hideo Kojima, director of the incredibly popular Metal Gear Solid video game franchise, opted to release Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, due out in Japan on April 29, on the PSP rather than the PS3.

Kojima is a big proponent of handhelds, making it clear that he treated Peace Walker like a true game in the series, on the same level as a Metal Gear Solid 5 rather than as just a side story. Recently he stated that he believes the death knell for home consoles has sounded: “Gamers should be able to take the experience with them in their living rooms, on the go, when they travel – wherever they are and whenever they want to play. It should be the same software and the same experience.”

Kojima’s scouts must have been monitoring the action around Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara, a mecca for portable gamers. The front of the store is often the gathering place for groups of gamers who take advantage of the multiplayer functions of handhelds. Inside, there are PlayStation Spots where PSP users can connect and download demos. The release of Dragon Quest IX prompted huge crowds all searching for in-game items that required wireless interaction with other players. Peace Walker might be the next title to try and emulate the phenomenon.

Last Wednesday Konami held a media presentation that revealed the tie-in products for Peace Walker. In addition to Doritos, Axe, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and the Sony Walkman, Peace Walker will feature other video games. Video game magazine Famitsu leaked details of a tie-in with Capcom’s Monster Hunter series, and Konami confirmed this at the presentation. The lead character, Snake, will be able to hunt dinosaurs and roast meat as in the Monster Hunter series. There are also collaborations with Square Enix’s Front Mission Evolved and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. While the Assassin’s Creed tie-in is just a small part of the game, the combination with Monster Hunter, another popular game for the PSP with ad hoc multiplayer features, and Front Mission Evolved seem to imply that there will be a large multiplayer aspect to the game. Uniqlo/UT has also been recruited by Konami. They will release Peace Walker-themed T-shirts that players can load into the game. By entering a number from the barcode on the tag into the game, players will be able to have their characters wear a digital version of the T-shirt they just purchased.

Konami already has the next Metal Gear home console title in development (the title is Metal Gear Solid: Rising), and surely it will be a success, as most of the games in the franchise have been over the past decade, but unless gamers decide to start schlepping their PlayStation 3 systems out and about in Tokyo, it has no chance of becoming an ad hoc wireless phenomenon. With the help of dinosaurs, assassins and Uniqlo, Peace Walker still may.

Havens abound for mobile video-gamers

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

COURTESY OF ARMOR PROJECT/BIRD STUDIO/LEVEL-5/ SQUARE ENIX

A scene from Dragon Quest IX (Armort Project/Bird Studio/Level-5/Square Enix)

Nintendo’s DS sales got a boost in July with the release of Dragon Quest IX, with sales of the handheld device more than doubling the week of the release. If you’re not yet convinced that you want to buy the game but have a DS, a trial version is available to play for free at selected McDonald’s stores.

Though the restaurant chain already provides free access for gamers who want to play online while munching on a burger, Portable Game Cafe, which  opened a new branch in Ikebukuro in July, in addition to their existing Akihabara store, might have a slight edge on McD’s:  It’s not free, but for only ¥300 for 30 minutes you enjoy, comfy sofas (napping is allowed), access to comic books and, of course, wireless Internet access. There are unlimited soft drinks available, but if you want to work up more than a sugar buzz, customers are allowed to bring their own booze.

Similar deals can be found at a number of new portable game cafes that have begun to spring up, like at Game Space Kawasaki.

PSP players will want to go to the portable game cafes because McDonald’s doesn’t provide access for users of this handheld. Moreover, if you want real face-time with the gamers you’re playing, be they friends or strangers, the cafes are the place to be.

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