Tag Archive: video games


Tech Review

Nintendo DS is one of the most popular hand-held systems in Japan and with its popularity comes a variety of different games. With so many games, it’s impossible for all of them to make it into the United States. One game that never made it to U.S. shores is Itadaki Street, which literally translates to Top Street. Itadaki Street is a computer board game created by Square-Enix. The version I played specifically for this review was created for the Nintendo DS and featured a crossover of Super Mario and Dragon Quest characters.

A game of Itadaki Street plays out similarly to a game of Monopoly. Players start with 1,200 gold and travel around the game board purchasing properties. As properties are acquired the street (which is a collection of 4 color coded properties) goes up in value. That is where the similarities between Itadaki Street and Monopoly get a bit skewed. Since Itadaki Street is a digital board game the arrangement of the game board and number of streets are not always the same; there are however many squares that must be in each board. These squares are the bank, casino, inn, lucky square, and chance card squares.

The bank is comparable to the Go space on a Monopoly board; it’s the square where players start at the beginning of the game and it’s where the stock trade transactions take place. Players buy stocks to increase their overall net worth which is an important factor in winning a game of Itadaki Street. Stocks also give players a small cut of any transactions happening on the streets they have stocks in. The bank is also where players earn bonus money upon gaining a level which is achieved via the aforementioned chance card squares. Chance cards are a total of one-hundred different cards that have various effects on the game, such as decreasing a street’s stock value or stealing a property from another player. There are a total of five chance card squares on each board; one is a miscellaneous chance square represented by a question mark which allows the player to pick a chance card upon landing on it. The other four chance squares take their shapes from a deck of playing cards, and also allow a player to pick a chance card. However when a player passes one of the shaped squares that shape is added to their collection. Once all four shapes are collected players can go back to the bank and level up, which rewards them with a cash bonus similar to passing the Go space in Monopoly. The inn square causes players to fall asleep which takes rent cost down to zero for that player’s properties for one turn, the casino square pits players in a random game of chance for high profits, and the lucky square gives whatever player that lands on it a cut of all of their opponents monetary transactions.

Players can buy houses on their properties like in Monopoly; however a player doesn’t need to own every property of a particular street to buy one. All a player has to do is land on any property square they own and they can put money towards a house on one property of their choice. Just like Monopoly the more money you put towards the houses, the more it will cost players who land there. An interesting action players can perform is something I’ve come to call a hostile take-over; to perform this action players must land on a property square owned by an opposing player. After paying the rent players have the option of taking control of that property square but at a high cost. There are two ways to win a game of Itadaki Street, one way is to bankrupt all other players on the board, the other is reaching the board’s preset winning net worth total which varies based on which board is being played.

Graphically, Itadaki Street DS is a beautiful looking game based on Nintendo DS’s standards. The game has a great variety of characters that animate fluidly and there is a variety of stylized backgrounds for each game board. Itadaki Street’s audio leaves little to complain about with much of the game’s music paying homage to both intellectual properties. Fans of both Dragon Quest and Super Mario might be a bit disappointed to know however that they do not take control of any of the characters from either series. Instead, players must create a character that can be dressed in custom attire should they have the gold required.

There are many aspects of Itadaki Street I find enjoyable. First the stock market system, it adds a surprisingly fun twist to an otherwise straight forward system. It’s a good feeling knowing your stocks have paid off when you start getting huge cuts of each monetary transaction. Also being a huge fan of Super Mario, it’s nice to see my favorite characters along with hearing some nostalgic tunes from the series. Even though I can’t play as my favorite characters the game does throw me an olive branch by allowing me to buy items to customize my character. However there are some problems with Itadaki Street as well. Like Monopoly, although there are some strategies, most of the game is factored on lucky rolls. Players only roll one die and it’s not uncommon to have several turns without landing on a vacant property square which can be infuriating. Game times can take several hours forcing players to put in ample free time to complete one board. It’s also an extremely hard game; even the lower ranking opponents can be extremely ruthless.

Personally I like Itadaki Street but in the end it’s a very niche experience. This is game that is built for two types of enthusiast. In the one hand are the hard-core fans of either the Dragon Warrior or Super Mario series. In the other are the die-hard Monopoly fans who don’t mind the added complexity of a stock market and changing game boards. Anyone not in these two categories should steer clear of Itadaki Street DS because it’s not the game for you.

Front Cover

Front Cover

Back Cover

Back Cover

Advertisements

I’m writing this post from one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen in Japan, a place named ManBoo, a “manga kisa” or internet cafe. This place is basically like a high-tech Japanese youth hostile, for 15 dollars or 1480 yen a night you are given access to a private booth. This private booth contains a computer with all the essentials, a 21 inch HDTV, a safe to secure your money, a DVD player with remote control, a great pair of head phones, and access to whatever video game system the company decides to make available. The private booth isn’t the only thing you get for the price, users of the manga kisa are also given access to all the drinks and ice cream they can possibly stomach in the time provided. There is also hot food available but that does cost a bit extra, can’t have it all I guess. Oh and did I forget to mention the fact that the private booth comes with a beanbag chair and that the booth itself is a padded leather seat that’s comfortable enough to sleep on. Overall the manga kisas are an extremely comfortable places to stay at extremely affordable prices, eat your heart out youth hostiles.

We went to DNP (Dai Nippon Printing) on May 13th where we were witness to some of the most advanced holographic, 3-D, and touch sensing technologies in the world. The exhibition that caught my eyes more than any of the others was a machine currently in use in Louvre according to our guides. It was a table capable of sensing objects placed on it and using them to build a 3-D display on a monitor that can be viewed from all angles, it was pretty cool. The more I think about the exhibit the more I get excited about other possible uses for it. One example is with current generation video games. Customization is presently popular in mainstream video games today and I believe the scan table (as I shall call it) could be beneficial to the current trend. Artistic players could customize their characters outside of the game using the method of their choice and use color objects for artistic touches.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Otaku is the geek culture of Japan, its a world of people who obsess over things like anime and video games to the umpteenth degree. It’s a subculture that carries a bit of a negative image in the eyes of the Japanese mainstream culture. This negative image has lead to some tragic incidents like the Akihabara Massacre on June 8th 2008 where a man named Tomohiro Katō ran a truck through a crowd of otaku until it was inoperable. He then continued to attack people on foot with a dagger, in all ten people were injured and seven people died. Despite their negative image however the otaku culture has proved to be highly profitable to businesses that provide video games, manga, and anime to them, such as D3 Publishing. Personally I’m intrigued by the otaku sub-culture, being a bit of a geek myself it’s an interesting note that nerds/geeks aren’t just looked down upon in America. I just hope peoples’ misunderstanding of geeks doesn’t lead to an event similar to the Akihabara Massacre in the United States or anywhere for that matter.

Akihabara

It's a me chilling with Mario

Otaku is the geek culture of Japan, its world of people who obsess over things like anime and video games to the umpteenth degree. It’s a subculture that carries a bit of a negative image in the eyes of the Japanese mainstream culture. This negative image has lead to some tragic incidents like the Akihabara Massacre on June 8th 2008 where a man named Tomohiro Katō ran a truck through a crowd of otaku until it was inoperable. He then continued to attack people on foot with a dagger, in all ten people were injured and seven people died. Despite their negative image however the otaku culture has proved to be highly profitable to businesses that provide video games, manga, and anime to them, such a D3 Publishing. Personally I’m intrigued by the otaku sub-culture, being a bit of a geek myself it’s an interesting note that nerds/geeks aren’t just looked down upon in America. I just hope peoples’ misunderstanding of geeks doesn’t lead to an event similar to the Akihabara Massacre in the United States or anywhere for that matter.

Today we met with the vice president of D3 Publishing, a company involved in publishing manga, anime, and video games targeted towards the otaku (geek) crowd. One of their most recent games Dream C Club was published exclusively for the X-Box 360. The fact that D3 chose to support the X-Box 360 with its abysmal track record in Japan peaked my curiosity and I asked him why the 360 was a commercial failure in Japan. His first answer was because it’s not Sony or Nintendo something every outsider was thinking. All joking aside he informed me that one of the biggest weaknesses X-box 360 has going for it is the lack of brand saturation in the Japanese market. This is due to the laziness of Microsoft Japan and a lack luster or even non-existent marketing campaign. His answer was fascinating and a great lesson in the importance of a powerful advertising campaign and what it could do to help the X-Box 360’s success in Japan.

D-3 courtesy of Radin

Dream C Club D-3 photo courtesy of Radin