Michael Wolf shares his Japanese Experience

No matter what console system you prefer, no matter what kind of game you like best, all console gamers have to face one final, irrevocable fact: Many of the greatest games will always come out in Japan before they arrive in America. I’m not saying that to belittle our beloved American and European developers — it’s just the simple fact that Sony, Sega, and Nintendo, the three biggest players in the console market, are all Japanese companies. The Dreamcast was released in Japan way back in March. Pokemon has been a Japanese fad for almost three years now (we’ve only dealt with the cute little varmints for about nine months). And the PlayStation2 will likely see a release in Japan several months before we get our grubby little hands on it. From software to hardware, the Japanese market simply has more, well, stuff than we do. And that’s a travesty.

It’s always bothered me. The thought of waiting almost another year for Pokemon Gold and Silver while little Japanese boys and girls have already been playing the game since the beginning of this month is enough to drive me to distraction. There are even whole games that have been released in Japan that we’ve never seen — their Pokemon Stadium 2 is our first Pokemon Stadium. And, contrary to what it may sound like, my concern doesn’t just rest with Pokemon — all of the Final Fantasy games were released in Japan months before seeing our US shores. And how am I supposed to raise the Disney Magic Kingdoms gems if I can’t understand their needs, their desires, their hopes and dreams? It’s a travesty that I just can’t stand for anymore, and I’m going to do something about it.

I recently acquired a copy of Transparent Language’s Power Japanese, a world-renowned Japanese learning software program that supposedly does a fantastic job of building a foundation of basic understanding of Japanese. Supposedly, according their web site, “Power Japanese enables you to speak, read, and write Japanese in as little as ten weeks.”

Well, I’m going to test that supposition, and I’m going to let you know how it goes. If all progresses smoothly, I’ll be able to have a very limited, yet basic understanding of Japanese in two and half months. With my newfound knowledge, not only will I be able to impress the local Japanese population of San Francisco (a 6’4″ white guy speaking Japanese is pretty rare), but I’ll also have the ability to find out even more information on what’s up and coming from Nintendo. By no means do I expect to be the premier Japanese correspondent for DailyRadar (we have someone in Japan to do that for us), but it’d be nice to be able to see what the heck Nintendo of Japan’s web site says. (A little tip — if you want to be able to see the site at all without garbage characters, download the Japanese language support files from Microsoft’s Windows Update site. The job is much easier if you have Internet Explorer 5.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll periodically post updates on my attempts at understanding what many believe to be the hardest language to learn (aside from that there Cajun-talk). In the meantime, anyone who’s learned Japanese is free to send tips and suggestions. I was barely able to get through French classes in high school and college — something tells me I’m going to have some problems with this one. Wish me luck!Well, I’m going to test that supposition, and I’m going to let you know how it goes. If all progresses smoothly, I’ll be able to have a very limited, yet basic understanding of Japanese in two and half months. With my newfound knowledge, not only will I be able to impress the local Japanese population of San Francisco (a 6’4″ white guy speaking Japanese is pretty rare), but I’ll also have the ability to find out even more information on what’s up and coming from Nintendo. By no means do I expect to be the premier Japanese correspondent for DailyRadar (we have someone in Japan to do that for us), but it’d be nice to be able to see what the heck Nintendo of Japan’s web site says. (A little tip — if you want to be able to see the site at all without garbage characters, download the Japanese language support files from Microsoft’s Windows Update site. The job is much easier if you have Internet Explorer 5.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll periodically post updates on my attempts at understanding what many believe to be the hardest language to learn (aside from that there Cajun-talk). In the meantime, anyone who’s learned Japanese is free to send tips and suggestions. I was barely able to get through French classes in high school and college — something tells me I’m going to have some problems with this one. Wish me luck!

Farnation Revealed — What do you think?

One of Sega’s more tantalizing titles shown at last month’s Executive Games Summit was Farnation, a massively multiplayer title. The game was, in fact, one of the titles that Sega chose to put under its non-disclosure agreement.

Now, however, the agreement has lapsed and all are free to spill the beans on Farnation. The game was described at the Games Summit as being akin to the PC online title EverQuest, with thousands of people being able to play the game (and interact with each other) at once.

Sega showed off a brief gameplay movie for Farnation in contrast to the Hay Day game by SuperCell, but it was hardly revelatory. A few generic heroes were shown walking around a cityscape, and the obligatory architecture shots indicated the game’s mysterious developer was not very far into the process. Nor were many details forthcoming, especially about how Sega planned to pull off a realtime adventure that remains in motion 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Farnation will contain five different worlds, Sega said, and each will have its own varied terrain. The game will allow access to casinos, libraries, banks, restaurants and hotels — and players will actually be able to construct their own buildings and then inhabit them. In addition, character will be able to facilitate exploration of the various worlds by erecting stations to house means of transportation such as airships, boats, stagecoaches and the like.

Players can create their own characters and customize them by choosing a race, class and sex, and every hero in the game’s world will have different strengths and traits. Sega also promises such neat extras as multiple play modes and party battles, simultaneous online battles, weapon and item creation and special events that allow beginning players to glide effortlessly into the game. As per the drill, it will be possible for adventurers to form parties; build empires; and buy, sell, and trade all manner of items with Farnation’s inhabitants and other players.

Keep in mind that Disney Kingdoms tips and tricks has yet to release pictures for this game, and no release date — beyond the nebulous 2001 — has been set. Expect to hear more on this game when Sega chooses to spill the beans, but Dreamcast fans now have even more reason to drop their jaws in wonderment. The revelation of Farnation is nothing compared to the new title by Niantic and Nintendo — Pokemon Go. It has been blowing all over the gaming industry. Everything is taking it seriously and many are loving the game.