Hello again, Japanese gaming fans, and welcome to USgamer's regular exploration of all things Japan and Japan-influenced.
First up today, PC gamers who are fans of some of Japan's more unusual, divisive games will have probably noticed that Hidetaka "Swery65's" Suehiro's cult hit Deadly Premonition is now available for PC in its Director's Cut format.
The Director's Cut edition of the game is the same as the PS3 version that was released earlier this year; it includes additional content, along with improved visuals, reworked controls and other little tweaks here and there. Theoretically, the PC version should have been the definitive version of the game, but -- yes, of course, there's a "but" -- things haven't gone quite according to plan. So much so, in fact, that Swery himself apologized to fans on Twitter.
The game is perfectly playable, mind -- and apparently runs at a lovely frame rate -- but, much like the PC port of Dark Souls from a while back, is locked at 720p resolution, with no graphical options to speak of. While this means that the visuals of the PC version are essentially identical to the console versions -- not to mention the fact that Deadly Premonition wasn't a particularly pretty game in the first place -- it hasn't gone down all that well with PC gamers who enjoy making their games look noticeably better than their console counterparts. And then there's the baffling fact that there's game's controller support is somewhat questionable -- odd, given its console heritage.
The situation resembles Dark Souls in more ways than one, in fact; NeoGAF user Durante, creator of the widely-used "DSfix" patch, has already released a quick-and-dirty mod for the game that enables you to set display and rendering resolutions, albeit with a few glitches here and there. True to form, Durante's patch was up within a matter of hours of the game's release, and will be expanded on over time -- hopefully with controller support as well as the graphical improvements -- and apparently has the support of publisher Rising Star Games.
Deadly Premonition isn't the only recent console-to-PC port based on a Japanese property to suffer from substandard visuals, however; the recently-released The Typing of the Dead Overkill from Sega -- which also includes the entirety of The House of the Dead Overkill -- likewise suffers from an internal framebuffer limited to 720p, regardless of your screen's resolution. NeoGAF has requested that Durante work his magic on The Typing of the Dead, but Durante is holding off for now -- firstly to get Deadly Premonition into a presentable state, and secondly to see if UK-based developer Modern Dream is going to fix it itself, since it already has plans for updates with online multiplayer and other improvements.
What's strange about all these shoddy console-to-PC ports is that contrary to what instances like the aforementioned may suggest, many Japanese developers display a considerable amount of mastery of PC hardware and how to make games look good on a wide array of systems. Sure, there are still some developers resolutely developing for 4:3 displays and sub-HD resolutions, but there are also doujin cirlces like Edelweiss putting out games like Fairy Bloom Freesia and Ether Vapor Remaster, both of which happily run at 60 frames per second in 1080p. These are, of course, games that were specifically designed for PC rather than ported from console, but they prove there are Japanese developers out there who are capable of producing high-quality PC titles -- why not get them involved in console ports?
What has most likely happened in each of these cases is that console games have been ported across as directly and quickly as possible without making significant changes to the code -- console games don't generally have resolution options and detail settings -- so consequently the PC versions end up devoid of these expected features. The exact reasons for this happening are anyone's guess, but some developers are learning quicker than others that a lot of PC players are dissatisfied with it -- Sega, for instance, consistently puts out substandard ports, while Namco Bandai and From Software have made a point of emphasizing that the upcoming PC version of Dark Souls II has been developed alongside the console versions and should hopefully provide a far superior experience to its predecessor.
Ultimately it's worth noting that even with the shoddiest port, you're usually not getting an experience that's any worse than what console players had to contend with -- many PC gamers just feel it would be nice if the ports to their platform of choice justified the money they spend on fancy-pants graphics cards and speedy processors!
New Ys and Legend of Heroes Games On the Way
Ys: Memories of Celceta is on the way to the West courtesy of Xseed Games, but what's next for the series and its stablemate at Falcom, Legend of Heroes?
Speaking with Sony's Play Community website, as reported by Siliconera, Falcom's president Toshihiro Kondo noted that his team wanted to "keep spreading the 'Ys-ism' that our staff members have created," and that the next game, whatever it is, will definitely "introduce new elements to the series" to take advantage of "new hardware and network structure."
As for Legend of Heroes, Kondo was a little more coy, but did note that the Trails sub-series would be 10 years old next year, and the Trails team is "continuously working hard to start a new project with an eye on the anniversary as an objective."
Solve a Mystery with Nicole
Fans of dating sims and visual novels may want to check out the new release from Western indie developer Winter Wolves Games. Nicole describes itself as an otome (heterosexual female player character) life/dating sim game, and revolves around the life of the titular heroine as she starts her life at college.
All is not well at her college, however; three girls have gone missing on campus, and Nicole could be next. It's up to you to figure out what's going on -- or alternatively ignore it completely and see if you can get together with one of the game's dateable heroes.
Like many of Winter Wolves' previous games, Nicole blends visual novel-style storytelling with RPG/dating sim stat building, and requires you to carefully schedule your time in order to make money, build up your skills and meet the cast of characters. It features Japanese anime-style art and a creepy story "without unnecessary graphic violence or blood," according to the creators.
Nicole is out now for PC, Mac and Linux, and costs $20.
Trapformer "Eryi's Action" Greenlit
Trapformers -- i.e. platform games that are deliberately unfair and punishing -- are something of an acquired taste, but they're always good for practical jokes at the expense of your friends if nothing else. Plus if you actually beat one, you can legitimately brag about your mad gaming skills.
Eryi's Action is a trapformer from Japanese doujin circle Xtal Sword (pronounced "Crystal Sword") and localization specialists Nyu Media, whom we shone the spotlight on a few weeks back. As part of today's new batch of Greenlit games, Eryi's Action has won itself a place on Steam. Those who have already purchased the game from elsewhere will get a Steam code as soon as it becomes available on Valve's platform.
I can only imagine what comments on the game's Community Hub page from those who didn't read the description are going to say. It's not going to be pretty.
HuniePop Enters Final Hours on Kickstarter
Finally, dating sim fans will be pleased to note that HuniePop, the Western-developed, Japanese-style "dating puzzle RPG" from former Insomniac developer Ryan Koons has successfully met its Kickstarter funding target. At the time of writing, the project has less than 50 hours to go, and is closing in on $40,000 -- double its funding goal of $20,000.
The success of the campaign means that several of its stretch goals have been met, including limited voice acting, the ability to date the "magic love fairy" character Kyu and additional date locations. If it reaches $40,000 -- which is certainly within reach -- there'll be a "bedroom minigame" added to the mix, and in the admittedly unlikely event it scores a total of $60,000, it'll have full voice acting.
Aside from the official stretch goals, Koons has also pledged to add a yuri (girl x girl) mode to the game as well as the originally planned "boy x girl" gameplay. Exactly what changes playing in yuri mode will make will depend on how successful the Kickstarter as a whole is, but at the very least it will alter the dialog and adjust how the dateable girls in the game express their sexual preferences.
Koons is a strong believer in the dating sim genre and believes that it is greatly underrepresented in both the Western market and the indie scene. "Personally, I believe dating sims can stand among the most beloved game genres out there today with the right level of passion and care," he says on the project's Kickstarter page.
You can find out more about HuniePop -- and pledge your support if it sounds like your kind of thing -- on the official Kickstarter page.
That's your lot for this week, then. As always, your thoughts and discussion are very welcome in the comments and notes, so feel free to share your thoughts on anything we've talked about this week. For now, though, I'm off, and we'll be back at the same time next week. Mata ne!