14 Japan-Published Games to Look Forward to in 2014 - Article

By Karl Koebke, January 14, 2014
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2013 is behind us and it's the perfect time to look ahead to the 2014's expected games. But rather than listing the biggest most hyped games of 2014, which I'm sure most of our readers already know about, I prefer to take a look at the smaller games that some of you may not have heard about yet, particularly those coming from Japan. So, without further ado, here's my list of 14 Japan Published Titles to Look Forward to in 2014.

Please note that all release dates specified are for the North American region. A number of these games are not announced for NA release yet and so may not hit stores in 2014.

 

Bravely Default

(3DS - Feb. 7th 2014)
Publisher: Square Enix

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Here in North America we're pretty used to being second banana to Japan when it comes to these types of games, but it's not often we're third banana to both Japan and Europe, and on a region-locked platform no less. Bravely Default is being lauded as one of the best Final Fantasy titles ever made in everything but name, and I'm chomping at the bit to try it out for myself come Feb 7th.

 

 

DanganRonpa

(PSV - Feb. 11th 2014)
Publisher: NIS America

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It's been more than three years since its original PSP release but the PSV version of this insane court room thriller is about to come to America. The best students in Japan have all been trapped in a school where the only way out is to commit murder without getting caught. Combining the unsettling atmosphere of a game like 999 with the evidence gathering and courtroom gameplay of a Pheonix Wright title, this is one game that should not be missed. Just do your best to keep yourself from spoilers for just another month. I promise it'll be worth it.

 

 

Atelier Escha and Logy

(PS3 - March 11th 2014)
Publisher: Tecmo Koei

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If you've ever read one of these lists of mine before you'll know that Atelier is one of my favorite RPG franchises of the seventh generation of consoles and Atelier Escha and Logy looks to continue that love. For the first time the series will not only have two main characters but purports to have two vastly different campaigns depending on which character you choose. You can choose Escha for the Atelier crafting and gathering focused gameplay that fans know and love or Logy for a more classic JRPG focused on exploration. I'm really curious to see just how different these two campaigns really are and whether or not this title deserves to be the highest reviewed game of the series (at least in Japan). We'll find out come March 2014.

 

 

 

Demon Gaze

(PSV - Early 2014)
Publisher: NIS America

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Demon Gaze is a dungeon crawler in where you divide your time between defeating enemies in the dungeon's depths and hanging out in the local inn where you build relationships with the NPCs. Other interesting features are the ability to summon demons that you defeat in battle, many of which are half machine and have the ability to transform and go on a rampage. So basically it's a cross between a Persona title and Transformers, but really not at all. Regardless, it sounds interesting and I'm curious to give it a shot when it comes to North America in early 2014.

 

 

Deception IV: Blood Ties

(PSV & PS3 - 2014)
Publisher: Tecmo Keoi

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The Deception series is a Strategy RPG series focused on laying traps over direct combat. Deception IV has you controlling the daughter of a demon as you attempt to kill the descendants of the 12 saints that sealed him 3000 years ago. I'm always interested to try something different and a trap-based SRPG in which you play an apparent villain is certainly outside of the norm. Hopefully Tecmo Koei's effort in bringing back this unique series from the grave after almost a decade is rewarded accordingly.

 

 

Drakengard 3

(PS3 - 2014)
Publisher: Square Enix

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One of my favorite aspects of Japan developed titles is that they often feature concepts that are usually only seen in Indie titles here in the West. The Drakengard series is a perfect example of this. An Action RPG in which you play an all powerful Intoner named Zero who is inexplicably on a mission to kill her five sisters. Of course Zero can't go anywhere without her five apostles, otherwise who would she have to satisfy her sexual needs? If only the apostle-mentor relationships I heard about in church were this interesting maybe I'd still be going. Here's to sororicidal goddesses and their gigolo apostles!

 

 

Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney

(3DS - 2014)
Publisher: Nintendo

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Two of the puzzle and adventure genres' most famous and well-loved characters are together at last in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. I'm always interested in trying cross over games to see how two previously established worlds can be brought together, and this one is particularly intriguing because the gameplay systems of the two franchises are so vastly different. Adventure sections give you that classic Professor Layton puzzle solving gameplay while Witch Trials give Pheonix Wright a chance to show off his debating skills. When you think about it this could really be a match made in heaven, and North American 3DS owners will finally get a chance to try it out for themselves sometime in 2014.

 

 

Tales of Xillia 2

(PS3 - 2014)
Publisher: Namco Bandai

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It's difficult to say why I'm looking forward to Tales of Xillia 2 as much as I am without spoiling the plot of the first game. Let's just say that Tales of Xillia's plot got pretty interesting right near the end and I'm excited to play a game that continues in that world. Not to mention Tales games can always be counted on for fun gameplay and I'm just happy to see some consistency in their localization. Here's to more Action RPG goodness in 2014.



X

(Wii U - 2014)
Publisher: Nintendo

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This may seem like a surprise considering how long it took for Xenoblade to make it to the States, but I'm hopeful that fan appreciation for the franchise has shown through and Nintendo will take the localization for X more seriously than they did Monolith's previous title. The fact that they showed it off at E3 this last year insinuates they're thinking about it and they even gave it a release window for 2014, though I'm not entirely convinced they'll meet that. Not a lot is known about X other than that it has giant sprawling fields to explore with dinosaurs and robots, but this is a game made by the creators of one of the best JRPGs of the previous generation so how can you not get hyped?

 


Ar no Surge

(PS3 - Not Yet Announced for localization)
Publisher: Tecmo Koei

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Ar Tonelico 3 was a disappointment I have to admit, but I still look back to the second game as a great - if poorly localized - title, and knowing that the series was cutting off at the third left me pretty sad. Thankfully, along came Ar no Surge to fill the hole in my heart. Ar no Surge is technically a continuation of the universe from the Surge Concerto: Ciel Nosurge life simulation game, but stop me if you hear anything familiar, Ar Tonelico fans:

Humankind has been defeated by a mysterious new lifeform that uses song magic, but eventually humans gain it for themselves. Battles consist of a heroine attempting to cast song magic while other characters protect them from the front lines. That's right, add in some sexual innuendo and whispery “Ar Tonelico” music and this is Ar Tonelico all day. It's not announced for NA release yet but with Atelier Escha releasing in March there's a long dead time where I think Ar no Surge will come in at some point. Here's hoping it follows the example of Ar Tonelico 2 more so than Ar Tonelico 3.

 


Freedom Wars

(PSV - Not Yet announced for Localization)
Publisher: Sony

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Another year and another attempt by Sony to get some of that sweet, sweet Monster Hunter hype over in Japan. Monster Hunter-like games have had mixed results in the past with things like God Eater being highly regarded while Soul Sacrifice was found wanting. Regardless of how the gameplay matches up to the original I have to admit I always appreciate the new backstory concepts. Freedom Wars exists in a world where overpopulation has forced the government to take drastic measures, forcing anyone accused of even the smallest misdemeanor to fight giant monsters as punishment in hopes they can eventually be driven back and humans can take the surface back once again. So it's Monster Hunter mixed with a little Attack on Titan and a bit of Science Fiction. There's no NA release announcement yet but I'm pretty confident we'll get this some time in 2014.

 


One Piece: Unlimited World Red

(3DS - Not Yet Announced for Localization)
Publisher: Namco Bandai

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Fans of the anime/manga should definitely keep their eyes on this one in hopes it makes it to the States. Featuring an all new storyline with a couple of new characters and some near perfect emulation of the anime's style - what more could a One Piece fan want? Now you just have to hope it actually makes it over here, but based on the last couple of One Piece Musou titles I think it's reasonably likely.

 

 

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

(3DS - Not Yet Announced for Localization)
Publisher: Atlus

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Persona 5 may be a long shot but I think this Etrian Odyssey-themed Persona spin-off is pretty likely to make it over to the States in 2014 since it releases in Japan on June 5th. Persona Q uses the cast from Persona 3 and Persona 4 to explore seemingly endless dungeons in an attempt to uncover the mystery behind the “Seven Wonders of Yasogami High”. Usually I'd be a bit worried about the narrative for a spin-off title such as this but the semi-recent Persona fighting game showed me that there is no reason to doubt Atlus' Persona titles even if they differ massively from the norm for the series.



Gravity Rush 2

(PSV - Not Yet Announced)
Publisher: Sony

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Gravity Rush 2 hasn't actually been announced at all yet, but there are definitely strong hints that it is happening, and I'd be willing to bet it'll come out in 2014. TGS 2013 showed that Team Gravity was making a new game within the same universe and I'm hopeful that there'll only be a short delay between JP and NA releases so it just might make it out in time for me to not look silly. I loved that gravity manipulation was used as a means of travel in the first game and it ranks up there with Ultimate Spiderman as one of my favorite games to just play around in. Hopefully a sequel will shore up some of the issues with the original, but if nothing else I'll be happy to play as one of my favorite characters in recent history.

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