Videogames, they say, are from Japan. At least the most influential classics (with certain traditionally “western” genres excluded). It is safe to say that the modern gaming landscape just wouldn’t look the same without its Japanese influence. Unless we’re talking about the PC as a gaming platform, that is. How many Japanese games specifically developed for the PC can you name? More than a handful? Geez, you’re good! Fact is that PC gaming isn’t all that popular in Japan, which is understandable given the dominance of consoles in the last three decades and, well, the origins of console gaming right there.
That is not to say that there are no PC games being developed in Japan – quite the opposite, actually. There’s an active scene of bedroom programming going on; it’s not called “indie” but instead “doujin”, which is a term that generally refers to amateur self-published works. Some of those have actually made it to western shores in recent years and were greeted with moderate success. With Carpe Fulgur being super-secretive about their fourth doujin localization (after Recettear, Chantelise, and Fortune Summoners had a really successful Steam launch) and the recent greenlighting of La-Mulana, one might even claim that those games are gaining a foothold here. But that is not all: with an English branch of digital distributor Playism and Rice Digital, another fairly new shop for “tasty Japanese games” that launched last year, the future looks bright. And then there’s Nyu Media, publishing interesting doujin games worldwide since late 2011.
Could it be, then, that 2013 is the year of the doujin? Well, it is probably way too early for such claims, but we should probably keep an eye or two out for those weird Japanese games. If nothing else, they bring another – sometimes strangely foreign and unusual – perspective into our hobby, and variety in your gaming diet is always a good thing. Broadening your gaming horizon is fun, and thankfully buying doujin games is not too expensive. Plus: there are some genres you just won’t find elsewhere. The number of good contemporary shoot em ups not made in Japan is rather small, after all.
What about the immediate future? This Thursday will see the release of Croixleur, a hack & slash arena action game that has you battling your way through waves of monsters, with multiple paths and endings opening up according to your performance. This looks and sounds rather straightforward, but the additional bells and whistles – three game modes, achievements, collectable weapons – will have you coming back for more. And all of this for a very affordable $4.99. There’s also a demo if you want to try it out right now, and voting for the game on Greenlight would be very kind of you. Next month will have you shooting some aliens in Siter Skain’s ALLTYNEX trilogy. I hear this shmup series is rather good, so I’ll be standing in line to get them. And then some time later (March or April, most likely), Fruitbat Factory’s tactical RPG 99 Spirits will grace our PCs with its presence.
Beyond that, not much is known yet about the plans for the Asian PC Invasion 2013, but we’re excited to see more interesting games. Because interesting games are always good, and there’s so much more where all that delightful weirdness came from.
(Huge thanks to Digitally Downloaded‘s Matt Sainsbury for some fact-checking.)