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Japan’s favorite games go for all formats, while the merchandise pops up everywhere

by Brian Ashcraft

Calling all ‘Dragon Quest VIII’ fans

The classic RPG “Dragon Quest VIII” is headed for release on smartphones this winter. And one Android-powered smartphone in particular is going to be more than ready. NTT Docomo is releasing a Sharp smartphone embellished with Dragon Quest motifs. Limited to 30,000, the phones also come with Dragon Quest VIII pre-installed, and the handset’s 5-inch high-definition display will ensure the game should be crystal clear when running.

“Dragon Quest VIII” was originally released in Japan on PlayStation 2 in 2004. It was a smash hit and one of the best received “Dragon Quest” games. Some have even called it one of the greatest video games of all time. NTT Docomo are banking on that popularity with it’s new smartphone, which goes on sale Dec. 7. The price has yet to be announced.

NTT Docomo: jtim.es/r2pXB

Banging the drum for the Wii U version

“Taiko no Tatsujin,” a longtime arcade and DS favorite, is now pounding out songs on the Wii U. Dubbed “Taiko no Tatsujin Wii U Ba-jon!” (“ba-jon” meaning “version”), the drumming game was released Nov. 21, and comes with 70 popular tunes including those from J-pop groups such as Momoiro Clover Z, anime series such as “One Piece,” and others. Once you master these, there are new songs available for download.

To play on the Wii U GamePad, you tap your fingers on the touch screen. Shell out a little more, however, and you can get a “Taiko no Tatsujin” drum with batons. It’s perfect for those who want to bang the taiko drum at home. And those who don’t? Then just quietly tap away.

“Taiko no Tatsujin” is priced at ¥5,480. Bundled with the drum-controller, it costs ¥8,480.

wiiu.taiko-ch.net

‘Gran Turismo 6′ revs it up

Start your engines! Your virtual engines, that is. The next installment of “Gran Turismo,” Japan’s most realistic driving sim races onto PlayStation 3 next month.

“Gran Turismo 6″ marks the 15th anniversary of the series and features tracks from all over the world. It has 1,200 race cars that include super-cars such as the Ferrari FXX and Lamborghini Reventon; classics like the 1957 BMW 507 and the 1968 Lotus Europa; compact cars like the Ford Focus ST and Alfa Romeo MiTo; a wide range of sports cars and race cars, plus many others.

As with other “Gran Turismo” titles, the game’s developers at Polyphony Digital have worked tirelessly to accurately replicate each automobile. If you can’t afford an Aston Martin, this could be the closest you’ll ever get to driving one. And don’t think the obsessive realism stops at each vehicle: Besides weather and time changes, “GT6″ is so realistic that even the night skies accurately depict each star and constellation.

“Gran Turismo 6″ goes on sale Dec. 5 for ¥6,980. The limited-edition 15th-anniversary edition version is ¥7,980.

www.gran-turismo.com/jp

Pikachu becomes a station master

There are seven Pokemon Center retail shops across Japan that offer all sorts of Pocket Monster related goodies, from toys and games to clothes and snacks. But sometimes, especially when you’re souvenir shopping, you don’t have time to get to a Pokemon Center.

For those in Tokyo, a popup Pokemon Store is opening up in Tokyo Station. Besides an array of Pocket Monster merchandise, it will feature unique goods featuring Pikachu dressed like a train conductor. There are special train-station cookies, pins and phone straps that will only be available at this Pokemon Store. The most adorable item, however, has to be the station master Pikachu plush toy (¥1,200). Catch ‘em all! Well, maybe not all — that could get expensive.

The Pokemon Store opens in Tokyo Station on Dec. 9. It will be located on B1 inside the Tokyo Character Street of First Avenue Tokyo Station for a limited period only.

First Avenue Tokyo Station: www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp

Eating out with Super Mario

Mario, it seems, is “lovin’ it.” Gaming’s most famous plumber has joined the number of characters who have enjoyed a McDonalds’ Happy Meal collaboration. There are eight Super-Mario-themed collectibles, six of which feature Mario sliding down poles or pipes, or wearing different outfits, such as Fire Mario or Penguin Mario.

But if Mario isn’t your favorite (if that’s possible), there’s also a Princess Peach stamp figurine and a Yoshi toy.

The promotion runs for about three weeks, with a first set of toys having hit Happy Meals Nov. 22 and a second set appearing on Nov. 29. So be warned, completing a set will likely require lots of fast food.

www.mcdonalds.co.jp/happyset/hs/index.html

Brian Ashcraft is a Senior Contributing Editor at us.kotaku.com.

  • phu

    Whoever called DQ8 one of the best games or even THE best game of all time clearly hasn’t even played the previous games, let alone any of several other franchises or one-offs that blew it out of the water. I played the whole thing but was sick of it half way through; as RPG’s go, it was flat, boring, and totally failed to draw the user in.

    I can only assume this kind of overly positive review comes from people who wouldn’t even consider pre-3D games when picking favorites. There’s just so much more depth in many older titles; while some newer ones do reach that high bar, we move further and further away from relying on story and characters (in which DQ8 failed badly, unlike most of its predecessors) and more towards pretty visuals over little substance (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy XIII).

  • Will Smith

    I’m waiting to see how they butcher it, like they’ve done with all the mobile Final Fantasy games.