Digital | ON: GAMES

The last of 2018's new releases

by Brian Ashcraft

A ‘Fortnite’ of chilling out

Online multiplayer shooter “Fortnite” is one of the most popular shooters in the world, boasting around 200 million registered players. The game has a following in Japan, where gamers in general have been adverse to American-made shooting games. But at the end of the day, the cute characters and fun gameplay of “Fortnite” has managed to win players over.

“Fortnite” is not just about the shooting, though. It’s also about harvesting raw materials and building structures as quickly as possible — even while the bullets are flying. There are different game modes: “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is a free-to-play game with 100 players facing off, while “Fortnite: Save the World” is a four-player co-op game with an early access fee.

The reason for the game’s following in Japan is that the free-to-play “Battle Royale” version is available on the Nintendo Switch, bringing the game to players who may not be PC gamers. Of course, it is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

While the game is a digital download, its creator, Epic Games, decided to release “Deep Freeze” physical PS4 and Nintendo Switch bundles (¥3,240), which come with a digital download code that gives players a frostbite outfit, a glider and other gear, not to mention 1,000 v-bucks, the in-game currency that lets players buy more stuff. While the bundle does include access to the free-to-play “Battle Royale,” it does not grant access to the paid “Save the World” mode. Still, it sounds like a good way to “chill out” over the holidays.

Japanese: www.epicgames.com/fortnite/ja/deepfreeze English: www.epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/deepfreeze

Don’t pass on ‘Judgment’

Sega’s “Ryu Ga Gotoku” team is one of the hardest working groups of game developers in Japan, and probably in the entire gaming world. The team primarily makes the “Ryu Ga Gotoku” games (known as “Yakuza” outside Japan), churning out a new version on an annual basis. Its latest project, however, isn’t just another game about the yakuza, though it’s still set in Japan’s criminal underworld.

Called “Judge Eyes” in Japan and to be localized as “Judgment” internationally next year, the PS4 game (¥8,953) stars pop star and actor Takuya Kimura as a hotshot lawyer named Takayuki Yagami as he investigates murders and deals with gangsters. It’s a departure from the “Ryu Ga Gotoku” games, but not a big enough one to alienate fans. The criminal underbelly will be familiar, but the new legal twist keeps things fresh.

Besides tracking and chasing bad guys, players can also beat the crap out of them using a variety of weapons like in the “Ryu Ga Gotoku” games. “Judge Eyes,” however, has a greater emphasis on investigation and trying to locate clues to prove a case, as well as the opportunity to snap photos to produce incriminating evidence. It’s even possible to use drones to take pics. As with the “Ryu Ga Gotoku” series, “Judge Eyes” includes mini-games for players to enjoy, such as pinball and drone racing.

The jury may still be out on whether or not “Judge Eyes” will live up to the “Ryu Ga Gotoku” series, but its opening argument is certainly excellent.

Japanese: ryu-ga-gotoku.com/judgeeyes

Divine devouring

The first “God Eater” debuted on the PlayStation Portable back in 2010. The game featured giant monsters and anime-style protagonists with huge weapons able to shoot or slash. The first game and the ones that followed were massive hits, spawning manga and anime adaptations.

Now, the third mainline game in the series, “God Eater 3,” is coming to the PS4. What makes this entry a departure is that it isn’t getting a portable version. The other PlayStation releases were launched on home consoles and Sony’s portables, and part of the fun of “God Eater” was getting together in person with friends and playing. But since the PS Vita’s shipments are reportedly ceasing, it doesn’t make sense for Bandai Namco to divide its energy on supporting two platforms. Instead, the game maker has given the “God Eater 3” PS4 release its full attention.

The results I saw earlier at this year’s Tokyo Game Show showed that all that extra care seemed to pay off. The game looked incredibly polished and players should appreciate the additions: new weapons, like dual-wielding blades and a ray gun, and new moves, such as Burst Arts special attacks. “God Eater 3” should help longtime fans forget that the portable version is missing in action.

Priced at ¥8,856 “God Eater 3” is available for PS4, with a Steam release on Feb. 8, 2019.

Japanese: ge3.godeater.jp English: www.bandainamcoent.com/games/god-eater-3