Digital | ON: GAMES

Hideo Kojima unleashes his latest

by Brian Ashcraft

Contributing Writer

Still stranding

He’s back! After leaving Konami in 2015, Hideo Kojima reemerged with a reborn and independent version of Kojima Productions, the team responsible for his Metal Gear Solid games. He has now come up with an entirely new title — Death Stranding.

In Death Stranding, you play Sam, who is brought to life by “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus, and must reconnect isolated cities and deliver packages. Before leaving Konami, Kojima had previously worked with Reedus on P.T., a well-received demo for what was ultimately a canceled Silent Hill game. Kojima, a diehard cinema fan who claims that 70 percent of his body is made of movies, has increasingly been working with movie stars over the past few years. In Death Stranding, Reedus is joined by Mads Mikkelsen (“Rogue One,” “Casino Royale”), Margaret Qualley (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) and Lindsay Wagner (“The Bionic Woman”). Even film director Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water,” the “Hellboy” series) appears in his latest game.

But the real star here is Kojima himself. Since the 1990s, he’s been one of the most well-known game creators in the world. Kojima’s games strike an artful balance of showmanship and good old-fashioned gameplay. While Death Stranding looks different from what he’s done before, it has that same humorous and slick style that made Kojima famous. This is the start of a new chapter in a storied career.

Death Stranding will be released on the PS4 on Nov. 8, priced at ¥7,590.

www.playstation.com/ja-jp/games/death-stranding-ps4.

Nintendo makes it official

It never really made that much sense. Nintendo, a Japanese company, had its only official store in New York City. Granted, it’s a wonderful store, packed with merchandise and cool displays, but it was always rather puzzling that Japan didn’t have a Nintendo store of its own. Next month, all that is set to change.

Nintendo Tokyo will open on the sixth floor of the new Shibuya Parco building on Nov. 22. The floor has been dubbed the “Japan Culture” zone, filled with game, anime, and manga themed shops to experience, such as a Pokemon Center, a Capcom Store, and a Jump Shop.

As in New York, the official Nintendo store will be filled with goodies galore, with some Japan-only items available. With tourists coming to Japan like never before, Nintendo Tokyo will definitely be a must-visit for gamers. Besides gawking in front of the company’s old Kyoto headquarters, there really aren’t that many Nintendo-themed destinations. Nintendo Tokyo changes that.

www.nintendo.co.jp/officialstore.

Another persona

In Persona 5, the protagonist was a schoolboy with a double life as a master criminal in a group known as the Phantom Thieves. Players explored dungeons and summoned Personas, which represented the character’s personality, to destroy enemies. They also got to experience modern-day Tokyo, hang out with friends and learn the finer points of brewing coffee. Released in 2016, it was a seriously cool game that fans had waited years to play. Now, an enhanced version with new stuff is headed exclusively to the PlayStation 4.

Called Persona 5: The Royal, the game’s mainline plot is the same, but The Royal has a previously untold third semester, which provides an update to storylines and characters in the original release. There are also new characters, such as schoolgirl Kasumi and Takuto, the school counselor. The game adds Kichijoji as a new in-game location, bringing even more of Tokyo to life. It’s also possible for the protagonist to shoot pool and go on dates at the aquarium. In the alter ego form, the characters can do things like use grappling hooks and unlock evens stronger Personas forms, called Ultimate Personas, to battle foes.

Persona 5 is a long game, taking 100 hours or more to finish. Diehard fans will certainly enjoy the second playthrough and the new semester. For those who have never played a Persona game, the time-investment should not be daunting. The Persona games are some of the best JRPGs ever made. The latest entry is particularly good, and since it won’t be out internationally until next year, those able to get hold of the Japanese release have an earlier start on finishing it. Goodness knows they’ll need it.

Priced at ¥9,680, Persona 5: The Royal was released on Oct. 31 for the PS4.

p5r.jp.

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