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The maestro is back

One of video gaming’s most creative designers is back! Keita Takahashi rocketed to fame in 2004 with his quirky cult hit Katamari Damacy. In that, a little prince tries to rebuild the universe that his father, the king, accidentally destroyed. The prince collects objects needed to do this by rolling them up into a sticky ball that picks up anything smaller than itself. Takahashi followed that up with another Katamari game before going on to Noby Noby Boy, which features a worm-like character that stretches its body to gain points.

Takahashi drifted from Japan, expressing an interest in designing playground equipment in the United Kingdom, and then ended up in Canada working on a massively multiplayer online game that eventually was scrapped, though its internal messaging service became Slack. Takahashi then settled in San Francisco.

Now, Takahashi has returned with Wattam — a charming game for PlayStation 4 (¥2,420) and PC (¥1,780) in which players befriend objects like flowers, milk bottles, forks, toilets and poop. They all hold hands, sing songs and solve puzzles. It’s silly cute and fun — in short, classic Takahashi. Welcome back!

bit.ly/wattam-jp (Japanese), bit.ly/wattam-en (English)

Warriors on a winning streak

Koei Tecmo is famous for hack-and-slash games like its Musou Orochi (Warriors Orochi in English), developed with Omega Force, which is now seeing its latest “ultimate version” release.

In the first game, warriors from the Three Kingdoms Period (220-80) of China and the Sengoku Period (Warring States, 1482-1543) of Japan were brought together to fight at the whim of the Japanese serpent king Orochi. In Musou Orochi 3, originally released in September 2018, Zeus of Olympus brings them back for unknown reasons. Because of the way the games have been localized overseas, Musou Orochi 3 Ultimate will be released as Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate in English.

The expanded Ultimate release has new plot elements and side quests, tweaked controls and new characters. Ryu Hayabusa from Koei Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden series of games features as a guest character and fan-favorite Joan of Arc returns, while new characters, including Greek goddess Gaia, wizard Yang Jian, and underworld ruler Hades are introduced.

The previous Orochi games let players take on mobs of enemies, slashing them to bits, and the ultimate versions feature a fine-tuned take on this winning formula.

Musou Orochi 3 Ultimate is headed for Nintendo Switch and PS4 with the Japanese version priced at ¥8,580 and a PC release scheduled for spring 2020. Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate will be released on Feb. 14 next year.

bit.ly/orochi-jp (Japanese), bit.ly/orochi-en (English)

A game for your thoughts

© 2019 TOHOKU UNIVERSITY / NINTENDO.
© 2019 TOHOKU UNIVERSITY / NINTENDO.

Remember how Brain Age sparked a craze in Japan? People who had never considered themselves gamers were suddenly interested in purchasing a Nintendo DS in order to take quizzes to see how old their brains were behaving.

Brain Age was developed to help keep our gray matter sharp. Based on research by neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, it turned out to be a popular game that was instrumental in the Nintendo DS’ success.

Now it’s back but reimagined for Switch as Brain Age: Nintendo Switch Training (Nou o Kitaeru Otona no Nintendo Switch Toreningu) with more of the challenging puzzles that made the Nintendo DS such a hit. This time around, though, Brain Age takes advantage of the Switch hardware, utilizing the Joy-Con controller (and its infrared sensor) and the Switch’s gyroscope. It’s also possible to face off with other players using the Joy-Con.

The Switch screen is larger than the DS, making the whole experience easier to read and more pleasant, and Nintendo is including a pen-size stylus, which is a big improvement for those who remember the tiny DS touch pen.

The retail version of Japanese version of Brain Age: Nintendo Switch Training, which includes the stylus, is priced at ¥3,828, while the download version is ¥2,948.

bit.ly/brain-jp (Japanese only)

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