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E3 2016: NIS America Shows Grand Kingdom, Touhou, Criminal Girls
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E3 2016: NIS America Shows Grand Kingdom, Touhou, Criminal Girls

NIS America showed plenty of Japanese goodness, including Grand Kingdom, Touhou, Yomawari, and Criminal Girls.

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While Nippon Ichi Software America, aka NIS America, didn’t have a booth of their own at this year’s E3, that doesn’t mean they weren’t present. Just look at Activision – no booth, still there. Seems like E3’s not dead after all. I was able to catch up with a couple of NISA’s representatives at a top-secret location that definitely wasn’t a restaurant. They provided highly classified documents, by which I mean information on their coming releases for the year. I can tell you all about it, but then I’ll have to kill you…or not, I guess. Kidding aside, these games are looking great.

Grand Kingdom is coming sooner rather than later, and if you’re a fan of strategy-RPGs then you should keep an eye on this one. You play the head of a customizable band of mercenaries, contracted out to four kingdoms to help them achieve their goals. There’s a deep development system in place for your soldiers as well as an extensive online component encouraging players to help their chosen kingdoms push for victory. Keep an eye on Popzara if Grand Kingdom catches your eye; we’ll have a review of this one soon!

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Touhou, a Japanese shoot-’em-up series beloved by otaku in both the East and West, was big at E3 this year. Continuing 2016’s trend of officially localizing Touhou games for the Western market, we’re seeing the release of Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet in September. If you’ve played WarTech: Senko no Ronde on Xbox 360 or Acceleration of Suguri on PC, you’ve got an idea of what this is. You haven’t, though, so I’ll explain: essentially this is a shmup and a fighting game mixed together. Choose a character and rain destruction down on your opponent while they dodge wildly and do the same to you. It’s looking like this will live up to the Touhou legacy of giant, gorgeous bullet patterns, so fans of the shooters and of epileptic seizures should find something to love here; that’s saying nothing about the fancy physical edition that’s also being released, which includes all manner of fancy bonuses.

If that’s not enough Touhou for you, we’ve also got Touhou: Genso Wanderer later this year as well! This tosses your favorite Touhou characters into a roguelike; it’s looking nice and will also incorporate classic Touhou bullet patterns into its gameplay. Combine this with XSeed’s upcoming release of Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity and there should be plenty for Touhou fans to enjoy in the coming year.

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NIS isn’t exactly known for their horror games, but that might see some change with the upcoming release of Yomawari: Night Alone. It’s a bit reminiscent of the recent htoL #NiQ: The Firefly Diary, in that it’s about a little girl dealing with terrifying situations. In this case, the protagonist has to go explore her town after dark when her older sister and dog disappear; naturally, this means the town is crawling with nasties eager to chow down on our heroine. This one’s all about stealth and avoiding conflict, since the girl isn’t in any position to fight off her pursuers, so it looks like it’s going to be a tense experience that’s not for the faint of heart.

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Naturally, you can’t have localized Japanese games without the odd visual novel or two, and in NIS’s case we’ve got Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness. This is based on an anime that’s reminiscent of Minority Report; you can be jailed based on the chance that you might commit a crime, not necessarily for anything you’ve actually done, and this is determined via the Psycho-Pass, a sort of personality exam/brain scan. Keeping a clear state of mind is the order of the day if you don’t want to spend said day in jail. That might not be so easy for Mandatory Happiness’ protagonists, though; Inspector Kugatachi has amnesia and Enforcer Tsurugi is searching for his missing lover, neither of which are situations that lend themselves well to good moods. It’s a visual novel, so you’ve probably got an idea of what this one’s going to be like – read a bunch, make choices, enjoy the game or get jailed.

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Oh, and they’re giving Phantom Brave a PC port and localizing Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors. Phantom Brave is essentially a Disgaea title and revolves around Marona, a girl who can see ghosts and enlists them as aid in mercenary work. It was a classic on the PS2, PSP and Wii and the PC port will contain bonus content originally seen in those versions. As for Criminal Girls 2…you might just want to check out our review of the previous Criminal Girls: Invite Only to find out more about that.  Suffice to say there’s a very specific audience in mind here and that audience is probably going to be content with this release.

If my endless reviews of this kind of game didn’t tell you already, then let me make it clear that I’m a big fan of this sort of localized nonsense. It’s a weakness of mine, what can I say? With that in mind, Nippon Ichi Software’s lineup is looking fantastic and there should be no shortage of gaming goodness to enjoy in the coming year.


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About the Author: Cory Galliher