Five Tokyo Game Show titles you may never see

The Tokimeki Memorial (or Heartbeat Memorial) series is the king of the Japanese dating sim genre. Called gyaruge (or gal games) in Japanese, these titles usually have players navigate a series of relationships with cute anime girls in an attempt to woo them.

The series is one of the tamer titles in the genre, teasing fans with girls in often fetishized outfits like school uniforms, without any sexually explicit content. Tokimeki Memorial 4 for the PSP and cell phones appears to offer more of the same. However, devotees to the genre are sure to appreciate special innovations like the new “hand-holding mode.”

Above: The English press release for the game calls this title a “love simulator.”

School life is a common object of nostalgia. But gal games take it to a whole new level. High school life simulators are a genre unto themselves in Japan. Even Valkyria Chronicles 2 features a small high school life sim to supplement its strategic military action.

Unlike the other titles in this list, we’re certain that Tokimeki Memorial 4 will never see an official release outside of Japan. If the game is ported, it’ll likely be on the PC through a smaller publisher that specializes in imports.

Okamiden: Chisaki Taiyou (The Legend of Okami: The Little Sun)

Despite rave reviews and a loyal following, the original Okami didn’t set the sales charts on fire. What slim hopes fans had for a sequel were dashed when developer Clover shutits doors. So it was a pleasant surprise when the first screenshots of this DS follow up appeared in the Japanese game magazine Famitsu. The game was playable at TGS. The full name of the game is Okamiden: Chisaki Taiyou (Literally, The Legend of Okami: The Little Sun), a reference to the game’s protagonist Chibiterasu, a puppy-like version of the original’s take on the Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu.

The first game was one of the best looking titles on the PS2 - and while the new DS game doesn’t look quite as sharp as its predecessor, it still takes its aesthetic cues from classical Japanese ink painting, known as sumi-e. As with the original Okami, the sumi-e-style visuals are carried into the gameplay.

Above: You’ll use your stylus to slash at enemies with the celestial brush and solve various puzzles

Chibiterasu has a celestial brush, used by drawing on the touch screen to solve puzzles and dispatch her enemies. Like the first game, Okamiden is sure to feature characters from classical Japanese mythology and literature. While western audiences may not be familiar with characters like Susanno or Kaguya the Moon Princess (two characters from the original game), Japanese audiences are as familiar with them as we are with Robin Hood or King Arthur. The game really plays up its references to classical Japanese culture. The game is set for release in Japan next year and Capcom has not yet confirmed any release outside of Japan.

Oct 6, 2009

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