Welcome to Import Horizons at GameCritics.com. Savvy gamers are aware of the gaming scene in Japan, but language, access and playability have been the bane of those looking for diverse titles from the East. Some games are so culturally idiosyncratic that players often give up in frustration. This semi-regular feature will bridge that gap with advice for those looking to import, and those curious to the world of gaming in Japan.
GameCritics.com will view both the import-friendly titles and those obscure "only-in-Japan" creations. Last installment was easy, so this time we're aiming for something a little different.
So here's the set up. I'm at a hardware store and this woman asks if I know where they keep the nails. She's in luck because I can help her. However, the information won't come cheap. She has to endure the confounded gaze of my eyes locked on her cleavage. We've all been in this situation. Doing your best to look that heavily endowed woman in the eyes while resisting that deer in the headlights stare. You strive to be the gentleman and do the right thing, but short of being slapped into orbit what option does a poor fool have in this politically correct world. Well, fear not fellow gawkers the time to express your primal nature has come at last.
Welcome to my little oasis at GameCritics.com. I follow the imports, the underdogs, and the independents. If it's off the radar I'm all over it like lice on a hippie. So when considering this installment of Import Horizons I couldn't resist the lure of Sony's recent Motion Gravure Series. Here's the skinny: Sony realized that men, if given the choice, prefer the jiggle of real women instead of polygons. Yeah, major news flash. So enter Motion Gravure. Think of it as Victoria's Secret on your PlayStation 2, but without looking like an idiot holding your girlfriend's purse in the store.
This series consists of four versions, each filled with live action photography of your favorite female Japanese idol. Choose from Harumi Nemoto, Kitagawa Tomomi, Hiroko Mori, or the aptly named, "Megumi" (translated as, "blessing", or "bounty"). The content features women in various stages of undress, whether clad in lingerie, bubble bath by candlelight, or simply shopping for nails at the hardware store. But the real hat trick comes with not simply gazing at pictures, but with manipulating these live photos at anytime, anywhere. This, young grasshopper, is what they call, power.
Motion Gravure is at heart about scanning the female body from a first person perspective. You can settle for a head-to-toe photo, or fill the whole screen with the parts that matters most. For example, Let's say that woman shopping for nails had her own Motion Gravure title. With the Dual Shock controller I could zoom in with the left analog stick and adjust with the direction buttons for panning. Frame that alluring cleavage and take a snapshot for my memory card. Then use my Sony PlayStation 2 printer to create a snazzy copy and mail it to Gloria Steinem. All without fear of being kicked in the groin. This "game" breaks the shackles of men who have diverted their gaze in fear of being slapped, and gives them the freedom to fully view the female form—on a video game console! Why liberate Iraq when right now millions of gamers, playing in their mother's basement, are longing for emancipation of their lost masculinity. At last, men across the country can wail out their official national anthem, "Who let the doggs out!"
Motion Gravure is divided into several chapters that you navigate with the shoulder buttons. Peppered throughout these live action photo shoots are flashing prompts that unlock secret areas when triggered with the triangle button. The photographic imagery is stunning, similar to the special effects in 1998's What Dreams May Come where static photo images morph and blur creating fluid motion. Think of it as stop-motion ala Ray Harryhausen. In short, Sony's Motion Gravure is far less of a "game" and really more of an experience, which is why this title lands on my little oasis at GameCritics.com.
It's difficult to find hands-on impressions of games like this, and even more so with a straight face without resorting to lowbrow humor. But that's my gig, bro. I love the peculiar and bizarre titles. Motion Gravure was enough for my eccentric tastes, but is it enough for you to import? In a word, "No." Though the menus are in English and the "making of" bonus DVD (eleven chapters worth) is fun to watch, this experience is all too short clocking in at 45 minutes. You don't need language skills for viewing photography, but even in this case I can't recommend Motion Gravure with any good conscience. Even those looking for a pictorial will find more skin in any Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
But remember, this game was created for the Japanese market. Land of the rising sun and anime tentacle sex. Sony understands what pent up Japanese gamers want. And sure as you can say "hentai-seiyoku" more games will follow the path of Motion Gravure. Pony Canyon is set to release the Virtual View Series, and yet another progression called, RCT Eyes Play using technology similar to the "bullet time"effects as seen in The Matrix (and guess what? Harumi Nemoto, and "Megumi" are featured, again!). Not only are more games in this genre being created, but also some old peripherals are reaping the spoils. Such as the sleek USB PlayStation 2 ink jet printers that you will never get in the states. However, while Motion Gravure will elevate the Sony Popegg printer series above doorstop status, the image size is still on par with a post card. But hey, if you're that "hardcore" about it I won't hold it against you.
That's it for this installment, so go play a game or something. As for me, I have a sudden urge to stock up on nails. Shitsureishimasu.
The word "Hentai" is synonymous with "adult" themed entertainment, even though it simply translates into "pervert", which is a bit extreme when you think about it.
Video games in Japan walk a diverse path and adult themes are no strangers to that market. If you're interested in checking out the wild side of gaming look to the PlayStation and Dreamcast imports. But the serious red light district games are found on the Japanese, Chinese and Korean PC formats. An entire international underground subculture supports this tangent of the gaming community.
The range is extreme, so be careful. Nobody wants to bail you out of jail for importing a video game. Having an open mind is key, but make sure the "cartoony" looking adult anime stuff stays clear from children.
A simple search on "Pete's Hentai Games List" is the place to start. But you don't need to dig deep to find sexual situations even in the most banal of games in Japan. Sex can be found in many aspects of Japanese entertainment because boundaries are etched in stone and their society has a high tolerance (although looking down with a furrowed brow). This is the polar opposite in America where sexuality in entertainment has no solid rules and pushing the envelope of titillation is all part of the game.
So be careful and never take it seriously... we're only talking about pixels here.