Magic brooms and murderous robot bears: the wackiest games of Tokyo Game Show 2013

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle (PS3)

What is It?

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle (PS3)

A 2.5D fighting game based on the long-running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga series from the late 80s. The game features a roster of spirit users, muscle-bound vampires, and horse-riding pilgrims who fire mind bullets - most of whom are named after rock musicians.

Following the basic template of Street Fighter IV, the game adds new mechanics such as side-stepping to avoid projectiles, blocking special moves mid-combo at the cost of health, and stage hazards that are triggered after knocking down an opponent onto a highlighted spot.

Already out in Japan, the game has sold half a million copies on its debut week according to sales chart site Media Creates. To put that into perspective, Street Fighter IV only managed to shift 123,857 copies in its first week.

Chances of seeing it outside Japan?

JoJo is indeed a go-go. Namco Bandai announced that the quirky fighting game will be out in North America in 2014. In the meantime, fighting game fans can catch up with the long-running series through some heavy manga reading, or tune in to the recent 2012 anime adaptation of the first two chapters.

Drag-On Dragoon 3 (PS3)

What Is It?

Drag-On Dragoon 3 (PS3)

PS2 gamers may remember the Drag-On Dragoon series; it was first released in English as Drakengard in 2004. The first two games were third-person hack-and-slash fests in the vein of the Dynasty Warriors series, with its hook being that players can ride a dragons either on the ground or in the air.

The upcoming third game stays true to its big-lizard-piloting and beat-em-up roots, but also introduces two female protagonists, Zero and One. Zero has four manservants who protect her and render, er, other services. Oh, and she also has a flower growing out of her right eye, because of course she does. In line with the game's hack-and-slash gameplay, Zero and One can level-up their combat skills once they are completely covered in (other people's) blood on the battlefield.

Chances of seeing it outside Japan?

Very high, given that the first two games made it to the UK before. However, publisher Square Enix hasn't announced an English version yet.

Game Center CX: Arino in District 3 (3DS)

What Is It?

This collection of 15 NES-styled original games is modelled on retro titles like Mega Man and Super Mario Bros. Examples include Rumi and the Magic Broom, a platformer inspired by the Super Mario Bros. series, and Wing Hero, a horizontal 2D shoot-em-up where players can blow on a microphone to gain height when things get too hot. Saurus Boy is what happens when someone mashes up The Land Before Time with Mega Man; the main character fights in a prehistoric world using different dinosaur outfits with varying power-ups.

This otherworldly collection is a tie-in to the Japanese TV show Game Center CX, which is hosted by comedian Shinya Arino. In each episode he has to finish a retro title in 24 hours as well as exploring gaming culture in the whole of Japan. We'd say that only Japan could create a show in which a middle-aged comedian plays old video games for entertainment, but then, we gave the world Patrick Moore in GamesMaster.

Chances of seeing it outside Japan?

Pretty slim. The first Games Center CX title on the Nintendo DS was released under the name Retro Games Challenge in North America to mediocre fanfare and sales figures. However, the show is reportedly gaining popularity overseas thanks to subtitled DVD releases of past episodes – so there might yet be a market for its retro antics.

More after the break...

Danganronpa 1.2 Reload (PS Vita)

What Is It?

Danganronpa 1.2 Reload (PS Vita)

A murder mystery adventure game that combines a unique 2.5D motion graphic art style with a dark plot. Fifteen students are trapped in Hope’s Peak Academy and, according to a talking robot bear called Monokuma, they can only get out by killing one of their own and covering up their tracks. Players unravel the story through the eyes of the student Makoto as they have to solve murders through investigation and clue-gathering, with each case’s culprit decided through a class trial.

If players guess the culprit's identity correctly during a class trial, he or she will be executed for disrupting the sanctity of the academy. Fail, and the killer walks scot-free while everyone else gets the axe.

Dating game elements also creep in; Makoto can hang out with the remaining students, bond with them via conversations and gift-giving. Picture the Ace Attorney adventure game series combined with anime high school tropes and the 'whodunnit' aspects of Saw, and that’s Danganronpa in a nutshell.

Chances of seeing it outside Japan?

So far it's a resounding “no”. Despite (or more likely because of) its unconventional elements, there haven't been any publishers from North America or Europe willing to take a punt on this niche title. However, the game’s publisher Nippon Ichi said during a TGS 2013 press event that the American branch will announce something really soon, so Western gamers could be tussling with murderous robot bears before too long.

Otoranger (iOS)

What Is It?

Rhythm games have been flooding mobile devices with the likes of the Tap Tap Revenge series and, er, Snoop Dogg’s Way of The Dogg. Now Capcom has decided to put its own spin on the genre by adding in Power Rangers-style superheroes and RPG elements for team- and stats-building.

Patterned after Puzzle & Dragon's hybrid mechanics, players have to combat wave upon wave of super villain henchmen and sentai-styled monsters each stage by hitting the cues on-screen perfectly to the beat of the background music. The more precise a player’s input is, the better the outcome and damage. Get a streak and it goes into Fever mode, where the heroes summon a giant robot akin to the Megazord, obliterating everything in its path. In addition to the music element, the game's simple-yet-striking art style is also easy on the eyes.

Chances of seeing it outside Japan?

Being a mobile game, unlike most titles on this list, this one has a better chance of making it out in English. And based upon the track record of successful oddities such as Party Wave and Puzzle & Dragons, it's a near-certainty.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Battle Pentagram (PS Vita)

What Is It?

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Battle Pentagram (PS Vita)

The anime TV series Puella Magi Madoka Magica was renowned for its trippy aesthetics and fresh take on the magical schoolgirl warrior premise (yes, in Japan there's more than one magical schoolgirl warrior series). Naturally, that made it perfect video game fodder, so Namco Bandai has developed a third-person action game based upon it. In the game, players control a group of school girls brandishing bows and arrows and machine guns as they fend off evil butterflies and witches in the dead of night.

Borrowing from RPGs, the game forces players to balance their finite resources, working their way through dungeons that look like they sprung from Timothy Leary's fevered imaginings. To mix things up, gamers are paired with an A.I. partner during missions. Their effectiveness is affected by whether players make an effort to talk to them and build a relationship during the day portions of the game. So far, there hasn’t been any word on the game’s touch screen features. 

Chances of seeing it outside Japan?

The odds aren’t in the girls' favour. Magical schoolgirl warrior series don't have quite the same pull outside Japan, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica isn't even close to the popularity of anime shows like One Piece and Naruto. So don't expect to see it on store shelves any time soon.

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