Wednesday, 29 January 2014

News roundup: First week sales figures for Sengoku Basara 4 - and lots more, of course

Although I'm itching to spend every waking hour playing and compiling translated information for Sengoku Basara 4, I guess it's important that I keep up on my regular news reporting too. Capcom have mercifully avoided overloading fans with too much new information in the week following the game's release - yet somehow there's still a lot to catch up on!

A summary of this week's magazine coverage

Both Weekly Famitsu and Dengeki PlayStation gave Sengoku Basara 4 extensive coverage this week. Oyakata-sama even managed to get Yukimura's name right in Weekly Famitsu this time! Most of the articles were summaries of game tips and unlock information, with additional coverage of the recent Basara Matsuri and collaboration events. There are also descriptions of all of the joke weapons if anyone out there is flummoxed.

Separately, online gaming news site 4Gamer posted an interview of its own with series director Yamamoto Makoto and producer Kadowaki Akihito. YamamotoD described how using a newer version of the MT Framework engine allowed them to improve the graphics and display more enemies on screen (he even quantified it; Sengoku Basara 3 Utage could support around 30 enemies in front of and behind the player; in Sengoku Basara 4 that number can be 80 including enemies farther away). They wanted to create the feeling that you were really in a battlefield, though, so rather than simply increasing the enemies they added in different behaviours and patterns too.

(Note: Personally, and to address some of the criticism the game has received, I find the regular soldiers much more aggressive and worthwhile than in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage where I mostly ran past ignoring them when I wasn't building a combo. Having them clump into formations rather than spilling out everywhere does make it feel less like a swarm, though. I like it.)

The interview also mentions that they originally planned to include 39 characters - but KobaP wanted there to be 40 since it was the fourth main game. They really wanted to include everyone and felt bad when they were making the selection, but the most important factor when picking the roster was the potential for setting a stage spanning the era for the player to use to create their own Sengoku world.

(Note: If only 39 characters were on the original shortlist, poor Ujimasa presumably never had a chance...)

YamamotoD also commented that there was enough dialogue recorded for the characters' conversations on the march screen to fill an average drama CD.

First week sales figures for Sengoku Basara 4 start to appear

This is by no means a complete picture, but it seems that Sengoku Basara 4 topped the sales charts at both the Tsutaya chain and on the Japanese PlayStation Network in the days following its release and then went on to report 176,313 copies sold via Media Create for the week ending 26th January 2014. The alternative Famitsu ranking gave the total as 157,326 copies (credit for the Famitsu link goes to BlackKite). Given the current state of the games industry I think that's a pretty good debut; hopefully it will continue to sell strongly in the weeks to come.

Store listings reveal the release date for the next Complete Works art book

Unsurprisingly the next art book in the series is going to be the Sengoku Basara 4 Complete Works, which is apparently scheduled for release on 27th March 2014 at a price of ¥2,100. Listings should start to appear in other online shops over the next few weeks. I'm interested to hear how much additional content there will be for fans who have already picked up the special edition of the game and the V Jump guide book - at the very least it's likely to contain some extra interviews and illustrations.

Famitsu posts the full track listing for the Sengoku Basara 4 soundtrack

The game's official soundtrack has now been released and the full track list can be viewed here. I'm not going to translate it all since I think there are pre-existing fan names for music from the series and I'll just make things confusing. Last year's Tougun BEST and Seigun BEST CDs have also been added to the iTunes store to help new fans pick up some of the classic Sengoku Basara background music without tracking down all of the old discs.

The future of the Mame Sengoku Basara manga is clarified

With the release of January's Dengeki Maoh magazine, in which Mame Sengoku Basara ran monthly up until its final chapter on 27th January 2014, Manga artist Sumeragi headed to Twitter to confirm that a new series would be starting in Dengeki Maoh's May issue (released 26th March 2014). This new series will be titled Mame Sengoku Basara 4, probably dooming everyone to confuse it with the fourth volume of the original Mame Sengoku Basara for years to come. As both Sumeragi and Katou Youichi are both still on the team for the new series, it's likely to be much like the old one except with the Sengoku Basara 4 cast and storyline.

Meanwhile, the fifth (and final?) volume of the collected Mame Sengoku Basara manga is scheduled for release on 27th March 2014; perfect timing to draw attention to the new series. Let's all keep supporting Mame Sengoku Basara for as long as it runs!

Merchandise is announced for the Gakuen Basara spin-off manga

That's a lot of Mame Sengoku Basara news! But those who prefer their spin-offs to be parallel world high school comedies won't be left out, as Gakuen Basara fans will soon be able to buy some proper merchandise for the series. CafeReo is listing a few goodies for release in Animate stores from March 2014.

A pass case designed to look like a Gakuen Basara student handbook (¥980):


It includes two double-sided student ID cards, so you either can pretend to be Masamune, Yukimura or Mitsunari - or fill in your own using the blank design!

A pin badge of the school seal (¥680):


Both gold and silver versions are available. This should make authentic cosplay a little easier.

A set of five 'second buttons' with the school seal design (¥1,500):


In Japan, it's traditional that boys give the second button from their school uniform to the girl that they like. These replicas are intended to be usable if you want to customise your outfits.

With these announcements, it feels as though we should be getting another new volume of Gakuen Basara soon - right?

Limited event merchandise will be made available for purchase

The huge paper fans which were sold at January's Sengoku Basara 4: Basara Matsuri 2014 ~Shinshun No Utage~ event have been made available for general purchase in limited quantities from February 2014. You can pick up the fans for Masamune, Mitsunari, Katsuie and Sakon at Ami Ami.


I never posted about it at the time, but there are also some special edition rice gift sets on offer for fans in Japan. They should go well with the packs of Sengoku Basara pickles released last year!

The official Sengoku Basara fan club receives its first exclusive merchandise

Basara Club members were notified about a new batch of merchandise today too.

There will be four different stickers to decorate your membership card or IC cards (¥500 each):


A smooth towel (¥1,500):


A mirror (¥800):


And a clear file set (¥1,000):


I can't afford to keep up with this series...

--

Anyway, I've posted what I think may be my last major update to my Sengoku Basara 4 reference guide for the time being - until people report that I've missed something important. It got pretty long. The people over at the Sengoku Basara wiki have been doing some great work using the translated information to produce proper guides (I love this one!) and the fans over at Koei Warriors have been busily writing up story translations to give people who don't speak Japanese some help. Other fans have been making videos, writing reviews, drawing pictures and offering encouragement; it's an amazing community.

The flurry of activity around Sengoku Basara over the past few weeks has been wonderful after the quietness a year ago, and the new anime should give the series another boost too. Hopefully those fans who are still waiting for their copies don't have to be patient too much longer; it's weirdly exciting hearing about other people ordering and receiving the game even when I already have it on my shelf.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sengoku Basara 4 launch day roundup

What a wonderful time I had yesterday!

It was my final day in Japan, so I headed out bright and early to Bic Camera in Shinjuku, Tokyo to see what was happening with the launch event there. Series producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki was scheduled to appear at noon for a one-hour signing and handshake event, and people who had bought the game from the shop were also eligible for a raffle with some awesome prizes such as seiyuu autographs and staff jackets.

(I'd originally planned to pick up a standard edition of the game from a local branch of Tsutaya at midnight, so a last minute shuffling of preorders was necessary. A copy of the Hyakka Ryouran Tamatebako special edition is on its way to my home address separately.)

Anyway, after a fun trip on the Yamanote line (which is playing Sengoku Basara 4 commercials on its screens in every train carriage at the moment) I was at Bic Camera when it opened at 10:00am and immediately picked up my copy of the game. Everyone else in the queue seemed to be buying Sengoku Basara 4 as well.


Bic's special preorder bonus was the Shima Sakon cover and DLC code so that's what I received. I'm pretty happy about that; the costume is awesome and I can buy the ones I'm missing later once they're available on PSN.


Once you had purchased the game, you could visit a booth in the centre of the games department and collect a ticket for the launch event.


There was over an hour to kill until the event began so I headed out to the Marui Annex building on the other side of Shinjuku station and popped into the special Capcom shop which is only there for a limited time.


I'd already visited the normal Capcom shop in Odaiba's Aqua City a few days earlier. However, the temporary store was much better stocked with Sengoku Basara 4 goods - I spent some money there and came away with a free Date Masamune sticker and Monster Hunter bag for my collection. If you happen to be in Japan in the next few weeks I'd recommend the Shinjuku store over the usual Odaiba branch!


It was then time to head back for the signing. I took my place in the line and after what felt like an eternity the staff assembled everyone in the same order in which they collected their tickets, to ensure that those who bought the game earliest were rewarded. Each person was allowed to present one item to KobaP for signing, and he made conversation to learn about their experiences with the series. The items which people brought were varied; one girl had a huge cloth from the recent Ichiban Kuji lottery which looked quite challenging to sign. One of the books inside the special edition of the game had some white pages which were perfect for an autograph.

There were around 50 people at the midweek event and I'd say that around 15-20 of them were male, which is a lot compared to the usual demographics I see following the series. It was easy to see that everyone else was just as crazy about Sengoku Basara as the hardcore fans in the west; one guy trembled happily as he unwrapped his special edition for KobaP to sign.

When it came to my turn, KobaP surprised me with a friendly "Good morning!" before switching to Japanese. He was much more relaxed than he seems in interviews and on stage, asking me how long I'd been following the series and when I arrived in the country. He said it was a shame the series didn't do so well overseas but I didn't press the matter at all; he could plainly see how passionate foreign fans could be for himself and it seemed churlish to moan on launch day.

KobaP signed my game sleeve twice, both in the usual way and then by writing his name in kanji as a treat since I was from overseas. It was a very funny conversation. Once it was time to leave, he shook my hand warmly and thanked me for buying the game.


As I left I was permitted to enter the raffle and although I didn't win one of the rarer prizes, it shouldn't be too hard to find a use for a free set of Sengoku Basara 4 badges.


After the signing I was so excited that I had to find some way to settle down before getting on the train, so I walked around Shinjuku station looking for the brand new Sengoku Basara 4 posters which had been set up. It took me a while to work out where they are (they're inside the JR ticket gates) and I'm not sure I found all forty characters as there seemed to be two posters for each warrior, which made it hard to keep track.


Still, I had a great deal of fun taking photographs of them all - as did a group of giggly girls I ran into on the way. They were trying to take a picture of Muneshige while dodging the Shinjuku station crowds.


I was very pleased this morning when I checked the news and saw that the foreign attendees (myself and someone from Taiwan, apparently) made the headlines on a few sites. KobaP specifically mentioned his delight at seeing fans from overseas since Sengoku Basara 4 isn't being released there, so it seems that we got through to him! He must have even remembered which countries we were from and reported it to the press since nobody else was within earshot when I told him.

A few official pictures from the event can be seen on the Dengeki, Famitsu and 4Gamer websites.

--

With some free time I had last night, I added character unlock requirements and route listings to my reference materials post as well as a pair of final(?) stage lists (for standard and one-on-one stages). I'm not sure how the standard stages might vary depending on the character so I've used the V Jump listings as a guide. I'll update the other tables very soon - probably on Saturday. If I'm late it's because the game ended up being too fun.

--

Finally, I spent the evening watching the newest episode of the official Sengoku Basara 4 live stream. The two hosts, Kanada Satoshi and Nakada Kurumi, were finally allowed to get their hands on the game and try it out. KobaP seemed very cheerful and relaxed after his solid day of shaking hands with fans and being interviewed by the press; it must be a great relief to have reached launch day successfully!

The hosts played as Oichi and Nobunaga on Sourin's Ootomo Xavi Land: Grand Opening stage, showing off the usual two player co-op feature. They accidentally forgot to perform a Giga Basara so KobaP relented and let them play again on Kaga: Maeda Kabuki-Matsuri. It looked as though they both had a lot of fun even without much previous experience with the series.


Freelance games journalist Mafia Kajita and seiyuu Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie) were the special guests later on the show. Mafia got to play as Gotou Matabee on Osaka: Dragon-Tiger Formation and he was very confident, tagging between Matabee and partner Kanbee to deal out plenty of punishment. I enjoyed watching him in action very much.


Next came Okamoto with Katsuie on a stage I hadn't seen properly before, The Emperor: Granting An Audience. Okamoto enjoys gaming so he was putting in a lot of effort; unfortunately Yoshiteru is a tough foe and he ended up defeating Katsuie in a hard-fought battle.

The usual challenge session with Dogma Kazami and Aoki Shiki (Maou) followed. They had fifteen minutes to play together and get a 1,000 hit combo. Maou used Naotora on the Osaka: Toyotomi Hajou stage and much to her excitement Naotora was dressed in her DLC wedding dress (partner Yukimura was in his blue DLC costume too).


The fan service didn't end there; the challenge team chose Masamune in his Dante costume along with Mitsunari in his Vergil DLC, and together they took on Nobunaga's Oda: Azuchi Castle stage. The usual round of news closed out the show.


Next fortnight's episode will be the final one in this series, and Nakamura Yuuichi (Shima Sakon) will be the guest seiyuu. You can book a timeshift already at the Nico Nico Live page.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

News roundup: Sengoku Basara 4 is released today!

It's finally time for the release of Sengoku Basara 4!

Quite a few people have already received their copies so live streams and spoilers are appearing all over the Internet. People have posted alternate costumes, unlock details, trophy lists and all kinds of juicy details - which I'm trying to ignore until I have my copy of the game in my hand! One interesting note I have seen confirmed with a screenshot is that gamers who have saves for Sengoku Basara 3, Sengoku Basara 3 Utage and/or Sengoku Basara HD Collection on their PS3 will be eligible to receive some bonus weapon enhancement items and play books in-game instead of having to earn them the usual way.

In the meantime, here are the latest news updates.

Sengoku Basara 4 makes the cover of Weekly Famitsu magazine

Today's issue of Weekly Famitsu (dated 6th February 2014) has dedicated its cover to Sengoku Basara 4 as well as a generous number of pages within the magazine. A gorgeous advertisement spread over two pages helps make the game's release date feel more real, too.

Inside is another introduction to the game and some tips to get players started.

Several people are already posting the unlock requirements for the characters which aren't available at the start on forums. I'll be adding this information to my guide in bulk as soon as it's all confirmed, but until then I'm only going to post the unlock requirements which are confirmed to be correct to avoid confusion. Weekly Famitsu confirmed two of these: to play as Gotou Matabee, the player must clear the game as Shima Sakon. To play as Yamanaka Shikanosuke, it's necessary to clear the game as Maeda Keiji.

There are also a pair of interviews; one with musicians SCANDAL and another with Kobayashi Hiroyuki and Yamamoto Makoto together. Neither says anything much that wasn't already known long ago, though YamamotoD recommends that seasoned players who want something more should make sure they check out Keiji's drama route.

Incidentally, it was poor Yukimura who suffered the indignity of a misspelt name in this issue. Someone at Weekly Famitsu really needs to brush up on their Japanese history!

Lastly, there's a list of items that will be available in the Basara-ya Online Shop (i.e. paid DLC):
  • Unlock all playable characters (¥200).
  • Date Masamune special costume DMC Dante Ver. (¥300).
  • Classic Sengoku Basara series music collection - set of 70 tracks (¥1,500).
  • Sengoku Starter Pack (¥300).
  • Creation Starter Pack (¥100).
The last two are booster packs containing in-game weapon enhancement items. The Sengoku Starter Pack includes 100 pieces of tamahagane steel, 10,000 whetstones, 750,000 ryou in cash and 450,000 experience points for you to distribute from your Inrou box. The Creation Starter Pack is the one that PSN preorders receive for free, with 30 pieces of tamahagane steel, 3,000 whetstones, 250,000 ryou in cash and 150,000 experience in your Inrou. I think I'll save my money for costumes.

Unrelated to Sengoku Basara 4, the magazine included an article about trends in the popularity of various Sengoku-era commanders amongst gamers. I figured that this might interest some people so here's a translation. First is the list of the top twenty from a survey of 2,805 gamers:

1. Oda Nobunaga
2. Date Masamune
3. Uesugi Kenshin
4. Sanada Yukimura
5. Takeda Shingen
6. Toyotomi Hideyoshi
7. Tokugawa Ieyasu
8. Akechi Mitsuhide
9. Mouri Motonari
10. Maeda Toshiie
11. Ishida Mitsunari
12. Katou Kiyomasa
13. Shimazu Yoshihiro
14. Azai Nagamasa
15. Tachibana Muneshige
16. Saitou Dousan
17. Uesugi Kagekatsu
18. Houjou Souun
19. Matsunaga Hisahide
20. Toudou Takatora

They also listed the ranking for non-gamers, though it was extremely similar. The only person who wouldn't have made the list was Matsunaga Hisahide as he ranked 21st for non-gamers (unfortunately, the person who would have replaced him wasn't shown). The gaps between each 'tier' of popularity were much greater for gamers; 24.9% ranked Nobunaga in first place while only 17.6% of the general public chose him, and for Date Masamune it was 20.2% of gamers to 14.2% of non-gamers. Again, the full information is missing but it seems that the general public spread their votes over a large number of warriors who didn't make the top twenty.

Analysis suggested that the Sengoku Basara series might be contributing to Masamune's high ranking especially as he ranks higher with women. Additional statistics showed the top five for male gamers (1,902 votes):

1. Oda Nobunaga (28.2%)
2. Date Masamune (21.1%)
3. Uesugi Kenshin (19.4%)
4. Sanada Yukimura (17.2%)
5. Takeda Shingen (16.8%)

And for non-gamers (3,294 votes):

1. Oda Nobunaga (20.2%)
2. Uesugi Kenshin (16.2%)
3. Date Masamune (15.7%)
4. Takeda Shingen (12.8%)
5. Sanada Yukimura (12.6%)

The female gamer top five (903 votes):

1. Date Masamune (18.5%)
2. Oda Nobunaga (17.9%)
3. Uesugi Kenshin (14.8%)
4. Sanada Yukimura (11.5%)
5. Takeda Shingen (10.0%)

And the female non-gamer top five (2,873 votes):

1. Oda Nobunaga (14.7%)
2. Date Masamune (12.6%)
3. Uesugi Kenshin (9.4%)
4. Sanada Yukimura (7.6%)
5. Takeda Shingen (5.6%)

Sengoku Basara 4 strategy guide goes on sale

The usual authorised strategy guide for the game will be made available today too for those who want more information about the unlockable content and some nice pictures.

The 248-page V Jump guide is titled Sengoku Basara 4 PS3 Edition: Sengoku Sousei Eiyuutan Dramatic Heroes Guide and costs ¥1,400. It can be purchased from websites such as Amazon Japan, e-Capcom and HMV Japan. You should also be able to order it at any other store with its ISBN number (978-4-08-779680-3).

As well as the usual information, illustrations and tips, the book boasts three additional bonuses for buyers:

1. The one-shot manga which ran in Jump SQ a few weeks ago will be included in the strategy guide. I reviewed Kawahara Kanji's Sengoku Basara 4 ~Shima Sakon Ga Umareta Hi~ ('The Day Shima Sakon Was Born') a few weeks ago and it will be good to have a more durable copy for future reference.

2. Buyers will receive a password to watch a video showing seiyuu Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie) and Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika) playing and commenting on Sengoku Basara 4.

3. The book will also include a code for a unique PS3 custom theme redeemable through PlayStation Network.

Interestingly the official content listing mentions a total of 39 stages, so some secret or alternate stages must be missing from the guide. We already know that there are more than 40 in the game from staff interviews.

'Secret' character figure from the Mame Sengoku Basara trading figures set is revealed

This news article contains spoilers for some merchandise, so please skip ahead if you prefer 'secret' characters to remain hidden until after you buy something.

The new set of nine Mame Sengoku Basara trading figures started to appear on store shelves at the beginning of this week and I can now confirm that the secret character is sadly not Keiji as I'd hoped (why am I always chasing after Keiji figures?). It's actually just another Date Masamune except his outfit is white instead of blue, like the special edition Revoltech and one of the secret variants in last year's trading figure set. Oh well!

I can also confirm that the secret metal strap characters are Motonari and Motochika, and that both the collectible stickers and mini clear files have a secret variant with Masamune in the hakama costume from his 'BSR48' video. Meanwhile, the 'last one' variants of Yukimura and Masamune from the Ichiban Kuji lottery are the same as the normal ones except with a 'pearl' finish to the paint on their outfits.

I've been putting my time and energy into useful research during this holiday...

There have been a bunch of new videos over the last few days

The two commercials (action and drama versions) have been playing on Japanese television and in train stations throughout Tokyo for a while now, and you can barely go anywhere in the heart of the capital without seeing Sengoku Basara 4 somewhere nearby. The marketing push for the game has been truly fantastic.

A short clip with KobaP and Mami from SCANDAL (the performers of the game's ending song) has also been uploaded.

The last two countdown videos were Katsuie on Maria's Tango: Sengenji stage and Sakon on Yoshiteru's Eiroku Palace: Resolution.

Meanwhile, the hardworking fan team of Nine Demons Yoshitaka and PSandNintendFreak have produced a subtitled version of the third character trailer to help English speakers get a full idea of what's going on.

Tune in tonight for another official Sengoku Basara 4 streaming show

Tonight is the next episode of the official fortnightly Sengoku Basara 4 broadcasts, and the special guest is Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie). He's really sweet and interested in the game so it should be quite a fun one to watch. The stream will start at 22:00 Japan time as usual.

There will apparently be another Hagi-Toko stream too earlier in the day. The dates posted by the Famitsu website were jumbled when I checked, so I think it begins at 12:00 Japan time. I won't be around to confirm nearer the time, so I hope that fans can find it if it goes ahead.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Event report: Sengoku Basara 4: Basara Matsuri 2014 ~Shinshun No Utage~

I've just arrived home from my trip to today's Sengoku Basara 4: Basara Matsuri 2014 ~Shinshun No Utage~ event (hereafter 'Basara Matsuri'). I can't remember everything that happened, so a full report will come later once the event recording has been released on DVD; still, I hope that what I can recall now will be interesting to someone out there!

Basara Matsuri was held at the Nippon Seinenkan Great Hall in the heart of Tokyo. It was a small event with around 1,300 attendees at each of the two performances - naturally, obtaining tickets was a dreadful struggle which left many disappointed. To alleviate this, Capcom broadcast the second show of the day across cinemas all over Japan so that people who didn't manage to get tickets could still enjoy the atmosphere of the live event.

As this was technically the pre-release party for Sengoku Basara 4, the guest list was small and entirely made up of seiyuu from the game:

Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie)
Miki Shinichirou (Gotou Matabee)
Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji)
Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika)
Ikeda Shuuichi (Ashikaga Yoshiteru)
Seki Tomokazu (Ishida Mitsunari)
Okiayu Ryoutarou (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)

Afternoon show only: Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura)
Evening show only: Nakai Kazuya (Date Masamune)

Series producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki was also in attendance. Nakamura Yuuichi (Shima Sakon) had been scheduled to appear and had to pull out right at the last minute due to sickness. He's an extremely popular voice actor so this caused a lot of disappointment, which people tried to mask by wishing him a swift recovery on Twitter.

I arrived two hours before the doors opened even though it was ridiculously cold and windy in central Tokyo in January. In spite of this, the Mitsunari happi coats sold out while I was still in the queue for merchandise and the Masamune ones followed a few minutes later. There was a report that the Sakon coats sold out too, but the staff had a couple left later on - perhaps a few people decided against their purchases after hearing that Nakamura wouldn't be appearing?


Anyway, I bought most of the merchandise I wanted and got to see the amazing Date Masamune statue they commissioned for TGS 2013 in the flesh. It's huge! The game demos at the venue used the TGS demo build of the game since it was too chaotic to control the crowds properly; I wasn't interested in the old demo build so I didn't bother queueing for a turn.

When the doors opened, I took my weirdly-low-down seat in the theatre hall and watched trailers for the game for close to an hour. If I wasn't already buying the game I'd have been brainwashed into doing so by now quite effectively. When I was queueing, it was hard not to notice that everyone around me was female (I saw perhaps five males in the crowd the entire time I was there). However, right in front of me was a large group of adult men dressed quite smartly. It wasn't until just before the show started that I realised I was right behind the press area and the men lined up in front of me were all representatives from the big gaming magazines. Furthermore, two seats in front of me was director Yamamoto Makoto himself! I could have leaned forward and touched him at any time during the show as he stared down at the actors on stage (if I wanted to terrify him, that is).

The afternoon show began with a laugh-out-loud hilarious skit with Mitsunari and Hideyoshi reading out the rules. This was one of the best ones yet! Hideyoshi demanded to know where Hanbee and Gyoubu were, and Mitsunari's excuses for what they were up to were ridiculous. Then, as they read out the rules about setting your phone to silent mode, Mitsunari's cellphone started to ring. He almost died of shame apologising to Hideyoshi. The crowd was laughing from the start of the skit to the end.

After the rules were explained the show opened with a stirring performance of one of the new BGM tracks from the game performed live on stage with wind instruments. As it played, a reel showing all (?) of the 'Basara-zu' ink painting artwork from the game was shown in the background. There was no text but I spotted a few I hadn't seen before: a ship, black feathers, a nabe pot, three fish, a crane, a spider in its web, a demonic face (it could have been a noh mask?), some kind of furious furry animal and a scary-looking eye. Please understand that they flashed up very quickly and I had to remember them for three hours before I could make any notes, so my memory might not be perfect! It's easy to match most of them to the characters they must belong to, and the rest can be worked out without too much trouble. I'll wait for the two-character Basara-zu titles which accompany them before adding them to my ongoing list.

The opening to the game came next with the music turned up to the highest, most exciting level. I've already seen it quite a few times in game shops and it's still fantastic, especially on a big screen.

Next came a selection of dramatic dialogues from various story encounters in Sengoku Basara 4; if I recall correctly they were Katsuie versus Hideyoshi, Matabee versus Masamune and Kojuurou, then Sakon versus Yukimura and Masamune. The parts performed by seiyuu who weren't at the event were prerecorded. Watching Miki reading out Matabee's quavering lines in person is intensely creepy.

The usual introductions and discussion segment followed. Morita and KobaP were both dressed in gorgeous traditional formal wear and trying to promote the New Year theme of the event. At the end of the chat the cast had to present a kanji character to describe their character: both Hoshi and Okamoto chose 'change' (which made everyone laugh at first since the word on its own can also mean 'weird'). Okamoto explained that Katsuie goes through a lot of changes, while Hoshi gave a rather rambling explanation about how Yukimura doesn't change - yet he changes a little.

Anyway, after Hoshi had confused everyone it was Seki who picked the best kanji: 'hair'. After giving the main reason (he's obsessed with Mitsunari's hairstyle and brings it up whenever he can), he gave a sweet alternate explanation that the kanji character represents Mitsunari's relationship with Gyoubu because it contains the radicals for 'long' and 'friendship'. Aww...

Next came some Sengoku Basara 4 gameplay in the form of a team battle between pairs of seiyuu. They had to play as their own characters on the Battle of Sekigahara: Eastern Sun stage in two pairs. They were trying to get as many kills as possible within 10 minutes, and after 5 minutes had elapsed they had to switch to their tag partner (played by their teammate).

This was very funny as some seiyuu were much better than others - Hoshi didn't really know how to play. He got into a dreadful mess, shouting at Masamune when he kept attacking him and eventually dying to Tadakatsu. As it was tag mode he was able to revive himself and continue, and with the help of a Giga Basara and his teammate (Okamoto) having started them off strongly in the first place, the Yukimura/Katsuie team managed to win. Even though Hoshi's bumbling was adorable, it couldn't compare to the antics of the other team. Okiayu was giving in-character commentary as Hideyoshi while he played, then when Morita tagged in he started to criticise him whenever he screwed up with lines like "Keiji! That's me!"and "Keiji! Kill them more quickly!".

The winning team drew seat numbers at random to give three fans unique prizes of New Year kagami mochi decorations signed by the cast members. I didn't win.

The short television commercials for the game were played while the stage was cleared, then KobaP presented his new batch of announcements. There will be Sengoku Basara 4 cough drops, prize draws, a tie-in with a bunch of Japanese Internet cafes, a huge advertising campaign in the world's biggest train station in Shinjuku, and a series of fan meetings through the official fan club.

There will also be a brand new television anime project. KobaP smiled at all of the inquiring faces and said he couldn't reveal the details just yet - I'm going to guess it will involve Production I.G. in some capacity though, since they've been contributing so much work to Sengoku Basara 4. Of course, it could be a Mame Sengoku Basara series...

Two new videos were presented as well. One was for the 'DMC Dante' version of Date Masamune, a downloadable costume available on 23rd January 2014 for ¥300. The people around me were all screaming in delight when the name appeared on the screen and this continued during the short clip.


The second video was a highlights reel from Sengoku Creation Mode starring Date Masamune, designed to attract people to the way that the stories are presented between (and during) battles. It showed Masamune's introduction then the player picked Shikanosuke's stage, so we had some footage from that. The main attraction of this video was actually the voiceover covering a little of the early part of Masamune's story with Kojuurou. Yet a short clip of Motonari flying through the sky on his airship when one of his stages appeared distracted most people in the audience...

KobaP begged everyone to keep the announcements secret until the evening show had started (the press reporters were doing the same) to avoid spoiling things for all of the fans who were going to watch it broadcast in cinemas. A final round of dialogue performances ended the show: Keiji versus Yoshiteru, Aniki versus Mitsunari and Yukimura and lastly Katsuie versus Sakon.

--

The second performance was similar to the first except that Nakai replaced Hoshi and a few things were shuffled around. The evening's opening skit was performed by Masamune and Katsuie; Katsuie awkwardly trying to repeat Masamune's English in his dull voice was very cute! At the end, Masamune wanted to call out to the crowd so he and Katsuie had to yell "Are you ready, guys?" together several times to get us to respond. It sounded so peculiar to hear Masamune's shout accompanied by a monotonous, unenthusiastic "Are you ready, guys?" from Katsuie...

In the talk segment, instead of describing their characters with a kanji word everyone had their character's fortune read for 2014. Poor Mitsunari ended up with 'misfortune' while Hideyoshi got 'great luck'.

The last major difference came with the gameplay battle. This time, the teams were Hideyoshi/Mitsunari and Katsuie/Masamune and the stage was Battle of Sekigahara: Western Shadow. Okiayu was struggling until he tagged Mitsunari in and passed control to Seki, at which point Mitsunari's natural skill at hurtling around racking up masses of kills came into play. Okiayu couldn't help gasping (in Hideyoshi's voice) that "Ishida Mitsunari is...great.". They won by a large margin. Like Hoshi, Nakai wasn't actually very good at the game and Okamoto's skill couldn't compensate for the difference in performance.


In case it isn't obvious, I had a great deal of fun at the event despite the dreadful stress of obtaining tickets through the annoying lottery system several months ago. It was a privilege to see the seiyuu performing in person once again, and I'm even more hyped for Sengoku Basara 4 (and the new anime project!) than I was before.

You can see some official press reports at the following links: Famitsu, Dengeki (2), Game Watch, 4Gamer

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Event report: Sagamihara in-store Sengoku Basara 4 demo event

I have a confession to make: I'm in Japan at the moment, and this morning I hopped on a train and went to the Wonder GOO store in Sagamihara to line up for a chance to play Sengoku Basara 4 a few days before it goes on sale.


I had deliberately picked a store which was off the beaten path in order to reduce the chance of disappointment, and this paid off - there were only a few people in the queue ahead of me when I arrived, and the lovely man in charge issued me a ticket for the demo without any problems. A small bench was set up in front of one of the shop's regular demo stations, and two Capcom employees hovered nearby to make sure nobody tried anything suspicious.


The demo involved playing through the first stage of Sengoku Creation Mode as one of the nine starting characters (it was the final version of the game). You could pick which stage you played from the limited selection available, but every character started off at level one and customisation of your settings wasn't allowed. In addition, only the first two difficulty levels were available; it looks as though the harder ones will require unlocking as usual.

The person who was playing when I arrived had chosen Keiji, and she obligingly pulled off a Giga Basara move which confirmed that his Basara-zu artwork and title from the manga adaptation were accurate. Keiji's default battle comrade is apparently Magoichi (though I didn't see the start, so it's possible they picked her I guess) and the level she'd chosen was Osaka: Toyotomi Hajou. I missed most of the detail in my excitement, but hearing Hideyoshi's voice rumbling through the store really got me in the mood to play.

The next person in the queue deliberated for a while then picked Hideyoshi (whose default partner is Hanbee, of course). She headed out to the Kawanakajima: Takeda Lines stage and showed off Hideyoshi's gameplay beautifully, smashing Sasuke into the ground and tearing through Yukimura and Shingen. Again, I was too excited at the time to be able to recall many details closely now I'm back at my hotel.

Since I wouldn't have been able to play Hideyoshi as well as the girl before me had, I decided to try one of the new characters when my turn came. Sakon was the obvious choice since I wanted to get a feel for his stance changes in action - and if I'm truly honest, it's also because I'm better with quick, simple characters and I was terrified of dying humiliatingly in front of the other fans. It would be very embarrassing to have travelled all that way to try the demo only to have my session cut short by overconfidence!

The stage I chose was Oushuu: Aoba Castle. This was partly because I hadn't seen this stage in a proper gameplay video before, and partly because I'm a shameless fan of the Date forces. It's another horse race against Masamune and the source of those amazing flying scenes from the second promotional video. While I didn't do too well against Masamune on horseback - the twisty map is quite disorientating when you're against the clock - dismounting to beat up the enemy formations and bases was as deliriously fun as ever. Sakon is very quick but without feeling quite as frenetic as Mitsunari or Kotarou; he'll be a character worth coming back to once the real game is in my hands and I can try him out at a higher level.

The game controls felt very solid, even if the decision to shuffle commands around to put the battle comrade controls within easy reach will take some getting used to. The graphics looked crisper than ever and the motion felt more fluid somehow; it's most noticeable when you change between high and low ground on stages with mixed terrain. Taking bases is much improved by the changes they've made to make it easier to hit the camp commanders. Some of these impressions might have been down to Sakon's light, acrobatic movements.

It wasn't long before I'd kicked and slashed my way through Kojuurou and Masamune, bringing my time with the game to a close until next week. The person after me in the queue cheekily carried on from where I left off, picking the Ootomo Xavi Land theme park stage and convulsing with laughter every time Sourin or Muneshige did anything. The reels at the top of the screen ended up on Waltz, Fight and something I don't quite remember - Fantastic?

After each person was finished, one of the Capcom employees handed them a written survey to complete. The questions were quite simple, asking about the consoles you owned and planned to buy, your favourite platform and which character you liked most (Kojuurou, obviously). You had to say which of the older games you'd played, too, and what you thought of the demo. The representative was very friendly and kept chatting to me about what I thought about the game. I said that I loved it and we were going to play it back home in the UK - then lamented that my partner couldn't read Japanese well so it was problematic being a fan of the series. Every bit of feedback counts, right?

People who completed the survey were given a selection of rewards: a Sengoku Basara 4 bag, a Capcom notepad and a pen. Not bad!


It's a shame that there weren't more people at the event. Every single person there besides one of the Capcom staff members was female and nobody else had brought friends, so it was a very quiet session. The other gamers were smiling just as widely as I was when their turns came. Of course, one reason for the poor attendance was probably that another event started today and the brand new Ichiban Kuji lottery has been attracting large queues of fans from the moment stores opened this morning. Some people might be planning to queue up for a demo at tomorrow's Basara Matsuri event as well!

It's the weekend so there isn't too much news to report other than this. There'll be a lot more tomorrow, and until then you can check out this Famitsu report from the opening of the Oedo Onsen Monogatari tie-in event for some amusing pictures (including KobaP modelling some of the merchandise).

Speaking of today's Ichiban Kuji lottery, I went a little crazy myself in pursuit of the Keiji figure (which I completely failed to obtain)...



Book review: Sengoku Basara 4: Sengoku Sousei! ~Shutsujin No Sho~

I'm calling it a book, but Sengoku Basara 4: Sengoku Sousei! ~Shutsujin No Sho~ is actually a glossy commemorative magazine rather than a durable guide. The official guide book will be released next week along with the Sengoku Basara 4 game itself.

Shutsujin No Sho, then, is more of a preview of the game to whet fans' appetites ahead of the big day next Thursday. It was released on 17th January 2014 for ¥1,500, and you can purchase it through all good import stores such as Amazon Japan, CD Japan, and Yesasia. This official preview article gives a good idea of what to expect from the contents.

Firstly, there are two sets of physical extras: four unique Mame Sengoku Basara badges for Masamune, Sakon, Katsuie and Mitsunari, and a clear poster which looks identical to the cover artwork without all of the text on top of it. Both are nice bonuses which help justify the price of this magazine.

Most of the magazine's content is made up of old information, unfortunately. There are character profiles for all forty warriors who appear in Sengoku Basara 4, and for some reason the first chapter of the official Sengoku Basara 4 manga adaptation by Yoshihara Motoko is replicated in its entirety - surely anyone who wanted to read it that badly would already have purchased Dengeki Maoh last month?

One thing I did find moderately useful was a chart at the beginning which shows which characters belong to each faction for the new game. Since I've seen a few people are confused, I'll replicate the important parts.

Friday, 17 January 2014

News roundup: Even more videos and launch event details

Once again there's a lot of news to summarise from the last couple of days. I think Capcom is trying to exhaust me even before the game has been released...

As well as the karaoke contest (you can win signed SCANDAL or T.M.Revolution posters by scoring well on certain songs) and a skill-based contest in conjunction with Strider Hiryuu, there's a slew of new videos and event information to keep track of. The new commemorative magazine/book went on sale today as well, and I'll be posting a summary for it as soon as I can.

Starting lineup confirmed for Sengoku Basara 4's Sengoku Creation mode

A Gpara article has been posted which states that there will be nine playable characters available when you first start Sengoku Creation mode: Masamune, Mitsunari, Sakon, Katsuie, Yukimura, Ieyasu, Keiji, Hideyoshi and Naotora.

My Capcom's Tokusei Kawaraban shows Masamune on Shikanosuke's stage

You need a My Capcom account to see the report (it's free and I've posted instructions for setting one up in the past if needed). Shikanosuke looks very cute, and I want to see more about his position in the Amago forces.

This Sunday's Basara Matsuri event will include demos of Sengoku Basara 4

Attendees at this weekend's Sengoku Basara 4: Basara Matsuri 2014 ~Shinshun No Utage~ event will have limited access to a demo of the game at the venue. The event itself has been sold out since the tickets first went on sale, but it sounds as though some of the machines will be in a communal area for fans without tickets too. The demand for the demo is likely to be intense...

Capcom shop opens in Shinjuku for a limited time

The Marui Annexe building in Shinjuku, Tokyo will be hosting a special Capcom shop until 28th February 2014. Customers who spend more than ¥1,000 will be presented with a Capcom coaster as a reward - there are several options for Sengoku Basara fans amongst the coaster designs on offer!

Toyotomi Hideyoshi's gameplay video marks six days until Sengoku Basara 4

The next gameplay video was released earlier today and it shows Hideyoshi on Pirate Fortress: Hyakki Fugaku.


Yesterday's video showed off Hanbee on the Kaga: Maeda Kabuki Matsuri stage.


And the Basara-bu Otomegumi have posted another video too. Whew!

Reminder: There will be a number of live broadcasts next week

Monday 20th January (20:00): Hagi-Toko with Kadowaki Akihito (alternative link)
Wednesday 22nd January (20:00): Famitsu Live broadcast with KobaP
Thursday 23rd January (21:00): Hagi-Toko (not sure whether this will cover the game)
Thursday 23rd January (22:00): Capcom Sengoku Basara 4 special episode 4

All times are Japanese, so please adjust for your time zone.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

News: Two Japanese gaming magazines cover Sengoku Basara 4 the week before its release

I now have today's Weekly Famitsu magazine (dated 30th January 2014) so here's a quick run-through of the contents which relate to Sengoku Basara 4. I'm still on the road so this is a hasty summary.

Sengoku Basara 4 is now in 6th place (down from 4th) in Weekly Famitsu's chart of most wanted new games. It has received a Platinum score in its formal review this issue with a total of 35 points.

Leona Ebihara: The comedic elements and heated developments as the game progresses are enjoyable, as are the battle comrade system and variations in battle tactics. The branching drama and anime routes expand the scope of play. (9 points)
Jigoro☆Ashida: The way that the stages which appear in Sengoku Creation mode vary is fun. The battle comrades and enemy formations made the action seem broader. The rewarding feeling given by the weapon fusion and upgrade system was also noteworthy. (9 points)
Honma Urara: As you play through stages there are changes in your rival(s) and the scenario, and there's a dramatic sense to the direction. The new battle tactics which come out of the unique stages and enemies make it more fun, along with being able to instruct your ally. (9 points)
Rolling Uchizawa: It's a silly game (in a good way) with a unique way of looking at the world. The comedy and flashy drama ensures that the player won't be bored, and there's a lot of variety in issuing instructions to attack enemy formations. However, the way that things develop are familiar and there's a sense that it's just button-bashing. (8 points)

One feature asks game professionals, stores and users to give comments on a few titles (including Sengoku Basara 4). A few interesting ones...
  • eb! Marketing said that response to the series overseas was generally lukewarm, but noted that there were eager fans in Singapore, Hong Kong and within Japan itself so it sells well in Asia. They're cautiously predicting that the new game will sell about as well as Sengoku Basara 3.
  • One store noted that there had been a lot of interest from female fans even though it was an action game, and said that they expected sales to pick up from word of mouth recommendations.
The main article itself is a recap of all of the game features which have already been highlighted in previous issues of the magazine. The DLC which was touted before turned out to be a 63-page electronic supplement which recaps every single Sengoku Basara 4 article from the pages of the magazine since its announcement. It's not in-game DLC.

The next issue of Weekly Famitsu will continue the Sengoku Basara 4 coverage with an interview and strategy information.

The new issue of Dengeki Playstation (volume 558) out today has a major feature on the new game, too. Sengoku Basara 4 has made the cover of the magazine for the second time.

It's the Dengeki Playstation coverage where the second batch of rumours BlackKite found originated. The game's lead staff members, KobaP and YamamotoD, both gave special comments for publication in the magazine. KobaP's statement ends with this:

"Besides the game, we're still preparing more developments for 2014! Although I can't yet say what, 2014 will be a varied year with things like _ _, _ _ _ _ _ and _ _ _ _! Thank you for supporting the Sengoku Basara series this year as well!!"

As I said before, I think that the guess for _ _ is probably Butai as BlackKite's source surmised, and we're going to get another stage play. It would make sense. The other two are going to be a surprise.

The rest of the Dengeki Playstation coverage is a recap, like the one in Weekly Famitsu. There are a few pictures of stage interface elements which I don't think I've seen before, though they're small and waiting for the website updates later this week will probably be more worthwhile than tracking them down sooner. The game is currently in 3rd place in Dengeki Playstation's chart of upcoming titles and there'll be strategy information for some of the new characters in the next issue.

More alternate costumes revealed for Sengoku Basara 4

A photograph is making its way around 2ch and Twitter showing the alternate costumes for Katsuie and Mitsunari (as well as the Sakon and Masamune ones we've already seen). These should be regular alternate costumes rather than DLC. The source is Weekly Famitsu - the pictures appear in the article, so it's definitely legitimate.

Launch events announced for Thursday 23rd January 2014

Capcom updated their news website yesterday to reveal two launch events which will take place on the day of Sengoku Basara 4's release next week. Fans who purchase the game at one of the two participating shops or their affiliates can turn up at noon on the day of release for a chance to win merchandise, autographs and even meet staff from the game series. In addition, fans who discuss the game on Twitter are eligible for a special mobile wallpaper showing Masamune in his wooden sword costume.

Series producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki will be present for the Tokyo launch event while director Yamamoto Makoto will be at the Osaka one. The venues are Bic Camera's Shinjuku Nishiguchi store in Tokyo, or Joshin Denki Disc Pier in Nipponbashi, Osaka.

Capcom have been putting a lot of effort into marketing recently (the game featured in a recent Yomiuri newspaper evening edition) so I hope the events are well-attended.

Matabee gameplay video released to mark eight days until Sengoku Basara 4

The Capcom Channel is continuing the daily countdown to the game's release with a gameplay video showing Matabee on Kanbee's Hinomoto Tunnels: Josui Line stage. Not sure how I feel about the long minecart section as I'm terrible at shooting...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

News roundup: More Sengoku Basara 4 collaborations start to appear as the release date approaches

I'm still travelling so it's difficult to update regularly, however I'm really fired up for the impending release of Sengoku Basara 4 just like everyone else! I've finally added the latest batch of Basara-e images to my guide and it's about time I caught up on the last few days of announcements, so here we go...

A selection of Sengoku Basara 4 dishes appear in bars and karaoke venues

To celebrate the game's release, the Capcom Bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo is bringing back a selection of popular dishes from its previous menu for a limited time. It's a shame that the delicious burdock pasta isn't one of them, but apart from that it looks like a great time to pay the bar a visit if you're in Tokyo and haven't been before.

If you prefer some musical entertainment with your Sengoku Basara cocktails, you can also pop in to a branch of Karaoke Pasela from 10th January until 22nd January 2014 for some special food and drink. Different branches of the chain will be offering different dishes, and there are pin badges to collect.

More information about the Oedo Onsen Monogatari event has surfaced as well, including pictures of the items that you can pick up (with new additions) and the food you can order. The number of attractions there is ridiculous - it should make a fun day out for anyone with an interest in the series.

That's not all; the latest place to join in is Sengoku Buyuuden, a Sengoku-themed bar in Shinjuku, very close to the Capcom Bar itself. It will be serving some unique Sengoku Basara food and drink from 16th January until 18th February 2014. Customers can also receive special coasters for ordering from the Sengoku Basara 4 menu.


The official Basara Club newsletter reveals Date Masamune's alternate costume

I'm very late to report this; the first issue of the new Basara Club newsletter apparently mentions Sakon's alternative costume (as previously revealed) and then teases a shot of Masamune's. The snippets of text I've seen imply that it's his standard alternate outfit, not DLC.

Some people have also posted pictures of the New Year card from the fan club as well as the newsletter's front cover.

Yamanaka Shikanosuke is the star of the newest gameplay video

The Capcom Channel has started its countdown to the game's release with a new gameplay compilation. It's difficult to say which part of Shikanosuke's new video is the best: Shikanosuke and Oyassan, the ridiculous Xavi Land stage or Muneshige fighting in his cute mascot costume. What happens when the reels at the top of the screen land on something different? The options shown this time were Dance, Pray and Exciting.


Separately, you can also see some gameplay from the Basara-bu Otomegumi team on the Capcom Channel at this link.

Sony's Play Community blog posts Motonari and Ieyasu gameplay videos

Demonstrating how important it is for fans to vote for their favourite character even in silly online polls, Sony posted gameplay videos for the two characters who managed to top their small character ranking survey a few weeks ago as few days ago. Motonari's video showed his Giga Basara title ('Nichirin') and artwork for the first time.


Fan-subtitled version of the fourth Sengoku Basara 4 promotional video

The team of Nine Demons Yoshitaka and PSandNintendFreak from the Koei Warriors forum have once again produced a full subtitled version of the latest PV in English and German.


The video information confirms that the team are planning to subtitle content from the game, so fans who were worried about not understanding the story can relax and import. Their speed and dedication is impressive!

Merchandise roundup

The issue of Dengeki Maoh magazine with the final chapter of Mame Sengoku Basara and the four limited edition pin badges (Yukimura, Ieyasu, Matabee and Shikanosuke) is now up for preorder at Amazon Japan. It should be available through all good importers if you need those badges, though some don't carry bulky magazines like Dengeki Maoh unless they're specifically requested.

We also now have cover artwork for the opening/ending theme song CD. The first press special edition is rather colourful.


The standard edition is similar with a more muted palette.


Last but not least, Ami Ami, CD Japan and Yesasia are listing a set of collectible posters for release in February. There are sixteen to track down, though the omission of a Hideyoshi for the Hanbee to be stuck next to mildly disappoints me.

Sengoku Basara 4 content is teased for Thursday's Weekly Famitsu magazine

The Famitsu website has posted a couple of news stories about how there will be a major feature on the game this week - but BlackKite at Koei Warriors has already found information which indicates that those of us who have been following the news this far are unlikely to be surprised. There have already been a bunch of character recaps on the Famitsu website recently to bring new fans up to date, so it might be little more than a pretty version of that...

Still, it's just five days until the big Basara Matsuri event so I'd say that an announcement or two is very likely over the next few days, especially since they're going to the trouble of streaming the evening show across Japanese cinemas. It's about time that they should be announcing the next stage play; anything else on top of that would be amazing!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

News roundup: Notes on the third fortnightly Nico Nico live Sengoku Basara 4 broadcast

Sorry, another short and sweet post as I'm too busy for a long one!

Kanada Satoshi and Nakada Kurumi returned as presenters once again, this time joined by producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki and seiyuu Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu). After the usual greetings, Ookawa took the reins and tried out Ieyasu on Mitsunari's Battle of Sekigahara: Western Shadow stage.


Ookawa (as Ieyasu and Tadakatsu) fought Sakon, Yukimura and Gyoubu before it was time to face Mitsunari. The confrontation with Yukimura led to the short scene where Ieyasu catches one of Yukimura's spears, as seen in previous footage. When Gyoubu was defeated, Mitsunari began yelling even more crazily than he does in Sengoku Basara 3.

Along the way Ookawa also unleashed Ieyasu's Giga Basara attack, giving us a good look at it for the first time. Ieyasu's two-character title is 東照 (Toushou - one of his titles meaning 'Light of the East') and his Basara-e illustration is a tanuki with a sun behind it. Tadakatsu's two-character title is 蜻蛉 ('dragonfly'), as is his picture.


After Ookawa's segment, KobaP joined Dogma Kazami and Aoki Shiki (Maou) for the two challenges. All they had to do this time was beat the level within 15 minutes.


The first challenge was Hanbee (and Gyoubu) on Aniki's Pirate Fortress: Hyakki Fugaku stage. We got a nice, clear look at their Giga Basara artwork with Gyoubu's 蝶星 'butterfly star'.


Near the end, Aniki's Akatsukimaru transformed into the colossal Hyakkimaru - it was very cool.


The second challenge took place on Kingo's Bizen: Ujou stage. Shikanosuke had to chase him down for the first half while he kept sneaking into quiet corners and supping on his nabe. After a fight with Tenkai later on, the player is required to accrue salt, miso or soy flavours according to the request on screen. The flavour bars and the pots the enemies carry are colour-coded so it doesn't look too difficult.


We were also treated to Sourin's Giga Basara artwork. It's a cherub playing a harp, and his title is 賛主 ('Lord of Praise').


The final announcement was that a group of three girls called the 'Basara-bu Otomegumi' (Basara Club: Maiden Team) will be making updates for the official Sengoku Basara 4 website each Friday starting from tomorrow. I found this segment less interesting than the rest (it didn't help that most of the comments on the Nico Nico stream were discussing the size of the girls' breasts).


Next fortnight's episode will be on the day that Sengoku Basara 4 is finally released! Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie) will be the seiyuu guest and freelance writer Mafia Kajita should also be appearing. You can book a timeshift for the next episode on this page.

--

Separately...
  • A few details have surfaced about the official strategy guide that Manga Oh was listing a while ago. e-Capcom has now listed it too and given it a proper name: the Sengoku Basara 4 Sengoku Sousei Eiyuutan Dramatic Heroes Guide. It will be in the V Jump line again.
  • The Pasela chain of karaoke establishments will be offering special Sengoku Basara 4 dishes and drinks once again. Customers who order the tie-in items will receive a randomly-selected character pin badge.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

News roundup: Weekly Famitsu magazine confirms Sengoku Basara 4 PSN preorder details

I'm on the road at the moment so please forgive this very abbreviated summary of today's Weekly Famitsu magazine (dated 23rd January 2014).

On the Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki interview I mentioned previously (not a full and literal translation as I don't have time):
  • He said that the team working on the Sengoku Basara series team is very small but they just about get by.
  • Sega's Yokoyama Masayoshi (Ryuu Ga Gotoku: Ishin) mentioned picking up the first Sengoku Basara back in the day and talked about how he enjoys historical settings. KobaP then brought up his experiences with the first Ryuu Ga Gotoku game; it's funny reading about staff from rival companies playing (and enjoying) one another's games.
  • KobaP was anxious during the development of Sengoku Basara 4 because the previous game had sold quite well, and he felt it would be difficult to follow it up now the series had got to its fourth main game. He noted that with Ryuu Ga Gotoku 4 they'd done a good job of increasing the scale of the game by spreading the story across the main characters.
  • They also talked about historical settings in games and the continuing appeal they seem to have for the Japanese audience. KobaP remarked on the many subtle nods to real-life history which crop up throughout the series (in between the crazy parts).
  • Yokoyama said that the Sengoku Basara characters make you want to know the story behind them.
  • Most of the interview repeated things that KobaP has already brought up in previous articles (or the benefit of new readers.
(Note: The Ryuu Ga Gotoku series is known as Yakuza in English-speaking regions.)

Another article mentioned next week's issue of Weekly Famitsu (dated 30th January 2014) will include some kind of Sengoku Basara 4 DLC in its special 'lucky bag' offer. There were no clues about what this DLC might be, though Masamune and Mitsunari were pictured next to the announcement which might be a clue. I'll report back when it goes on sale next Thursday; chances are details will leak a day or two early from Japanese sources.

The main Sengoku Basara 4 article talked about split-screen co-op, showing the interface. It looks the same as it did in Sengoku Basara 3 except the combo/money counts are shown separately for each player and the minimap has moved down to overlap with both halves of the screen. Perhaps it will make it easier to keep track of things in the heat of battle. The text emphasises the way you can combine your attacks with those of your ally.

Next came short introductions for the four main characters to help ease people into the game before its release. It was all old information, just presented in a more friendly way. A few stage introductions followed, covering Oushuu: Aoba Castle, Mikawa: Komaki-Nagakute, Kai: Tsutsujigasaki Yakata, Hinomoto Tunnels: Josui Line and Kaga Onsen: Gathering of Maidens. Again, fans who have been following the news for a while won't find much of interest in most of the descriptions, though the Kaga Onsen part had a few little snippets of information. The four 'maidens' who are gathered there for a 'suggestive' girls-only chat are Maria, Naotora, Tsuruhime and Magoichi. The male soldiers are shown being overwhelmed by Maria's 'sex appeal' and the stage introduction promises to have a sexy scene where you can see her bathing. Sadly, it also describes the setting as 'a hot springs paradise, only for maidens', which rather dashes my hopes of a comedic alternate version with the male characters.

(It would make good DLC, I guess.)

The final page of the article introduced more of the stages. Iyokouno Ship: Tsurunomaru has a number of bells you have to ring (the magazine speculates that doing so will allow you to meet the oracle). Kingo's stage Bizen: Ujou (Okayama Castle) has traps like giant rolling turnips and a nabe pot deep within the compound.

Other stages mentioned were Kaga: Maeda Kabuki Matsuri, Kaga Border: Shizugatake, Kawanakajima: Takeda Battle Formation, Azuchi-Shiten Gathering, Battle of Sekigahara: Eastern Sun, Osaka: Dragon-Tiger Formation, Takeda Otoko Dojo and Floating Fortress: Heavenly Sun. There wasn't much more than a small picture for each.

Last but not least there were details of the upcoming Playstation Network offerings for Sengoku Basara 4.

The preorder period for those wishing to buy the digital version of the game is now beginning and it will run up until 20th January 2014 on Japanese PSN. As a bonus for those who preorder, they'll receive the Date Masamune hakama/wooden sword DLC costume as well as a 'Creation Starter Pack' containing some items for weapon fusion (30 pieces of tamahagane steel and 3,000 whetstones), 250,000 ryou in cash and 150,000 experience in your Inrou.

All 32 playable characters will have PS3 avatars available on the Japanese PSN store from 9th January 2014. The avatars will cost ¥100 each or ¥800 if you want the full set. Between 9th January and 29th January 2014, there's a special campaign running which will allow you to purchase the individual avatars for just ¥50 apiece.

Playstation Plus subscribers have another bonus to look forwards to; they can try out the full version of the game from its release date on 23rd January 2014 as part of their service.

There will also be special PSN cards available in Japan with Sengoku Basara 4 designs: one with the four leads, one with Kasuga and another with Naotora, Oichi, Tsuruhime and Magoichi grouped together.

Update: It seems that these cards are being given away to limited numbers of customers who preorder the game (and in the case of the Kasuga card, subscribe to Playstation Plus) on PSN during the campaign period. Bah.

Sengoku Basara 4 is currently in 4th place in Weekly Famitsu's chart of upcoming games, up two positions from 6th place in the previous issue.

In other news...

Guest announced for today's Sengoku Basara 4 broadcast on Nico Nico Live

The official page for this fortnight's broadcast has been updated and it seems that the next seiyuu guest will be Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu)! He'll be performing some lines in character and trying out the game, just as Seki and Okiayu did in previous episodes. At the time I'm writing, there hasn't yet been any word on whether any of the game staff will be joining the hosts.

The broadcast will take place on Thursday 9th January 2014 at 10pm (Japan time).