A Wondrous Poem

The world has been prone to terrible power once.
The “oblivion” the force. It took the hope from the human mind,
it took the mind to believe,
take away also future heart and love, it was a great ruin.

Match fight people exposed to “oblivion” lamented,
and doubt each other, in order to destroy all visible.

Love you hope to their hearts,
no longer to be “I want to cherish”also, memories also,
I had not left everything.

-Wonderland Wars

Sega really should invest in someone who can… translate engrish to English.

 

Wonderland Wars 2.0

logo

This past weekend has seen a major update come to one of the most popular Arcade games throughout Japan in Wonderland Wars. This update changed a good deal of content and overall added a lot to the overall game.

First and foremost all the rankings were reset, so everyone started back at the very first level, but they drastically changed how leveling works. Though…. this changed irked me quite a bit, when I first came to Japan my goal was to obtain a AA Ranking…. which I was just one day away from.. when they reset it. The reset is both bad and good… as every now and then you can come across a massive skill gap when a newer player faces a veteran, but it hasn’t happened all that often and playing with the once high leveled people has helped me personally gain some new techniques. Also of note is that some of the hardcore crowd have really been power leveling their characters up… one guy had over 700 plays next to me at one point and he smelled like death and forced me to move, I don’t actually think he had left Akihabara since the update came out.

img_20161222_184442

It uses a numerical system that upgrades the look of your in-game pen and drawing trail and you can even customize it as you unlock more items. The rating is determined by the overall level of your characters and how highly leveled they are.

img_20161222_184529

Its fairly easy to rise up in levels quickly by spreading out your character play, but its also hard to play characters you don’t care for much. Gone are the Overdrive cards of old, instead they gain the EXP directly. My new goal is to power to level 100 in the month or so I have remaining, I think I should be able to hit it, but you never know.

New characters were added, Sega tends to add about one every 2 months or so as it stands. The first new character added in based on Snow White and is a up close but really fun to play hero since she can kill enemy minions with out much problem, for those who have played she plays somewhat like a cross between Rin, the blonde girl, and Scarlet the assassin. Aladdin is going to be added in after Snow White’s event ends early next month.

Each older character also got a new skill and balance changes, some of them are hard to use, but some are pretty devastating. A large amount of new support cards where added in to, with a decent amount of original style mechanics and combination bonuses for the first time.

Also ushered in are numerous Quality of Life changes, as you no longer have to level up the characters to unlock their item and skill slots, which makes it much easier to spread out play. Also the character select screen has been dramatically improved with the separation of the 3 classes and increased picture size.

img_20161222_184648

Inside of the game itself, there’s now a short planning phase where you can sort out your teams positions and move to the correct spot before the game actually starts. This has alleviated much of the frustration that can occur when no one really makes it clear where they plan to go (which is just a simple press on the mini-map). There’s also a slight graphical upgrade with some effects and the overall presentation is a touch sharper than it was before.

Also changed in game, they removed many of the pauses that used to happen whenever a tower was destroyed, leaving the only pause that happens still being a soul spawning. This change has helped the flow of the game quite a bit, though you do have to pay attention to the visual queues when either your or the other teams tower gets blown up. They also added in a teleporter to go from one side to the other that can be used only a few times on the edge of the map which makes it possible for one side to assist the other.

img_20161222_190535

Overall, Sega has improved upon whats probably their most popular arcade game at the moment. I’m glad that they plan to support for the foreseeable future, and actually they overall scene seems to be growing here in Japan for Wonderland Wars. None of the PC MOBA’s have really taken off here, so its kind of surprisingly to see an arcade one succeed but the atmosphere of a Japanese Game Center is pretty special.

 

Next Up: Love Live Arcade. (if the line is ever not 76 people long)

Wonderland Wars

IMG_20160707_203105

As mentioned previously, Wonderland Wars, is one of the hottest games in game centers all across Japan. I’ve been asked more than once while playing just how to play and how the game works, as navigating Japanese menus can be time-consuming or bothersome for those who are unfamiliar with the language. In actuality it’s very easy to get started and anyone who has played a MOBA before will be able to grasp the gameplay very quickly. The game offers a robust tutorial for first time players that can take upwards of 30 minutes to complete, its free of charge too, so for those that are interested they should go ahead and try it.

The Main Menu

IMG_20160707_213359

The menu shows various information such as your tickets remaining and the amount of in game currency you currently have on the bottom left. It takes 2 tickets to start a game, and you can buy 8 Tickets for 500 yen, so it works out to about 125 yen per play, and given that a typical game will run about 8 minutes, it’s a pretty solid deal. On the right hand side, you have the main multiplayer option at the top. This mode will match 4 people on 4 people, it does a fairly good job of balancing the skill levels so even if you’re a complete novice at the game, you wont get totally blown out. The middle option is the story mode, there are some neat fights in this mode that the standard multiplayer mode does not have, so those looking for something a little different from the standard 4v4 battle can look here. the last option is this customize menu. Here you can outfit your characters with the various cards that you collect through playing.

IMG_20160707_213413

The top option being the card customization page, and the bottom option being the page where you can change your title that is displayed on your Library Pass.

IMG_20160707_213427

In the card screen, your presented with a large amount of the cards you have collected and the skill cards that the chosen character can use. Here we have the character Merou, like all characters she can have 4 Active skills, 3 Passive Assists and 1 Soul card. Not getting into too much detail, but the assist cards you choose will drastically change the way your chosen character plays, as they can boost and lower your Basic Attack power, your Drawing distance, and the overall speed of your character. There’s pretty much an endless amount of customization you can use and a lot of fun is had in finding the right build for your set up. With skills each character has 4 slots, and 5 over all skills, so it’s up to the player to choose which to use and which not too. These skills can also be leveled up by collecting more cards via playing.

Multiplayer

The standard multiplayer takes the form of a 4 vs 4 battle. Usually you will be matched up with 4 players of fairly even skill levels, though on occasion you may be matched up with an AI if not enough players are found across Japan, this is more likely to happen midday during the workweek, as the game centers in general are much less crowded.

IMG_20160707_203011

The very first thing to do however is to choose a character, you have to go about unlocking them through Events or by earning the in-game currency “Spell Leafs.” There are 21 currently with several being variations on each other, usually a “Dark” form of some kind. The shown character was mentioned earlier Merou, mine currently is Level 12 as shown above, through playing with a character and earning general experience points their various stats will increase, the amounts aren’t major. So even if you have a Level 6 Character, they are still more than useable, and usually when matched up with other players, the characters will all be close in level. To look closely at a characters stats, the HP and MP meters should be pretty self-explanatory for anyone familiar with video games. The other stats can be a little more complicated though. The first stat is the strength of their basic attack. The second is their drawing attack, which we will cover shortly, and the final stat is the characters move speed. The cast themselves have base stats which get enhanced their the chosen assist cards, so while some players may prefer to have a powerful Drawing attack, others may prioritize speed. The different combos really ensure that no two heroes are alike, even if they may have similar attacks.

Controls

IMG_20160707_203124

Wonderland Wars has a really fun control style, one hand controls the joystick, and one controls the stylus. The joystick has an evasive button which allows for quick dodging and the stylus has a button which changes the attack type from the basic straight attack to the drawing attack. Learning when to use each type of attack as your disposal is critical to having success in player vs player matches. While the controls are simple in nature, often times drawing and being precise while moving and attacking at moving target is much harder than it would seem. Though the satisfaction of landing a direct hit is every bit as pleasing as landing a skill shot in a game like DotA 2 or LoL.

Gameplay

The most important part of any game however, should be the Gameplay. In Wonderland Wars, two teams of 4 face off on a 3 lane map with fog of war ladled jungle areas between the lanes that are ripe for ganking. From my experience, the best team setups include 3 Laning heroes who are good at long range attacks, with a support or a ganking hero roaming. Though on occasion there are several different set ups I have seen from the team pairings.

wlw20160709_161807.mp4_snapshot_00.03_[2016.07.09_22.18.23]

The pregame screen shows various information, such as your teams cast members, the opposing team, you can also view their skill and assist loadout to determine which match-ups are favorable to you and which are not.

wlw20160709_161807.mp4_snapshot_00.52_[2016.07.09_22.20.47]

For the ingame hud, it’s fairly simple, the mini map in the top right shows your teammates, yourself, and your creeps, as well as enemy heroes that are visible to your team. The map is interactable with the stylus so you can call out various things to your opponents such as missing heroes, if you need help, or if you think the team should push an area hard. It does a pretty good job to make up for the lack of communication that playing in a game center brings. It also shows your available skills, the time remaining and your teams health bar and exp bar.

For attacking you use the main stylus and you draw the path you want your attack to take, it’s a lot harder than it seems as to hit your enemy you need to get really good at deception and prediction. Aside from that, mind games are a really big part of the initial laning phase in Wonderland, as if your opponent is too aggressive or on reverse if you are too agressive and ignore the creeps too much you can quickly find your tower destroyed and the enemy team up some precious exp.

wlw20160709_161807.mp4_snapshot_04.23_[2016.07.09_22.26.48]

As you level up, you gain access to the skill cards that you set in your customization menu before the game. These skills can be anything from attack skills, to healing or buffing skills, as well as the characters Ultimate ability which can be used to get out a pinch, but only once per game. Leveling up also gives access to your assist cards, here in the above picture our team hit level 5 which activated two of my support cards and increased my attack power at the cost of my max HP lowering. Controlling the exp game is one of the critical elements, and even if you take a bunch of early towers, if you do it haphazardly you may find yourself in a tight spot in the late game.

wlw20160709_161807.mp4_snapshot_05.28_[2016.07.09_22.28.15]

When either team suffers enough damage, a soul will appear randomly chosen from the equipped souls of the team. These souls will march down a lane either doing massive damage or giving the surrounding heroes a hefty buff, failing to eliminate a soul can cause serous issues and may even cost a team a game, so they should always be a priority to focus down.

Each team has a health bar, that is depleted  through killing enemy heroes and downing their towers, at the end of time, or if another team manages to totally deplete the other teams hp bar. The team with the higher bar remaining wins.

wlw20160709_161807.mp4_snapshot_08.39_[2016.07.09_22.31.46]

Following either a win or a loss, you go to the results screen where you are graded on your performance and earn exp towards the next level on your library pass which unlocks various items such as ingame currency, item drops, and sometimes characters or the ability to carry more cards.

IMG_20160707_204302

This game is really a lot of fun and offers deep gameplay and accessibility, I wish it was possibly to bring overseas, but the smaller player base may make bringing an arcade MOBA over a difficult task. And the lag issues that would come from pitting people in Japan against those in the U.S. or Europe a tough hurdle to overcome. If anyone visits Japan though and is a fan of the MOBA genre, they should be sure to try this game out, its an excellent way to spend a night in a game center.

Please check out the video below for a full match and feel free to comment or send any questions my way, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Club Sega Akihabara

IMG_20160703_205343

To start, I think it would be best to cover what is one of the most popular arcades in the mecca of Video Game and Otaku culture, Akihabara.

Club Sega is one of four arcades owned by Sega in Akihabara alone, the others being Sega Gigo and another just labeled Sega about a 30 second walk south, and one near the station entrance.

For those who aren’t all too familiar with Japan’s Game Centers, they can be overwhelming, often packed full on weekends, and sometimes even the smell of cigarettes can be overwhelming. But, finding the right game to play at the right places can make or break your experience in a Game Center. Every location draws out a different type of player and a different fan base.

Club Sega in Akihabara is 6 floors of arcade heaven, each with their own variety of the latest in Japanese gaming. The first three floors of which are mostly devoted to the Japanese Crane game. Which are decidedly more skill based than their American counterpart, as with the right touch and a little luck as well its possible to win some very neat prizes. Floor 1 and 2 is dominated by prizes for Love Live! School Idol Project and Kantai Collection, both properties which are tremendously popular in Akihabara, bring droves of fans to try to win some prizes. Floor 3 caters to Shounen properties along the lines of Dragon Ball and One Piece, fans of those series can still find a prize or two waiting for them if they want to test their skill.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Things begin to open up a touch more while climbing up the floors here, or depending on how you look at it, this is where 100 Yen coins come to die. Floor 4 is home to what is easily the most popular game at this location, Kantai Collection. Kantai Collection is an arcade port of a Japanese Browser game that became largely popular just a few years ago, in where you collect and assemble a fleet of “Ship-Girls” and send them out on various missions or exploration. There’s a strong collectable aspect to this game, in that when you either construct or discover a new ship on a mission, the arcade machine gives you a physical card which you then can use in your fleet on future missions. Though a full game report will hopefully come at a later date, the lines have been incredibly long.

Shimakaze

Typical Ship-Girl

Floor 4 of Club Sega is home to other games as well, the second most popular being Wonderland Wars. Perhaps the first arcade based MOBA to catch on, Wonderland Wars in a PVP based game in the same vein as DotA 2 or League of Legends. In Wonderland Wars teams of 4 face off against each other to try to push each others towers down, while also trying to defeat each-other to ultimately come out on top victorious. The game mechanics we will cover at a later date, but one thing to note is the innovative control system which really makes the game shine.

IMG_20160703_210024 2.0.jpgPlayers control all the action using a joystick to move their chosen character and perform various evasive moves, and the stylus which is used for attacking and interacting with the skills they have chosen for their own character, expect a detailed write up in the very near future about how this all works, but it’s an easy task to sink a couple hours into this game as the accessibility and match length is comparable to Overwatch leaving for shorter fast paced matches that really click together in the arcade format.

The fourth floor is home to other games as well, the latest Gundam U.C Build Fighters calls its home here, as does Dissidia Final Fantasy which is an arcade version of the fighting game series for the PSP some time ago. Theres several standard fighting games such as Tekken 7 and Nesica X Live, but Club Sega in Akihabara does definitely not make a home of fighting games. Rounding out the 4th floor is World Club Championship Football, a simulation type game where you train a Football Club against other players and try to win a championship, and the latest Sengoku Taisen game.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Floor 5 caters to fans of a more hands on variety as two games in particular take up the majority of the space. Gunslinger Stratos 3 and Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5 DX are the go to games here. Gunslinger Stratos being a fairly complex arena fighting game where you control your character using a set of two light guns with controls and the ability to link them together to form one larger gun via magnets. While Wangan consists of high speed Japanese Street Racing on representations of actual highways though out the Tokyo and Osaka region. The 8 Machines here are often a hot spot for the region and this floor may very well be the racing game capital of Tokyo. Also in the racing category is Initial D Arcade Stage 8, the 8th entry in the long running Initial D franchise, this game lets you live out life as a Japanese Drift Racer and race along the actual courses from various spots in Japan and from the Anime/Manga series.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The top floor, is home to all of the rhythm games you could ever hope to want to play, represented are Project Diva, Museca, Crossbeats Rev. Sunshine, MaiMai Pink Plus, Sound Voltex 3, Various Beat Mania versions, and Chunithm Plus which does away with buttons and instead is played on a touch sensitive bar. Chunithm’s popularity is incredibly high right now, and the machines are often full up with a queue waiting for a chance to play.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Club Sega Akihabara is what some call a haven of games, nearly every major game is represented here, with some exceptions, Gundam Ex Vs Maxi Boost On is not represented here and is still one of the most played and fiercely competitive games in all of Japan. Sega though has really spread the genres out really well though with the amount of locations that they hold in Akiba, as Gundam can be found heavily in their other locations, as well as Fighting Games in general, if you looking to get into that scene and challenge some of the best Japan has to offer this is not the arcade for you. But what sets Club Sega above some of its competitors is this location has no smoking at the machines themselves, only in designated areas, so its possible to game and not inhale a couple packs of cigarettes second hand.

Although, the centers vending options leave much to be desired, as most of the drinks are standard fare for Japan and the lone vending not serving drinks is an ice cream vending machine.

IMG_20160703_211321