I had the pleasure of discussing analog gaming and design over dinner with veteran Japanese game designer Yoshiyuki Arai. Among his various accomplishments, his game Fantasy Defense had a very successful Kickstarter.
Scott: How did you get started gaming and what were your first games?
Arai: As a child in the early ’80s there was a board game boom with lots of TV program toy tie-ins. After that, Bandai’s Party Joy
(Japanese blog post about the SD Gundam version) board game series took off, with each game costing 1,000 yen each. I couldn’t afford it with my allowance, so I’d play at a friend’s place. They included an A4 size board, rubber figures, and dice. Over ten years there were over 300 types of games and it was a big hit at the time.
A long time ago, Japan was a major player in the board game market. Sorry, I’m starting with some board game history. Avalon Hill games were imported and sold in department stores. I never played them, but gamers born before the 70’s most likely have. In fact, I’d say that most gamers now in their 50’s got started with Avalon Hill games. Continue reading Interview with Game Designer Yoshiyuki Arai
The Dungeons & Dragons Annual Convention (DAC) usually falls at a busy time of year for me, so I haven’t been able to participate until this year. The convention consists of two days of D&D-related gaming, with each player participating in one game for the entire day.
I only attended the Saturday session, but it was packed. Reception started at 9:30 am and was followed by the opening ceremony at 10am where they introduced the DMs for the day. Gaming started at 10:30am and continued until 7pm with a few breaks decided by the table. After that, closing comments, announcements, and a raffle with tons of prizes. Continue reading A Day at the DAC 2017
There’s a Japanese language stream of D&D on Friday nights that just recently restarted after a hiatus called Friday Night Adventurers (金曜夜は冒険者). It’s structured in a way that also teaches a bit of the system. There is a natural feel to it, like we’re just joining in and watching a group play instead of watching a more theatric performance. While enjoyable to watch for veteran players, I imagine this style is especially helpful for beginners and those who have an interest in seeing how a real game plays out. Hopefully this and the Japanese edition will increase the number of players in Japan. Continue reading Friday Night Adventurers
Despite being a long time fan of the Castlevania series, I was skeptical of an American anime adaptation of the NES classic Castlevania III. On a whim one night, I decided to give it a watch and boy am I glad I did! After a little apprehension, I was quickly drawn into the story and beautiful art, finishing the the first season wanting more. Continue reading Castlevania on Netflix
I was a bit surprised by this article on the growing popularity of board game cafes in America and Canada. Board game cafes have become popular in Japan as well, but that’s partly by necessity since most people don’t have the space to play at home.
In the time that I’ve been gaming here, I’ve actually never played at a friend’s house. I have played at game stores, game spaces, business conference rooms, community centers, and cafes, but no homes. On the other hand, in America I played exclusively at someone’s house or online. While it’s partly space related, there’s also a cultural element about entertaining others outside the home. Continue reading Rise of the Game Cafe
I finally had a chance to play Shinobi Empire, one of the games I got at the last Game Market. I found it to be an easy to pick up and lighthearted game that was fun to play. One of the coolest things about this game is the cards themselves. Each card has a unique image, a mix of cute and cool, and they form a neat multi-storied castle as you play.
Players choose a set of seven colored tokens that correspond to the color of the ninjas they receive points for. Each player is dealt a hand of five cards. The player who is wearing the simplest clothes (most ninja-like) goes first, with play proceeding clockwise. A turn consists of a player drawing a card from the deck and then placing one card.
My 5th edition D&D Player’s Handbook finally failed its third death save and succumbed to the curse of early editions losing their pages. I had heard that this was a common problem and that Wizards of the Coast had a replacement program, but I assumed that shipping to Japan would complicate the replacement. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth as I received this wonderful response to my request: Continue reading Thank you, Mr Wizards
Back from the Spring 2017 Tokyo Game Market at Tokyo Big Sight and my wallet is a bit lighter. I had a blast at my second Tokyo Game Market even without participating in any organized play. It was really fun to just walk around and check out the various booths. I couldn’t resist all the temptations, though, and ended up picking up four games; a spiffy game bag; and an Imperial Assault villain pack that I found in a remainder bin at the Shosen booth.