Miyamori
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Miyamori will be a foxy love letter to Japanese folklore

Japanese folklore is a pretty common inspiration when it comes to storytelling in videogames. From Clover Studio’s Ōkami (2006) to ZUN’s iconic Touhou Project, Japan’s mythological spirits and creatures provide a familiar backdrop for Japanese game makers to tell their own, new stories to their audience through the cultural legacy of Japan’s mythology. But the upcoming action-adventure title Miyamori isn’t being made in Japan. Instead, the game features a production crew located across the Western world. Developed by Joshua Hurd, with pixel art from Lachlan Cartland, and promotional art by Kevin Hong, the game features a “folktale-inspired story about community, love,…

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Embrace your fetish in a videogame about washing a giant foot

Ashi Wash is a ridiculous game with a ridiculous premise—a terrible, funky foot comes crashing through your ceiling. It’s got a serious fungus problem. (I’d suggest crashing into a doctor’s office next time, foot.) Its toenails are overgrown. Also, it can talk. The giant foot makes it pretty clear—in its greasy Brooklyn accent—that you’re to wash it; if you don’t, it’ll “smash ya house up.” Thems the rules, after all. Troy Grooms, Matt Murphy, Alex Zako, and Julian Francis created Ashi Wash during the summer edition of My First Game Jam, held on itch.io. The prompt was to create a…

Branching Paths
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New documentary hopes the “indie” game invasion of Japan is a good thing

One of the first things that Anne Ferrero says to me is that her new documentary isn’t “Indie Game: The Movie [2012] in Japan.” She tells me this as she’s aware that many people will assume that to be the case. But it’s not just a matter of a director looking to ensure that her potential audience isn’t misled: there’s a lot more to it. Much of it is summed up by one of Ferrero’s interview subjects in the documentary, Alexander De Giorgio, the chief organizer of Tokyo Indie Fest. “I think it’s dangerous to try and compare the Japanese indie…

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Feature

The videogame that helped popularize Japanese mecha in the west

In the early 2000s, the Japanese government started to evaluate the value of the country’s popular culture industry following international successes in anime/manga such as Pokémon and Dragonball, videogames like Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda and Super Mario series, and films including Spirited Away (2001) and Ringu (1998). Realizing that its cultural influence expanded despite the economic setbacks of the Lost Decade (from 1991 to 2000), Japan sought to promote the idea of ‘Cool Japan’, an expression of its emergent status as a cultural superpower. For the next dozen years, the Japanese government made use of its soft power and ‘Cool Japan’ strategy to boost cultural…

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Two game artists share the Japanese yōkai that inspire them

After living in Japan’s seaside city of Niigata for a year, French artists Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard learned, among many other things, an appreciation for the island nation’s mythology and art. They’ve told us about their visits to Buddhist spiritual sites on Japanese mountains, and as we’ve written before, the pair have a particular fondness for Japanese photographer Kotori Kawashima and his photobook Mirai-chan, which depicts a young girl living in Niigata’s Sato Island. “What interests us here is this juxtaposition of a very young girl from today and an ancient mysterious world,” they said. Since returning home to France, it has…

hiroshima 2016
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Visual novel sends you on an accidental trip to the darker side of Japan

When I had the chance to visit Japan, after years of accruing savings and getting a handy-dandy passport, it was a dream come true. I could collect adorable capsule toys wherever I travelled, eat conbini onigiri at my leisure, and admire the beautiful streets and swift transit system. Japan was the most amazing place I’ve ever visited. But even perceived utopias aren’t perfect, and musician and game maker Sean Han-Tani-Chen-Hogan (HTCH) knows that. So in comes the bleak visual novel HIROSHIMA 2016: Sean Hogan Visits Japan, an adventure filled with insensitive Twitter feeds, President Barack Obama visiting Hiroshima, and witnessing dastardly…

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Japanese artist convicted of obscenity for sharing 3D prints of her genitals

Megumi Igarashi (better known as Rokudenashiko or “Good-for-nothing-girl”) is a Japanese artist whose work, which revolves around female genitalia, has sparked legal action to be taken against her. According to Japan Times, Igarashi lost an obscenity case over distributing 3D data soon after getting acquitted over a different obscenity case. Igarashi was convicted of spreading data across the internet from October 2013 to March 2014 that would allow users to create an exact replica of her genitals. Because of strict censorship laws, the data was deemed too detailed, and the Tokyo District Court judged the 3D data “obscene.” Even though Igarashi…

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Feature

Where Did The Fun Street Fighter Music Go?

My anticipation for the recently released Street Fighter V probably came from a different place than most people. I’ve only ever really followed the series as an observer who watches tournament matches, and as a listener of the games’ soundtracks. For me, then, Street Fighter V’s release held two possibilities: new tournament material after eight years of Street Fighter IV (2008) and its iterations, and new music. Whatever you think of the mechanical changes and viability of certain characters, Street Fighter V is sure to offer a lot of the former for passive appreciators like myself. As far as the…

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Feature

How Japan shaped nostalgia in games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. For Shigeru Miyamoto, the inspiration for The Legend of Zelda (1986) series lay in the natural beauty of his hometown of Kyoto, Japan. As a young boy, the Nintendo designer behind Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin would take hikes around nearby forests, rivers, and old Sonobe Castle ruins. It was on one such hike that Miyamoto happened upon a cave that fascinated him. He returned to it a few days later, shook off his nerves, and, armed with a homemade lantern, journeyed into its mysterious depths. It was this feeling of discovery and…