Daigo Umehara's Event Schedule 2015

- Canada Cup's Master Series [January 9-11]
- 5th Niconico Shotenkaigi [January 18]
- Yonpahi radio show [January 23]
- 6th Niconico Shotenkaigi [January 25]
- Taipei Game Show [Jan 31]
- Tokaigi 2015 [Feb 1]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

P4U is coming

This Thursday, or next 2 days, the console version of Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena will be released in Japan. We think it will be one of the biggest impacts in JFGC (Japan Fighting Game Community) in past 4 years. So let's talk about it a bit.

Key elements:

1. Persona 4 or Shin Megami Tensei/Persona series in general already has large fan base in Japan.
2. It's going to be on console.
3. It's developed by a veteran FG developer (Arc System Works).
4. It corrected the mistakes in BlazBlue.

Persona 4 series is big in Japan. The original game was released in 2008. The six-month long anime just ended in March, a theatrical version was released last month. The PS Vita version was also released last month. Various merchandises are still being released (such as this or this or this or this). Moreover, it has a lot of female fans. (It is actually branded as a series for girls who are into homosexual (Fujoshi) in Japan.) Some of those is picking up P4U as first fighting game. Many people also said that you can attract girls at game centers if you're good at this game.

While people don't like Arc System Works for what they did in BlazBlue, the fact that P4U is co-produced and directed by Atlus staff probably helps.

There're 2 big problems in BlazBlue. First, it doesn't have an art direction. The characters is like a compilation of works submitted by kids.

Street Fighter and the likes are about martial artists. Samurai Shodown is about samurai. Darkstalkers is about legendary creatures. Otaku fighters are about girls. Comic/anime fighters already have story. But does anyone know what is the concept behind BlazBlue?

The second problem in BlazBlue is it's TOO combo-friendly. The hit-stun is crazy long and makes the combo window too wide. The Burst is very limited. So while it's easier to combo, you don't have a proper way to deal with it.

P4U doesn't have these problems. It has average combo window. Burst can also be refilled within the round.

Is Japan moving to a new era?
The rise of Daigo Umehara in Street Fighter IV since 2009 created a fighting game boom in Japan. That's when JFGC as we know today (organizations and visible audience) was born and SF4 was crowned. But right now, he participates less tournaments and is busy with Gungslinger Stratos. Fans who follow SF4 only because of him, like Beast Note, is abandoning the ship. Less viewers mean less players, since many people only play when it matters. And when players only train before a tournament, it makes competition meaningless.

These days, there's no nagging for SF4 like in the past anymore on GODSGARDEN's stream. The decrease in demand of SF4 also leads to a power vacuum. People will watch anything on the stream -- it doesn't matter anyway. They can't tell which side is the majority, and are afraid to express their feelings (like/dislike). People now come to meet, not come to watch. The atmosphere has changed from a soccer stadium to a cafeteria. The unison of comment screaming of hype (picture below) is hard to pull now outside a big tournament match.

If SF4 is truly fading, then Japan is in the process of choosing its next main fighting game. What will it be?

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was improved greatly from the original game. The X-Factor is now better than SF4's Ultra Combo. It now has decent gameplay. But you know, Japan is not going to play a game with half of the casts come from the series they don't appreciate. There're much less online players than SF4. There's also no arcade scene, which means less activities.

Street Fighter x Tekken has too many reasons to fail.

King of Fighters died with its art directions in 1998.

3D fighters can't be big as long as they can't convince the viewers that there're something underlying those moves. They need to reinvent themselves and overcome the Poke Juggler stigma. Note that when big explosions, a cut-in of a character screaming something, and a cool finishing move are the definition of fighting in manga/anime, the Japanese wouldn't expect less.

P4U has the best chance. It has everything it needs - fan base, directions, solid and flashy gameplay. And it's getting players from both SF4 and BlazBlue/Guilty Gear community.

Shiro, Shungoku Neurosis, Kazunoko (originally a Guilty Gear player), Dogura, Kubo (also a BlazBlue player) are playing. Sako, KSK (and his crews), RF will play on the consoles. More well-known players are expected to follow when they realized that there're viewers from both inside and outside the community.

But to be honest, it'll be tough to replace SF4. At least not until Tougeki 2012 and the next TOPANGA League A. We are far from being a fan of Persona 4 series, and we still think that Ougon Musou Kyoku is better. But the arrival of P4U is more than noteworthy.

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