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midwinter Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?

Posted: April 19, 2006 (01:48 AM)
Well, here we have it. The reason why Microsoft Japan can't satisfy local gamers is more than their inability to supply software tailor made to the local market. It stretches beyond the incompetence they've shown in targeting their machine at the correct audience, and it has absolutely nothing what-so-ever to do with their Japanese business practises. Their problem lies in customer service and support, and the lack of care they have in dealing with the end-user is quite frankly, disgusting.

Of course, my sour opinion of their latest console is based on a personal experience that needs to be told. I can't say this situation will be the same for everyone, but if their indifferent Japanese nature is anything to go by, then I'm willing to bet it's game over Japan.

My problem started a few weeks after I bought the launch console when my launch copy of Ridge Racer 6 became unplayable. Removing the game from the unit revealed a series of small, semi concentric circles along the outer edge of the disc that were in fact, rather deep scratches. The marks themselves were no longer than about a centimeter a piece, and were all located in the same region of the disc at various depths from rim. Needless to say, it was unplayable, and figuring it was just a freak occurence I went out and bought a second copy of that game.

All was well for a few months until just recently when Project Gotham suffered a similar fate. The same scratches were in roughly the same places, and the result was the same DoD errors experienced previously. A quick examination of my game collection revealed a further 2 titles in similar states of damage with both Perfect Dark Zero (a game I barely played due to its total crapness) and the awesome, Call of Duty 2 being affected.

I was pissed.

Calling the Xbox Service center in Japan offered the usual responses, "send the machine back and we'll fix it for you", "we might be able to replace the games"... that was until i mentioned I had bought one of the titles from Singapore.

And here's the catch:

Microsoft Japan will replace the games bought locally, but they won't touch the foregin product.

I know. That seems fair enough on the surface of it, but when you stop and consider for a moment that the machine in question was made for the NTSC-J region, as was the copy of Call of Duty 2, you need to stop and ask WTF?! It's no good to claim the game you bought was compatible for your machine and sold in technically the same region, it has to be from the same, very specific corner of that region.

Better yet though, when I stated my reasons for importing it (namely MS Japan's complete inability to release games in a timely fashion) the CSR I was speaking with actually agreed. HE AGREED! He understood why someone might look to import compatible software from countries other than Japan, but was unwilling to do anything in regards to replacing the damaged goods. Not even a refund or a promise to supply the game once it receives a local release... nothing.

So that's left me with this, one copy of Call of Duty 2 that's completely useless, and a claim from MS Japan that the DVD drive wasn't actually defective. Apparently either it's supposed to scratch the discs, or I scratched them myself.

The CSR's words, not mine.

I couldn't believe it, so to drive the point home I went on to mention the rubber pads that previous Xbox drives have to protect software. He again said that the rubber isn't necessary, though failed to comment on why supposed internet experts (thank you Llama) demand that it is. Brilliant!

So according tio Microsoft I'm a liar and a cheater. Awesome work guys! If you had been Sony, you might have gotten away with lying to your customers as the vast majority of them are Moms and Dads, but your product is different. Of the 120,000 owners you proudly speak of in Japan, I'd hazard a guess and say that 99.9% of them are hardcore and follow the technical, underground issues such as the whole rubber thing very closely. If you can't be honest with us, who can you be honest with?

So anyway, to make a long story short (too late!), I'm tempted to sell my 360. I have no intention of relying on MS Japan for my new software, and seeing as how they couldn't promise me this wasn't going to happen again, I'm finding it hard to justify importing new games as replacements will be impossible.

Fantastic way to screw yourself out of support guys!

This saddens me as I consider the Xbox 360 an awesome machine, and have long supported Uncle Bill in his quest for home console domination. My library of original Xbox games numbers in the 100's, as would my 360 collection eventually. Now I just don't care anymore, and I'm convinced that everything you've ever heard about their grand plans for Japan is hogwash. Bullshit lipservice to hide their incompetence from not only the public, but their Seattle Overlords as well.

For now, you can count me out of 360 gaming and I don't know when I'll be back. You've pissed me off Japan, and I'm moving towards Sony faster than you may believe.

You score as of April 19th: 120,000 minus 1

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Title: Cheating Xbox Live and Getting Shit for Free
Posted: January 07, 2006 (06:04 AM)
So you live in America (or Japan, or Europe) and want to get the most out of your Xbox Live Market Place? I found this tip recently and it's been incredibly helpful in getting around Microsoft Japan's crap support. By following these steps, you'll be able to download and play anything Microsoft have posted in any region's Market Place. Including all those flash new demos Japan has...

borrowed from www.gamersreports.com

First off you should go to the passport site : http://www.passport.com/. Make sure you are not logged in, and click on the "create hotmail account" link. Now, here is the important part, the site will ask you where you are from, select either Japan, the US, or Europe. Remember, this is the country where the demo is available, not where you really live! You will require some information regarding those countries so Microsoft will allow you ro register the e-mail address.

Here is the info we used:

United States
Postal Code: 10012
State: New York, City New York City
Phone Number: 1-866-530-1234

Postal Code: 150-2345
Province: Tokyo-to
Phone Number: 3201-3331

Postal Code: 54292
City: Trier
Phone Number: 065112345

You can use any valid address and phone number from the country where the demo is available.

Once you have filled out the info and applied for the Hotmail account, activate it and turn on your Xbox360. Press the guide button and choose "switch profile" (X Button). Now create a new profile, and a new Xbox Live Account, make it a Silver account instead of a Gold (so you dont have to pay). Next you will require the phone number mentioned above to use your passport. You could theoretically take care of all the passport stuff on the Xbox, but it will go much faster on PC with a keyboard.

Well, that is about it folks! Pretty sweet huh? The cool thing is that you can disable (they actually are disabled from the start if you have already a gold membership installed on your box) the auto sign for the foreign accounts, hence leaving your primary "Real" account hassle-free. Ejoy the demos!

And the world is your oyster...
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Title: Xbox Live? Don't make me laugh
Posted: December 31, 2005 (10:55 PM)
So I live in Japan, have an Xbox 360, and I surf the net... fuck you Microsoft! It seems like every other week I hear about some new demo that gets distributed on Xbox Live in the US, and even though it's meant to be a universal service, that shit's not available over here.

You can't tell me Japanese gamers aren't interested in downloading new demos. We've got broadband a damn side faster than anything the US has to offer, so why no love for us? Maybe someone, somewhere thought that games like Quake 4 or Condemed don' appeal to this region. In response to that however, I'd say how do you know until you've bloody tried? Those demos are now doing the rounds overseas, yet here when I look at my "New Download" list, all I've got are 2 Perfect Dark Zero icon packs. Whoopdefuckndoo.

OK, so I'm hardly the brightest spark in the engine, I'll admit that. It just seems to me that if you have a service like Xbox Live, then as a company Microsoft would do well to use it. One could judge how receptive the Japanese are to these foreign games by releasing their demos right across the network, then schedule the release dates based on the number of region specific downloads it gets. Better still, they could implement some sort of feedback/rating option which might give a clearer picture of what gamers thought of the release.

But maybe that's too obvious.

I'm sorry if this sounds like my usual anti-Microsoft Japan rant, but for God's sake people, they need to start using their fucking brains. It's almost like they don' give three turds what happens to this region, and all the good stuff they promised us in the lead up to the system's launch was bullshit and lip service.

Once more with feeling now then, Fuck You!
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Title: The truth hurts
Posted: December 30, 2005 (08:51 AM)
Just something I had laying around. I didn't write this, but I thought it was funny as all hell so I saved it. There's some merit to what this guy has to say about Japan, but at the same time he's being pretty harsh

On the face of it, the Japanese are very like us... but that's just on the face of it. Underneath, we're chalk and tofu... you don't have to go to Japan to have an inkling that the Japanese are not as the rest of us are. In fact, they're decidedly weird. If you take the conventional gamut of human possibility as running, say, from Canadians to Brazilians, after 10 minutes in the land of the rising sun, you realise the Japs are off the map, out of the game, on another planet. It's not that they're aliens, but they are the people that aliens might be if they'd learnt Human by correspondence course and wanted to slip in

...Religion is one of the reasons Japan is so socially crippled. In the beginning they had Shinto. Now, if religions were cars, Shinto would be a wheelbarrow... Oh, but then, silly me, of course I don't understand. I'm constantly being patronised for my coarse sensibilities and told that naturally I couldn't comprehend the subtlety, the aesthetic bat-squeak of Japanese culture. No country hides itself behind the paper screen of cultural elitism like Japan, which, considering they've bought their entire civilisation from other people's hand-me-downs, is a bit of a liberty.

When it comes to Japanese civilisation, it's mostly eyewash. Kabuki theatre is only just preferable to amateur root-canal work. The three stringed guitar is a sad waste of cat. Japanese flower-arranging is just arranging flowers. Their architecture is Chinese, as are their clothes, chopsticks, writing, etc. The samurai were thugs in frocks with stupid haircuts, and haiku poems are limericks that don't make you laugh. Indeed, they are so aesthetically difficult, one haiku master managed to compose only 23,000 in 24 hours, including gems like: 'The ancient pond, A frog leaps, The sound of the water.'


...If Freud had lived in Tokyo, we'd never have got analysis. He wouldn't have known where to start... it's the absence of the western idea of love - of brotherly, charitable love or sensual love, that finally explains Japan's appalling, lunatic cruelty.
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Title: T minus 24 hours and counting
Posted: December 30, 2005 (08:44 AM)
Japan can be an odd place at the best of times, but until now, it was always New Years Eve that puzzled me the most. At midnight in Australia, people are generally partying hard, swilling beer and living the good life as the clock finally counts down to zero. There's nothing unusual about that right? Hell, isn't that how it is with the rest of the world?

Wrong. In Japan, every stays home and watches TV with the family. And failing that, they go to a shrine and pray!

Now, I'd never really put two and two together and come up with this before, but it just occured to me that the reason most people stay home is because it's too damn cold to go outside. So cold is it in fact, that even the idea of picking up hot Japanese women becomes a turn off once you've drawn back the curtain and seen how fucking miserable the weather is. It's that bad.

OK, I don't know why I'm telling you this either, it just felt like one of those revelations that had to be shared with the world. Like finally understanding why women sit down when they have to pee I guess...

Anyway, so what are you guys doing for New Years? I think I'll play it safe and spend some time with the Mrs, hopefully putting the Two Thrones to rest once and for all. Damn, I'm getting old.

***edit: just finished the Two Thrones. I'll need something else to do now if I'm going to stay home ***
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Title: Thoughts from the sofa
Posted: December 29, 2005 (08:33 PM)
Dead or Alive 4 (X360) Team Ninja have just pwn'd my soul by delivering the killer app the 360 so desperately needed. Even if you haven't heard a thing about DOA4, players familiar with the franchise should already know what to expect. Awesome 3D fight action, sublime counters, and lots and lots of jiggling breasts. It looks awesome in high definition, and the revamped FX work really lights up the screen. Seriously, go and buy yourself a new TV, NOW! You won't be sorry! Anyway, my goal is to unlock the hidden Spartan and kick Zigfried's arse all over the internets. Anyone looking to join in on the fun?

Wrestle Kingdom (X360) Yukes have delivered a solidly enjoyable wrestling game that takes an unfortunate three count from fellow stable mate, Smackdown. Say what you will about the hi-res textures, and how great the crowds look, the game's CAW simply isn't up to scratch while the lack of gameplay options is a worry. That being said however, Wrestle Kingdom is easily the best genre sports game to hit any Xbox, though the likes of Raw 1/2 have made the feat seem less impressive than it really is.

Me and My Katamari (PSP) I'm not really sure what to make of this game. On one hand, the classic gameplay has been well represented on Sony's handheld with the same great vibes and fantastic music. The lack of dual analogue sticks however, can be a downer as players are forced to use the D-pad in conjunction with the unit's face buttons in order to move their Katamari. Something that takes some serious getting used to! Still, as much fun as it eventually is, I'm left to wonder if we're getting too much of little Prince Ouji. 3 Katamari games in 2 years may put you in ball rolling overload.
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Title: Festive Greetings
Posted: December 24, 2005 (06:22 PM)
Christmas in Japan is all about getting your end away... mission accomplished. Festive greetings from the East everyone!

Now what we need is, MORE BEER!
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Title: Thoughts from the sofa
Posted: December 18, 2005 (05:21 PM)
Metal Gear Acid 2 (PSP) - Finished it yesterday. This was a great follow up to one of the PSP's better launch titles. The SolidEye was fun to use (strictly an at home kind of thing), and I loved the new, increased speed. The arena combat mode was a great bonus too, as here players can fight it out Acid style with a bunch of classic, Metal Gear Solid villians. Liquid Snake vs Solid Snake redux anyone?

Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (Xbox) I think UBI Soft have finally put the Warrior Within behind them. The Two Thrones captures all the classic, fairy tale atmosphere of the first, delivers a heavy dose of wit, and then follows through with its predecessor's improved fight engine. It's a win/win situation for gamers disappointed with the direction the series was headed. Truly a great sequel!

Exit (PSP) Taito's taken the basic premise of Elevator Action and turned it into a puzzle game. Your job as the esteemed Mr. Esc is to rescue people from disaster by running, jumping, and climbing you way through hazards, opening doors, and generally putting out fires. The only downer is the relative slowness of the action, but at least it gives players a chance to consider their next move.

Ryu ga Gotoku (PS2) Sega of Japan's answer to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto, Gotoku is a Yakuzu drama to be proud of. The streets were reportedly modeled on Shinjuku's infamous Kabukichou district, and look utterly amazing in a late-gen, PS2 kind of way. I'm only a single chapter into this game so far, but already it's looking good. The fight engine though, could have used some work.
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Title: And now for a little hate...
Posted: December 13, 2005 (07:51 PM)
The sad part is, everyone is right: Microsoft fucked up. We got 6 launch titles, and of them, Ridge Racers and (perhaps) Perfect Dark were the only standout entries. The EA games were complete garbage. Every Party didn't even try for the "next gen" label, and as for the Tetris game... you can make your own assumptions on that.

If MS had waited, they would have been able to launch with a few more localized American games, and the big Japanese hits (DOA4, 99 Nights, eM eNCHANT ARM) that were delayed, could have made the line-up as well. But still, as nice as a success would have been, in my heart I knew it wasn't going to happen. This is the same company that released their "World Collection" as a means for pulling the original Xbox back into the mainstream, then filled out that catalogue with titles like the Cat in the Hat, and Rapella's Fishing. MS Japan really doesn't have a fucking clue.

Japanese retailers aren't much better though, many of them didn't get behind the product at all. Online reports suggest there were instore displays, and promotions out the yingyang, but that was the exception and not the norm. Most places I visited (including the big electronic stores) had minimal promotional materials, with posters, banners etc seeming scarce. One place (Best Denki you SUCK)had the Xbox 360 crammed into a half sized shelf with a hand painted sign announcing the product and an old EA Sports monitor playing clips of DOA4 . It looked cheap and nasty, and I can understand why the locals didn't go for it.

Furthermore, what instore displays I saw were often stuck in the corner behind PS2 stuff. I once moved a Perfect Dark cardboard stand into a more prominent position, only to find the next day some smart arse had put a Rogue Galaxy cut out in front of it. Plug the RPG, screw the FPS... how very Japanese.

Seriously though, fuck Japan. They don't know what they're missing out on. Let them have their Marios and their PS3, I have a power supply that could potentially kill someone, and that makes me twice as manly as the rest of those fruits. Some American games are region free already, and with the system's launch in Asia next March, the bulk of the Western catalogue will be compatible with my NTSC-J machine.

Fuck you MS Japan. I don't need your incompetence...

/end venom
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Title: Of buying what you don't need and impressing women
Posted: October 14, 2005 (09:00 AM)
Today I had the chance to splash out with cash I don't have and buy something I didn't need... Densha de GO! for the PSP.

It's odd buying a game like that. The way the sales staff look you up and down, trying to determine if you're some sort of lunatic, train freak, or simply a dumb gaijin not sure of what he's buying. Sheepishly I handed over my cash to the cute Japanese woman who always seems to be looking my way, and secretly I prayed she wasn't mentally crossing me off her list of potential mates. If I had at least bought porn there could have been a chance, no matter how small, that she was interested in my taste.

Instead, I settled for a train simulater.


At anyrate, having got home from work I had the chance to check out my purchase. None too surprisingly, Taito have moved away from the full motion video last featured in the PSP's other train sim, opting for a rendered Tokyo-scape, complete with insane pop up. Not that you'd notice of course, as you're too busy looking at the various dials, checking your speed as it relates to the section of track you're on, the distance to the next station, and the number of G's you're exposing your passengers to.

Honestly, and I know you probably don't believe me, Desnha de GO!'s pretty good fun, albeit in an anal, I like to watch numbers kind of way. I doubt it'll ever give me the rush of Burnout Legends, or the sweaty palms of Guilty Gear XX # Reload, but all things considered, I'm glad I bought it.

Or I will be once I know that she's still checking me out. I'd ask for her name one day, but knowing my luck, the Mrs will hear about it.

Fukuoka is too small for it's own damn good sometimes...

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