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This Week In Japanese News: From Tales To Tozai

Gamasutra rounds up recent reports on the Japanese games industry from local news site Andriasang.com, including a free-to-play Tales game, new Japanese studio Tozai Games, and more.
[Gamasutra rounds up recent reports on the Japanese games industry from local news site Andriasang.com, a leading destination for English-language news on Japan's game industry.] In our latest round-up of Japanese game industry news not previously reported on Gamasutra, we look at a free-to-play Tales game for browsers, new Japanese studio Tozai Games taking over the Spelunker series from Irem, additional Ni no Kuni releases under consideration, and more. Momotaro Dentetsu Creator Kills off Series Akira Sakuma, creator of long-running Monopoly-esque digital board game franchise Momotaro Dentetsu, announced that he will not continue the Hudson series, and that its upcoming mobile installment, Momotaro Dentetsu Tokai Volume for DoCoMo cell phones, will be the last. Sakuma, who helped release dozens of Momotaro Dentetsu games across various platforms since the series' Famicom debut in 1988, said he's ending the series due to three of his regular collaborators had left following Konami's acquisition of Hudson Soft in January. He said it would be difficult to continue making the series without those team members' involvement. Namco Bandai Announces Tales Browser Game Following Tales of Innocence R and Tales of the Heroes Twin Braves, the next entry of Namco Bandai's popular console RPG series Tales will appear online as a free-to-play browser title starting Spring 2012. It will be titled Tales of the World Dice Adventure. The publisher hasn't revealed much about the free-to-play game, but players will be able to form a party with their favorite characters from the Tales series, and experience events and battles. A screenshot shared on Japanese magazine Jump shows big-headed versions of the characters. Level-5 Plans Continued Ni no Kuni Developments Despite slow sales for its Studio Ghibli collaboration Ni no Kuni on both DS and PS3, Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino says the developer isn't done with the property yet. He told Japanese site 4gamer that the studio is considering different possibilities for developing it into a series. Hino said these developments wouldn't likely see an announcement for some time, but they could include additional retail game releases. He also predicted that if Level-5 produced more games, they would likely expand on the current world. Ni no Kuni for PS3 releases in the U.S. in early 2012. PS3 Spelunker Designer Forms Tozai Games The lead game designer of PSN's recent Minna de Spelunker (Spelunker HD) remake, Takuya Banno, formed a new company called Tozai Games in August, with the help of Sheila Boughten and Scott Tsumura's Seattle-based publisher Tozai Inc. Tozai Games acquired the rights to Minna de Spelunker from Irem, and has an exclusive contract with Tozai Inc. to handle the Spelunker and Lode Runner franchises in Japan. It will handle planning, production, and sales of those games for consoles, mobile, and PC. Meanwhile, troubled developer and publisher Irem is removing several of its titles and their related content from PSN (e.g. Minna de Spelunker, Doki Doki Suikoden, and Minna de Spelunker Black), and will also close its Doki Doki Suikoden lounge on PlayStation Home. As more and more of the company's offerings disappear, the Disaster Report and R-Type publisher's only titles remaining online are pachinko games, Virtual Console releases, and a PlayStation Home lounge for Pachi Para. SoulCalibur Hits iOS In 2012 Namco Bandai is preparing an iOS version of its weapons-based 3D fighting game for arcades and consoles, SoulCalibur, which originally released in 1998. The title, which last released an XBLA port in 2008, will feature virtual pad controls on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. [This story was written with permission using material from Andriasang.com, a leading destination for English-language news on Japan's game industry.]

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