Fairy tales, like so much fiction, are all about leaving the village. Figuratively, of course, as the young man or woman departs the familiar confines of childhood and strikes out into the wilds of puberty, with its rioting hormones and hair-sproutings. But literally too, with many an acne'd protagonist peeling back the village gate in order to make their way in the terrible world, so full of life, love and painful lessons. The Japanese RPG is no different in this regard. Wake up from a start screen in a wispy hamlet or pastoral town and you can be sure you'll be kicked into the wildernesses before the hour's gone. This is how the digital hero's journey goes.
"Look out for more PS2 Cult Classics in future, following a break for GDC." Well, we didn't say how long the break would be. Finally, then, we return to complete our mission: to dig out the quirkiest and least-publicised gems in the PlayStation 2's monstrous back catalogue. Today and tomorrow we'll complete our mammoth rundown following parts one, two and three, published in February, as we turn the EG Retro light back on at the spearhead of a minor revival. Backward and onward!
The Japanese video gaming myth has largely been dispelled over the past five years. "Facts" and figures about the way games are consumed in the largest Far Eastern console-hungry market have been laid bare. Pokemon really did appear on the side of a Boeing 747. Hundreds of kids in Tokyo did play link-up Neo Geo Pocket outside PlayStation Festival 2000 in an orderly queue. Shops in Akihabra do still sell Dreamcast games. There is a gaming "basement" in Tecmo's headquarters where Tomonobu Itagaki goes to smoke fags, and there really is a guy on the Dead or Alive team that models breasts. And Enix RPG Dragon Quest is the biggest selling game in Japan, PlayStation 2 or otherwise. No, it really is. In the past 20 years it's sold more than 40 million units in Japan alone, dwarfing the likes of Pokemon and Gran Turismo. Sometimes fact is more awe inspiring that fiction.