During the week ending August 31st in Japan, PS2 swallowed 27.58 per cent of hardware sales, losing out narrowly to the GameCube (buoyed by Tales of Phantasia) at 27.79 per cent and the unassailable GBA SP at 33.3 per cent. Microsoft's Xbox enjoyed just 0.51 per cent of sales - less than the PSone (0.75) or indeed the combined might of the WonderSwan Color and WonderSwan Crystal (0.56 per cent).
Of course... what the Japanese never figured out, and what we know now, is that this console will never break, never lie down, never bend over for anybody. Cue Microsoft's next Japanese videogame endeavour: Magatama.
Officially unveiled in gobbledegook just this morning, details of Magatama have been bandied around the specialist press for a while - it's a 3D action title that MS Game Studios is developing specially for Japan, which draws inspiration from the likes of Onimusha and presents itself in real-time 3D with a strong emphasis on combat.
Set in an alternative version of the 15th century, players control warrior monk Shinato as he sets about bringing down the Monkan rebellion - poised, thanks to its supernatural allies, to overthrow the Ashikaga shogunate. In other words, it offers its own take on how the Japanese civil wars began - with the usual sprinkling of mythology. Well, for "sprinkling" read "torrential downpour".
Shinato, as fans of the likes of Otogi would well expect, is equipped with a divine energy called Orochi, which has been suppressed since "ancient times". Orochi allows Shinato to combine a flurry of sword attacks with various magical abilities - but, according to the text, it may have a mind of its own. Sounds like a magic ring!
Speaking of which - Gamers.com reports that the name "Magatama" is a Japanese term for a jewel shaped like a comma; specifically in this case it refers to one third of the Imperial Regalia. For more on that, we suggest a quickie with your now-five-year-old friend Google.
Anyway, Magatama is due out in Japan this year (November 20th by the look of the press release, which also confirms Dolby Digital 5.1 support) and as it's meant specifically for the Japanese, a US or European release is by no means definite. Of course if that changes, we'll let you know. For now, enjoy the screenshots.
Meanwhile in Japanese Xbox news, Microsoft looks set to expand the Platinum Hits line on October 23rd to include dreadful FromSoft shoot 'em up Murakumo and popular shooting game Halo. They will join the likes of Crazy Taxi 3 and Panzer Dragoon Orta.
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