When you spend decades of your life surrounded by video games, either professionally or for pleasure, eventually, you learn to smell when death draws near. Titans start to waver, trends begin to fall by the wayside. The juggernauts of yesterday tire as they succumb less to the inevitable march of progress so much as the mere whims that fuel every creative empire. Institutions only remain invincible for as long as belief in them persists. It’s almost always nigh impossible to play coroner and pronounce an exact time when a genre or a game or a series finally, indisputably dies. Likewise…


As the PlayStation 2 turns 20 in Japan on March 4, followed by Europe and North America later in the year, game outlets of all stripes will undoubtedly be trotting out lists and retrospectives commemorating one of the most culturally significant and successful consoles to ever be produced. Although much of that attention will likely be focused on the many unique and diverse games that helped make it such an ubiquitous force, it shouldn’t be forgotten that one of the system’s other key pillars that helped fuel its success was its backwards compatibility with the vast majority of the original…


We’re closer to our video games than ever. Character relationships defined beyond plot proceedings and realized by progression mechanics of all sorts are now increasingly mainstream in some of the bestselling games each year. Fire Emblem lets you indulge in an intimate tea time with its wide ranging cast. Yakuza routinely allows you to rub shoulders with women from Japan’s hostess club industry, drinking and chatting it up as you rack up an ever bigger tab. Even past Pokemon games have given you the chance to offer your caught critters affectionate scritches and pets. Meanwhile, on the narrative-focused end, more…


On the face of things, I’m about as far from the intended audience for Amagami as someone can possibly be. A 2009 PlayStation 2 dating sim set in late 1990s Japan, as something of a nostalgia piece, in terms of the sheer premise, there’s very little that it has in common with my own personal experiences. I didn’t live in Japan during that time period or speak the language then, let alone attend high school there. Amagami is set in a world where kids didn’t even widely have feature phones yet, VHS tapes were still the popular way to consume…

Tom James

Freelance Japanese-English video game translator. Monster Hunter Generations, Tales of Berseria, and more. Work site: http://www.freelansations.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store