Friday, September 22, 2006

Whatever Happened to Hikaru no Go 2?

Going through a number of my game reviews for inclusion into No War 4 Empire (my upcoming book), I returned to one of my favorite games for the Gameboy Advance. It was only released in Japan, but I always held out some hope that Konami would translate the game and release it here in America. That game, as you can see, is Hikaru no Go 2.

The game is based around a popular Japanese manga, and essentially drops the characters into a Go videogame. This actually works, since the game of Go is wrapped around everything that happens. Think of it as Young and the Restless at the Chess Tournament. Or something like that.
But, anyway, here's my question: what ever happened to this game? Why was it never released in the West? Strangely, the Hikaru comics are now available and has built up a following. Didn't anyone ever tell Konami?

There are a lot of the weirder, cultural-heavy (and seemingly drug-induced) videogames that never leave Japan, although there has always been a small, yet loyal fanbase here for all things Japanese. Or, at least those things that revolve around comics or cartoon shows. Whatever. To our credit, Nintendo and other publishers have become more willing to export the oddball titles; I can't imagine the Nintendo DS library without the likes of Trauma Center, Phoenix Wright, and Brain Age.

As far as I'm concerned, Hikaru no Go 2 is among the best games ever released for the GBA. It's an excellent strategy board game that's loaded with options, differing play modes (including the story-heavy campaign mode), and the ability to collect dozens of game stones, and then mix and match them for custom special effects. It fills a void for quality strategy/puzzle games that the Advance never really filled. The original Gameboy was swimming in puzzlers; what happened to them all?

I don't know where you could import a copy, since it is four years old. Something in me still wishes it could be released commercially, since the property is hot and the game itself hasn't aged a day. There has to be a few people still buying GBA games.

Every games system has a couple of gems that falls through the cracks. Here's one of them.

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