Gamers Heart Japan, and so do we

This Sunday will see G4 debut “Gamers Heart Japan,” a 60-minute special devoted to celebrating the Japanese video game industry in order to raise Red Cross funds for earthquake relief. Our own Todd Howard is participating, so be sure to tune in and consider a donation.

In addition, please check out the Healing Pack project, which features many gaming-related auctions for Japan relief. We’ve donated several Bethesda items of interest that you can currently bid on, including a Fallout: New Vegas neon sign, a Todd Howard-signed deluxe Fallout 3 bobblehead, and a copy of the Skyrim issue of Game Informer signed by the team.

Go! Shivering Isles!!

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You might recall in December we shared this crazy awesome Fallout 3 fan art from Japanese artist White Lotus. Today Tetsu Takahasi, head of ZeniMax Asia, emailed me White Lotus’ latest work (and my newest desktop wallpaper) — a tribute to Oblivion and The Shivering Isles. Amazing stuff!

Tetsu also let me know that a localized version of Oblivion Game of the Year Edition is coming to Japan on April 22nd — for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Fan Art: Where’s Wally?

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Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition launched in Japan this week. To mark the occasion, established Japanese fan artist White Lotus sent in the above mural to our Tokyo office.

As you can see, it’s an impressively dense piece of work. I consider myself a rabid Fallout fan, but I’m not sure even I could put a name and/or species to every wacky face. How about you guys?

For more of White Lotus’ work, check out his website here. And as always, if you’ve got a piece of original fan art you’d like to see featured on the blog, drop us a line at bethblog@bethsoft.com.

News from Europe and Japan

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I’ve received word from our UK office that Fallout 3 has been nominated for a Golden Joystick Award in the Edge Most Wanted Award category. As you may recall, the game received a similar nomination last year. It won’t be able to pull off the trifecta in 2009 though, as it will be available in UK stores on the same day the winners are revealed — October 31st.

Meanwhile, if you live in the Land of the Rising Sun, it was announced today that Fallout 3 will be released in Japan on Thursday, December 4th.

Rising Site

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In a continued effort to make our websites accessible to folks around the world, this week we launched the Japanese version of our official site.

As you may already know, ZeniMax Asia, is responsible for publishing/distributing Bethesda titles to Japan and other Asian territories — games like Fallout 3, Star Trek: Conquest and Star Trek: Legacy. ZeniMax Asia will also be publishing titles from other developers. As you’ll notice on the homepage, ZeniMax Asia is bringing Rockstar’s Bully to PS2 and Xbox 360.

For more details on ZeniMax Asia, check out the press release we put out back in April.

New Office in Tokyo

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Thought I’d mention that we put out a release today announcing the formation of an office in Tokyo that will oversee our publishing/distribution in Japan and throughout Asia. It’s being headed up by Tetsu Takahashi (on the left in the photo above, along with Kei Iwamoto, one of our producers), who handed all the heavy lifting in publishing Oblivion PS3 and 360 in Japan last year. Really smart guy with a good team around him.

In addition to publishing Bethesda titles in Japan like Star: Trek Conquest (PS2), Star Trek: Legacy (Xbox 360), and Fallout 3 , they’re also handling games for other publishers like Bully (PS2), Bully SE (Xbox 360), and Major League Baseball 2K8 (PS3/PS2/PSP/X360).

You can read the full press release here. If you can read Japanese you’ll find coverage of the announcement on sites like Famitsu and CNet Japan.

More Oblivion Love in Japan

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This morning Claff spotted that Oblivion was rated as the second-highest reviewed game of 2007 in Famitsu, a popular Japanese gaming magazine. Oblivion’s cumulative review score of 38 only trailed The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, which had a score of 39. So what are these numbers based on? Well, each game is reviewed by four editors on a 1-10 scale. That means Phantom Hourglass was only one point from perfection on their review scale, with Oblivion being only two points off. Here’s a rundown of their top five:

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Oblivion Tabbed ‘Best Game of 2007′ in Japan

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I got a note from my colleague in Japan on this and thought it was worth sharing. A group of 12 editorial staff from Enterbrain (the folks that put out Famitsu in all it’s various iterations) sat down and voted on the game they felt was the best title of the year in Japan without regard for sales figures, fame of the franchise, etc. Only one vote per person, game with the most votes wins. In the end, Oblivion took home the honor as the best game of 2007 with 5 votes. The tally was:

#1 – Oblivion (5 votes)
#2 – God of War 2 (2 votes)
#3 – Super Mario Galaxy (1 vote)
#4 – Legend of Zelda DS (1 vote)
#5 – Monster Hunter Portable (1 vote)

I emailed him twice to say “are you SURE we won?” Needless to say we were all surprised, and thrilled, that the game is that well thought of in Japan given that it’s completely different than the RPGs one usually finds in Japan. So thanks for the nod, we do appreciate it.

Strong Debut for PS3 Oblivion in Japan

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Maybe it was all the Pocky I ate over the weekend courtesy of Pete, but I was anxious to see the PlayStation 3 release of Oblivion did in Japan. Turns out folks really took to it. In its first week of sales, the game came out atop the weekly Top 5 sales list, including Minna no Golf 5, which I’ve been considering importing for a couple of weeks now.

The 360 release of the game continues to fair well in Japan as well, with only Halo 3 ahead of it (in regular and collector’s edition flavors). Looks like folks over in Japan might be opening up to Western-developed games.

What I learned going to TGS

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So I’m back from a weeklong trip to Tokyo and the Tokyo Game Show, my first trip there. Folks have been asking how the trip was so I thought I’d recap. I went down to meet with a few different folks and mostly to talk to the press about Oblivion, as it just came out there not too long ago for 360 and comes out on PS3 this Thursday.

The press folks were extremely nice and all went out of their way to talk about how much they liked Oblivion, how different it was than Japanese RPGs, asked lots of “how did you do this” questions, it was fun. Doing interviews via a translator (my Japanese is limited to anything mentioned in a Styx song) is always a bit trying as every question and answer gets repeated in both languages and can be pretty time-consuming, but Tetsu (our guy from Oblivion’s publisher in Japan, Spike) and I have done this a couple times now so I’m getting comfortable with it. Plus, when you get asked the same questions over and over, it gets to a point where he could pretty much give the answer without even asking me. We did a live interview on the show floor with Famitsu on Saturday, the first day the public can show up.

And let me tell you, show up they do. It’s like a big concert just got out and ran smack into Halloween. People crammed in everywhere, waiting in long lines for a chance to have a hands-on experience with their favorite upcoming game. The image at the top, which I borrowed from the boys at Kotaku, gives a pretty good idea of what the show floor looks like. Not everywhere mind you, but in enough places that it’s still pretty impressive, and daunting.

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