Microsoft is preparing for a renewed push in Japan, having failed to capitalise on the machine?s potential during the early stages of its life cycle. Although the Xbox lacks the anime franchises and RPGs that would have promoted the console?s popularity; the recent unveiling of the official Japanese Xbox Arcade website is a poignant reminder that there is plenty of appeal still to work with.
The Xbox Live set-up has proved rather efficient so far, and marrying this smooth online gaming with full-on, classical arcade experiences could do MS plenty of favours in this region. The site confirms Live features for some fairly hardcore titles, specifically: Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, SNK vs Capcom Chaos, Psyvariar 2 Extended Edition, Metal Slug 3, Guilty Gear XX Reload and Castle II. These are all serious arcade-born titles, and they are all much loved by gamers worldwide.
After the demise of the Dreamcast?s online service, which had worked for various iterations of these franchises many moons ago, Microsoft?s arcade-focused push is more than welcome. And when Microsoft separately launches its own Xbox Live Arcade mini-game system, in addition to this array of stand-alone ports due to hit the shelves over the next few months, it will be extremely pleasing for arcade loons and onliners alike.
If this news is enough to get Japanese gamers interested in the Xbox, then the new console bundle intended for their territory on 18th November should be a deal-maker. For 19,000 Yen (less than £100) Microsoft is offering an Xbox, a DVD playback kit, 2 months subscription to Live and 4 games: Top Spin, Halo, Project Gotham Racing 2 and Blinx 2. This could potentially be an enormous, if belated, boost to the Xbox?s popularity in Japan.