Tiara Concerto MMO Makes Me Have A Think

By John Walker on August 2nd, 2011 at 9:02 am.

You'd never be able to pick it out of a line-up.

Clearly at least five new MMOs are announced every minute. Since I started writing this sentence, the five from the previous minute have each received over three million sign-ups, with over $400,000,000 of micro-transactions processed. If a PC gaming website were to report on each of these MMOs, not only would the readers all pluck out their own eyeballs, but the internet would simply stop in protest. Although every now and then one of them captures my eye. Today it’s Tiara Concerto. Which leads me to ponder some thoughts.

It’s a music-themed MMO! Now, if only it were a genuine musical – something all of gaming has so far grotesquely failed to offer – but I feel willing to raise an interested eyebrow a game that boasts musical instruments are used to “ward off enemies” and “unlock new dimensions”. We all know that happens in life, but finally it’s being offered in a game.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

It shall come as a surprise to no one that it features giant-eyed manga characters whose nipples are barely covered by passing feathers, nor indeed that it was originally Chinese (and the trailer released today doesn’t seem to have noticed it’s in Europe – forgive my horrible ignorance of Asian languages, but I think this is in Japanese). Set 800 years in the past, something something Seven Wise Men dimension judgment floating islands Tuning. Ah, that’s it – the bit that caught my eye. Tuning is the use of instruments to produce a resonance with energy from the past, allowing players to something something something. Apparently playing the correct tunes opens up new dimensions to play in, as well as allowing special combat techniques and “ornate fight actions”. Watch the berserk trailer:

Okay, so here’s the point. Firstly, it looks gorgeous, right? It’s easy to become blind to that, in the face of the 900 trillion other games that look exactly the same. But that’s a damn pretty game. Second, the combat actually looks fun. If it weren’t an MMO I’d probably be wanting a play of something that seems to move that fast, and allow that much choppy action. And thirdly, as much as we may roll our eyes so continuously at the assault of overseas MMOs constantly invading our shores that we get dizzy and pass out, they’re packed with imagination. Imagination I know I’ll never be able to tap into or enjoy, because of these vast barriers that prevent me from ever wanting to click enough times on the garish websites to find a download.

Admittely Tiara Concerto isn’t at the point of offering downloads to the Western world at this point, so I couldn’t if somehow I wanted to. But even here, where the press release caught my eye and I madly hoped for something different – something that may truly be about music rather than hitting with swords – I know I’ll never get around to finding out.

So my question is, have you? Are there any of these less known non-Western MMOs that you’ve found yourself getting into? Have you managed to see past the shrill, manic colour and sound and find the game within? What did you find there? Tell us!

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72 Comments »

  1. alice says:

    That outfit, Jesus Fucking Christ.

    • The Dark One says:

      Just imagine the monetisation potential for clothing accessories in this game!

    • Stuart Walton says:

      Nothing says ‘Japan’ like a a catgirl with plenty of inside-boob on show.

    • Spacewalk says:

      Nothing says ‘Japan’ like the fetishising of underage girls.

    • MedinaRegal says:

      I don’t understand what’s so wrong about the fetishing of underage girls.
      The point of having an age limit is to prevent the mental and physical exploitation of youthful ignorance. Doing this can also prevent mental, psychological, and perhaps physical harm to those people, not because it’s intrinsically wrong to look at naked people that haven’t existed for a certain number of years, or the depiction of it in drawings, etc..
      Personally, it’s not my thing and I like my women a bit more ripened, but that’s how I see it.

    • phort99 says:

      Just imagine the monetisation potential for clothing accessories in this game!

      There’s more monetization potential in removing accessories.

    • thegooseking says:

      Nothing says ‘Japan’ like the fetishising of underage girls.

      That’s really just the part of Japan that’s most appealing to Westerners. Tellingly.

      I’m reminded of when Puccini was inspired to write Madame Butterfly as a tribute to the intense energy of kabuki theatre, when in fact the performance he saw with Sadayakko was nothing like real kabuki; it was something deliberately (extremely) shortened and intensified to appeal to the Italian crowd.

      It always astonishes me that people can be so condescending about Japanese culture when their perception of it is filtered through an anglosphere lens, which emphasises the things most appealing to the anglosphere culture.

    • Surgeon says:

      Look at that side boob.

    • Wulf says:

      “That’s really just the part of Japan that’s most appealing to Westerners. Tellingly.”

      Speak for yourself, there. >_>

      No, the parts that I like best art their inclinations toward bright colours, flying islands, and kemono. The rest I just take as a cultural difference because I’m open-minded like that. Cultural differences do exist and all. And I really dislike cultural superiority, smacks of racism, so… not doing that or going there. None of us are, yeah? Good. Thank you.

      I really do like the art styles and moreover the scenario styles that Japan has on offer, though. Yes, this is typically Japanese, but to be honest I’m fairly starved for good Japanese stuff. Solatorobo of recent months was the first foray I’ve had into stuff like that since… well, what? PS2? Maybe? Around that time, before the consoles became Western-dominated and dull.

      I blame the XBox. I have nothing against consoles and I love my PS3, but the XBox seemed to take the weird out of everything. So I blame the XBox. It was about that time that everything went downhill and console developers became morbidly afraid of the bizarre. Which meant less translations, too. Disappointing.

      So I’m all for this sort of thing. And yes, I’m all for catgirls with guns. To be honest, the charr aren’t all that far from that, and I look forward to playing an apex predator with a bazooka/flamethrower in Guild Wars 2. But there’s space in my mind for both. If this got a translation and it didn’t have the grind of other games of the sort that I’ve played, then… I’d be interested.

      Also? Phantasy Star Online/Universe/Portable was/is absolutely friggin’ awesome.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Really, under age marriages have been around for centuries, it’s only til recent times that it’s been considered taboo, though in some parts of the world it still isn’t. I’m happily married to an adult woman, but it’s not OMG EVIL like some people make it out to be.

    • thegooseking says:

      Speak for yourself, there. >_>

      Oh no, not me! Well, not much. Ahem.

      But I do think it’s pretty much a tautology that the things about other cultures that we’re most aware of are precisely the things our culture picks up on. I don’t want to use the term “selection bias” improperly, but it’s kind of like that. That’s kind of magnified, too, by Japan’s tendency to give the West what it thinks the West wants and keep the rest to itself.

      Regarding the Xbox and the PS3, well, Japan isn’t a big fan of the Xbox to begin with. On top of that, Xbox 360 games are (usually) region-locked, while PS3 games are not (even though they technically could be), so even if Japanese developers don’t see fit to release a Japanese game here, there’s no problem importing it (language barrier notwithstanding, of course, and also perhaps some problems with online services). Man, I wish I had a PS3.

  2. Mr Labbes says:

    0:29 clearly proves that Mr Walker is too ashamed to admit he’s been playing the game all along!

  3. PFlute says:

    This does look gorgeous, and a spot of fun to boot. If the character customization isn’t half bad, I may have to try this out when it makes it closer to these parts.

    And I am a fan of asian MMO ventures. Sure, they’ve got carbon copy grind-fests aplenty. But where else are you going to get an MMO about raising and racing sled dogs?

    • Wulf says:

      I want to play that, now. *slots it into his schedule.*

      Thanks for sharing, that looks absolutely amazing and the sort of thing that I’d genuinely enjoy.

  4. Lambchops says:

    There’s a wonderful diary feature a waitin’ where one of these MMOs actually gets played.

    C’mon John, you know deep down you want to bring your terrible healing eastwards!

  5. DeCi says:

    John, That Picture; seriously? Whats the rating on this (hentai) mmo/game :P

    • Ragnar says:

      When’s the last time breasts hurt anybody?

      Now their website, on the other hand, that’s a travesty. I’ve never seen such slow loading times. It’s like some sort of test. You could go out to lunch, order a sandwich, get abducted by aliens, escape out of prison, sneak into the command deck, overpower the pilot, learn how to fly their ship, fly it back to Earth, crash land on the planet, make your way back to the restaurant, eat your sandwich, and then come back from lunch in the time it takes ONE page to load on their site.

  6. Dawngreeter says:

    I can imagine a Rock Band (or Guitar Hero, or what have you) MMO, perhaps like Brutal Legend with less strategy and more playin’, with a competitive team-based arena. Guild Wars style. And it is awesome.

  7. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Correct, you never will be able to pick it out of a line-up.

  8. thegooseking says:

    That’s a very Not Brown game.

    Edit: removed a whole stupid paragraph because PS3 games don’t use region-locking.

    That said, it looks like an multiplayer version of Xbox 360/PS3 music-themed JRPG Eternal Sonata.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      Eternal Sonata was an interesting game. Mostly poor characters and pretty standard story once you ignore all the dead-Chopin stuff. Fun gameplay though, even if it could get repetitive and you got so sick of the special move animations after a while. But my god did that game have the best music (of course) and IMO the best graphics on the 360. Everything looked so great.

      For a JRPG that game had perfect pacing too. Never once did I have to grind to beat a boss – something more games in the genre should look in to.

    • thegooseking says:

      I liked that the story integrated three levels of fictionality; from the pure fiction of the fantasy world, through the semi-fiction dramatised history of Chopin’s deathbed, to the pure nonfiction of each chapter’s historical bookend (although, to be honest, it wasn’t very good history telling, with a little too much praising the composer and a little too few facts, but the intent was there). I was thinking as I played it that that’s something that just makes sense in a game that would come off as clumsy or jarring in another medium.

  9. Kemuel says:

    Quick bit of translation. Girly voice at the start says something like “While playing music, an adventure in to the endless blue sky now begins.” Goes on to say about it being a story of enormous floating cities, and the search for treasures of an ancient civilisation through the ways of music. Last bit’s just a tagline about music starting the adventure.

    Not missed anything interesting there, then.

  10. The Sentinel says:

    What is wrong with anime that every character has to has the pointy chin, enormous eyes and mad hair? So they stole the style from the Americans in the 1960′s or whatever but now that’s all they can do? God forbid they should represent their own facial characteristics in animation.

    • McDan says:

      What you’ve said is confusing, are you trying to defend the design of the characters or are you having a go at them? Besides, that’s how Japanese and Chinese people look in real life anyway. Please note that was a joke, I am neither a racist nor an idiot.

    • Namos says:

      Is it perhaps that they’ve grown so used to the style that they can find finer distinctions in each character than outsiders can?
      Besides, it seems to be rather economical in terms of the number of lines in each piece.

    • mickygor says:

      You should check out some of their historic art. Even the stuff before America was even a colony. Some of it is incredibly similar to this “1960s style” you’re talking about.

    • Wulf says:

      Cultural superiority and misinformation for the fucking lose.

      As has been pointed out, the Japanese had their style going long before the ’60s, and it’s possible that if any art style theft happened then it was potentially the other way around. I’ve got nothing against being patriotic, but doing a patriotic one-up versus another nation and peoples just so that you can feel better about your own is amazingly dickish.

      I keep pointing out that things like xenophobia and misanthropy are rampant in the gaming subculture and that we’re just sticking our heads in the sand if we ignore it. Here’s yet another example, after that lovely one where third world countries were mocked the other day, both on RPS.

      Seriously. This is uncool.

    • Thants says:

      “I keep pointing out that things like xenophobia and misanthropy are rampant in the gaming subculture and that we’re just sticking our heads in the sand if we ignore it”

      People would take that more seriously if you didn’t point it out about everything, whether there’s any basis for it or not.

  11. destroy.all.monsters says:

    Musical adventures in Lesbi-land? Count me in!

  12. Veracity says:

    Now, if only it were a genuine musical – something all of gaming has so far grotesquely failed to offer

    Rhapsody, you great PC monkey. It’s rubbish, both as RPG and as musical, but it is clearly a musical. I think the problem with the idea is that you (probably) want grand spectacle, which means big budget. Imagine what a glorious thing could be produced if Square-Enix turned its vacuous prerendered guff factories to the task! But it’d probably be too niche ever to be worth that kind of investment. I mean, it’s a bit gay, innit? Bit.Trip is likely as close as we’ll get.

  13. Baka says:

    Sometimes I half-heartedly try to sneak into a new beta to check out Tera Online or something along those lines. Half way through setting up proxies, downloading at 5 kb/sec and trying to navigate pages where only the numerics are readable I always give up.
    The only game I really tried out was Vindictus. It was very enjoyable, but already released in America, so I don’t think that counts.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s an alternative version of Vindictus available only in Asian territories that has more complex gameplay, more dangerous enemies, a jump button and air-combos. The version America got is the dumbed-down ‘mash butan 2 win’ edition.

      And due to Nexon being terrible, it’s STILL not available in Europe, despite it having been listed on their site as ‘coming soon’ since *MID 2010*

    • Harlander says:

      Nexon are terrible.

      So, so terrible.

      On the other hand, their atrociousness saved me from wasting time and the integrity of my carpal ligaments on Mabinogi, so… a wash?

    • Baka says:

      Fo’ real, Dominic White?
      Now I have to find a way to somehow get into that as well. I loved the reactive style of play for Fiona, never found a better tanking experience. Expanding on that has to be amazing.
      Shirley, the reason for the “dumbed down” version is because of Nexon’s Laziness in keeping up to date (see new Characters) with the eastern one, not because they actively decided to cut chunks out of the combatsystem?
      That reminds me, Asian MMOs in general, especially F2P ones, are making a habit of restricting your gametime through some means. As far as I read, they took that out in the western version by now.

    • Dominic White says:

      Fo’ Real:

      Mabinogi Heroes: Extreme Edition.

      Nexon are terrible beyond words. Worst thing to happen to MMOs, far as I’m concerned.

      Edit: They’re also never, ever going to release Dungeon Fighter Online (which is supposedly great) in Europe either. IP-locked, like their other games.

      Hate. Nexon. So. Much.

    • Stupid Face says:

      @Dom
      To be fair Karok came out around a year in the US as well. Also I dunno how high level you’ve gotten in Vindictus or with what character, but the just left clicking to attack hasn’t been my experience.
      Also I’ve never had a chance to play XE, but apparently a joke going around is that XE stands for Extremely Easy-apparently air combos are limited to up to 3xL1r, sprinting is default, and jumping doesn’t help dodge low sweeps. Course, I’ve still not played it, but to me it seems more fast paced and less hard version.

  14. Dominic White says:

    I’ve only played one natively-Japanese MMO (as in ‘never translated’) – Gundam Online.

    It was an Ultima Online clone with gritty giant robot warfare. No, seriously. Skill system and crafting and so many other mechanics lifted straight from UO. Unfortunately, it was geared too heavily towards PvP and there was fuck-all PvE content. Most NPC combatants were literally just sitting around doing nothing in the middle of the Australian desert.

    It also sidestepped almost all of the cutesy anime tropes out there. Combat was slow, chunky armored combatants at 1000 paces material, and the characters outside of their mechs were usually clad in utilitarian jumpsuits.

    It sadly shut down a few years back. If they’d actually had a decent range of solo/co-op missions on top of the mass mech combat, it could have been a hit. It had a small english-speaking sub-community that was remarkably accepted by the Japanese native players, so long as they pulled their weight.

    The one Japanese MMO that I really want to play, though? Monster Hunter Frontier, the PC spinoff of the super-brutal-hardcore dragon slaying simulator series on consoles. Unfortunately, Capcom have some problems with thinking and reasoning, and have not offered this title outside of Japan. On top of that, it’s IP-locked. And on top of THAT, they ban any player caught speaking English. I recall they even offered rewards for identifying non-Japanese players at one point.

    Fuck that noise.

    • PFlute says:

      Seriously? I’m a big MH fan, and this gives me case of the sads (that they were hunting down english speakers).

      Screw you for liking our product and not being in the right country!

    • BooleanBob says:

      Something something about British colonial past something something US war-hawk imperialism something bounties on English-speaking players soomething something something aroitness re: ‘Monster Hunter’

      /rimshot

  15. plavski says:

    “Admittely Tiara Concerto isn’t at the point of offering downloads to the Western world at this point,”

    But at this point, how is the offering of the game to Western audiences at this point? I mean, at this point we really need to know how, at this point, things are progressing. At this point.

    Also, at this point it might be worth pointing out at this point that, admittedly, this whole thing might, at this point, be being taken a bit too far at this point.

  16. MeruFM says:

    Played a few of these random churned out MMOs because of cheapskate friends.
    Most of them are bad, a few really good. ROSE , Atlantica, and Vindictus stand out as “different”.

    ROSE was a generic MMO that I just spent way too much time in. I was attuned to the cutesy graphics and surprising item customization. Weapons were also stat based rather than class based so players were free to make odd and surprisingly effective builds.

    Atlantica is the most unique one I’ve played. The player fields a 3×3 box of units to fight an enemy team of equal size. Each unit is basically its own MMO class and placement (in front, middle, back) is extremely important. Difficult to explain because I don’t remember any game system quite like it so here’s a youtube video.

    microedit: Reading the comments of the video makes me sad. This was the most amazing MMO experience I’ve had but it seems no one wants anything more complicated than “click 1-2-3″

    Vindictus isn’t really an MMO. It’s more of an action game with rpg elements. You go into a guildwars like town hub until you decide to go into an arena by yourself or with friends.
    That’s about it. I’ve played tons of others like FlyFF, Aika, Priston Tale. They’re the MMO equivalent of generic FPS and RPG you find in the gamestop bargain bin.

    • Dominic White says:

      Atlantica Online added a whole second combat engine later on that lets combat play out on a large battle-map, Heroes of Might & Magic style. The ‘raid’ equivalent events in that mode take the place of 8+ player grand battles/sieges against massive enemy armies.

      It was added in a free expansion last year under the banner ‘Troy’

      Atlantica is still pretty huge – tons of servers. I think they recently opened some new ones, too, which suggests it’s doing very healthily. Probably the best of the ‘alternative’ free MMOs. Despite Nexon owning it now, it’s available to players globally.

    • FakeAssName says:

      Atlantica is probably the most amazing game I have ever seen paired with the most amazingly shit cash shop.

    • Dominic White says:

      Meh, the only things worth getting from the cash shop are the standard renewable perks, which come to $10/15 a month anyway. The rest of it is hilariously expensive lottery tickets for dress-up items. Let the crazy rich people bankrupt themselves trying to get the fanciest mounts. I’ll just stick to a horse, thanks.

  17. Temple says:

    There has to be a game where you can fight your songs against each other?
    Like play a Britney track vs a Gaga?

    Played Domus -ok not that long- but it lets you ride your sword/staff/weapon which is so awesomely wuxia films that I loved it and did just that for a while.

    Dofus was okay for turn based combat -and it is French so wacky in an understandable way.

  18. patricij says:

    lol boobs

  19. fenriz says:

    so i don’t get it. Is it a music-centred game because when you push the same old quickbar skills to do the same old twirly jumpy punch you hear a tune and the char dances?

  20. Jake says:

    I still say they should just merge all MMOs together into one vast, insane universe. You could travel from one land to another as a cat girl or giant robot or wizard or lego man and see all sorts of crazy things. Maybe just instead of abandoning old MMOs they could all be absorbed into this one giant MMO afterlife.

    • Harlander says:

      There’s a Charles Stross book where you can do that [take your character into different settings] in MMOs. Halting State, I think.

  21. mihor_fego says:

    The idea of a music/fighting game would be really interesting. Leveling up opening chords you need to combine into custom combos/spells and actually play through guitar-hero-style, with musical instruments related to different classes. To make things audibly bearable, the other players’ music would be a bit lower in volume, supposedly by a sonic “shield” the characters would employ to not have other sounds interfere with their playing. And for co-op, the ability to combine playing of different instruments on same chords/songs by “tuning in” with another player, creating even more combos and special moves. OK, any developer out there who would like to make this? I’d buy!

  22. Iskariot says:

    I have always been disgusted by those deformed and warped manga faces.

  23. Rii says:

    Looks better than The Old Republic.

  24. Cunzy1 1 says:

    Shame all those MMOs made in the last five minutes weren’t made in Minecraft. Then you would report the shit out of them.

  25. Hypocee says:

    ? So with this tide of imagination and originality, instead of sword/axe/gun we have instruments that transform into sword/axe/gun whenever you use them. And the ‘fun, fast-moving, choppy action’ is just a matter of film cutting; you still hit the right number key after the cooldown and a number comes out of the monster. Are we excited that the attack animations are OK? WoW has big exciting attack animations too. Whee?

  26. Pie says:

    Just checked, the game is from a studio in Hong Kong, announced last year in TGS and hasn’t been released anywhere yet. And the trailer is in Japanese, hope that helped :)

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