It can be difficult to get the latest news from China, given how locked off it can be for the rest of the world, but we're making it a little bit easier with our new, weekly round-up of the biggest stories from the region.
We're working with Junxue Li, CEO of Beijing-based 2D art firm Sunny Painter, to bring the most interesting news from China to you, so you can stay informed of what's happening in one of the biggest markets in the world.
This week, we're looking at the success of an anime mahjong game outside of Japan, and a new anime inspired by one of China's most popular female-focused games.
Arena of Valor opens 5v5 AI challenge on Chinese Labor Day
From May 1st to 4th, a new challenge wass added to Arena of Valor in China, in which gamers could battle against an AI program which is named Juewu (绝悟).
In the challenge, a 5v5 mode against AI is available to the public for the first time, while a 1v1 mode was presented at China Joy 2019, in which Juewu had beaten 99.8% of the top amateur players. And the heroes in the Juewu team are named after legendary figures in Chinese mythology, for example Monkey King and Houyi. This time there are six levels in total, with gradually increased difficulty.
Juewu is developed by the Tencent AI Lab, and is a program capable of learning through the battles. And in the last few days, amateurs and pro level players alike have admitted that Juewu is a fearsome opponent.
Mini World removed from stores in China due to a big scandal
On April 28th, the popular sandbox game Mini World announced it was being removed from both Google and Apple stores in China. In its official Weibo announcement, Mini World made apologies for its inability to regulate "unlawful guys spreading harmful messages in the game".
The real reason is that some bad guys had lured juveniles to shoot/exchange their own nude pictures by leaving invitation messages in the game, and the actual pictures and videos were shared via other message apps.
Mini World was developed by a Shenzhen company called MiniWan Tech, and was launched in 2017. Although shadowed by Minecraft, it had been a relative success, gaining 400 million downloads worldwide so far and reaping many awards. Considering the majority of players are minors, this scandal has led to an enormous negative social impact.
One thing we should take notice is that although the game is not available for download now, the servers have not been shut down.
An anime mahjong game thrives in Japan while shutting down in China
There are more than a dozen Chinese mahjong games landed in Japan, and the one doing best is Mahjong Soul (雀魂 -じゃんたま), which has broken into the top 50 free list.
Mahjong Soul adopts an anime graphic style, and has invited many Japanese stars to do the voice acting. Besides the regular mahjong play, as in most anime games, players need to cultivate relationship with the NPCs.
The game was developed by Cat Food Studio (猫粮工作室) and published by Yostar in Japan. Now it's closed down in China, following the wide range shutting down of Mahjong games, as reported by PG.biz. The development studio has no official site, so it's highly probable that it's a small indie studio which has limited resources to apply for a license in China and has resorted to going overseas.
Stylized simulation game with classic Chinese painting style graphics
The stylized simulation mobile game Rolling Pictures of Jiangnan Landscape (江南百景图) has just finished its last round of open tests on Taptap, and was widely praised for its traditional Chinese painting style graphics.
The game is developed by Coconut Island. The production team had extensively studied classic Chinese landscape paintings, and had done great job to breathe the ancient spirit into isometric style in-game graphics. As the art style is so unique, the chief game designer Junming has admitted that the team had a hard time finding more artists or outsourcing partners.
And other features of the game are also very traditional. For example, it has a beautiful long scrolling of mother-of-pearl inlay art as the open screen, and uses traditional Chinese manga as cut scenes.
TV series adapted from acclaimed anime game announced
This week, a TV series adapted from widely acclaimed anime game Love And Producer (恋与制作人) was announced. It has 4 parts with 3 episodes in each. The TV series is produced by Japanese studio MAPPA, and the final program will be available in Chinese and Japanese languages, with stars in both countries invited to do the voice acting. The series will come out this year.
The game was developed by Paper Games, and was launched in 2017. It's a female-centric role-playing game, featuring character development and interactive story gameplay. The story is a modern city drama, the proagonist is a female TV program producer who, while attempting to save the dying studio, becomes romantically entangled with a few young males who bump into her life/career.
The game became a huge success in China in the two years after its release, and it has become a benchmark of Chinese female-centric anime games.