Sony’s mascot in Japan isn’t Sackboy, or Nathan Drake, or Crash sodding Bandicoot, oh no – it’s a cheerily braindead white cat called Toro, star of Dokodemo Issyo and Mainichi Issyo. He’s been around for just over a decade, starting life on the Pocketstation, and he is officially a Big Deal. He’s INSANELY popular. For the tenth Toro anniversary, they ran a nationwide train promotion where kids had to run around between different stations collecting stamps for gifts. They even got two people to dress up as giant cats and welcome people. Anyway, he and his slightly less gormless pal, Kuro (a black cat), have been the stars of the PS3 since launch in Japan with Toro Station. It’s a free download from the Japanese PSN store – every single day, Toro and Kuro present an adorable little news programme about… something. Sometimes it’s new happenings in the world of Playstation, sometimes it’s about a coffee shop in Tokyo that’ll draw cats on your coffee foam, once it was about toilet paper with maps of the galaxy printed on it. It’s awesome. But if you’ve never experienced the wonders of Toro Station, your chance is up. They’ve changed it.
You see, as well as watching the news you can also buy trinkets, minigames and stuff for Toro to play with from the Mainichi Issyo store for absolutely extortionate prices, which is where it makes its money. See, if you download something, it makes the retarded cat happy. Buy him a brick for 100 yen and he will play with it delightedly for hours. If you don’t buy him anything, all he has is a fridge and an empty orange crate, and he’s forced to roll around on the carpet for entertainment. So although Mainichi Issyo is technically free, it’s difficult to hold on to your money for long, because you want to see him do things like this.
Now, though, the golden days are over – a month or two ago, a troubling service message indicated that Mainichi Issyo was going to be changing. Subscriptions to items like the camera and services like the special cat garden that you could invite your friends to would be “terminated”. Now Sony has revealed the evil plan: Mainichi Issyo is now going to operate on a subscription basis. If you want to see Toro Station on the day it comes out, or have access to the cat fashion shows, or keep all the stuff you’ve paid for in your Toro house, you’re going to have to start paying 800 yen a month. Otherwise Toro has to do his news broadcasts from behind an orange crate in a rubbish tip. (Literally – look:)
Basically, something that’s been free for years is now going to cost a fiver a month, and they’ve bulldozed Toro’s house. Essentially they’re guilting you into buying him a new one. It seems like all the stuff you’ve already paid for will be taken away if you don’t pay up for a subscription, too. Check out the Mainichi Issyo site to see what’s still free and what’s now “premium content“. More Torogate news as we get it.