Friday, May 30, 2008

Dracula and DS. They Both Start with 'D.'

Castlevania is my favorite action RPG series that I didn't know was an action RPG for

Konami has recently announced the next game in the series for the DS: Order of the Ecclesia. I must say, it looks like all kinds of bad ass. I, for one, absolutely loved Portrait of Ruin, and Order of the Ecclesia looks like it brings all of the 2D side-scrolling RPGing you can handle plus a bucket of chicken. Or was it a gun? ...I don't remember. I haven't watched the trailer in a whole hour, so such details tend to escape me.

Well, regardless of whether it was chicken or gun, the trailer is a definite MUST SEE for anyone who enjoys side-scrolling vampire slaying. And really, who doesn't?

Castlevania: Order of the Ecclesia is due out sometime this fall in Japan. No word yet on North American or European releases, but we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, stay away from mirrors (you can't see vampires in them!)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Black Sigil Exiled to Q3

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled (formerly known as Project Exile) has been pulling a Duke Nukem Forever for like years. Every time we get close to a release date, Studio Archcraft swoops down and pushes the game back another quarter. But since it's "only" a quarter, we all think, "Oh, that's not much more. I can wait a few more months." I do it. You do it. We all do it.

Well, get prepared to do it again.

According to a press release from publisher Graffiti Entertainment's parent company Signature Devices, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exile will ship to retailers in quarter 3, 2008 (July-September). This slips past the promised Q2 2008 ship date that Studio Archcraft has on their website, making me a sad gamer.

I personally should stop hoping on fictional release dates and forget about the game until it actually comes out, but the allure of nostalgic 16-bit RPGing forces me to obey every insane whim that comes out of corporation land. DAMN YOU CORPORATION LAND AND YOUR FORCED SERVITUDE!

So what do you think? Will it really make the target release quarter, or is this another "will never actually make it out" games?

P.S. Does anyone else notice that Black Sigil acronymed is BS? :O

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Atlus MMO Coming to the Land of the Free?

Since we have no official word on this juicy tidbit, we are going to have to classify this as a "rumor," but on Atlus USA's job postings is an ad for a position with the company as a Game Producer who will reportedly be "responsible for overall game performance of a significant MMO title including revenue, game content, and community growth."

Additionally, the position is asking for someone who has experience with MMOs and/or PC game titles, so it seems likely that whatever game is forthcoming is for the PC.
Atlus Japan currently has 2 MMOs in operation: Megami Tensei Online: IMAGINE and Perfect World, an original IP set in a high-fantasy world. Both games are free to play for Japanese Windows users, but generate revenue through special items that can only be bought with real money.

Megami Tensei Online: IMAGINE was developed by Cave and published by Atlus. I've personally had an account on IMAGINE since it started its Beta, and for the time that I did play it, I had a fairly enjoyable experience. The game allows the player to customize their character who will roam post-apocalyptic Tokyo, making contracts with and summoning demons ala most MegaTen main series titles like Nocturne. The game is constantly getting new updates (like new items and dungeons) and having events (I should know, the emails about them flood my inbox every other day).

Perfect World is actually a Chinese-developed MMO (developer: Beijing Perfect World) that is published by different companies all over the world. MK-Style, apparently somehow related to Atlus Japan, publishes the game in Japan. Further, it seems that Perfect World has already found a North American publisher (Cubinet Interactive), so it seems unlikely that this is the game Atlus USA is hiring for.

What do you think? Is Atlus USA bringing IMAGINE over to North America? Perhaps they are bringing a different game altogether? Or, maybe Atlus parents an MMO company that is already running an MMO? What do you think?

If I get to make a wish list, I'm gunning for IMAGINE. The game is fun in Japanese, but there's a limit to how much I want to play since most of the Japanese people I know don't play MMOs. Also, since it is a wish list, we is can have a 360 and PS3 version too?

Characters to Shoot Yourself in the Head For

Actually, Atlus's upcoming MegaTen spin-off RPG Persona 4 unfortunately does not feature repeated enacted suicide as its predecessor did. Regardless, here is all the info we (meaning Sword Machine, I'm sure someone else has more...) have on the currently revealed Persona 4 characters:

Main Character - obviously, the nameless, voiceless main character. When his parents transfer overseas for business, he is sent to live with some of his mother's relatives in the small rural town of Inaba (lit. "Rice Plant Feathers"), where he transfers to Yasogami (lit. "Eighty Gods") High School. His awakening to his other self and his powers of a Persona User, he inadvertently opens the door to another world...

His Persona is Izanagi (one of the gods who created of the world in Shinto folklore).

Chie Satonaka - born and raised in Inaba, Chie is the obligatory cheerful, outgoing girl party member. The official website describes her as incredibly normal, a fact which seems out of place with her eventual awakening as a Persona User.

Chie's Persona is Tomoe (likely a reference to the famous femal
e samurai Tomoe Gozen).

Yousuke Hanamura - the show-off cool-guy member of the group, Yousuke is (like Chie) another of the main character's classmates. He is reportedly a naturally cheerful person, and very good at interpreting the gist of situations. However, some of the released videos show him to occasionally have spells of bad luck.

Yousuke's Persona is Jaraya ( a reference I don't at this time understand).

Yukiko Amagi - the daughter of the landlady of a well-established Japanese-style inn, Yukiko is reportedly very busy. She appears to have an air of refinement about her, and is reportedly connected to the main character through an odd occurrence known as Midnight TV. It is commonly speculated that she will be the main character's primary romantic interest.

Yukiko's Persona is Konohana Sakuya (a reference to a Shinto diety of birth, spring, and cherry blossoms).

Kuma - a strange creature the group encounters in the "other world," Kuma (meaning "bear" in Japanese) can apparently control a Persona of its own, but its intentions are unclear. Is it friend or foe? Kuma's Persona is Kintoki-Douji (another reference I am unfamiliar with).

Kanji Tatsumi - notorious delinquent, Kanji an extremely rebellious youth who reportedly fights with his fists. He has had multiple run-ins with the law, and is well-known by the main character's uncle (who is a detective with the local police).

Kanji's Persona is Take-Mikazuchi (sorry, don't know this one yet either).

Persona 4 is set for PlayStation 2 Japanese release on July 10th, 2008. There is currently no word on a North American or European release.

Personally, Persona 4 looks incredibly badass, but then, I am a total slave for anything MegaTen. I am really hoping for a 2008 NA release because that would just be beyond awesome. Come on, Atlus! You can do it!

Oh yeah. Persona 4's main site is here.

Lost in the Winds

Hey Gamers,

There is a little you need to know about me before you read the rest of this post... I own a Wii.... But before you scoff at me, geek circle me, make fun of weight (no, I don't need Wii fit), or even discard me as a sell out and not being a true gamer there is a couple points I need to bring to the table.... I have a girlfriend and I am a poor student, and if I could, I would gladly sell my own grandma for another system (Grandma if your reading this, don't worry I'm talking about my grandma on the other side of the family)! There now that you all understand that, owning a Wii should be fine with you.

Recently I had the pleasure of playing quite an interesting game on the Wii, Lost Winds. Lost Winds is an action-adventure/ puzzle game with a few rpg elements thrown into the mix. Unaware of what I was getting myself into I shelled out ten bucks (1000 Wii points) for the game. Do I regret it? Maybe...

Lost Winds is intriguing game that consists of you controlling two characters Toku (a small 8 to 12 year old child, who's a mute, cannot jump and eats fruit as large as his body) and Enril (a small wind god, supposedly with enough power to create tornados but since the loss of it's power can only manage small bursts of wind) in their incredible adventure to save Mistralis (the world). Though seemingly controlling both characters Toku can only walk right, walk left, or grab onto things. Where as Enril can manipulate Toku and anything else in the screen (fire, water, enemies, plants, orbs, villagers, etc). In most cases the game consists of Enril using Toku to solve all the puzzle aspects of the game. Most of the puzzles involve Enril setting Toku on top of buttons or moving a switch that Toku is holding on to but to weak to activate himself. Also as controlling Enril you will have the role of deciding whether Toku lives or dies, by killing enemies, slowly parachuting him when he jumps from high places, and not hitting him with other things that you find along the way (say for example hitting Toku in the head with boulders, which by the way is the most entertaining thing to do in the game).

When all is said and done Lost Winds is an incredibly fun experience and has the best Wii controls I have ever experienced, lasting a full two whopping hours. Thats right 2 hours.... I enjoyed the game so much I played it start to finish in two hours... But thats it? Thats all there is? What!?......... Oh, wait they're releasing it in chapters? But according my saved game I have all the abilities already... And I have to find 4 more pieces / mini element gods... does this mean I'll be shelling out 30 to 50 bucks for the game as all the chapters are released? Why not just release as a full game then, GEEZE? Anyways, whether you pick up the game or not is up to you, I enjoyed it, but in the end you may end up just waiting for new installments which are 2 hours long and ten bucks each.... They should have just released the whole game onto disc... I suggest maybe waiting for the whole game to be released before you do anything. Sure the first chapter got an 8 out of 10 but what will happen next?

~Giggity Gavin

Oh, I also dropped a video and a comic. Later Days.

Lost Winds

Comic: Button Weight (Lost Winds)
(click to Enlarge)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Accused Profiles Now Online

tri-Ace is busy these days. What with Infinite Undiscovery set to hit worldwide in Septemeber, Star Ocean 4 announced for some unknown console, and now a new DS Valkyrie Profile spin-off, the developer is no longer the one-game-at-a-time studio I remember from my youth.

A brand new portal website has just launched on their publisher Square Enix's website for Valkyrie Profile, along with a new flash page for the upcoming Valkyrie Profile: The Accused One. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Square Enix Profits Down, North America Not Impressed

Well, we all saw this coming I think. It used to be that Squaresoft was synonymous with quality RPGs. These days? It's synonymous with ports, remakes, and spin offs. Where is the originality? Where is the creativity? Where is my GODDAMN CHRONO TRIGGER 3? These and other questions from North America have gone mostly unheard by the Japanese megacorp who have been, up to this point, just pleased as punch to re-remake Final Fantasy IV for the billionth time. Oh, and lots of Chocobo. Lots and lots of Chocobo.

However, finally a voice that Square Enix can hear - money - has sent a rather large message: With a 20% loss in profits (ouch) over the last fiscal year, the reason behind SE boss Yoichi Wada's little "we need to expand our North America market" comment finally makes a little more sense.

Whether or not this has anything to do with the recent plethora of new title announcements from Square Enix is unclear, but one thing is for sure: they had better sell.

It is my personal opinion that Square Enix has been largely out of touch with North American audiences lately. With no Xbox 360 support and limited 7th gen support at all, it is a wonder that their losses haven't been bigger. With no proper Final Fantasy offering since FFX (let's be honest, FFXII is no "proper" Final Fantasy) and the bastardization of many beloved IPs (Parasite Eve 3 for cell phones, anyone?), Square Enix has really made no bold strides to correct their mistakes. In fact, all of the ports and spin-offs have said one thing to me (and probably many of you): we need more money, so buy these games that you already bought. WRONG ANSWER.

My remedy? Try releasing some of the games you've announced. The Last Remnant would be a good start. Maybe considering a multiplatform release of Final Fantasy XIII (that is, assuming it doesn't suck balls). Here's an idea: use some of your established IPs for some new games! Chrono Trigger 3 multiplatform? Parasite Eve 3 (a real one) on 7th generation consoles? Any of these ideas making any sense to you?

Though many Japanese companies (Square Enix included) are focusing on the DS and PSP, the sad truth of the matter is that North Americans (in general, not everyone) prefer console games to handhelds. In fact, I think that Japan is currently the only market that buys handheld games with reckless abandon over console games. And for an international company to only work on what sells in one region is, in my opinion, not very smart, and certainly not the way to increase profits.

Dear Square Enix, no one cares about Chocobo. Make some real games, dammit.

End rant.

What do you think, dear reader? Unfair punishment or divine retribution?

World Destruction Characters want to Destroy Your World

I think that I speak for most gamers when I say that Sega has really gone downhill since their console glory days. Most gamers (myself included) still get excited when Sega announces a new game. We all put our retro goggles on and think "Finally! Sega is back in action!" Then the game comes out and is decidedly mediocre, effectively crushing our hopes and dreams all over again.

Well, whip out those retro goggles and get excited again for a new DS RPG from Sega: World Destruction
. Developed by imageepoch (developers of DS SRPG Luminous Arc), World Destruction is reportedly a turn-based RPG due out late this year in Japan.

Thanks to the attached recent Famitsu a
rticle and the official site, we now have some info on the first six characters.

Kirie Ilnis (why do recent RPG heroes all have girl names?) is a young man gifted (cursed?) with tremendous destructive power, though he doesn't know why. He is somewhat timid and pure, and will honestly say whatever is on his mind. Early on in the story he encounters Morte and the World Destruction Committee, to whom he pledges his allegiance in hopes of obtaining Morte's love.

Morte Arshella is a brash, outspoken young woman allied with the World Destruction Committee. She does whatever she deems as "fun," and is willing to take risks. She claims that the reason she wants to destroy the world is because the idea "just came to her" and seemed like the right thing to do.

Agan Mardol is a straight-forward young mercenary who has grown a little cynical due to a slight inferiority complex. He is a childhood friend of Morte, and thus is a little wary of Kirie. However, he eventually takes it upon himself to be a teacher figure for Kirie, and comes to be seen as a "big brother" to him.

Lia Dragnale is the last member of the dragon tribe. Though she looks and speaks like she is about 15, she is actually over 300 years old. She is a fun-seeker and thus tends to get bored of things very quickly. However, she also has a strong sense of duty to fulfill her tribe's mission to participate in both the birth and the end of the world.

Naja Glef is half-wolf tribe, and a commanding officer in the World Salvation Committee. He is of the condescending smart guy stereotype, and is obstinately stubborn in what he believes is right and wrong. As a member of the World Salvation Committee he opposes the efforts of Kirie and the World Destruction Committee, and does all he can to impede their progress.

Finally, Toppy Toplan (clearly the cute mascot type character) is a bounty hunter who, thought he may appear to be an adorable teddy bear, is actually a hardened wanderer who relies on no one but himself. When he meets Kirie, he becomes enamored with his pure nature, and decides to follow him, regardless of what fate he chooses for the world. He has no interest in the politics of the World Destruction Committee.

Check out the scans below for more gamepl
ay pics. We'll keep you updated with this title as we learn more.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dragon Questing continues

Yes Gamers, it appears to be true! Not only are we receiving one dragon quest in the second half of 08, but two seem to be on the menu. As many of you may or may not know, earlier this week Dragon Quest IV was given an american release date (September 18, 2008). And once again all of us Dragon Quest fans had reason to rejoice, and parade through the streets for several mintues with SPF 60 slathered across our sun deprived skin (or at least I did). But the good news did not stop there, just recently Dragon Quest IX was also given an a fourth quater release date (November 20th, 2008).

These two annoucements are amazing, considering that Dragon Quest Monsters sold quite poorly in America. Compared to other Monster Catching games that sold more then 1.4 million copies in its first week in America (4 times the amount of units that DQ: monsters joker sold in its life time). Some speculated that we would not see all of the upcoming Dragon Quest games in America because of the lack of interest. So to see two Dragon Quest games releasing so close together is just awesome! And perhaps, considering the way that both sell, we'll also see the release of DQ V and DQ VI for DS, whos release dates, as of right now, are TBA.

Which Dragon Quest game are you more excited about? Are you waiting to once again unite the heros of Dragon Quest IV and once again save the world from impending doom? All the while selling over priced / under effective weapons to unspecting villagers as Taloon the merchant? Building your team and the story chapter by chapter?

Dragon Quest IV Trailer

Or are you excited for Dragon Quest IX? The newest installment in the Dragon Quest Games, with all new characters and an all new epic battle? Are you interested in the games' two new battle systems? Seemingly having a turn based battle system and an action rpg battle system some how added into the mix?

Dragon Quest IX Trailer

Personally, I can't wait for either! I'll be playing Dragon Quest IV right up to the second Dragon Quest IX is released! Happy Gaming!

Scamming NPCS!

~Giggity Gavin!

Moar Characters on the Way for Tales of Vesperia

Ahh, Tales of Vesperia! How do I love thee?

If you checked out my report on Famitsu's latest ToV article, you'll remember that I bet on two more playable characters. Well, if the character collage on the splash page of Namco's official Japanese site is any indicator (and I'm going to argue that it is), it looks like I was right on the money.

The official site was updated this morning with all of the announced characters filled into the collage, and clearly two unfilled silhouettes. Additionally, the site's Characters, Story, and System pages look like they were updated too (with the tabs glowing).

The Character page now features bios on both Karol and Rita.

The Story page now showcases four new cities in addition to the overview of the world of Terca Lumireis (Teruka Ryumineesu). The four cities are Imperial Capital Zarfius (Taito Zaafiasu), Port City Capwa Nor (Minato no Machi Kapuwa Nooru), Academic Closed City Aspio (Gakujutsu Heisa Toshi Asupio), and Port City Capwa Tolim (Minato no Machi Kapuwa Torimu). (Please note that these are my translations directly from the Japanese, and may differ from the official translation.) Each city can be viewed with a description, but I'm not going to translate them right now. Sorry.

The System page now features all of the battle info that was presented in the Famitsu article, including the "Battle Book" which I failed to mention last time. It's not really that interesting - just a collection of all of the different terms and tutorials related to the battle system.

Expect more ToV updates as they happen.

The DS is Alive with the Sound of Rhapsody

Those of you who have been keeping up with the obscure RPG scene since at least the PSX days (and really, back then, RPGs were all pretty obscure) might remember a little Atlus-published gem known as Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. One of Nippon Ichi's first games, Rhapsody (known in Japan as literally "The Little Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom" - the first Marl Kingdom game), Rhapsody was a relatively unknown game, even by that generation's standards.

But now, thanks to Disgaea's success, Nippon Ichi is more of a household name, and they are all about capitalizing on ports of their old games. (Pulling a bit of a Square Enix, are we?) In any case, Rhapsody is officially heading for the DS (at least in Japan) on August 7th, according to the game's site (which you can check out here).

The game has received an art revision (which I personally feel looks inferior to the original), and has received a new subtitle:
マール王国の人形姫 天使が奏でる愛のうた (Maaru Oukoku no Ningyou Hime: Tenshi ga Kanaderu Ai no Uta - literally "The Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom: The Song of Love that Angels Play").

Currently there has been no word from NISAmerica (or any other company for that matter) about North American release.

ESRB Brings the Heat

Ah, the ESRB. Rating video games for discerning gamers since the mid-90s. But what else does the ESRB do for us? Why, it gives us accidental game announcements too! Hooray!
This time, the ESRB has inadvertently spilled the beans on Mistwalker and Nintendo's first (and maybe only) collaborative project - ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat. For those of you who tune in to my personal blog, you'll probably remember that I posted and Obscure Game Tuesday article about this little SRPG. While I, myself am not the biggest fan of SRPGs (I find them incredibly slow-paced for my own liking), ASH has behind it some pretty innovative storytelling. For those of you who thought Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey were too cliched, you may want to give ASH a spin. The story of a lone Princess surviving the decimation of her kingdom on her 17th birthday by a fabled creature of fire, only to see her friends revive in front of her as walking, talking piles of ash is certainly unique. Though there is currently no release date, the fact that it has already been played through and rated suggests that it is not far off. We'll keep you posted.

Now if only Nintendo would get around to bringing over Soma Bringer...

New Tales of Vesperia Scan - Battles

I am reposting a popular post from my personal blog (Automatic Life) that has translations from the latest Famitsu article on Tales of Vesperia. The scans take a closer look at ToV's battle system, and introduce two playable characters: Rita and Karol Capel.

Karol Capel (presumably closer to "Carl" than the feminine alternative) is a 12 year old monster hunter from the "Makari no Tsurugi" or "Makari no Ken" (it could be either) (lit.
Sword(s) of the Demon Hunters) guild. The article says that he has big dreams that he rests on a big weapon. (He appears to fight with a large hammer.) He is reportedly very good with his fingers, and very "in the know" on a lot of matters.

EDIT: The trailer mentions that the guild is officially called the Hunters' Blades Guild in English.

Rita is a 15 year old magic user and magic researcher who is cited as a child prodigy. However, she is apparently only interested in
her research, and pays little attention to anything else. She can become very angry if interrupted in her studies, and is ostracized even from the other researchers. She apparently fights with a scarf-like object that can be seen in the first scan, and also has control of a giant cat arm of some sort. I like her goggles.

EDIT: The Wikipedia page on ToV states that Rita fights with a book. (Then what is that scarf she's holding in her portrait and is clearly hitting a monster with in one of the screens?)

Karol and Rita bring the list of revealed characters up to six (with Yuri, Estelle, Rapede, and Flynn previously unveiled). It is generally believed that there is at least one more playable character to come, but I have my money on two. For reference, this team's previous games, Tales of the Abyss had seven playable characters (but you could only keep six) and Tales of Symphonia had nine (but, again, you could only have up to eight).

In terms of the battle system, the Famitsu article points out many similarities to ToA (not surprisingly, since it is the same team), including the ability to hold a button and run around the battle
field freely (I kinda wish you didn't need the button, but oh well).

The battle system also features a gauge at the side of the screen which indicates the player character's "o
verlimit" skill. As you fight, the gauge fills up, and can store up to 4 fully-charged bars. These will allow the character to unleash a powerful overlimit attack based on how many full gauges the player has managed to acquire. 1 full gauge = level 1 overlimit, 2 full gauges = level 2 overlimit, etc. During Overlimit, characters can also produce powerful attacks called Burst Arts. Ooo.

Additionally, there are skills that reportedly alter other abi
lities. These can be set to your characters, and after repeated use will become fully completed abilities that can be used at will.

Finally, the battle system features a "fatal strike" system. Each enemy apparently holds an endurance factor, referred to as FS taikyuuchi (lit. FS endurance points) which come in three varieties (though the article doesn't elaborate on what these types may be). As the party hacks away at the enemy, its FS endurance falls in addition to its HP damage. If the FS falls to zero, your character can perform a "fatal strike" attack which will instantly destroy most enemies, and heavily damage bosses. This is likely going to be a very important aspect of battles, especially later on in the game.

The game is shaping up to be quite cool, and the more I see about it, the more I MUST HAVE IT. Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Undiscovered Trailer

A new trailer has just hit the interwebs with today's release date announcement for tri-Ace, Square Enix, and Microsoft's upcoming action RPG, Infinite Undiscovery.

Check it out below:

This looks badassically fantastic. September can't come soon enough.

Undisovering Infinite Dragon Quests in North America

Thanks to a report on RPGFan, we have learned that Square Enix has announced today that North American RPGamers will getting two new titles this September.

First, tri-Ace's latest action RPG for the Xbox 360, Infinite Undiscovery, will be available on September 2, 2008. Infinite Undiscovery was announced as a joint project between tri-Ace and Microsoft Game Studios back in 2006, and publishing was transferred to Square Enix in 2007. The game will reportedly receive simultaneous release in both North American and Japanese markets.

The press release for Infinite Undiscovery is here.

Second, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (as it has been titled for North American release), the DS remake of the NES classic, will be released on September 16, 2008. DQIV has been available in Japan since late November, 2007.

With this announcement, Square Enix has also said that the next two Dragon Quest DS remakes (part of the "Zenithia Trilogy"), Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (to be released on July 17 in Japan) and Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie (Japanese release date TBA), will also see North American release, but no dates have been given at this time.

The press release for Dragon Quest IV is here.

Sword Machine Draws Near. Command?

Welcome to the little guys' RPG blog: Sword Machine!

At Sword Machine we pledge to report on whatever we want and tell you what we think as we think it. No self-censory here, and definitely no corporate influences, just RPG news, previews, reviews, media, and opinions from RPG lovers for RPG lovers.

How do you like that?

~Brandon Palaver