Friday, January 30, 2009

Black Sigil FINALLY Gets a Real Release Date

Nostalically-brilliant Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled took the Silver Medal for our Vaporware Award last year, due to its ever-elusive release date evasion. Well, no more, apparently, as publisher Graffiti Entertainment has announced that the game has finally gone gold.

As you are likely aware, Black Sigil is the first game from indie Canadian developer Studio Archcraft, and is meant as a throw-back to the old days of 16-bit RPG classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI.

The game follows a young knight named Kairu, one of the only people in the world without magic. The game reportedly boasts 40-50+ hours of gameplay and a tactically based turn-based battle system. The game has been in the public eye for several years now, always eluding its release dates.

This time, though, the release date is straight from the publisher, so it has to be reliable. ...Right? Right?! ^ ^;

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled will be available for Nintendo DS on March 17, 2009 in North America.

Star Ocean 4 Gameplay is HAWT

Square Enix just updated the official Japanese Star Ocean 4 webpage, and again has brought us some in-game vids.

You can truck over there to check them out yourself, or you can watch the embedded versions below courtesy of Gamekyo.

Myuria and Bacchus team up for a Rush Combo

Reimi fights off Raid Attacks

Eirmat pulls a Sight Out

I don't always post every gameplay vid that surfaces online, but these were just so damn sexy, I couldn't help myself. Aaaah! Only 25 days to go! (Yes, I'm counting.)

Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope will be available for Xbox 360 on February 19, 2009 in Japan, February 24, 2009 in North America, and April 24, 2009 in Europe.

Blood of Bahamut Trailer is Made of DS

Square Enix has recently released a new trailer for their upcoming DS action-RPG, Blood of Bahamut, which you can watch below.

Or not, whatever.

The game definitely has a Shadow of the Colossus feel about it. Though I'm curious if the entire game is only your characters fighting giant, DS 3D monsters from different ledges. If so, um, that seems a little boring.

Blood of Bahamut has yet to receive a release date.

Go Download the Last Remnant Benchmark. Also, Release Date

Square Enix has just put the benchmark for The Last Remnant up for free download via the game's official site.

For those unfamiliar with PC benchmarks, they are mini-programs that run the final game's engine in various modes in order for users to see how the game will look and run on their PC in various modes. Though the practice seems rare in North America, it is done frequently in Japan when a company releases a game that needs a medium to high-end graphics card.

Interested parties can download the benchmark for free here, though some users may need to run AppLocale in order to use it (I'm not sure).

If you do download the benchmark, please leave a comment to tell me your impressions.

Square Enix has also announced that a trial version of the game will be available for download "soon," though no dates have been given.

It has been announced that The Last Remnant will be available for Windows PC on April 9, 2009 (probably worldwide). It is already available on Xbox 360. There is still no date for the PlayStation 3 version.

Save the World in 30 Seconds in Yuusha 30

So, you have a problem. You have a burning desire to overthrow the hordes of evil and save the world from the shackles of darkness, but you also have a full schedule today, and you just don't think you can fit it in.

No worries, Marvelous has your back with their upcoming PSP RPG, Yuusha 30 (lit. Hero 30).

Yuusha 30, as the name implies, asks you to save the world in under 30 seconds. Yeah, 30 seconds man! You better hustle your ass.

The game features a mash-up of old-school 8-bit and 16-bit graphics combined with tried-and-true game mechanics, but with an extremely short time limit.

There are actually 4 different games in Yuusha 30. The game for which the overall title is named for, Yuusha 30, is a turn-based RPG that pits you, the hero, against the Demon King. You have 30 seconds to get the quest from the King, fight enemies to build your level, buy items and equipment, raid the Demon King's fortress, and defeat the evil lord himself. In 30 seconds.

There is also Oujo 30 (Princess 30) which plays like a shoot-em-up with the Princess trying to return home from being kidnapped under the protection of the Knights of the Kingdom. Again, you have 30 seconds to blast through the hordes of monsters and get her home safely.

3rd is Kishi 30 (Knight 30) which pits one knight against a mass of monsters in a top-down action-RPG. Yeah, and the 30 second limit.

Finally is Maou 30 (Demon King 30), which plays like an RTS, allowing you (the Demon King this time) to command your evil minions to conquer the kingdom. And, yes, you have to do it in 30 seconds.

I have to think there must be a way to increase your time limit by pulling off certain things, because I just can't imagine being able to get very far in 30 seconds. Hell, the game's trailer (embedded below) is longer than 30 seconds!

The game seems quite interesting, though, and the premise intrigues me. How will this work? Will it be addicting and innovative, or so difficult that it will make you want to throw your PSP against a wall?

People interested in seeing more of the title can check out the official Japanese site here.

Yuusha 30 is currently planned for a May release in Japan on PSP.

Phantom Brave Wii Looks Suspiciously Like Phantom Brave

Nippon Ichi has just released a new trailer for their upcoming port of Phantom Brave to the Nintendo Wii, conveniently named Phantom Brave Wii (I imagine their creative department labored diligently to come up with that name).

You can watch it below.

Hmm, it looks a lot like Phantom Brave... But if the new character(s) and new scenario(s) are your thing, or if you missed it on PS2 and wish you hadn't, I guess this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Though the "exclusively on Wii" bit at the end it kind of an eyebrow-raiser. Like, uh, should I be the one to tell them that it's already on another console?

Phantom Brave Wii will be available for Nintendo Wii on March 12, 2009 in Japan.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ys I + II Delayed, Bonus Soundtrack Now Included

Atlus just dropped word last night that their upcoming DS title Legacy of Ys: Books I + II will be delayed by two weeks.

The game will still make a February release, but has been put off for two weeks in order to polish the title up a little more, according to Atlus. To make up for the delay, however, Atlus has announced that every launch copy of the game will now be packaged in a limited boxset and feature the bonus soundtrack, which was originally intended as a pre-order only item.

Originally intended for launch on February 10, 2009, Legacy of Ys: Books I + II will now be available on Nintendo DS on February 24, 2009 in North America.

Not News: Watch a Pretty Japanese Girl Play Mario & Luigi RPG 3

This is most definitely not news, but when I saw this video of a rather attractive Japanese girl playing Mario & Luigi RPG 3, I thought I should share. You know, for the greater good and all that.

Oh, I guess it shows off some of the game's various DS functionality and gameplay. Y'know, if that's important to you.

Mario & Luigi RPG 3 will be available on Nintendo DS on February 11, 2009 in Japan.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

RUMOR: Atlus to Localize 5 More Portable RPGs?

According to Siliconera, a tipster dropped them a line and a screenshot (posted at the bottom of this post) to say that Atlus has at least 5 more portable RPGs in the pipeline due before summer.

The info allegedly comes from an listing, showing off Super Robot Taisen OG: Endless Frontier, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor in Japan), Knights in the Nightmare, and Dokapon Journey for Nintendo DS, and Crimson Gem Saga (Garnet Chronicle in Japan) for PSP.

If the leak is true, Dokapon Journey is the closest title, with a listed release of April 14, while Devil Survivor is the latest, supposedly scheduled for June 23.

The listings are (of course) no longer up on Amazon, and Atlus has yet to comment on the authenticity of the listings.

Yeah, but, they're probably all true. Poor Atlus just can't catch a break with these announcements. :P

Here is Your New Final Fantasy XIII Trailer

As the internet matlocks predicted, the Final Fantasy XIII flash countdown was ticking away to a brand new trailer for the highly-anticipated next numbered installment of Final Fantasy.

The trailer, however, is not in English (as some believed it would be). There are English subtitles, though. I guess that's close enough?

Anyway, check the trailer out here or here. Purists among you can check out the trailer without subtitles at the official Japanese site.

The English subbed trailer is sure taking its time in getting its sweet time getting upped. In the meantime, here's the Japanese-only trailer:

Hey, gameplay! Did you see that? There's gameplay in this trailer! And it looks cool! ...Okay, so, I admit, I'm a little excited for this game now.

The dialogue is a little tough to follow, though. I mean, that's a lot of made-up proper nouns, in both Japanese and English.

Final Fantasy XIII will be available for PlayStation 3 sometime this year in Japan, and available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 sometime next year in North America and Europe.

PC Version of The Last Remnant looks suspiciously like The Last Remnant

The recent issue of Famitsu has dropped the first info on the PC release of Square Enix's The Last Remnant, and lists 4 new features that the PC version will contain.

1st, it appears that the game will contain both the Japanese and English voice tracks, allowing you to listen to the characters' witty banter in whichever language you prefer. The lip sync was done to the English cast, so Japanese gamers who were disappointed with the Japanese cast can now be disappointed with the English cast! Finally, equality.

2nd is the removal of limits on Leader units. In the Xbox 360 version, you can only assign a certain number of Leader units to your active Unions, and must fill the other spaces with generic soldiers or leave them empty. The PC version will let you completely ignore the generic soldiers if you want to, and fill all your active slots with Leader units.

3rd is the inclusion of a high speed battle mode. This doesn't appear to have any function other than making the battles play out faster. For the impatient gamer, I suppose.

Finally, you will now be able to preview weapons and equipment at shops before you spend your cash. This function will let you see what the item looks like equipped, what abilities it has, and what it can do for your character.

...Does anyone else feel like all of these functions really should have been in the original to start with? That's kind of annoying.

However, the only of these that I'm really broken up over is the Leader unit limit. That really would have been nice in the 360 version. :(

The Last Remnant will be available for PC sometime this year in North America, Europe, and Japan.

RPGs Dominate the Xbox 360 Charts in Japan

In news that should surprise roughly no one, 2008's biggest 3 Xbox 360 titles in Japan were all RPGs. And I bet you could name them all without even looking!

They are, in order, Namco Bandai's Tales of Vesperia, Square Enix's The Last Remnant, and tri-Ace and Square Enix's Infinite Undiscovery. Shocking stuff, right?

In addition to these obvious titles, other RPGs also managed to rank in decently. Bethesda's Fallout 3 ranked in at number 8, Lionhead and Microsoft's Fable II pulls the number 12 spot, and Mistwalker and Microsoft's Lost Odyssey shuffles in at number 26 (not bad for a 2007 title).

Check out the full list scanned from Famitsu Xbox 360 below.

Crystal Bearers is Kind of... Different

If you were to mention 'Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles' to me, I would probably stop listening to you, just because my experience with the Crystal Chronicles FF spin-offs hasn't been exactly what I would call positive. Basically a stripped down hack-and-slash game with loose references to Final Fantasy.

Well, Crystal Bearers wants to change my mind about the series. It says, "Hey man, I'm story-driven, implement innovative controls, and feature voice acting!"

"I'm listening," I say.

It then proceeds to show me this next trailer.

And then I say, " did I just watch?"

I'm still a little wary of Crystal Chronicles, but the trailer is at least interesting.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers will be available for Nintendo Wii, but has yet to receive an official release date.

New Mario & Luigi RPG 3 Trailer Explains All

Maybe you've been really interested in what Mario & Luigi RPG 3 is all about, but have just been too busy to bother reading up on it. It's okay, these things happen.

That's why Nintendo has just released this rather comprehensive explanation trailer that gives you the full rundown on just what is going on. Specifically, how you'll be controlling Mario, Luigi, and Bowser, how battles will handle, and why you are stuck in Bowser's stomach.

Take a look.

Mario & Luigi RPG 3 will be available on Nintendo DS on February 11, 2009 in Japan.

Divinity 2 Still Alive, Has Screens to Prove It

Perhaps you remember Divinity 2? You know, that hack and slash PC-style RPG set for release early this year on PC and Xbox 360? Yeah, we haven't really had much of an update, but developer Larian Studios has dropped off some new screens to refresh your memory.

Divinity 2 takes place years after the death of the Divine (the hero of the original title) at the hands of a Dragon Knight. Furious at his death, the Divine's paladins swore revenge and formed the Dragon Slayers. Your character happens to be an apprentice Dragon Slayer, and you begin the game heading off to slay a dragon reported in the area.

Through some twist of fate, it appears that you will instead acquire the dragon's powers, and inadvertently become a Dragon Knight yourself.

Divinity II: Ego Dragonis will be available for PC and Xbox 360 sometime later this year in North America and Europe.

For more screens and the game's trailer, you can check out the game's official site here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Atlus Announces Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon

In ultra shocking news, Atlus has just announced that they will be localizing the latest MegaTen Devil Summoner PS2 title, Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon. We had no idea this was coming!

Each launch copy of the game will come in a special bundle pack that will include a special Raidou-themed Jack Frost plushie, however, it should be noted that Atlus has announced that the game will be printed in limited quantities and available only for a short time.

Basically, if you don't pre-order it, you aren't getting it. (Usually a good rule of thumb with Atlus titles anyway, but what can you do.)

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon will be available for PlayStation 2 in North America on May 15, 2009. It is already available in Japan.

Monday, January 26, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Only in Japan Edition

Welcome to another week of RPG releases.

....Or not. Really, there are only Japanese releases this week, and probably not even many Japanese releases that you would even care about.

The following RPGs are hitting shelves this week (January 26 - 30, 2009):

North America

Crystal Defenders R1 - Square Enix - WiiWare
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time - Square Enix - Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Yume no Ukibashi Special - Koei - PlayStation 2
Maou to Odore! II: Change of the World - Catwalk - PC
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 - Namco Bandai - PSP


Hmm. I suppose there might be some people looking forward to Echoes of Time. I'm not. Why Crystal Chronicles games even need the 'Final Fantasy' name attached to them remains a mystery to me. (Well, okay, I know that it's there so that the games will sell more, but still...)

Downloadable fans can be excited for the WiiWare port of Crystal Defenders, while fans of licensed PS2 games can get excited for another Harukanaru Toki no Naka de title. Oh, and there's that Tales of mash-up title for the PSP. And, yes, an RPG/H-game hybrid for the PC.

Phew. I can legitimately say I'm not jealous of Japan this week.

Trailer Catch Up

I think I missed posting about a half a dozen RPG trailers this last week. This is me catching up as best as I can.

Watch the trailers that catch your fancy below.

Blue Dragon Plus
Nintendo DS
Mistwalker, feelplus, AQ Interactive, Ignition
February 24, 2009 (North America)

My Comments: Err... I don't know what to say about this. The jury is still out.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii
Square Enix
January 29, 2009 (Japan), March 24, 2009 (North America)

My Comments: At last! A Wii game that looks like a DS game! Now I think it's safe to say that the 7th generation of video games is in full swing! /sarcasm

Shining Force Feather
Nintendo DS
Flight Plan, Sega
February 19, 2009 (Japan)

My Comments: I like the anime scenes. I don't know if it's enough to make me excited for another SRPG on the DS, but it at least doesn't hurt its chances.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Xbox 360
tri-Ace, Square Enix
February 19, 2009 (Japan), February 24, 2009 (North America), April 24, 2009 (Europe)

My Comments: It's interesting to see the differences between the Japanese trailers and the North American ones. This trailer is decided trying to come off as more "hardcore" than its Japanese relatives, and actually does a pretty good job at it. Though some of the voice acting may not live up to everyone's standards, "Calnus, Engage!" was a pretty cool line. Especially considering Star Ocean's admitted Star Trek influence.

This is this game's first English trailer that I actually like.

Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
Nintendo DS
tri-Ace, Square Enix
March 17, 2009 (North America)

My Comments: The CG is cool, and the tag lines are catchy, but it's still pretty clear that people have a hard time making DS games look really interesting. If you didn't know, you might think, "Whoa! I wonder what this is going to be like!" But then you'd see the DS SRPG gameplay and go, "Oh."

What do you guys think?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh Atlus, You're Such a Tease!

I'm just going to leave this with you for the weekend.

Atlus just sent me this picture. It's got some weird silhouette over the Shin Megami Tensei logo.

Curiously, it reminds me of this next picture.

Which is a photo of the limited Raidou Kuzunoha Jack Frost doll that came with pre-orders in Japan for the latest Devil Summoner title on PS2.


What's On the Star Ocean 4 Select Soundtrack?

If you are preordering the Japanese version of the upcoming Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope, you should be receiving a limited 'Best Selection' soundtrack from the Star Ocean series. The soundtrack is to be made up of 10 tracks selected by both the games' creators and fans.

Well, the results of the votes are in, and the soundtrack has been decided. Here is what is going to be on it:

Selected by Motoi Sakuraba
01 - Cutting Edge of Notion (Star Ocean 3)
02 - Night of the Chase (Star Ocean 4)

Selected by Yoshiharu Gotanda
03 - Highbrow (Star Ocean 3)

Selected by Yoshinori Yamagishi
04 - Wild Fight, No End in Sight (Star Ocean 4)

Selected by Fans
05 - TENSE ATMOSPHERE (Star Ocean 1)
06 - FOR ACHIEVE (Star Ocean 1)
07 - The incarnation of devil (Star Ocean 2)
08 - Stab the sword of justice (Star Ocean 2)
09 - Influence of Truth Appearance (Star Ocean 3)
10 - The Divine Spirit of Language (Star Ocean 3)

Er... really? Seems more like "Star Ocean Battle Theme Compilation" to me. I don't think I would have chosen any of those tracks for a "Best of" compilation...

Watch the Fragile Opening

Tri-Crescendo and Namco Bandai's Fragile: Sayonara Tsuki no Haikyo went on sale yesterday in Japan. Though there is no confirmation of an English release, the game remains one of my most anticipated titles this year.

Gamekyo has been kind enough to rip the opening sequence of the game, featuring the game's theme song by Aoi Teshima, Hikari.

Watch it below.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bunnies Return in Star Ocean 4! Also, Command Skills

A truckload of new Star Ocean 4 details have surfaced in the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu, including a new character, details on “Command Skills,” and the return of magic rings and Bunnies!

I have translated the article for your English reading pleasure below. Check it out!

First up, I suppose I should get the new character out of the way. His name is Eirmat P. Thanatos, and he appears to be an Eldarian, like Faize, and it looks like he fights with a spear. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t give a full character description of him, so we’ll have to wait to find out exactly what his deal is.

Next, this article introduces “Command Skills,” which allow your party members to perform character-specific abilities on the field. It shows off two Command Skills for Edge, one for Reimi, and one for Bacchus.

Edge – Dash
Dash is a skill that allows Edge to dramatically increase in movement speed while exploring the field. Since enemies are visible while exploring in SO4, the use of Dash can aid in avoiding unwanted encounters. Dash can also apparently be used consecutively.

Edge – Pickpocket
While walking around towns, Edge can quietly steal items from townspeople and allies using the Pickpocket Command Skill. Using the Pickpocket skill is apparently the only way to get certain rare items, though the continued use of it can reportedly have undesirable effects… You can only use Pickpocket on any given character once.

Reimi – Harvest
While exploring various areas, Reimi has the ability to search green glowing areas, known as Harvest Points, for various items. Both usable goods and materials for Item Creation (IC) can be found this way.

Bacchus – Mining
Like Reimi’s Harvest Command Skill, Bacchus can search yellow glowing spots for items, most of which will be related to raw rock and metal materials used in IC.

In addition to the skills outlined above, characters can have various other Command Skills. Some skills are immediately available, while others must be obtained by filling certain requirements. One example of this is Bacchus’ Stealth skill, which allows him to become invisible to enemies on the field.

It is interesting to note that the series staple Oracle skill is making a return in SO4. Oracle was a mostly useless skill in previous installments that allowed you to receive messages from the God of Creation, Tria (I don’t remember what he/she/it was called in English). Though the skill has been confirmed to be returning, it is unknown if it will actually be useful this time around…

The article also mentions that the fields and dungeons in this installment of the series feature much bigger sweeps in altitude in the terrain. Using a Jump Command Skill can lead to new, unexplored areas, or give access to short cuts that would otherwise be unavailable.

For those familiar with Star Ocean 3, you will likely remember the Ring of Disintegration (known as the Vanish Ring in Japanese), which allowed you to destroy certain obstacles in dungeons and open up new areas.

In SO4, instead of getting one “destroy everything” ring, you will instead have to find different types of rings, each with their own effect. For instance, this article covers the Fire Ring, the Lightning Ring, and the Wind Ring, though there are reportedly more.

The Fire Ring can be used to melt ice or unthaw frozen chests. Similarly, the Lightning Ring can short out some electronic equipment or doors, or have effects of other types of machinery. The Wind Ring is capable of cutting open overgrowths of vines over doors and treasure chests.

Finally, fans of the series will likely be stoked to see the return of the Bunnies. In Star Ocean 2, using a certain skill would allow your party to ride a giant pink Bunny around the overworld without getting into battles. Though the Bunnies were mysteriously absent from SO3 (at least in rideable form), they have returned to give you a lift in SO4!

Bunnies can be found hanging around in certain areas. Jumping onto their backs allows you to travel much faster than you could on foot. How convenient! However, there are apparently certain areas that Bunnies can’t go, so it would be wise to keep a look out while traveling.

How is it possible that this game looks better everytime I see it? O_O

Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope will be available on Xbox 360 on February 19, 2009 in Japan, on February 24, 2009 in North America, and on April 24, 2009 in Europe.

Massive Scan Update Incoming!

It's been a while since I've done a huge flood of scans in one post. And while it's nice to see so many RPGs featured in video gaming magazines, it's kind of overwhelming at the same time.

So, yeah, just like always, take a look at all the scans below, and leave a comment if you would like something translated.

Crystal Defenders R
Square Enix
January 27, 2009 (Japan)

Final Fantasy XIII
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Square Enix
2009 (Japan), 2010 (North America, Europe)

Fragile: Sayonara Tsuki no Haikyo (Farewell Lunar Ruins)
Nintendo Wii
Tri-Crescendo, Namco Bandai
January 22, 2009 (Japan)

Mario & Luigi RPG 3
Nintendo DS
February 11, 2009 (Japan)

Oboro Muramasa (Muramasa: The Demon Blade)
Nintendo Wii
Vanillaware, Marvelous
April 2009 (Japan)

Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Xbox 360
tri-Ace, Square Enix
February 19, 2009 (Japan), February 24, 2009 (North America), April 24, 2009 (Europe)

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2
Namco Bandai
January 29, 2009 (Japan)

Everything except the Final Fantasy XIII scans are open for translation (because the current FFXIII ones are too blurry to read).

Go Try the Puzzle Quest: Galactrix Demo

One of the coolest little RPGs of 2007 was the original Puzzle Quest. A hybrid of tile-based puzzlers and old school RPGs, Puzzle Quest sounded like the stupidest idea I had ever heard. ...Until I played it. Then I thought it was awesome.

Cue the "sequel," Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, which brings the role-playing puzzle arena to the second most popular RPG setting, science fiction.

Currently confirmed for PC, Nintendo DS, and Xbox Live Arcade, I can't tell you if Galactrix will hold up to the original, but I'd say it's worth a shot. And so does the publisher, D3, apparently, as they have put out a downloadable demo for PC, which you can hop over to Big Download to grab.

The demo restricts your character to level 5 max, and only allows you to travel to a limited number of star systems, but should offer a better impression of the overall game than the flash demo.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix will be available on PC, Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo DS sometime this quarter in North America and Europe.

Kingdom Under Fire II Still Alive, Has Screens to Prove It

Korean developer Blueside has recently released a new dump of screenshots for their upcoming (?) RTS/action-RPG hybrid, Kingdom Under Fire II. The new screens also include shots of the second revealed hero (of which there are reportedly 18 in total), Isabella, an albino dark elf who leads a resistance faction known as Kaedes. She also apparently doesn't bother wearing clothes very much.

Kingdom Under Fire II is reportedly the direct sequel to Blueside's PC RTS-RPG Kingdom Under Fire (released as Kingdom Under Fire: A War of Heroes in North America), and is supposed to combine elements of real-time strategy, action-role-playing, and massive multiplayer online games. Exactly how that works or how the game plays remain a mystery.

Kingdom Under Fire II is reportedly in development for PC and "consoles" (though precisely which "consoles" is unconfirmed) for sometime either this year or next year.

Any diehard KUF fans here that can fill us in on how closely related these games are?

You can view the whole screenshot gallery here, courtesy of Kotaku.

Crystal Guardians Goes All Console On Us

If you live in Japan, there's a good chance that you've heard of Crystal Guardians. It's kind of a simplified SRPG set in the Final Fantasy Tactics universe that was made for mobile phones over there.

But what if you don't have a Japanese cell phone? Well, Square Enix is happy to announce that they will now be willing to take your money for the game even if you only game on consoles. How nice of them!

Ported as Crystal Defenders R1, Crystal Guardians will be making its way to WiiWare on January 27, 2009 in Japan, for 1000 Wii Points.

Meanwhile, Square Enix has also announced that their iPod Touch/iPhone port of the game, called Crystal Defenders, will be ported to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network sometime this spring. It features widescreen support and better graphics.

Well, uh, I'm not sure what to say about this. Yay? I guess it's better than not being able to play it, right?

Anyone looking forward to playing cell phone games on your consoles?

7th Dragon Gets Yet Another Trailer

Holy crap. Am I the only one who thinks that Sega's upcoming 7th Dragon is getting like WAY MORE trailers than any other RPG? Someone at Sega really wants this game to sell. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I guess...

Whatever, watch the trailer below.

Hmm... we'll see, I suppose.

7th Dragon will be available on Nintendo DS on March 5, 2009 in Japan.

Square Enix Counts Down to Something Final Fantasy XIII Related

Square Enix has recently opened a teaser place-holder site for their upcoming PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 RPG, Final Fantasy XIII. There is nothing much in the way of content on the site at the moment, but there is a flash timer counting down to... something.

The timer seems to be counting down to sometime mid next week, which I would assume is simply the opening of the official English site.

According to, however, there are allotments in the flash code for two video files, which are speculated to be an SD and an HD version of a new trailer.

I don't know how "new" we can expect it to be, but hey, take it for whatever its worth.

Final Fantasy XIII is still yet to receive an official release date.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Atlus Announces Class of Heroes

You just can't keep Atlus from localizing RPGs here in North America. Less than a week since their announcement of Steal Princess for the DS, the good folks over at Atlus have just dropped word that they will be releasing Class of Heroes for the PSP in April.

Class of Heroes is a combination of 1st person dungeon crawling with high school simulation (Japan loves them some high school, after all). The game was originally developed by Zerodiv, and released in Japan last June by Acquire as Ken to Mahou to Gakuen Mono.

One of the game's most attractive features is the sheer amount of volume in it. There are over 500 character possibilities as the player can choose between 10 different races (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Erdgeist, Halfling, Sprite, Felpier, Drake, Diablon, and Celestian), either gender for each race, which of the 15 available classes they prefer, and what their alignment is. There are also 75 dungeons to explore and hundreds of items to create. So if you're looking to kill time, I'd say this game ought to do the trick.

For fans of games like Etrian Odyssey, Class of Heroes is likely a title to look into, though I admit I'm not sure if the story will be anything to write home about.

UPDATE: Here's the debut trailer for it. Doesn't show much but the concept art, unfortunately...

Class of Heroes will be available for PSP on April 7, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Japan.

The First 3 Hours: Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor

By way of quick introduction for those unfamiliar with this title, Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor is the latest entry into Atlus’ long-running flagship Megami Tensei (MegaTen for short) series, and the series’ first entry on the Nintendo DS. It is an SRPG that follows a group of several young people trapped in Tokyo who must choose whether they will prevent the world from ending in 7 days.

As with most Megami Tensei titles, you get to name the main character right at the beginning, and he speaks only when you decide what he says. This is a mechanic that I’m not particularly fond of, as it robs the main character of a truly active role in the story, but I recognize it as a MegaTen staple, so I can’t really fault the game for it.

The game starts out a little slowly, and at first, seems like just a big advertisement for the Nintendo DS. Those familiar with the MegaTen series will likely be aware of characters summoning demons using small, portable computers, regularly called COMPs. Devil Survivor follows this trend, but the COMP is clearly modeled exactly for the DS in this game, and shows up throughout the story regularly. Honestly, it started to get on my nerves a little.

Other than that, the game actually feels very reminiscent of older games in the MegaTen universe. I found myself regularly comparing it to Shin Megami Tensei If for the SNES, though the story is admittedly much easier to follow that If’s.

Speaking of story, the game is very heavily story driven, unlike the recent Persona titles which place a large emphasis on spending time doing whatever you want, Devil Survivor has very little else to do than participate in story events (which are much more frequent and much more lengthy than battles). Truly, I would call the game more of a visual novel with an SRPG battle system thrown in than a true SRPG.

However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the game’s story is consistently intriguing. It manages to retain the dark feeling of the MegaTen franchise, but also manages to come across very accessibly. Though the protagonist does remain silent, the story presents many different opportunities for the player to give his input, and can have an affect on how events turn out. I would love to give you more details on the story, but there have already been events that I feel would spoil the experience were I to share them.

I suppose this brings me to the battle system. The game is a self-described SRPG, but really plays much closer to a regular turn-based one. At the beginning of a battle, you may place up to 4 “teams” on the field. Each team is made up of at least one human character (known as a Devil-User in this game), and up to two demons.

Once placed on the field, all of the teams (both friendly and hostile) take turns moving around the map on a common grid system. Teams can move, attack an adjacent enemy team, use individual abilities on the map, or end their turn. The map abilities are useful if you need to heal out of an encounter, want to inflict status ailments, or impede or damage a distant enemy. The real brunt of the combat, however, occurs when two teams engage in battle.

Once a battle has begun, the game plays out exactly like any other turn-based RPG. You give your units commands, and then watch as each side takes turns hitting each other. Normally, a battle lasts for only one round, but extra turns can be (and should be) accrued through scoring critical hits or playing to your enemies’ weaknesses.

It should be noted that though teams can have up to 3 members each, the entire team is defeated if its leader is killed. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as it will be sometimes prudent to wipe out an enemy team’s leader quickly to prevent unnecessary damage, but doing so forfeits the extra experience that would have been accrued if you had killed each enemy separately. The enemies can also wipe out your teams by killing your leaders. I found this particularly frustrating with Yuzu, as she has pitifully weak defense and low HP.

But what about the demons? What would a MegaTen title be without demons? Each character’s first demon is given to them quite early on, but the rest must be bought via the Devil Auction, which becomes available later. During my first three hours, I never came across an option to fuse or evolve demons in any way, though the game’s official website does indicate a way to do so.

In terms of the hardware, Devil Survivor doesn’t do much with the DS’s specs. There is no touch screen functionality, the top screen is rarely used (and when it is, it’s not for anything important), and there is zero voice work. The choice to put the game on the DS seems like little more than an excuse to capitalize on the enormous DS market.

That being said, Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor is one of the first DS RPGs and one of the first SRPGs that I have legitimately enjoyed playing in a long time. If the rest of the game can keep up the interesting story and manageable difficulty level, I would happily recommend the game to any one looking for a story-heavy linear RPG.

Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor was released for Nintendo DS on January 15, 2009 in Japan. There is no word on a North American release yet, but I would imagine that Atlus USA will pick it up sometime this year.

If you have any questions about the game that you don’t feel I answered, please leave a comment and I will answer you to the best of my knowledge. I won’t spoil any story events, though.