Thursday, February 26, 2009

Star Ocean 4 is Big in Japan, Becomes the First 360 Chart-Topper Ever

It's no secret: Japan buys RPGs to the exclusion of almost everything else. When a new JRPG hits the land of the rising sun, people go and buy it.

So the fact that Star Ocean 4 sold well enough in its first week to place it the 3rd highest selling Xbox 360 game in Japan of all-time - though impressive - is not really all that surprising.

What makes this feat especially impressive, is that it has made the Japanese game sales charts for last week at the coveted number 1 spot! This top selling spot is usually reserved for a DS or Wii game, or more rarely, a PSP game. But there has never been an Xbox 360 game in that spot, EVER, until Star Ocean 4.

With SO4 nearing Tales of Vesperia's total sales (2nd highest selling 360 game) after only one week on shelves, it is speculated that the game may have what it takes to dethrone even Blue Dragon as the country's most popular Xbox 360 game.

I still haven't been able to pick up a copy up here yet, so I can't personally comment on whether I think it is deserving of this popularity or not, but tri-Ace must have done something right.

Either way, its nice to see high-profile HD RPGs get some recognition in a market so dominated by handhelds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Atlus Announces Persona Remake for North America


That was fast.


Atlus has just announced that the PSP remake of the 1996 PlayStation title, Persona, will indeed be making the jump to North American shores later this year as (yup) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona.

The PSP remake is, as previously mentioned, completely remastered from the original, and features new elements, the most apparent of which is the addition of cell-shaded full motion videos inserted at key scenes throughout the game.

The Atlus USA announcement has teased that the new iteration will include "that which was not carried over the first time" (presumably citing the omission of a certain dungeon that was taken out of the original PSX localization).

Atlus also claims that the game has been "fully rebalanced, visually enhanced, and completely relocalized." Good news, as a lot of fans have complained that the original localization was a bastardization of the game, and there have even been talks of fan re-traslation projects.

The game has not been given a solid release date at this time, but is slated for sometime this fall. It will be available for PSP in Japan on April 29, 2009.

Atlus Announces Crimson Gem Saga

Nobody tells me anything, apparently.

Atlus confirmed last week that they will indeed be localizing IRONNOS' PSP turn-based RPG, Crimson Gem Saga, for the North American market this Spring.

Originally developed under the name Astonishia Story 2, the game was renamed Garnet Chronicle in Japan and published by Sega, though it was known as Crimson Gem Saga throughout the rest of Asia, and will also retain that name for North America.

I'm not very familiar with the original Astonishia Story beyond hearing that it really wasn't that good, so I guess here's to hoping Crimson Gem Saga will be better.

This is the final game announcement we were anticipating from the Amazon leak a while back, so now I guess Atlus is in the clear for a while. ....At least until the next leak. :P

Crimson Gem Saga will be available for PSP on May 26, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Asia.

The Last Remnant Headed for Steam, Other Titles to Follow

Valve, developer behind the downloadable PC software solution, Steam, announced today that RPG giant Square Enix has come aboard the service with it's "RPG for the World," The Last Remnant.

Square Enix announced to Japanese press yesterday that the game will be made available on launch date (April 9, 2009) via Steam, but no mention of a North American or European version was made. This announcement by Valve and Square Enix, however, has indeed confirmed that the PC version will see our shores on the same date as the Japanese version.

In addition, John Yamamoto, President and CEO of Square Enix Inc. and Square Enix Ltd. (the North American and European branches of the company) implied that more Square Enix titles will follow The Last Remnant into PC gaming territory. Whether these titles will be older titles retroactively made available (like Final Fantasy VII and VIII which were available for PC previously), or if this statement applies to newer titles is ambiguous, but should come as pleasant news to PC gaming enthusiasts.

Currently, there has been no mention of retail copies of The Last Remnant, but we assume they will exsist for those who do not wish to use Steam.

The Last Remnant will be available for Windows-based PC on April 9, 2009 worldwide. The Xbox 360 version is already available. There is still no word on the PlayStation 3 version.

Interested parties can read the official statements via Kotaku.

Monday, February 23, 2009

RPGs of the Week: An Ocean of Stars Edition

Hello hello. I hope you all had pleasant weekends. I'm not sure where my time went this weekend, but it was very relaxing. ^ ^

This week's offering of RPGs is kind of all over the place, but there's at least one game coming out that I know a few of you are anticipating, so let's get on with the releases for this week (February 23 - 27, 2009).

North America
Drakensang: The Dark Eye - Radon Labs, THQ - PC
Legacy of Ys: Books I & II - Falcom, Atlus - Nintendo DS
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix - Infinite Interactive, D3 - Nintendo DS
Star Ocean: The Last Hope - tri-Ace, Square Enix - Xbox 360

Japan
Mimana Iyar Chronicle - GungHo Works - PSP
Ragnarok Online (Beginners Package) - Gravity Online, E-Frontier - PC

Europe
Darkfall Online - Razorwax, Aventurine S.A. - PC
Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals - Jupiter, Disney - Nintendo DS

Well, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say "STAR OCEAN 4! Z0MG!"

Other than that, North America scores the DS remakes of Ys I + II are out in a nice Atlus box, the DS version of Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (I'm not sure when the PC, XBLA, and PSN versions are supposed to be out yet), and Drakensang, a PC-style RPG for (gasp) the PC.

Japan gets GungHo's Mimana Iyar Chronicle and a repackaging of Ragnarok Online. (It's okay, they got a lot of good stuff last week).

Europe gets another MMO (Darkfall Online) and Spectrobes 2.

I think you know what I'm spending my money on this week. ;)

What's looking sweet to you?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Speak of the Devil: Mass Effect 2 Teaser is Such a Tease

Wow. Okay, that was trippy.

EA has just dropped a short teaser of BioWare's follow-up to the critically acclaimed shooter/action-RPG Mass Effect, and it is definitely quite teaserific.

I won't say anymore until you watch it. Go ahead. (Unless you haven't finished the original and want to avoid possible spoilers.)



Yikes! KIA? Hmmmm...

Either way, it seems like the rumors about the game making a debut at the upcoming Game Developers Conference might hold a little more water than I thought.

Thoughts?

The Last Remnant PC Demo Available Next Week, Plus New Characters

If any of you have been holding out for the PC version of last year's The Last Remnant, you should be pleased to hear that the demo for the Japanese version will be available for download late next week on February 27, 2009 from the game's official website.

The website has also revealed that the upcoming PC version will contain new playable characters that were not recruitable in the Xbox 360 version. I won't list them here though because some of them are spoilers if you haven't finished the game, (when I read the list, I was all 'What? S/he does/n't join your team?'), but you can read the list on the Japanese site here.

The Last Remnant will be available on PC in Japan on April 9, 2009. There is no word on North American or European dates. There is still also no word on the PlayStation 3 version. The game is already available on Xbox 360 worldwide.

Overlord II and Overlord: Dark Legend Gameplay for the Meglomaniac in You

Codemasters has recently dropped two gameplay teasers for the upcoming sequel and prequel to the original Overlord, Overlord II and Overlord: Dark Legend (respectively).

The gameplay trailers really feature little more than solid gameplay, and it looks like more Overlord. If you liked the original, it looks like there's more to like here, but if you were never really sold on the concept, I didn't see anything that would change your mind.

Anyways, just watch the trailers.

Overlord II


Overlord: Dark Legend


Lots of minions destroying, razing, and murdering. Good times if you are in the market to kill the good guys and conquer the world.

Both Overlord II and Overlord: Dark Legend will be available in North America this June in North America. Overlord II will be available for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3. Overlord: Dark Legend will be available for Nintendo Wii.

Disney Announces Spectrobes: Origins

Well, I suppose it had to happen sometime. Disney Interactive Studios just announced that it's monster raising/battling RPG franchise Spectrobes will be coming to the Nintendo Wii later this year.

The new installment will be titled Spectrobes: Origins, and is intended to play a prequel role to the original title for Nintendo DS. Disney has promised that Origins will include "unique Wii controls," an "engaging story," and "large-scale, action-packed battles in real time."

(Translation from PR-speak to English: waggle + a story + boss battles.)

I can't really speak authoritatively on the subject of Spectrobes, simply because I promised myself that I would avoid all monster collection/raising/battling games after the original Pokemon, and haven't looked back. However, fans of the series will likely be delighted to know that Disney is committed to "expanding the legacy for high quality entertainment that (they) built with the first two Spectrobes games." Cool?

Spectrobes: Origins will be available on Nintendo Wii sometime this fall in North America.

Requests for a PS3 port in the comments. ;)

A Witch's Tale gets Release Date, Official Site, Game Details

NIS teased us last fall that they were working with Japanese developer Hit Maker on a new DS action-RPG called A Witch's Tale. Details were scarce, but we were told the game was going to be Halloween-themed, and was targeted for a Halloween release.

UPDATE: Upon further investigation, Hit Maker appears to actually be a Japanese developer, not Korean. Sincerest apologies.

Word came later that the project was delayed due largely to Hitmaker's decision to change the title from an action-based combat system to a more traditional turn-based one, and that the game would like see release a year later than expected.

Since then, we haven't heard anything, and to be quite honest, I hadn't even given it a second thought. But Japanese gaming blog GPara got the scoop on the title which has secured a May release date in Japan. I've given the article a quick and dirty translation rundown to give you a first look in English.

The game's direction is supposed to reflected that of a dark fairytale where the Witches of the Old Book, banished to live underground, engaged the surface-dwelling witches in a drawn-out, brutal war. The Queen of Sorcery, Alice, eventually succeeded in sealing the Witches of the Old Book into a single book, bringing peace again to the world. The book was hidden, and in time the Witches of the Old Book (referred to now as the Ancient Witches), the war, and the Great Queen Alice became nothing more than legends.

The game picks up with a young witch attending Witchcraft Academy named Lidel. Both curious and ambitious, Lidel unseals a book deep in the castle looking for ancient witchcraft, but unwittedly unleashes the Witches of the Old Book (like you didn't see that one coming).

The Witches of the Old Book pay little attention to Lidel, but seek revenge on Alice and the world that sealed them away. They cast a curse upon the world, unleashing monsters upon the populace and attack the ruling princesses.

Lidel, apparently uncomfortable with being blamed for the disaster that the world has fallen under, sets out to stop the witches, alongside the library's guardian vampire, Lou.

In order to re-seal these witches, Lidel must seek out the sleeping power of Alice which is said to reside beneath Lolo, at the center of the world. However, in the thousand years since the banishment of the Ancient Witches, no one has claimed to have seen Alice, and the door to the underground has been sealed by the six ruling princesses of the world's six countries.

Battles are a typical turn-based affair. Both your team and the enemy team can only have up to 3 charaters each. During battle, your party can use physical attacks, witchcraft, items, or attempt to escape. Pretty standard, right?

A Witch's Tale's claim to originality is what they call their "Revolver Icon System" which allows the player to utilize the touch screen to drag commands from each of your characters into the slots used to attack certain enemies. Details are still limited at this point, but we are assured that there is some depth to be had in the battle system.

The game has been officially announced and renamed for the Japanese market as Witch Tale: Minarai Majo to 7-nin no Hime (lit. The Apprentice Witch and the 7 Princesses). It will be published by Nippon Ichi, and available for Nintendo DS on May 28, 2009 there. The official Japanese site can be found here, and is set to open on February 27, 2009.

There is currently no mention from NIS America on the state of the game for North America, but we're sure that we'll be hearing about it soon.

Dungeons & Dam gets a Release Date

Whoa, I totally forgot all about Acquire's dungeon-exploring/dam-building DS RPG, Dungeons & Dam (Dan-Damu for short in Japanese).

Originally announced ambiguously for Spring 2009, Acquire just dropped word that the quirky title will be available this April in Japan, and have simultaneously expanded their official website to show off more of the game.

Dan-Damu features traditional JRPG dungeon crawling with curious mini-games like redirecting water for your dam construction.

Dungeons & Dam will be available for Nintendo DS on April 29, 2009 in Japan.

Mass Effect FINALLY Gets a Japanese Release

BioWare and Microsoft's 2007 sci-fi WRPG was pretty good. I liked it, anyway. And I heard other people liked it too, so that's cool. But Japan didn't get it in 2007. In fact, they didn't even get it in 2008!

Well, Microsoft just announced that they will finally be bringing the game to the land of the rising sun this May.

For the uninitiated, Mass Effect follows the exploits of Commander Shepard as he/she explores the galaxy, and attempts to stop the intergalactic villain Sauron. It features real-time TPS style combat and character customization. The biggest draw of the game, however, is arguably its deep conversation system which allows the player to shape the outcome of the story.

This news comes on the heels of several unconfirmed rumors that Mass Effect 2 will be avaible in North America and Europe later this year. Let's hope that Japan doesn't have to wait another year and a half for the second installment.

Mass Effect will be available for the Xbox 360 in Japan on May 21, 2009. It is already available on Xbox 360 and PC in North America and Europe.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Star Ocean 4 Out Today in Japan. Commence Jealousy.

If you live in Japan, or are import savvy, you probably have your hands on a copy of tri-Ace and Square Enix's Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope, which released today in the region. Though those of us in North America have another 5 sleeps before release, we can take a minute to be happy for our friends on the other side of the Pacific.

To commemorate the release of the game, Square Enix is holding a Release Commemoration Campaign. Gamers who picked up the game already can trot over to the official SO4 website to check how to register their game and get entered into a draw for some official SO4 swag.

50 people will score a nicely bound art book signed by character designer Katsumi Enami, 5 people will receive the game's official original soundtrack signed by composer Motoi Sakuraba, and 2 people will receive a full script of the game signed by the voice cast. In addition, another 1000 people will score an 11-piece SO4 poster set (one for each main character), and 1000 more will score SO4 faceplate stickers.

The registration is unfortunately only available to those with a Japanese address, so even if you imported the game you aren't eligible for this draw. Which kind of sucks.

It would be nice if a similar draw were opened for North America, but since we don't even appear to be getting a limited edition, I would say such a possibility is very near zero.

Though not much condolence, check out the final Japanese commercial spot for the game and take whatever comfort you can in the fact that you only have to wait 5 more sleeps. (Unless you're waiting for the European release, in which case, I am truly sorry.)



Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope is available today on the Xbox 360 in Japan. The North American version will be available on February 24, 2009, while the European version will be available on April 24, 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Latest Final Fantasy XIII Scan Shows Latest Final Fantasy XIII Trailer

In what might be the most pointless use of magazine space in history, the latest issue of V-Jump has re-shown scenes from the latest Final Fantasy XIII trailer in picture form. Yeah.

I don't know what else to say about this. I guess they give you the names of some of the supporting characters who are members of the resistance force, Nola. To fill space, they are Gado (the buff dude with the tall hair), Lebro (the only female of the group, who is strong-willed, but also kind), and Marky (the small and timid goggles kid).

Yeah, I think that's about all the new info. Short and sweet. Makes my job easier. :)



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

What RPGs Made the Top 20 List of Their Respective Consoles?

So, a little while ago, Famitsu Xbox gave us a run-down of the biggest 30 games of 2008 on the Xbox 360. RPGs fared rather well on the list, with Tales of Vesperia, The Last Remnant, and Infinite Undiscovery securing the top 3 places.

But what about the other consoles? What RPGs did Japan buy for, say, the Nintendo Wii? Famitsu answers those questions in the 2008 Top 20 charts for each console (scan above). Here are the RPGs that ranked in.

Nintendo Wii
13th: Tales of Symphonia: Ratatosk no Kishi - Namco Bandai

PlayStation 3
7th: Shiro Kishi Monogatari: Inishie no Kodou - Level 5, SCEJ
10th: Senjou no Valkyria - Sega
16th: Makai Senki Disgaea 3 - Nippon Ichi

PlayStation 2
1st: Super Robot Taisen Z - Namco Bandai
3rd: Persona 4 - Atlus
10th: Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut - Namco Bandai
14th: Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou tai Abaddon-Ou - Atlus
19th: Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 4 - Koei

Xbox 360
1st: Tales of Vesperia - Namco Bandai
2nd: The Last Remnant - Square Enix
3rd: Infinite Undiscovery - tri-Ace, Square Enix
8th: Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks
12th: Fable II - Lionhead, Microsoft

It seems like a lot of RPGs ranked in across the board. Frankly, however, I'm surprised to see that Rune Factory Frontier didn't rank in on the Wii. Curious...

Brandish Gets a Long, Explanatory Trailer

If you wanted to know just how everything is going to go down in Falcom's upcoming PSP remake, Brandish: The Dark Remnant, you can simply watch this trailer. It's a little on the long side, but gives you the entire run-down on the game.

Take a look below.



Certainly if you are a fan of dungeons, and crawling of said dungeons, Brandish is a title to keep an eye on. If not, well, you're probably not reading this sentence anyway.

Brandish: The Dark Remnant will be available for PSP on March 19, 2009 in Japan.

NIS Announces Phantom Brave: We Meet Again

While this announcement has come a little sooner than I thought it would, it should surprise few to learn that NIS America has announced the Wii port of it's PS2 SRPG Phantom Brave for the North American market.

Titled Phantom Brave Wii in Japan, NISA apparently has a little bit more creative staff, switching out the "Wii" for "We Meet Again." ...Hey, at least it's not "Wii Meet Again." That would just be retarded.

Phantom Brave: We Meet Again is the same game that was originally released on PlayStation 2 back in 2004, but contains a few new characters and scenarios.

Phantom Brave: We Meet Again will be available in North America on Nintendo Wii sometime this June. It will be available as Phantom Brave Wii in Japan on March 12, 2009.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Heavenly Bride Edition

Welcome to another week of RPGs. There's some good stuff this week, so I'll just cut to the chase and give you the low-down on the new RPGs shipping to retailers around the world this week (February 16 - 20, 2009).

North America
Blue Dragon Plus - Mistwalker, feelplus, Ignition - Nintendo DS
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride - ArtePiazza, Square Enix - Nintendo DS


Japan
Sacred Blaze - Flight Plan - PlayStation 2
Shining Force Feather - Flight Plan, Sega - Nintendo DS
Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope - tri-Ace, Square Enix - Xbox 360

Europe
Disgaea 3 - Nippon Ichi, Square Enix - PlayStation 3
Dragon Quest: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride - ArtePiazza, Square Enix - Nintendo DS

Fans of old school Dragon Quest will likely be falling all over themselves to grab a copy of Dragon Quest V for DS in both North America and Europe.

Europe also grabs the PS3 SRPG Disgaea 3.

However, Japan gets the sweetest deal this week (in my opinion) with tri-Ace's Star Ocean 4 for Xbox 360. Aaahhh, jealousy! We have another week to wait in North America, while our European friends have to wait a couple more months. Sorry. :(

Japan also grabs Sacred Blaze and Shining Force Feather to fill that need for SRPGs.

What's looking sweet to you this week?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon Gets an English Trailer, Website

MegaTen diehards should be pleased to hear that Atlus' upcoming Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon has received an official English website full of new details on the game, and a brand new English trailer to go with it.

Check out the trailer below.



The game definitely looks like an improvement over Soulless Army. Despite it's flaws, I actually didn't mind Soulless Army, so I'm happy to pick up King Abaddon.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon will be available for PlayStation 2 on May 12, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Japan.

Suikoden Tierkreis is the Deepest Handheld RPG of All Time, Claims Trailer

Suikoden Tierkreis comes out next month for the DS, and Konami has released a new English trailer to tell you about it.

It's kind of an... interesting trailer. It makes a lot of rather bold claims, including touting the game as the "deepest handheld RPG of all time." Hm. What could that mean, exactly? What is the criteria for being a "deepest" RPG? And of "all time"? Yikes.

Anyway, watch it below and let me know what you think.



Suikoden Tierkreis will be available for Nintendo DS on March 17, 2009 in North America, and is reportedly heading for a March release in Europe as well. It is already available in Japan.

Yuusha 30 Gets a Release Date, Demo

Marvelous announced today that their upcoming PSP mash-up of just about every classic genre, Yuusha 30, will be released in Japan this May.

For the forgetful among you, Yuusha 30 is a series of 30-second games that require you to save the world very very quickly. The game for which the product is named is a classic turn-based RPG that pits you, the hero, against the evil Demon King. You will need to complete your quest in a mere 30 seconds, or watch the world be destroyed.

In addition to the release date, Marvelous has announced a demo version available for free download via the PlayStation Store and PlayStation Spot (the PSP store via wireless internet access).

Yuusha 30 will be available on PSP on May 28, 2009 in Japan.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Atelier Annie New Release Date Announced

As you may recall, Gust's latest entry into their alchemy-RPG series, Annie no Atelier: Sera Shima no Renkinjutsushi, was supposed to be out in January, then delayed until sometime in March. Gust feared that the miniature figures included with the premium boxset posed a choking hazard to younger children, and pushed the game back in order to deal with the problem.

Though I'm not sure what they did to change the figures, the game has been officially redated for a March release in Japan, and will still be available with a premium box (including figures of Annie and Pepe) for the collector-at-heart.

The new Japanese release date has been set for March 12, 2009 on Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest V Trailer Reminds You that Dragon Quest V is Almost Out

Holy crap, I totally spaced Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride. It apparently comes out next week in North America and Europe! Where the hell have I been?!

Anyways, Square Enix just dropped off a new trailer that kind of gives you the run-down on the title in case you were curious as to what this whole Dragon Quest V thing is all about. You can check it out below.



Hand of the Heavenly Bride is actually the third release of Dragon Quest V (the first being on Super Nintendo, the second on PlayStation 2), but is the first release of the game to see release outside of Japan. Interestingly, it is also frequently cited as a fan-favorite title in the series.

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride will be available on Nintendo DS on February 17, 2009 in North America, and on February 20, 2009 in Europe.

Atlus Announces Knights in the Nightmare

So, I think this is the second last of the Amazon leaked Atlus titles to finally get an official confirmation, but Atlus has just dropped word that they are indeed localizing Sting's Knights in the Nightmare for Nintendo DS.

Knights in the Nightmare is the third game in the Riviera SRPGs from Sting, and follows a Valkyrie named Maria who guides a Wisp that can gather the souls of fallen knights and recruit them for battle. It has been described as a turn-based RTS, though I'm not entirely sure what that means.

Anyone familiar with either Riviera or Yggdra Union will likely be aware of Sting's different approach to the SRPG genre, and KitN looks to continue to try some new things.

Knights in the Nightmare will be available for Nintendo DS on June 2, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Japan.

Dragon Quest IX Delayed... Yet Again

Square Enix has just dropped word that their newest entry into the enormous-in-Japan franchise, Dragon Quest IX, has indeed been delayed again. If you are surprised by this, I would like to be the one to inform you that the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary. I'm serious, go look it up.

Anyhow, originally slated for release next month in Japan, Square Enix has pushed the title back to summer 2009 citing quality control issues with the title.

Dragon Quest IX, the second joint DQ title between Square Enix and Level 5, was initially announced for release in 2007, but has since gone on to be delayed and delayed again. This latest delay has been a major factor in the RPG supergiant slashing its financial forecast for the year ending March 31, 2009 by a hefty 62.5%. Ouch.

This has to be the most delayed game in history. I'm terribly sorry if you were hoping to get your hands on it next month. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it will actually make its new August release date.

Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito will be available on Nintendo DS (supposedly) on August 7, 2009 in Japan.

Rhapsody and Disgaea DS Confirmed for Europe

European fans of Nippon Ichi should be pleased to hear that Square Enix has licensed both Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure and Disgaea DS for European distribution in the coming months.

Rhapsody follows the musical journey of the young trumpetist Cornet as she tries to save the Prince from the marginally evil Marjoly Gang using magical puppets. (It's kind of a weird premise, but the game is definitely endearing). Disgaea DS is the third port of the cult classic SRPG Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, which follows the Prince of Darkness, Laharl, as he attempts to reclaim his rightful overlord-ship of the underworld.

Both titles are DS remakes from their original versions, and both came out last year in North America and Japan.

Again, it's interesting to see Square Enix picking these titles up. I know this is sort of becoming a trend for them, but it's still a little surprising.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure will be available on Nintendo DS on March 20, 2009, while Disgaea DS will be available on Nintendo DS on April 3, 2009 in Europe. Their official European websites are here:

[Rhapsody]
[Disgaea]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Even More Star Ocean 4 Info

Phew, I feel like all I’m doing lately is articles on SO4. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I wouldn’t mind having a few other games to be this excited for.

Whatever. Via the most recent issue of Weekly Famitsu comes yet another dump of info on tri-Ace and Square Enix’s upcoming 360 RPG, Star Ocean: The Last Hope. I’ve translated in into English for your reading pleasure. Check it out.

Steve D. Kenni
“Brave pioneers embarking on your journey into unknown space, I pray for your safe voyage.”

The commander of the USTA (United Science and Technical Affairs) Moonbase, General Kenni was originally in the military before volunteering to pilot in Professor Trillas Bachtein’s warp drive experiments. Being the first human ever to travel faster than the speed of light, he became known as the “Light Speed Hero.” He became heavily involved in the SRF Deep Space Pioneering Project after transferring to the USTA.
He is also clearly the ancestor of Ronixis and Claude.

Collections
As with any good JRPG, Star Ocean 4 is stacked with multiple items, people, places, and enemies. To help you keep track of all of this good stuff, you are outfitted with several collections, which can also help you out in other ways.

Arts Collection
The Arts Collection replaces the old Battle Collection, and keeps a record of your successes in battle. Each individual character has his or her own special missions that can be completed through fighting. You will be rewarded by accomplishing these missions and increasing your collection.

Weapon Collection
The Weapon Collection, as you might guess, contains data and visuals of the various weapons that you come across throughout your journey. This collection is updated when you obtain a new weapon for yourself, or defeat an enemy that uses a weapon you’ve never seen before. This database is huge, but do your best to complete it.

Spaceship Collection
The Spaceship Collection keeps a record of all the various ships you encounter through your travels. It is updated when you investigate various bookshelves and/or computer terminals aboard the spacecraft that you board, and has valuable information regarding each vessel. It seems like it will be difficult to complete.

Monster Collection
The Monster Collection is, very obviously, a database of the various enemies that you encounter during your quest. These monsters are recorded in the collection once you have defeated them, along with their stats, where they are found, what items they drop, etc. Of particular interest, however, is that each time you defeat a monster, your database is able to analyze it better (according to a percentage). Once a given monster has been defeated enough times to bring your analysis to 100%, you will be able to make a Monster Jewel out of it. These Monster Jewels contain attributes of the monster slain, and can be equipped to increase your character’s stats. Additionally, some of these Jewels may be required in Item Creation.

Quests
As with other JRPGs, sometimes certain townsfolk will ask you to carry out quests for them. These quests can range from defeating monsters, collecting or synthesizing items, or searching for things or people. You will somehow be rewarded for each quest you fulfill, and there are many different quests to undertake.

Battle Arena
The Battle Arena from previous games is alive and well in SO4. Through winning battles in the Arena, you will be awarded with special Fight Coins, which can be traded for luxurious prizes.
As you continue to win battles in the Arena, you will be able to continue to increase your ranking there, qualifying for more challenging matches.

Bunny Races
Also making a return is the Bunny Races, which is a minigame where you can bet on your favorite Bunny as it hops its way through the race course and towards the finish. Though the Bunnies move on their own, you will be able to give your Bunny certain commands, like dash or jump.
You will be able to raise and race your very own Bunny after completing a certain quest.

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.

Some Publishers Hint at their 2009 360 Lineups

The latest issue of Famitsu Xbox 360 had a chance to chat with some publishing companies and ask them about what they can expect in 2009. Some had favorable things to say, some did not. I've gone through and picked out the comments that I thought were the most relevant to RPGs and have translated and listed them below.

Take a look.

Microsoft
-More 1st party titles on the way – Not quite 10 titles, but more than are announced (for your reference, currently announced 1st party titles are Halo Wars, Halo ODST, Ninja Blade, and Ninety-Nine Nights II – 4 titles. A new Mistwalker title possible? See next.)
-Microsoft Japan Game Studios have titles being prepared for release (Mmm… Mistwalker)
-Last year’s theme was RPGs. There is a theme this year too, but it won’t be announced until later. (The RPG theme was announced in May 2008)

Namco Bandai
-Very pleased with how well Tales of Vesperia sold (they didn’t expect it to sell as well as it did)
-Despite the worldwide financial recession, Namco Bandai sees this as a chance to get their games out worldwide
-Namco Bandai has been putting out 5-6 Xbox 360 titles per year, and they intend to continue the trend this year. All games being prepared for this year are “high-end,” “big titles”

Bethesda
-Plan to release Oblivion Game of the Year Edition this year (2009) in Japan, though Fallout 3 DLC takes priority
-Working on a surprising “big project”
-Plan to have 2-3 big titles out during 2010

Q Entertainment
-Have been working on Ninety-Nine Nights II now for roughly 2-3 years
-Tetsuya Mizuguchi is involved with N3II, but will not be as prominent as he was with the first game
-N3II will definitely be out in full force in 2009

Sega
-One more big title planned for this year (besides Bayonetta)
-It’s a multiplatform game, but users should be happy with it (possibly Shining Force Gear?)

Atlus
-Currently developing a yet-unnamed high-profile title for Xbox 360

Marvelous
-Currently looking into planning an Xbox 360 project (other than Rainy Woods, which has been put on hold)

There were other companies that commented (like Capcom) that I didn't think had anything really to mention about RPGs, so I left them out.

However, out of the above comments, I would say that Microsoft, Namco Bandai, and Atlus are definitely the companies to keep an eye on this year. The prospect of a new Mistwalker game has me especially interested, and I'm curious to see what this "high-profile" title that Atlus is working on is. As for Namdai, I would assume the only RPG we'll get out of them this year is Magna Carta 2, but I would love to be pleasantly surprised.

Marvelous was pretty weak sauce on their comments. I wouldn't expect them to announce anything beyond more Wii titles this year.

Square Enix and Tecmo were noticeably absent with their comments, though we know that Square Enix, at least, has something else up their sleeves.

It's too bad that there are no better hints than these, but it's at least reassuring to know that companies are still developing HD titles despite the current economy.

Thanks to XNEWS for the article summary.

Any speculation?

Tales of Vesperia Gets the Movie Treatment

The Japanese publication Kinema Junpou announced in their latest issue that Kadokawa Pictures will be releasing an animated motion picture adaptation of Namco Bandai's Xbox 360 RPG Tales of Vesperia in Japan this year.

The film is being directed by Kanta Kamei, who has previously directed Digimon: Revenge of Diablomon and Kill Bill: The Origin of O-Ren. Voice actor Kousuke Toriumi will be filling a role in the film, most likely that of protagonist Yuri Lowell, which he played for the game.

There has been no specific target release announced for the film at this time, except that it will be out sometime this year.

Cool news. I love me some Tales of Vesperia, so I'm stoked to see how the movie turns out. I would have preferred a TV series like Tales of the Abyss got, but I guess I'll take what I can get.

Monday, February 9, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Mario & Luigi Edition

Hey all. I hope you had good weekends.

There isn't much in the way of real headline RPGs this week, but there is at least one game per region. Maybe you've been looking forward to one of these? (It's okay if you aren't.)

The following RPGs are shipping this week (February 9 - 13, 2009).

North America
Mass Effect (2-Disk Platinum Collection) - BioWare, Microsoft - Xbox 360

Japan
Druaga no Tou: The Recovery of Babylim - Q Entertainment - PC
Mario & Luigi RPG 3 - Alphadream, Nintendo - Nintendo DS
Master of Epic (Starter Pack) - Hudson, E-Frontier - PC

Europe
Eternal Sonata - Tri-Crescendo, Atari - PlayStation 3
Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon - Neverland, Rising Star - Nintendo DS
Star Ocean: Second Evolution - tri-Ace, Tose, Square Enix - PSP

Hmm... well, I guess if you were really stoked about the Platinum Collection version of Mass Effect, that's out this week.

Japan gets an MMO, an MMO starter pack, and the latest Mario & Luigi RPG on DS.

Europe catches up this week with the PS3 version of Eternal Sonata, the first Rune Factory on DS, and the Star Ocean 2 PSP port.

Yeah, it's kind of underwhelming. I know. I may give Mario & Luigi a spin though. We'll see.

Anything looking sweet to you this week?

Remaining Fallout 3 DLC Delayed

Bethesda Softworks has recently dropped information that the final two PC and 360 exclusive DLC packs for their popular RPG Fallout 3 have been delayed by roughly a month each.

The fist DLC pack, Operation Anchorage, was released a couple of weeks ago, though it came under fire for having a lot of bugs (I don't think that this should be much of a surprise considering the full game's copious bugs, but I'm not everyone). The reason for the delays has not been made public, but it is speculated that the extra time is being used to polish up the remaining two packs.

The Pitt, originally due this month, has been pushed back to March, while Broken Steel will be available sometime in April, though concrete dates have yet to be established.

Atlus Announces Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor



Right, like you didn't see this coming.


Atlus dropped word late last week that they will indeed be bringing their first DS MegaTen interation Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor to North America early this summer as Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor.

Devil Survivor follows several young people who become trapped in Tokyo after a series of strange events that bring malicious demons into the world, and threaten to end the world in 7 days.

If you'd like to know more in depth about the game, you can check out my hands-on impressions of the Japanese version here. You can also check out Atlus' official English website site here (though there isn't much there at the moment).

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor will be available for Nintendo DS on June 23, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Japan.

Persona and Growlanser PSP Official Sites are Live

Anyone eagerly anticipating the PSP remakes of Atlus' Persona and Grownlanser might be interested in checking out the games' official Japanese sites which just launched.

[Persona]

[Growlanser]

Neither site has much to look at right now, but are definitely spots to bookmark if you're hoping to keep up with info and media about the games.

Persona will be available on PSP on April 29, 2009, while Growlanser will be available on PSP on May 14, 2009 (both in Japan).

Multiple Endings, Secret Dungeon Confirmed for Star Ocean 4, No DLC Planned

On February 7, 2009, Microsoft held a preview press event for tri-Ace and Square Enix's upcoming Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope in Japan. The press was given a chance to play the final product for themselves, and given a Q&A session with the game's producer Yoshinori Yamagishi, and assistant producer Hajime Kojima.

I've taken the liberty of reporting several interesting details that surfaced from the Q&A session.

First, fans of the series should be happy to hear that several musical pieces from older installations of the series (namely Star Ocean 1 and Star Ocean 2) have been remade for SO4 for certain areas. For instance, the BGM for the planet Roak will feature the same songs as SO1's Roak, but remade.

Second, Yamagishi confirmed the existance of a bonus dungeon and multiple endings, which have been staple elements for the series up til now. The number of endings has not been confirmed, but Yamagishi mentioned that it would be extremely difficult to get them all. (That probably means there are a ton.)

The press also asked if tri-Ace had any plans on using SO4's engine (the same engine that Infinite Undiscovery uses) to remake any previous Star Ocean titles. Yamagishi said that doing so would require a ton of work, and the team would rather work on a Star Ocean 5 than revisit past titles. (This shouldn't be confused as a confirmation of SO5 as tri-Ace has said that SO4 is supposed to be the last one, but it sure sounds like it is possible.)

Finally, It was asked if any downloadable content was planned for the game, and Yamagishi explained that rather than work on DLC, the team felt it was more important to put everything they wanted into the game right from the start, so there are no plans for DLC. Similarly, there are currently no plans for a "Director's Cut" like SO3 received in Japan, which is nice to hear.

As a last little extra, check out the 4th Private Event video released, this one featuring Edge, Bacchus, and Welch. (Thanks to zerolocked for finding this!)



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

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another Helping of Juicy Star Ocean 4 Info

So, the recent 4-page Famitsu article on Star Ocean 4 wasn't enough for you? Fair enough. Here is another huge helping of gameplay details, plus a brand new Japanese trailer, and two new Private Action vids. I spoil you, y'know?

Skill System
Each of your characters has individualistic skills that make them better at certain things. As your characters grow, these skills will increase making your party members each important to your quest in their own ways.

Battle Skills refer to each character’s Killer Moves and Symbology that are usable in battle.

Battle Set Skills refer to skills that you can set beforehand that will automatically aid during fights. For example, Motor Mouth allows your spell casters to chant their Symbology spells faster than normal, while First Aid will automatically recover some of your HP when you take damage.

Action Skills can be used during battle via the Battle Camp Menu to aid in the fight. For example Enemy Search allows you to check your enemies’ stats, while Taunt makes enemies more likely to target you over your allies.

IC Skills refer to skills that individual party members utilize during Item Creation. Some skills will allow you to forge new weapons, while others may assist in synthesizing new items by combining other items together.

Command Skills allow your various party members to perform actions on the field, such as Dash which allows you to travel at higher-than-normal speed, or Treasure Search which will locate the position of different items on the field.

Skill Points
In order to use and increase your skills, you will need to consume Skill Points (SP) by leveling up various skills.
In addition, new to SO4 is Party SP which allows you to increase certain skills that affect your entire party, such as improved battle bonuses and recovered items.

Battle Bonus
SO4 makes use of what they call the Battle Bonus Board. This feature allows your party to increase their spoils after battles by increasing EXP earned, increasing the amount of Fol earned from fallen foes, increasing the amount of HP/MP recovered after battle, ect.

Battle Bonuses are obtained by earning “Jewels” during battle. Different colored jewels give you different bonuses, though each type of jewel must be earned differently. For instance, Blue Jewels are acquired by hitting enemies with critical hits, while Yellow Jewels are obtained by attacking multiple enemies at once. Bonuses are calculated based on how many of each type of jewel you collect, so focusing your strategy on obtaining certain jewels becomes key.

Occassionally the Bonus Board Break may break if certain requirements are fulfilled. For example, one Bonus Break is achieved by receiving a critical hit from an enemy then running away from the fight. Thus it becomes important to watch your enemies’ movements and attack effectively.

These are the various jewels than can be obtained and what their effects are:
Blue Jewels – EXP +10%
Yellow Jewels – Obtained Fol +10%
Pink Jewels – Recovered HP/MP After Battle +1%
Green Jewels – Earned Party SP +1 Point

Finally, Square Enix has also released a new Japanese trailer for the game. You can watch it in high quality from Square Enix’s official YouTube channel (click Watch in HD), or you can watch the low quality embedded below. I’m sure it’ll be up on the Japanese Xbox Marketplace sometime within the next couple of days.

UPDATE: Here's a better quality version.



Additionally, there are two new Private Action event movies on the official Japanese site. Click on Special > Game Movie then watch Private Action 2 and Private Action 3. I’ll embed them here once someone has hosted them on a video sharing site.

UPDATE: Gamekyo kindly captured the PAs for us. I've embedded them below.

PA2


Edge: If you're sleepy, you should go sleep in your room.
(Lymle grabs Edge's arm)
Edge: ...What's wrong?
Lymle: E-tan... I want to sleep together.
Edge: Eh?
Lymle: Grampa always let me sleep together with him, you know. If I sleep alone, I get all scared, you know.
Edge: Uh... Umm... (sits down)
(Lymle rests her head on Edge's arm)
(Faize walks in, sees the two, then quickly hides behind a wall)
Faize: ...Wait, why do I have to hide?
Edge: Lymle, you're not a little kid anymore. Off to your own room now. C'mon.
(Lymle doesn't move, Edge seems defeated)
Edge: ...She's asleep.
(Reimi walks down the stairs and sees Faize by the wall)
Reimi: What are you doing?
Faize: Aaaahh!
(Lymle wakes up)
Lymle: Nng... Ohh! Shut up, Faize! Lym is sleeping, you know!
Faize: If you're sleepy, you should go sleep in your own room, right? You're bothering Edge-san.
Lymle: This is none of your business, you know, Faize. Lym wants to sleep with E-tan, you know!
Faize: Heh, Lymle is quite the spoiled brat, isn't she?
Lymle: Grr... Lym is not a spoiled brat, you know!
Faize: A little girl who can't sleep by herself? That's just a spoiled little kid!
Lymle: Faize, you're such a jerk! Fine! Lym will sleep by herself in her own room, you know!
(Lymle slaps Faize as she walks by)
Faize: …Please excuse me.
(Faize leaves in the opposite direction)
Edge: I wonder what's up with those two?
Reimi: They are good enough friends to fight.
Edge: What the hell does that mean?

PA3


Edge: Myuria...
Myuria: ...What are you doing there, Boy?
Edge: I've been meaning to say this for a while now, but would you please stop calling me “Boy”?
Myuria: Hehe.
Edge: ...Myuria... You were crying just now, weren't you?
Um... Were you thinking about Lucio-san?
Myuria: ...If that were true, would you comfort me?
Edge: Eh?
Myuria: A good man pretends that he didn't see a girl crying, you know. And an even better man stops a girl's tears.
...So, what would you do, Edge?
Edge: …....
Myuria: Just as I thought. You're still just a Boy.
Edge: …!
(Myuria leaves)
Edge: ...I am still just a Boy... aren't I.

If you'd like a translation of either PA, let me know in the comments.

UPDATE: Translations for the PAs up by request.

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

Oboro Muramasa's Release Date Confirmed. Also, Trailer.

Marvelous has just dropped word that their upcoming Vanillaware-developed Wii action-RPG, Oboro Muramasa, will be officially hitting Japanese retailers at the beginning of April this year.

Oboro Muramasa follows the exploits of the amnesia-stricked ninja Kisuke and the kinapped-by-demons beautiful princess Momohime through their Japanese folklore-heavy adventure during the Genroku Era in Japan (1688-1704 AD, typically thought of as the "golden age" of the Edo Period).

Oboro Muramasa is created in beautiful hand-drawn 2D by the same studio behind Princess Crown, Odin Sphere, and GrimGrimoire, and has been near the top of my "do want" list since it's announcement. It's nice to finally see a date attached to it.

Oh yeah, they also released a new gameplay trailer for the game. Check it out below.



Oboro Muramasa will be available on Nintendo Wii on April 9, 2009 in Japan. It will be released as Muramasa: The Demon Blade in North America by XSEED and Marvelous, though no date has been announced yet.

What's Different in the PSP Persona Remake? Also, Trailer.

So Atlus dropped word via the latest issue of Famitsu that they will be bringing the first iteration of the now-popular Persona series to the PSP in a few months. We already know that the game will now feature cell-shaded 3D FMVs at various points throughout the story, but what else is new?

According to Famitsu, Atlus has brought the overall difficulty level of the game down a notch by increasing the frequency of save points, making conversations with demons a little more accessible, and adding an optional difficulty setting adjustment. Good news since the old MegaTen games (Persona included) were smash-your-controller-with-a-brick difficult.

Atlus has also dropped a brand new trailer for the game for your viewing pleasure. Check it out.



Persona will be available for PSP on April 29, 2009 in Japan.

Sugar Village & Everyone's Wish Trailer Explains All

Just in case you've been living under a rock for the last decade or so, Marvelous Entertainment makes a farming-RPG series that has been around forever. Known as Bokujou Monogatari (Farm Story) in Japan, nearly every iteration of the series has also made its way to North America under the name Harvest Moon.

Marvelous announced that they will be putting their next iteration of the series on the PSP titled Sugar Mura to Minna no Negai (Sugar Village and Everyone's Wish). It will feature the same farming and relationship building and life simulating that you have come to expect from the series.

But what if you still just don't get how this Harvest Moon thing works? Well, don't worry. Marvelous has just released a new trailer to give you the skinny on the game, including some info on the game's story portion (yes, there is a story portion this time around). Check it out below.



Bokujou Monogatari: Sugar Mura to Minna no Negai will be available for PSP on March 19, 2009 in Japan.