Monday, March 30, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Legend of Heroes Edition

Well, we are now staring down the end of March, and (maybe?) the end of Winter.
...Maybe I shouldn't say that?

Anyways, there aren't many RPGs hitting shelves this week, possibly due to publishers' fears of being ignored on April Fool's day? I don't know.

Whatever. Here are the releases for this week (March 30 - April 3, 2009):

North America

Eiyuu Densetsu Gagharv Trilogy: Shiroki Majo (The Best) - Falcom, Namco Bandai - PSP
Eiyuu Densetsu Gagharv Trilogy: Akai Shizuku (The Best) - Falcom, Namco Bandai - PSP
Eiyuu Densetsu Gagharv Trilogy: Umi no Oriuta (The Best) - Falcom, Namco Bandai - PSP


Well, er, that was a little underwhelming.

The PSP remakes of Legend of Heroes III, IV, and V (in that order) are getting economy reprints in Japan. Yay?

Um, anyone picking any of these up or anything?

Compile Heart Announces Agarest Senki ZERO

In 2007 Compile Heart released a quirky PS3 SRPG called Agarest Senki, and later a 360 port of it called Agarest Senki: Reappearance. It was a standard Japanese SRPG affair, with grid turn-based battles and talking hand-drawn artwork in place of cutscenes. Nothing really revolutionary there.

What made the game stand out, as it were, was the inclusion of a system they called "Soul Breed," which allowed the player to choose his wife, and thus affect what his offspring would look and play like for several generations.

It also had some risque ecchi-like scenes. Not hugely revolutionary, but probably noteworthy to many fans.

Well Compile Heart decided that they just couldn't quit the Soul Breed thing, and have returned with Agarest Senki ZERO, a prequel to the original title.

ZERO will reportedly take place 1000 year prior to the events in Agarest Senki, and will retain the Soul Breed functionality, as well as the naughty moments.

It is being developed again by RED Entertainment, and is scheduled for a June release on PlayStation 3 in Japan. (Is it just me or is everyone blowing their load in June so far?)

Also, soft porn has ruined bananas for me forever. :,(

Acquire Announces Ken to Mahou to Gakuen Mono. 2

I don't know if you like hardcore dungeon crawling coupled with cute anime character designs and school simulations, but if you do (and I won't judge you), you might be excited to hear that Acquire has just announced Ken to Mahou to Gakuen Mono. 2, which is a sequel to Ken to Mahou to Gakuen Mono. (Are you surprised?)

If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, you might be more familiar with Atlus' upcoming localized title of Class of Heroes.

So far there are no real changes to the game's basic formula (i.e. go to school, recruit party members, explore dungeons, repeat), though KtMtGM2 reportedly adds MORE of it, along with a few new classes and races. A good thing? Up to you, I guess.

Ken to Mahou to Gakuen Mono. 2 will be available for PSP this June in Japan. Famitsu has a first look at it here.

Peter Molyneux Sort of Confirms Next Fable II DLC

Last week at GDC, Lionhead Studios boss and Fable creator Peter Molyneux had a few things to say about the rather popular action-RPG, and even went so far as to describe the next DLC chapter to Fable II, as well as hint at the in-development Fable III.

Molyneux confirmed that the next batch of DLC, titled See the Future, will be available "this spring," which he went on to clarify would be a matter of weeks, rather than months.

See the Future will apparently be much more story-driven than the previously released Knothole Island, and will supposedly answer some questions that long-time Fable fans may have (assumedly tying up some loose ends between the original and Fable II). More importantly, however, Molyneux states that See the Future will give players a glimpse at what is next for the series, going so far as to hint that the DLC will be a shadow of things to come in Fable III.

No word on specific dates or prices for See the Future, but we expect to hear more sooner than later.

Fable II is already available for Xbox 360 worldwide.

Japanese Version of Mass Effect gets a Bonus Disc

If you live in North America or Europe (or a region with a similar release schedule), BioWare and Microsoft's sci-fi shooter-RPG, Mass Effect, is ancient history. Yeah, it was great, but that was a long time ago, you say.

Well, Japan doesn't really see it that way, as they have only recently been promised that the game will be seeing their shores this year! A little unfair, perhaps?

Well, Microsoft wanted to apologize for the delay, so they're throwing in some goodies with each copy of the game in the region.

The bonus disk that will be included will contain Xbox Dashboard theme(s), gamer icons, developer documentary videos, music tracks from the game, and a design gallery. However, probably the biggest bonus is the inclusion of the extra DLC episode, Bringing Down the Sky (titled Hoshi no Ochiru Hi, or literally, the Day the Stars Fell).

I don't know if it makes up for the huuuuuge delay, but it's at least a nice effort.

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

Wii RPG Trailer Catch-Up Dump

Here, have a whole bunch of trailers. They are good and good for you!

Arc Rise Fantasia
Nintendo Wii
imageepoch, Marvelous
June 4, 2009 (Japan)

Oboro Muramasa (Muramasa: The Demon Blade)
Nintendo Wii
Vanillaware, Marvelous
April 9, 2009 (Japan)

Ougon no Kizuna
Nintendo Wii
May 28, 2009 (Japan)

Though Oboro Muramasa is still higher on my DO WANT list, Arc Rise Fantasia certainly has the best trailer out of this lot. Fingers crossed for some epic good times.

Atelier Rorona Scans Confirm the First True 3D Atelier Title

In an article from Dengeki PlayStation last week, it was confirmed that Gust's upcoming PS3 RPG, Atelier Rorona: Arland no Renkinjutsushi, will indeed be making the transition to full 3D.

The character models will utilized a cell-shaded look in order to retain a 2D feel, but the game will be made using a full 3D engine.

While I think the character models are quite attractive, the environments look a little bland to me, though its hard to really judge either from screens alone. Hopefully we'll get to see the actual game in motion sooner than later.

Other details including a first look at some of the characters, a quick rundown on the battle system, and a sneak peak at the game's story are also included.

You can take a look at the scans below, or give the game's first teaser a watch (though it doesn't really show anything).

Atelier Rorona: Arland no Renkinjutsushi will be available for PlayStation 3 on June 25, 2009 in Japan. You can check out the game's official site here.

Scans are available for translation requests in the comments.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nintendo Announces Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

During his keynote speech at GDC today, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced the next iteration of the popular Legend of Zelda series, tentatively subtitled Spirit Tracks.

The DS title will feature a similar graphical style to Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, though it has yet to be confirmed if it will take place in the same world. The game's selling point is apparently the ability to control a train, though it is still unclear how much interaction players will have with the train, and how much it has to do with the game's story.

The game is currently slated for release this year in North America (and presumably Japan), though no solid dates have been established at this time.

Personally, I thought Phantom Hourglass was incredibly mediocre, and I think trains are a symbol of boring-ness, so I can't say that I'm exactly jumping for joy over this announcement. But, hey, more Zelda is more Zelda, I guess.

UPDATE: Here is a nice live feed trailer showing the title in motion. Looks pretty much like Phantom Hourglass with a train instead of a boat.

....And that conductor's suit looks 100 levels of ridiculous.

Several Final Fantasy Titles Headed to Wii Download Services

During the Nintendo keynote address at GDC today, it was announced that Square Enix will again be bringing its powerhouse RPG series to the Nintendo Wii via the WiiWare and Virtual Console downloadable services.

For WiiWare, it was confirmed that Final Fantasy IV: The After Years will be hitting the service, as well as My Life as a Darklord: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, which is a sequel to My Life as a King.

It was also confirmed that the original Final Fantasy will be hitting the Virtual Console, with other titles in the series on their way.

I guess that's cool. Or something.
...Who am I kidding? I'm not downloading any of those. :|

Tales of Vesperia FINALLY Gets a European Release

In case you didn't get the memo, Tales of Vesperia is a fantastic game, and remains what I feel is the best RPG of the 7th generation. Japanese and North American RPG fans have had access to the game since last August, but our poor European friends have been left waiting with nothing more than a "sometime in 2009" to hang on to.

Thankfully, then, Namco Bandai has finally announced that the gorgeous RPG will finally be heading to European Xbox 360s this June. There's no day announced yet, but to finally hear something must be a wonderful sigh of relief.

Any European readers happy to finally get some good news on this game?

NIS America Announces Cross Edge

NIS America has officially announced that they will be bringing cross-over mash-up PlayStation 3 RPG X-Edge to North America this spring, renaming it to Cross Edge (which is how the original Japanese name was intended to be pronounced).

The game features characters from Nippon Ichi's own Disgaea franchise, Gust's Atelier series, Capcom's Darkstalkers games, Namco Bandai and Gust's Ar Tonelico, and Idea Factory's Spectral Souls, all smashed together in some kind of fanboy dream/nightmare (depending on your view of cross-overs).

I, for one, am horrified at this ungodly hellspawn, and will be avoiding it like the plague whist trying to convince myself that it doesn't exist. You, however, may want to embrace it with every fibre of your being. It takes all kinds, you know?

Cross Edge will be available for PlayStation 3 sometime this May in North America. It is already available in Japan.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete Coming to North America Too

As you are likely aware, Square Enix is re-re-releasing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on BluRay in Japan with some extra goodies and tacking on a "Complete" onto the end. The goodies include some bonus footage and the like, but is unarguably most notable for its inclusion of a playable PS3 demo for the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy XIII.

The hardest of the hardcore North American Final Fantasy fans have probably all pre-ordered Japanese copies to ensure that they will be able to get the demo. But for the fence-sitters or the import-wary among you, it seems that the BluRay will actually be making its way to North America early this summer.

The disc is touted as featuring the following:

- "Legacy of Final Fantasy VII" Featurette
- "Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII" Original Story Digest
- On the Way to a Smile - Episode: Denzel Animated Film
- "Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII VII Compilation" Story Digest
- Exclusive Sneak Peek at Final Fantasy XIII
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete Trailers

It is currently unconfirmed if the "sneak peak" of Final Fantasy XIII is indeed the playable demo, or a trailer, or something else entirely. (But chances are good that it is the demo, imo.)

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete will be available on BluRay this June in North America. It will be available in Japan on April 16, 2009.

Monday, March 23, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Sleepy Monday Edition

Ugh, I'm really having trouble staying awake today. I think it has something to do with the whole "Monday" thing, but I have no solid facts to back that up.

Anyways, RPGs continue to roll forth onto platforms around the globe this week (March 23 - 27, 2009), and as usual, I have a nice little list to tell you what they are.

North America
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time - Square Enix - Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii
Pokemon Platinum - Game Freak, Nintendo - Nintendo DS

Dragoneer's Aria: Ryuu ga Nemuru made (The Best) - Hit Maker, Nippon Ichi - PSP
Makai Senki Disgaea 2 Portable - Nippon Ichi - PSP
Rogue Galaxy Director's Cut (The Best) - Level 5, SCEJ - PlayStation 2
Wild ARMs: The Vth Vangard (The Best) - Media.Vision, SCEJ - PlayStation 2

Drakensang: The Dark Eye - Radon Labs, Eidos - PC
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time - Square Enix - Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis - Gust, Koei - PlayStation 2
Mana Khemia: Student Alliance - Gust, Koei - PSP
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix - Infinite Interactive, D3 - PC
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure - Nippon Ichi, Square Enix - Nintendo DS

Lots of NIS this week everywhere but North America, with Japan getting a re-release of Dragoneer's Aria and the PSP port of Disgaea 2. Meanwhile, Europe bags Rhapsody DS courtesy of Square Enix.

Square Enix's first DS-Wii multiplatform title, Echoes of Time, hits both North America and Europe, while Nintendo's multi-bazillion dollar Pokemon franchise makes its latest debut in North America.

Europe gets both versions of Mana Khemia on the same day, along with the PC release of the new Puzzle Quest and Drakensang.

Besides the re-releases of Nippon Ichi titles, Japan gets a couple of Sony-published RPGs re-released on the 6th gen platform that won't die.

Anything worth your hard-earned cash this week?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Here is New Concept Art Not from a Mistwalker Project

Take a good look at this picture. I don't think I'm way off base when I say, "this is pretty damn awesome!"

This concept piece was done by Kimihiko Fujisaka (the artist behind Panzer Dragoon, Drakengard, and the recently cancelled Cry On) for Mistwalker, and was recently put up on Mistwalker's official page.

Fujisaka, in a blog entry on the site, states that he is hard at work on the new Mistwalker project (that Sakaguchi mentioned back in December when Cry On's cancellation was announced), but that this particular piece is not for that project.

He goes on to lament the cancellation of Cry On, but assure us that he is going to put everything he has into this currently unnamed project.

So, hold on a minute here. There is a really cool piece of concept art released here, put up on Mistwalker's official site, and you want me to believe that it has nothing to do with Mistwalker's games?

Fine. If that's the way you want to play it.

However, let me just say that I thought it was interesting that the only colour in this piece (besides black and white) is blue. Strikingly so, in fact. I think it's also worth mentioning that this peice has a rather prominant dragon in it.

Just saying.

A Small Pile of Tales of Trademarks

Namco Bandai recently filed to trademark a small fortune of Tales of titles, presumably for upcoming titles in the popular RPG series.

In Japan, Namdai trademarked Tales of Floweria / Tales of Floria (the katakana is the same for these two, but both versions of the English were trademarked separately), Tales of Gracia, Tales of Unitia, Tales of Blessia, and Tales of Startear.

Floweria, Gracia, and Unitia were all trademarked at the same time, while Blessia, Floria, and Startear were trademarked together a little later.

Meanwhile, the company has trademarked Tales of Graces and Tales of Vs. (presumably pronounced "versus" rather than "vee-es," though I'm just guessing here) here in North America.

Putting on my educated guessing hat for a moment, Namdai typically trademarks three tentative titles for one project at once, only to pick one as the final later. For example, Tales of Vesperia's alternate trademarks were Tales of Strife and Tales of Valoria.

Considering that a total of 6 titles were trademarked in Japan - again conveniently in sets of 3 - it is easy to assume that the company has at least 2 Tales of games in the works nearing at least a semi-completed state.

Also, since テイルズオブフローリア (Tales of Floweria/Tales of Floria) was trademarked twice with different spellings, someone over there likes that name, and could end up being one of the titles used.

To guess further, since the title Tales of Graces was trademarked here in North America, I have $5 that says Tales of Gracia/Tales of Graces is the next title to watch for, and may even be the name of the yet un-named Tales of title in development for Nintendo Wii.

Tales of Vs.? Hm, maybe that's a Smash Bros.-inspired Tales of fighting game? (Think Dissidia with Tales of characters instead.) I don't know, it's just a guess.

Ys 7, I & II Chronicles Confirmed as PSP Titles

So Falcom sort of announced Ys 7 and Ys I & II Chronicles a little while ago. They didn't mention a specific platform for either title, but based on the company's previous work, I assumed that they would be PC titles.

However, it appears to be not so, as Falcom just announced today that both titles are actually slated for release on PSP this year.

Ys I & II Chronicles has been confirmed to be an enhanced port of Ys I-II Kanzenban (Perfect Edition) that was released for PC back in 2001. The PSP port will feature updated graphics and remixed music among other updates. It is scheduled for release this July in Japan.

Ys 7 (alternately spelled Ys Seven) is the latest entry into the series' main installations, and is a direct sequel to the 2003 PC game Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (which was ported to PlayStation 2 in 2005 and PSP in 2006 by Konami). It is slated for a September release in Japan.

This is somewhat surprising to me. Ys I & II Chronicles isn't really shocking as its a remake of a remake of a remake, and such games often find their way to handhelds (Falcom's own Brandish remake is a prime example of this). However, Ys 7 skipping the PC to head straight to PSP is a first for the company.

I know the Ys series doesn't have much presence in the West, but are there any Falcom fans out there a little surprised (or happy or furious or whatever) by this news?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Global A Announces Sekai wa Atashi de Mawatteru for PSP

Of all of the handheld RPGs Atlus brought/is bringing to North America over this 6 month period, perhaps none was as well recognized or as well received as My World, My Way, or Sekai wa Atashi de Mawatteru (The World Revolves Around Me) in Japan.


Er, scratch that.

I personally can't comment on My World, My Way, as I haven't actually sat down with it yet. But I've heard that some people aren't really crazy about it.

Well, regardless of critical reception, the game's developer/publisher in Japan, Global A, has decided to give the game another shot at mainstream acceptance through an enhanced PSP port titled Sekai wa Atashi de Mawatteru: Hikari to Yami no Princess (The World Revolves Around Me: Princess of Light and Darkness).

The enhanced port supposedly features new elements that were absent in the DS version, including the ability to choose Angela's color.

The scan is rather blurry and difficult to read, so I haven't given it a thorough read yet, but I suppose I can if there are some really loyal My World, My Way fans out there just dying to buy the PSP version also. Or something.

Sekai wa Atashi de Mawatteru: Hikari to Yami no Princess will be available for PSP sometime this year in Japan.

A Bunch of Random New Trailers

Y'know, as hard as it may be to believe, I don't always have something to say about every RPG. Just usually. ;)

Today a bunch of trailers I have never seen before surfaced for a few games that I really have very little interest in. But you might. So I'm going to post them. Below. So you can, y'know, watch them. If you want.

Item Getter
Nintendo DS
June 4, 2009 (Japan)

Dungeons & Dam (Dan - Damu)
Nintendo DS
April 29, 2009 (Japan)

Sacred Blaze
PlayStation 2
Flight Plan
Currently Available (Japan)

Hmm, I think that Dan-Damu trailer might have already been posted. Oh well, whatever.

Square Enix Launches "New" Members Features

In Japan, Square Enix has been doing this whole "community" thing for quite a while now. People could create avatars, chat with friends, blog, and get free swag. North America's equivalent of this has been... uh, mostly forums and email newsletters.

Well no longer! Square Enix has just put that who "community" deal, known as Square Enix Members into effect for you and all your English-loving ways.

You can truck over and read the whole official deal here. Signing up is free, and if you like to be part of online communities, or like free swag (or both), you may want to consider joining up.

Personally, I just don't know. The more online communities I find myself checking in on, the less I tend to like other gamers. Though I must say that "free swag" always has a nice ring to it...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

EA Officially Announces Mass Effect 2

I really hope this isn't surprising to anyone, but just in case: Electronic Arts has just announced that it will be releasing the sequel to the original Mass Effect. Are you surprised?

The game will reportedly be available for Xbox 360 and PC sometime next year, and will expand on the original in various ways. Dr. Ray Muzyka, CEO of BioWare and Vice President of EA elaborates:

"We're going to surpass the extraordinary gaming experience we brought our fans in Mass Effect by delivering intensified combat and expanded weapon options as well as increased depth of planet exploration, all while delivering a powerful, emotionally engaging story."

So yeah. No word on loading elevators at this time, but we'll keep you posted.

It's a little disappointing that the game won't be available until next year, but I guess it makes sense with Dragon Age hitting this year.

Anyone looking forward to more intergalactic exploration? I think I might be. :)

Blurry Atelier Rorona Scan is Blurry, Mentions 3D and a Release Date

The blurry photo you are seeing above is actually a mini-article on the recently announced Atelier Rorona for PlayStation 3. Rorona is the 11th official entry into Gust's Atelier series, and the first title to officially make the jump to 7th generation hardware.

If you recall last time we talked about this, there was some worry over whether the game will actually take advantage of the PS3's hardware, or if it would just be another Disgaea 3 underachievement fest all over again.

Well, unfortunately, the above scan is too blurry to properly read or see what's going on in the provided screenshots.

However, the one-paragraph article does mention that the fields, at least, will be 3D, and that the game will be "fully-voiced."

Gust has been messing with basic 3D fields since the original Ar Tonelico, so that news is not particularly shocking, and I'm not 100% sure what "fully-voiced" means, as other "fully-voiced" games actually weren't.

One thing we can definitely confirm from this blurry shot, however, is that your characters will interact via hand-drawn talking portraits. So if you were worried that was disappearing, you can now rest easier.

It also confirms the heroine's full name, which is Rororina Friksen. Which is pretty great, I would imagine.

Oh, and the game also will be released on PlayStation 3 in Japan on June 25, 2009. So there's that too.

New Alpha Protocol Trailer Still Fails to Look Like an RPG

Sega just dropped a new trailer for their upcoming(?) spy RPG, Alpha Protocol, developed by Obsidian (KOTOR2, Neverwinter Nights 2).

I have some rhetoric to dispense on the subject of this game, but I will wait until you watch the trailer to do so. Go ahead.

How was it? Okay, let me just say that I don't see anything that resembles an RPG in any of the footage I've seen of this game to date.

There are a few RPGs that don't really "feel" like RPGs, if that makes any sense. Notable examples are Mass Effect and Fallout 3. Don't get me wrong, they're fun games, but they just don't scream "RPG!" to me. More like "shooter marketed to RPG fans!" Maybe I'm way off base here?

So far, Alpha Protocol appears to be hanging out in the same crowd. "Hey," it says, "I look and play like a shooter, but I'm really an RPG in my heart."

I suppose this brings up that sticky age-old debate of "what is an RPG anyway?" that I don't really feel like exploring here. I'm just saying that Sega shouldn't slap "RPG" right in the trailer and not show me any RPGing. Just a personal request.

Alpha Protocol will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC someday.

What's your take on this one?

Trifecta of Valkyria Chronicles DLC Coming This Spring

Sega recently dropped word on new downloadable content for its SRPG/shooter hybrid title, Valkyria Chronicles, revealing three upcoming packs for the PlayStation 3 title.

The most basic pack is called Hard EX Mode (not sure what the "EX" is all about, but yeah). As you might guess, this is a pack to make the game, uh, harder. Enemies will reportedly be stronger, and you will no longer have the use of the Edelweiss tank.

The other two packs are full new episodes. The first, titled "Enter the Edy Detachment," puts Edy at the head of a small detached force attempting to reunited with the main Gallian force when they come across a small village under Imperial occupation. The second, called "Behind Her Blue Flame," follows a young Imperial engineer named Johann who is assigned to Selvaria's division at the outbreak of war on the Gallian borders, allowing you to see the war from the enemy's perspective.

None of the announced packs have been firmly dated or priced at this point, but Sega has vaguely stated that they will be available this Spring. Whenever that is supposed to be, I guess.

Anyone interested in returning to the anime-inspired frontlines?

More Fable II DLC in the Works

According to Fable II's official dev blog, the team behind the very popular WRPG is hard at work on creating yet another offering of Downloadable Content.

The previous installation of DLC for the title dropped in January in North America, and featured new areas, quests, items, and stuff to do. Though the blog doesn't clearly define what the new DLC will include, when it will be available, or really, well, anything, I would assume it to be a similar package to Knothole Island.

Since I finished the game proper, I put it aside to work on my enormous mountain of backlog. However, should I someday wish to return to Albion, I could see myself picking up these DLC packs. It just may not be any day soon.

Anyone interested in more Fable II?

Monday, March 16, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Variety Edition

Good morning and welcome to another new week.

Last week was veeeerrrry slow in terms of both releases and news. Maybe it's just me?

Anyway, this week - at least in the releases department - is a lot more active with something for just about everyone. Take a look below at the RPGs hitting shelves this week (March 16 - 20, 2009) around the world.

North America
Ether Saga Online - Perfect World - PC
The Last Remnant - Square Enix - PC
Rune Factory Frontier - Marvelous, XSEED - Nintendo Wii
Runes of Magic - Runewaker, Frogster - PC
Suikoden Tierkreis - Konami - Nintendo DS
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume - tri-Ace, Square Enix - Nintendo DS

Bokujou Monogatari: Sugar Village to Minna no Negai - Marvelous - PSP
Brandish: The Dark Revenant - Falcolm - PSP
Dengeki Gakuen RPG: Cross of Venus - ASCII Media Works - Nintendo DS
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3: Izayoi Aizouban - Koei - PSP
The Last Remnant - Square Enix - PC
Super Robot Taisen K - Banpresto, Namco Bandai - Nintendo DS
Tokimeki Fantasy LaTale: Hajimete Kit - Actoz Soft, E-Frontier - PC

Disgaea DS - Nippon Ichi, Square Enix - Nintendo DS
The Last Remnant - Square Enix - PC
Mass Effect (Classics) - BioWare, Microsoft - Xbox 360
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume - tri-Ace, Square Enix - Nintendo DS

Lots of stuff this week, right?

North America bags two MMOs, the Wii remake of Rune Factory, and Suikoden Tierkreis, while sharing the release of the DS Valkyrie Profile with Europe.

Japan gets yet another handheld Harvest Moon, the PSP remake of Brandish, a licenced cross-over RPG on the DS, a licenced PSP title, another Super Robot Taisen title, and another MMO. (Whew)

Europe nets themselves Disgaea's DS port/remake as well as the budget re-release of Mass Effect, in addition to the DS Valkyrie Profile.

Also, the PC version of last year's The Last Remnant is hitting worldwide late this week. It contains a few additions to its Xbox 360 sibling, though whether or not the texture pop-in and other technical issues have been resolved is yet unknown.

If The Last Remnant on PC is a vast improvement over the 360 version, I might consider picking it up. I didn't consider the 360 version to be "broken" as a lot of critics claimed it to be, but if there is a good reason to try it again, I sure would like that leader limit removed, y'know?

I'll probably give VP and the new Suikoden a spin as well, but I'm honestly not expecting much. I'll also see if I can convince someone I know with a Wii to buy Rune Factory so I can see if it's any good.

What's on your radar this week?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gust Announces Atelier Rorona

Well, "teases" is maybe a better word than "announces."

With Atelier Annie coming to DS tomorrow in Japan, I guess Gust felt like it was time to show what the company is doing next. That "what" being Rorona no Atelier: Arland no Renkinjutsushi (Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland) for PlayStation 3.

The scan in question (viewable below) shows off some character artwork (I would imagine that the girl with the funny hat on the second page of the first scan is the Rorona in question) along with the phrase "I'm tired of saving the world."

It might also be worth mentioning that the first page says "blu ray" under PS3, meaning this isn't being made as a downloadable title for PSN.

The pages further hint to check out the next DPS (Dengeki PlayStation) for further information.

Beyond that, we really have no information. Will the game retain the 2D graphics Gust is known for, or will it finally take the plunge into 3D? Will the game revert back to the older Atelier games which are more focused on item creation than story?

Personally, I'm a little surprised to see Gust go with PlayStation 3. Though the Atelier games started on the original PlayStation, their seeming hesitance to move away from 2D makes the Wii seem like a choice better suited to their tastes, especially since they have already made 2 DS Atelier titles.

(And frankly, I'm not sure how I feel about Gust pulling something like NIS did with Disgaea 3 - i.e. putting a PS2 game on PS3 just to say that they are "with the times.")

What do you think?

Bumpy Trot 2 Scan Shows Off Trots Which are Bumpy

I don't know about you, but the original Bumpy Trot (better known in North America as Steambot Chronicles) was not exactly my favorite PS2 RPG. I tried really really hard to like it, but I just was never able to feel any sense of urgency in the game to keep me coming back.

So when Irem announced way back in the day that they would be continuing the Bumpy Trot series on PlayStation 3, I can't exactly say that I was instantly sold. "Er, yay?" was a lot closer to my reaction.

Well, the project had since fallen silent, and I had totally forgot about it until a new scan showed up in the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu. You can take a look if you're interested, but my initial reaction appears to be unaltered, as from the screens shown in the scans, it looks pretty well just like Bumpy Trot. Whether that's a good or bad thing I suppose really depends on how you felt about the original.

No release date has been set for Bumpy Trot 2 yet, but we'll keep you posted.

I will take translation requests in the comments.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First English Sands of Destruction Trailer is Made of Underacheivement

If you would like lessons in how not to handle JRPG localization for the West, try taking a page out of Sega's book. They like to remove features, under-promote their good games in favor of promoting their bad ones (see Valkyria Chronicles vs. Golden Axe: Beast Rider), and spend far too much time translating projects that should have been started ages ago.

Well, Sega is back this week with yet another example of what not to do, as shown in their first official English Sands of Destruction (really called World Destruction) trailer.

For starters, they simply took the CG animation from the beginning of the game, made sure to keep all the boring parts, removed the game's theme song in favor of some generic stock music, wrote the character's names, and put up a truly uninspired tag at the end in what appears to be Times New Roman font.

Wow. Whatever they paid the people who worked on this trailer, it was way too much. I think at least a dozen YouTubers have already done a better job at mocking up an English trailer. (Note that I don't consider YouTube to be the most intelligent community on the internet, so that isn't saying much.)

Honestly, if Sega doesn't want to try with their JRPGs, why don't they license them to someone who will give a crap?

Sands of Destruction will be available on Nintendo DS sometime this fall in North America. It is already available in Japan as World Destruction: Michibikareshi Ishi.

Monday, March 9, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Europe Wins Edition

Happy Monday everyone. I hope your weekends were full of dragon slaying and princess saving.

This new week (March 9 - 13, 2009) brings with it a couple of RPGs that you may or may not care about for each of the big 3 regions. Check them out below:

North America
Avalon Code - Matrix, Marvelous, XSEED - Nintendo DS
Mana Khemia: Student Alliance - Gust, NIS America - PSP

Annie no Atelier: Sera Shima no Renkinjutsushi - Gust - Nintendo DS
Phantom Brave Wii - Nippon Ichi - Nintendo Wii

Enchanted Folk and the School of Wizardry - Konami - Nintendo DS
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix - Infinite Interactice, D3 - Nintendo DS, PC
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - Atlus, Square Enix - PlayStation 2
Suikoden Teirkreis - Konami - Nintendo DS

North America bags Marvelous' Avalon Code and the PSP port of Mana Khemia (after a noticeable delay).

Japan gets Atelier Annie and the cleverly named Phantom Brave Wii (guess which platform it's for - no peeking!).

Europe, for an interesting change of pace, leads the charge this week by nabbing the PC version of the new Puzzle Quest, Suikoden Tierkreis, and Konami's little kid magic school RPG before anyone else! They also grab the Atlus' highly acclaimed Persona 4, with Square Enix handling the European localization.

For me, it's Atelier Annie all the way. I think I'll pass on just about everything else. What about you?

Falcom (Sort of) Announces Ys 7, Ys I&II Chronicles

This last Saturday, PC action-RPG developer Falcom held a little party in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan called "Ys Falcom Fair." There was merch, live music, and Falcom fans. But perhaps more interesting to you was the sort-of-announcement of two new titles in Falcom's flagship RPG series, Ys.

The announced titles were Ys I&II Chronicles (which seems to be yet another port/remake of the games that put the developer on the map), and Ys 7, which is thought to be the latest entry into the series.

These announcements are very vague, and we know almost nothing besides the titles, as the games are only mentioned on flyers that party-goers were able to receive. However, we do know that Ys I&II Chronicles is slated for release this summer, and Ys 7 for sometime this fall.

No other real information was provided, and we aren't even completely sure of the plaforms for these games. That being said, considering this is Falcom we're talking about, I'd say there's is a 99% chance that they are all PC games.

Friday, March 6, 2009

You Cannot Has: Prinny Towels

Nippon Ichi Japan has just announced two new Prinny-themed sports towels for their online store. One features a pink Prinny silhouette, appropriately named the "Silhouette version," while the second is a done in comic style in blue and white, aptly named the "Comic version."

The towels (like the rest of the merch available on the Japanese store) are not eligible for shipping outside of Japan (at least I couldn't find a way to ship them out), making them all the more alluring.

People want stuff they can't have. It's how it goes.

That being said, RosenQueen often brings over strange trinkets, especially if they are Disgaea-themed, so it is possible that you may be able to get them one day. Maybe.

Arc Rise Fantasia gets Dated

Marvelous and imageepoch's upcoming turn-based Wii RPG, Arc Rise Fantasia, sort of pops in and out of the spotlight, refusing to be tied down. Perhaps that's a good thing, as it means it's fun to get excited for every now and again without going too far.

Regardless, Marvelous has finally gotten around to setting a launch date for the title in Japan, revealing that it will hit early this summer. Unfortunately, no word on the North American release has been made yet.

Arc Rise Fantasia will be available on Nintendo Wii on June 4, 2009 in Japan.

Now I think we're just waiting on a date for Little King's Story...

New Ougon no Kizuna Trailer is Serious, Dark, Brooding

Despite what impressions you may have gotten from the recent strange Japanese TV ads for Jaleco's upcoming Wii action-RPG, Ougon no Kizuna, the game is actually dark, brooding, and all serious business.

There will be muted colors, angsty heroes, and heavy drama. Probably not so many naked gold people making out on buses. Just, y'know, so you don't walk away with the wrong impression.

Don't believe me? That's okay, Jaleco just dropped off a new trailer for the game that should drive home the point. Give it a look below.

As a note to Jaleco: please don't misrepresent your game anymore. It's okay if it's dark and brooding; just be dark and brooding. Naked gold people aren't great at getting the message out.

Ougon no Kizuna will be available for Nintendo Wii on May 28, 2009.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Oboro Muramasa, Blood of Bahamut Scans for You

Here are scans from Famitsu for Marvelous and Vanillaware's 2D Wii action-RPG, Oboro Muramasa (Muramasa: The Demon Blade in North America) and Square Enix's DS action-RPG, Blood of Bahamut.

Oboro Muramasa
Nintendo Wii
Vanillaware, Marvelous
April 9, 2009 (Japan), TBA (North America)

Blood of Bahamut
Nintendo DS
Square Enix

I didn't translate them because I'm lazy like that. But if you are interested, please make a request in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

Black Sigil Delayed AGAIN

Apparently, publisher Graffiti Entertainment enjoyed receiving our Silver Vaporware Award so much, that they have decided to go for it for another year, as the publisher has announced this week that their eternally delayed neo-retro DS RPG, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled, will be delayed by at least another month.

For those of you new to the heart-wrenching drama of this title, let me give you a quick update on events surrounding it: Black Sigil (formerly Project Exile) never makes its release date.

Graffiti has offered no reason for the delay, but some fans have speculated that the game's original release of mid-March puts it at a competitive disadvantage against bigger name DS RPGs like Suikoden Tierkreis and Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume.

Whatever the reason, the delay has further reinforced to me that the game is never coming out. Ever. So I might as well just give up hoping.

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled will supposedly now be available for Nintendo DS on April 14, 2009.

Why?! Why must you always always break my heart, Black Sigil?! T^T

Rune Factory Frontier North America Website Opens, Brings New Trailer

Marvelous and XSEED have recently launched the official English website for the upcoming Wii farming simulation/action-RPG, Rune Factory Frontier.

The newly opened website features character bios, information on gameplay, and various multimedia for fans hungry to get a better taste for the game before it launches in a couple of weeks.

Along with the released media and information, a new English trailer has also been released. It's a little short, but it does give a good quick look at the game in motion. Check it out below.

Rune Factory Frontier will be available for Nintendo Wii on March 17, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Japan.

Star Ocean 4 Delayed in Europe?

According to Gamekyo, Square Enix has delayed the Xbox 360 sci-fi action-RPG, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, for the European market by as much as two months.

Originally scheduled for April 24, 2009, Gamekyo reports that the game won't see release until June, though no specific date is cited. No reason for the delay has been released either.

This delay has yet to be confirmed by Square Enix, so it will have to remain a RUMOR for the time being, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for Europe that it isn't true, as I really like the game and hope that Europe will be able to get their hands on it sooner than later.

Ougon no Kizuna Lives, Has Trailer and Release Date to Prove it

Jaleco's dark and brooding Wii action-RPG, Ougon no Kizuna (lit. Golden Bonds), has been silent for quite a while now. Jaleco is not necessarily known for RPGs, so I wouldn't have been surprised if the title had been canned.

Not so, apprently, as the company has recently released not only a new trailer for the game, but also confirmed a Japanese release date for May.

The trailer is nothing too interesting (mostly just the main character slashing his sword around), but it does prove that the game still exists. So that's a good thing, right?

You can check out the trailer below.

Additionally, though we haven't yet seen the game in playable motion yet, Jaleco has already begun hyping the title through TV commercials. I'm not sure they really convey the idea of "dark and brooding action-RPG on the Wii," but they are... uh, interesting.

You can check them out below. (Warning: they are super weird.)

Ougon no Kizuna will be available for Nintendo Wii on May 28, 2009 in Japan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The First 3 Hours: Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Star Ocean: The Last Hope is the fourth main installment of developer tri-Ace’s flagship sci-fi action-RPG series, and a prequel to the events of the original Star Ocean on the Super Famicon. The game is the third title in the Square Enix x Xbox 360 project, and certainly the most high-profile. It also happens to be my most anticipated RPG of 2009.

I sat down for most of Friday and Saturday with the English version of the game, and thus have more than 3 hours of experience with it. However, I’ll try to let you know how I felt after 3 hours compared with after 12 (which is where I am now).

Being a long-time Star Ocean series fan, the first thing that I can tell you is this: if you love Star Ocean, The Last Hope will be 100% pure joy to your soul. Don’t bother reading this preview, just go buy it. I promise you’ll like it.

SO4 starts off with the launch of the first official SRF (Space Reconnaissance Force) – an effort to explore and colonize habitable extraterrestrial worlds in order to save the human race, which has destroyed their own planet through nuclear war. The mission consists of 5 faster-than-light enabled spacecraft piloted by a handful of specially trained explorers. The protagonist, Edge Maverick, is a crewman aboard the SRF-003, Calnus, along with his childhood friend Reimi Saionji.

As you might expect, the expedition hits a bump in the road and 4 of the 5 ships crash-land on the destination planet of Aeos, which becomes your first area, and (if you play at a similar pace to me) your first three hours.

During your stay on Aeos, you will learn the basics of combat, explore a rather large area, and gain your first insights into the larger overarching plot. But to be completely honest, these first three hours are all kinds of boring. Aeos is a relatively small, uninteresting planet, with almost no variation in enemies or scenery, and virtually no interesting plot to keep things moving. Really, you’ll mostly just be spending time trucking around the jungle fighting big bugs and searching for treasure. I literally almost fell asleep while doing it.

Thankfully, as you near the end of the area, the plot picks up almost immediately, and things really start getting cool. It’s too bad, then, that the game forces you to backtrack your way through the level (though a short cut is available), sort of robbing you of that sense of excitement.

Battles play very similarly to Star Ocean: Til the End of Time or Tales of Vesperia (depending on which you are more familiar with). You are given a team of up to four characters who are each balanced differently, and then are given an enclosed 3D virtual space to slug it out against baddies in real-time action-based battles.

Your characters can perform standard attacks, trigger combo special moves or magic, or use items. Attacks can be chained together for bigger combos and damage, and the advent of Rush mode allows you to hit faster and harder after receiving and dealing enough damage. Your Rush gauge is emptied after each battle, so you might as well use it whenever you get it filled.

New to this style of fighting is the Jump command, which is activated simply by pressing the B button. Each character has an individual jump, which adds to the enjoyment of trying out other characters. Holding this jump button allows you to “charge” your jump, in turn allowing you to jump higher or farther (depending on the character). This is typically used exclusively to perform “Blindside” moves (known as “Sight Out” in the Japanese version) that allow you to break out of your enemy’s line of sight and deliver critical attacks from behind. Each character’s Blindside animation is unique, and occasionally has different effects, making it fun to try everyone’s out at least once.

Battles are high-paced and extremely fun for the most part, but are slightly cheapened by the copious amounts of them. If you buy the game just to fight enemies, you will never be bored, but the large amounts of enemies on the map can often get frustrating when trying to figure out a puzzle or get out of a confusing area.

The bonus board and copious amounts of Battle Trophies (a carryover from SO3) make you feel good about trying new things in battle, but don’t necessarily make or break the combat experience.

However, there are several low-points to the combat that I really should mention. Any gamer picky about framerate will likely be annoyed with the frequent blips that pop up in the middle of big battles, though they typically aren’t big enough drops to ever mess with your pace. Second, the glaring omission of multiplayer co-op is really a “what were they thinking?” moment. With all the depth and variety involved in battles, it is a huge loss that someone else can’t take control of your other character(s) to help out, and I’m really not sure what they excuse is on this. Third, though rare, the game can freeze during battle, forcing you to restart your console from your last save. This only happened to me once during my 12 hours, and occurred after I have been playing for quite a long time without a break, but I thought you should have a heads-up.

SO4 plays out in with a much more science fiction feel than its predecessors, which I really enjoyed. The addition of the controllable Calnus, which lets you travel to planets at your leisure, is a great feature, and the overall story of the game feels like a large improvement for the series. The Private Actions, handled almost exclusively aboard the Calnus during warp, are much more fun than previous games, both to watch and participate in, though it’s a little odd not to have them in towns.

The game has plenty of drama and action to keep you interested, but also keeps a sense of humor throughout, careful not to take itself too seriously. If you like Japanese storytelling, there isn’t much to complain about here. However, to get the whole story, you will have to read the game’s included dictionary and collection synopses, as the game proper doesn’t cover all of the details (which is, imo, too bad).

The game’s presentation is, for the most part, quite praiseworthy. Running on the same engine as Infinite Undiscovery, the locations and character models are absolutely gorgeous to look at, and SO4 manages perhaps the clearest graphics of any RPG this generation. That being said, the same awkward animation found in IU is also present in SO4 to a lesser degree, but is not as noticeably bad as IU’s (at least, I didn’t think so).

One big complaint I have is that some of the more futuristic landscapes are so detailed that they become incredibly difficult on the eyes. You’d think that multiple textures, transparency, and lighting would be a good thing, but it can all too often be very taxing to look at. Also, the game’s rotatable camera frequently bounces off of things in confined areas, further adding to the pain. These are complaints I had after playing for more than 6 hours straight though, so if you keep your play sessions shorter, they shouldn’t be too big of a hassle.

The English voice acting is, for the most part, rather solid. The lip-synching is very good (especially compared to IU), and most of the voices fit very well. There will be people who won’t like it, but that’s just how localized JRPGs go. However, the omission of a Japanese language track is, again, a terrible decision by Square Enix. Honestly, I think a lot of people would pay a little bit extra to just download the Japanese track from Xbox Live if it didn’t fit on the discs. But for it to be absent completely is ridiculous. The same goes for the anime style portraits and Japanese menus. It’s fine that they wanted to replace them with something more “accessible,” but I don’t see the problem with offering fans the option.

In the grand scheme of things, however, these complaints are minimal, and certainly not frustrating enough to be deal-breakers. The CG portraits are not as terrible as you might think, and the localization, in general, is very good.

I should add, for fans of the series, though the gameplay is more reminiscent of SO3 (except way better), the overall game is much closer to SO1 and SO2.

If you are a fan of the series, or just a fan of the action-RPG genre in general, Star Ocean: The Last Hope is a no-brainer. Though the game isn’t quite as polished as Tales of Vesperia or Lost Odyssey, it is definitely the best title with the Square Enix logo on it in a while (even though it’s a tri-Ace game), and provided the rest of the game holds up to my first 12 hours, is what I would feel is the first must-own RPG of 2009. I seriously haven’t put it down for 2 days, and would rather be playing it than writing this.

If there’s anything you think I missed or have any questions about the game, please feel free to ask in the comments. As usual, no spoilers please and thank you.