Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Watch New Magna Carta II and End of Eternity Trailers

News is always a little slow during the summer months for RPGs. Not always sure why, but what can you do, right?

In an attempt to satiate your need for new RPG developments, Sega and Namco Bandai have each released new gameplay-heavy trailers for their respective upcoming RPGs, End of Eternity and Mangna Carta II (developed by tri-Ace and Softmax respectively). Take a watch below.

End of Eternity

Magna Carta II

Hm, both are looking promising. Anyone have a favorite?

End of Eternity will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sometime this Winter in Japan. It will be available as Resonance of Fate in North America sometime next Spring.

Magna Carta II will be available for Xbox 360 on August 6, 2009 in Japan, and sometime during the third quarter of 2009 in North America.

Monday, June 29, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Mega Man Edition

Welcome to the end of June and the beginning of July!

Unfortunately, this week (and the upcoming month) look very bereft of new RPGs. Ah, summer. How I loathe thee.

Anyway, take a look at what are some of the last new RPGs you'll see for a while.

North America
Mega Man Star Force 3: Black Ace - Capcom - Nintendo DS
Mega Man Star Force 3: Red Joker - Capcom - Nintendo DS

Monster Hunter Frontier (2-shuunen Kinen Premium Pack) - Capcom - PC


Wow. I, uh, don't know what to say. I guess I hope some of you are looking forward to the new Mega Man Star Force game?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Last Remnant Might Not Come to PlayStation 3 After All

Maybe you remember a game called The Last Remnant? It was Square Enix's first 7th generation game, their first multiplatform project, their first game using a licensed game engine (the Unreal Engine 3), and what they called 'An RPG for the World.'

Though the game was announced for worldwide release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Square Enix later announced that the game would premier first on Xbox 360 worldwide, then be followed by a PC version, and would eventually be released on PlayStation 3 later.

As you may recall, the Xbox 360 and PC versions are done and out worldwide, though neither were particularly well-received (especially by critics in the West). Despite this, the sales weren't what I would have considered bad, and the game itself employs some great ideas.

However, since the game's PC release in March, any news of this title has fallen silent, and until recently, I completely forgot about it.

Well at a recent shareholder's meeting in Japan, Square Enix boss Yoichi Wada expressed concern over the game's profitibility, declining to confirm if the game was indeed going to make the leap to Sony's platform.

Though Sony fanboys like to scream "M$ paid Square off!!1," the fact that UE3 and PS3 don't always get along well is well-documented, and the choice to release the more developed version first doesn't seem incredibly far-fetched to me.

With the game noticibly absent at E3, and considering how much the press over here has hated the game, I myself have been wondering what has befallen the once-multiplat title. Wada's hesitance to confirm the PS3 version at a share-holder meeting, and his expressing concern over the game's profitibility, suggests that the PS3 version's future may indeed be uncertain.

What do you think? Should the game come out for PS3 no matter what? Are you content to have it just on 360 and PC? Do you even care about this game at all?


Jumbo Scan Update

Yes, I have once again fallen behind in scan coverage. So here I am, trying to make it up in one fell swoop. As usual, take a look at the scans below, or at least the ones that interest you. :)

End of Eternity (Resonance of Fate in NA)
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
tri-Ace, Sega
Winter 2009 (Japan), Spring 2010 (North America)

Last Rebellion
PlayStation 3
Hit Maker, Nippon Ichi/NIS America
Winter 2009 (Japan & North America)

Magna Carta II
Xbox 360
Softmax, Banpresto, Namco Bandai
August 6, 2009 (Japan), Q3 2009 (North America)

Tales of Graces
Nintendo Wii
Namco Bandai
Winter 2009 (Japan)

Lots of cool-looking titles on the horizon, that's for sure. I will take translation requests in the comments, though I would like to get a hold of some nicer scans for Magna Carta II and Last Rebellion before trying to read the whole articles.

Idea Factory Announces Spectral Force Legacy

Via the recent issue of Dengeki PlayStation, Idea Factory has announced that it will be bringing its Spectral Force SRPG series back to PSP in Japan this year with Spectral Force Legacy.

Fully titled Itsuka Kono Te ga Kegareru Toki ni: Spectral Force Legacy (lit. Someday When These Hands Become Soiled). But seriously, that's way too long to type out every time.

For those who are avid Spectral Force fans (anyone?), you will be pleased, I'm sure, to see that Hiro is returning to the spotlight as the main protagonist of SFL. Impressively, she still hasn't changed her clothes throughout the entire series so far. ;P

Details are still a little sparse at this time, but the game is scheduled for Japanese PSPs later this year. Certainly good news if you were feeling hungry for a new SRPG on the go.

Itsuka Kono Te ga Kegareru Toki ni: Spectral Force Legacy will be available for PSP sometime this Winter in Japan.

Compile Heart Announces X-Edge Dash

Ugh, here we go. Compile Heart announced via the recent issue of Weekly Famitsu that they will be bringing their lame cross-over RPG X-Edge (pronounced 'Cross Edge' and released as such in North America) to the Xbox 360 later this year as X-Edge Dash.

For those who have worked hard to forget this game, I'm sorry to bring it back to your memory. The game features characters from Idea Factory's Spectral Souls series, Nippon Ichi's Disgaea series, Gust's Atelier series, Banpresto (Namco Bandai)'s Ar Tonelico series, and Capcom's Darkstalker series, (which of these things is not like the others?) all utilizing a graphical style reminiscent of old PS1 games.

It is expected that X-Edge Dash will have added features, though it is unclear at this time what those may be.

Though X-Edge is certainly nowhere near as popular as Tales of Vesperia, meaning that there will be less rage over this title going timed-exclusive, I still feel that timed-exclusives are incredibly rude to the game's original fans, especially when the company springs it on everyone. Bad form, Compile Heart. Bad form.

X-Edge Dash will be available for Xbox 360 on October 1, 2009 in Japan. Since NIS America (who has expressed that they will not be working on the Xbox 360) published the PS3 version in North America, I would be very surprised to see it come over here.

Aqua Plus Announces Tears to Tiara Gaiden: Avalon no Nazo

The PlayStation 3, now the official home for obscure JRPGs, is getting another iteration of last year's SRPG/H-game port of Tears to Tiara.

Titled Tears to Tiara Gaiden: Avalon no Nazo (lit. Tears to Tiara Side-Story: The Mystery of Avalon), the new title features the same cast as the original, and indeed looks like the original in almost every way. In fact, since the scans (below) are too blurry to make much out, I can't even tell you what is going to be different in this sequel(?).

The original Tears to Tiara never made it to North America for reasons I would imagine that you can guess (hint: H-games / H-game ports tend to be a niche market even in Japan), so I wouldn't start holding my breath for Gaiden to make it over either. That said, the PS3 is region free, and if you really want to play it, I doubt you would let a little thing like a foreign language stop you.

Tears to Tiara Gaiden: Avalon no Nazo will be available for PlayStation 3 on September 17, 2009 in Japan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Portable Demons Edition

It's Monday, which means back to work/school/responsibility. It also means it's time for new RPG releases! Take the bad with the good, I guess.

Take a look at what RPGs are hitting shelves around the world this week (June 22 - 26, 2009):

North America
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite – Capcom – PSP
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – Atlus – Nintendo DS
Overlord II – Triumph, Codemasters – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Overlord: Dark Legend – Climax, Codemasters – Nintendo Wii

Agarest Senki Zero – Idea Factory, RED Entertainment, Compile Heart – PlayStation 3
Ken to Mahou to Gakuen Mono. 2 – Zero Div, Acquire – PSP
Rorona no Atelier: Arland no Renkinjutsushi – Gust – PlayStation 3
Valhalla Knights 2: Battle Stance – K2, Marvelous – PSP

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite – Capcom – PSP
Overlord II – Triumph, Codemasters – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Overlord: Dark Legend – Climax, Codemasters – Nintendo Wii
Tales of Vesperia – Namco Bandai, Atari – Xbox 360
Valhalla Knights 2 – K2, Rising Star – PSP

Not a bad showing, I would say. Also, a surprising number of near-simultaneous North America/Europe releases, including Overlord II and Overlord: Dark Legend, and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (which is kind of a lame name, imo).

North America also gets Atlus' first DS MegaTen iteration with Devil Survivor (which I rather enjoyed earlier this year).

Meanwhile Europe snags Valhalla Knights 2, and finally gets Tales of Vesperia, a game that I like very much.

Japan gets a plethora of new titles this week with Atelier Rorona and Agarest Senki Zero for the PS3, and two fairly obscure sequel/spin-offs for the PSP.

Anything looking worth your cash this week?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The First 3 (Actually 7) Hours: Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled

I had been following Black Sigil (also previously known as Project Exile) since at least summer 2006 (maybe longer, it’s hard to remember that far back). For anyone keeping score, that’s about 3 years. It’s worth mentioning that at the time, the game was promised to be coming out that very year. And so here we are. Finally, 3 years later, I have the game in my DS that promised a new 16-bit RPG in the style of RPGs of yesteryear. Was it worth the wait? Was that extra 3 years enough time for new start-up Studio Archcraft to make a game worthy of the games it harks back to? I’ve now been playing the game for about 7 hours. Let me tell you about it.

Black Sigil follows the story of a young knight in training named Kairu. Kairu is the adopted son of the noble Averey house in the land of Bel Lenora, and very gifted in swordplay. But there’s a problem: Kairu can’t use magic to save his life. This is more than just an inconvenience, however, as everyone in Bel Lenora can use magic, and the only other person in recent memory who couldn’t, betrayed the land and lead an army of cursed demons throughout the countryside. As you might well imagine, this makes many people a lot less friendly to our young hero, and after a bunch of spoilerific events that I won’t go into, eventually leads to his exile.

After leaving Bel Lenora, Kairu finds himself lost in a new land, with new enemies and allies, and various other plot twists. Which brings me to my first main point in this preview: Black Sigil’s story is very interesting. Since I’m only 7 hours in, I can’t yet tell you if the story works itself out, or if it stays coherent throughout, but I can tell you that so far it is what is keeping me coming back. The characters are interesting, the plot is often intriguing, and the game is generally well-written. If you like RPGs for their stories, Black Sigil (so far) is a winner.

However, before you even get into the story, you are probably drawn to Black Sigil by its graphical style. The first easy comparison is Square Enix’s classic Chrono Trigger, and this comparison is not unfounded. The character sprites look patterned exactly after Chrono Trigger’s. Let me just say here, that if there is any 16 bit RPG that had character sprites worth mimicking, it is definitely Chrono Trigger. However, the game’s dungeons and towns are actually a little more reminiscent of Final Fantasy VI (released as Final Fantasy III on the SNES back in the day). Just to make things simple, suffice it to say that if Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI were to have a baby, it would look like Black Sigil. And if you have nothing but good memories of either of those games, Black Sigil’s graphics are sure to make you very happy.

So there are two things that I, so far, adore about the game. Now let’s talk about something that I don’t like, and is actually a pretty big deal: the battle system.

Probably a lot of you, if you’ve seen gameplay of Black Sigil, are thinking that it has a lot in common with Chrono Trigger. And you would be (partially) right. Your party consists of three active members who wait for their time gauges to fill up before they can attack, cast magic, use a special attack, initiate a combo skill, or use an item. Combo attacks require your characters to learn certain skills with other members of your party, and require that both characters’ gauges are filled. Some of your skills will hit only one target, while some will hit a group close to each other, or all the enemies in a line, and so on. So far very Chrono Trigger, right? Well, here is where things get a little ugly. See, unlike CT, your characters don’t actually encounter the enemy on the field you’re exploring. Instead, battles are random, and your party is whisked away to a battlefield. I guess that’s forgivable, right? Except that these battlefields are littered with holes, rocks, and various other obstacles that prevent you from just being in a big, open field. In order to attack your enemies, your characters will actually have to move around this field into a position where you can attack from.

Wait, you say. That sounds like a good idea. I don’t want to be in some boring flat field every battle, you say. This sounds like it adds some spice to an otherwise overused battle system, you say. And in theory, you are right. In practice, however, this is incredibly aggravating.

Consider this: you have three characters in your party, and you are in a battle against five enemies. Not bad odds. But you need to realize that this battle field is such that several of your enemies are in a narrow area behind a wall of rocks, which each of your melee characters will need to go around in order to attack. Now realize that your characters can only walk a certain distance before their turn is up. Though walk-only turns allow your gauge to fill faster, if multiple characters are on the move, it means people are taking staggered turns all over the place. Now realize that when your first character makes it into the narrow area where the monsters are and attacks, your second character is now completely blocked and cannot do anything. Instead of giving you a turn back, this character auto-defends (i.e. they just stand wherever they are). Sure, on your turn you can move your character manually by holding the L button, but this prevents them from attacking.

At the beginning of the game, this is typically not much of a problem, but the further you get, the more narrow and obstructive the battlefields become. In fact, in the area I’m in right now, some of the battlefields allow only one character to move period. This is alright if you want to make your other characters cast magic all the time, but as you probably understand already, MP isn’t free. Not only that, but not all of your magic is necessarily usable at any one time. Only certain spells hit enemies regardless of where you are.

I should also note that your characters will probably auto-defend if the enemy they were targeting is defeated by someone else. Yeah. I thought we were done with that after the original Final Fantasy too.

By now you should have gathered that I don’t particularly enjoy Black Sigil’s battle system. What you may not have gathered is that the enemy encounter rate is extremely high. I’m talking every 2-3 steps. World map, dungeon, it doesn’t matter. You will be fighting a lot. Might as well make peace with it now.

Oh, I forgot to mention that your characters will randomly have bad status at the start of battles. One of your guys might be Blind, or another might have a Broken Arm (which is like Mute for your non-magic skills), or someone might be Poisoned. It’s not every battle, but it is frequent enough that I notice it. And seriously? Bad status right from the start of the battle?

Battles are hard and frequent. What makes this terrible is that they are hard and frequent for really no good reason. Honestly, I can’t see how you could truly enjoy the battle system unless you enjoy hurting yourself.

Next up, I am obligated to mention that the dungeons are mind-bogglingly long and filled with things that your characters will inexplicably get stuck on. Things that any normal human being could walk over, like rocks and cracks, present an insurmountable object for your character, resulting in you just getting “stuck” every so often. Coupled with the previously mentioned ridiculous encounter rate, this makes dungeon exploration incredibly painful. Remember when you didn’t want to turn the camera in Xenogears because you didn’t want to get in a fight for no good reason again? That’s what exploring dungeons in Black Sigil feels like. Sometimes I just make my characters stand there because I want a few seconds that I’m not fighting. No lie.

Oh yeah, and save points are few and far between. If it wasn’t for a quicksave system, the lack of save points would make the game completely unplayable. Seriously.

Last, but not least, let me touch on the game’s soundtrack. It is very well-done. The songs are haunting and original, while retaining that 16-bit era feel. If you liked RPG music back in the 90s, there is a lot to like about this game’s soundtrack. It is, therefore, with a heavy heart that I must inform you that you won’t get to hear much of it, as every time you get in a battle (or save, for that matter), it stops the track that’s playing, and starts it back from the beginning. With the battles as frequent as they are, this means that you will become very familiar with the beginning few seconds of each track, and not much else. If you enjoy video game music, I would advise you to let your characters stand idle for a minute every so often so that you can listen to a well-composed score.

I’ve rambled on for quite a while now, so if you skipped everything above, just read this: Black Sigil has a very interesting story and is beautifully nostalgic in its art and music design. Unfortunately, its ruthlessly frequent and questionably designed battle system kicks you (the player) squarely in the gonads repeatedly, draining much of the fun that could have been had out of the game. If you play RPGs to experience a good story, and can bear the battle system rubbing bleach in your eyes, I would definitely recommend it. If a frustrating battle system ruins a game for you, avoid Black Sigil like the plague.

I personally, am quite astonished that I am so eager to play a game that I find so frequently not fun. I think that says a lot about the game.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about something you feel I neglected to mention, please feel free to post below.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Magna Carta II sort of gets a 360 Bundle in Japan

Most JRPGs get an Xbox 360 bundle in Japan. Makes sense, right? Most Japanese gamers don't own a 360, and if they want to pick one up when an RPG comes out, may as well get them together, right?

Well, in keeping with tradition, Microsoft dropped word today that they will be offering a bundle deal with Namco Bandai and Softmax's upcoming Xbox 360 RPG, Magna Carta II. Typically, the bundles include a 360 unit, a copy of the game, and a limited faceplate, all in a themed box. Magna Carta II, however, will be forgoing the themed box, and offering the faceplate as a gift to buyers who pick up the console and a copy of the game at the same time.

Why Microsoft and Namdai chose to pass on the actual bundle remains open to speculation, but my highly educated guessing powers conclude that Magna Carta II, though awesome-looking, probably isn't going to win enough new fans to justify a whole new package.

On the upside, this allows anyone who was planning on getting a 360 bundle to pick which console SKU they prefer and still snag the faceplate. No themed box though. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Oh, and in case you forgot, Japanese pre-orders for the game come with an artbook. So there's that too.

Magna Carta II will be available for Xbox 360 on August 6, 2009 in Japan, and sometime this year during Q3 here in North America.

[Xbox Japan]

Atlus Teases a New Persona? UPDATE

UPDATE: As pointed out on Destructoid, this image is from last year's Persona Music Live event, likely indicating a disc release of the concert (see below image). My hopes were up for a second there.

Atlus, choosing not to deviate from their current MO, has taken out a teaser ad in the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu in Japan in order to tease... something Persona-related.

The ad in question (viewable below) depicts the main characters of the most recent Persona iterations: the main character from Persona 3 (Minato Arisato in the official manga), Shin Kanzato from Persona: Trinity Soul, and the main character from Persona 4 (Souji Seto in the official manga).

On the side of the page, "全ての人の魂に捧ぐ..." is written, which roughly translates to "an offering for the souls of all people..."

Other than that, there is no mention of a website, a possible reveal date, or anything else. Some have speculated on a new PSP enhanced port of an existing Persona title, but given the fact that the ad features the newer protagonists rather than any nostalgia pieces, I would imagine we will see something new.

Yes, I am reporting on an ad. Again. Atlus is pretty good at this teasing business.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is what Dragon Quest IX would be like if you could actually play it

Seems like we're talking a lot about heavily delayed games this week (I'm sure Final Fantasy Versus XIII is bound to show up somewhere this week too :P). Be that as it may, Square Enix dropped off a lengthy video for Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito.

This isn't just some trailer, however. It's something closer to a moving instruction booklet. Actually, maybe an infomercial is a better comparison? Either way, in case you are dying to play this game so badly that your head might explode, the following 7+ minutes of explanatory gameplay should either soothe that ache, or drive you to insanity. I can't guarantee either.

With how many years this game has been pushing back release dates, I'm sure Square Enix is really scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to come up with stuff to put in trailers. And this is where we are. Instructions on how to play a game that doesn't have a release date. Incredible.

Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito will be available for Nintendo DS sometime before 2057 (I think) in Japan. Though some claim that we'll see it this year, I don't want to give you any false hope.

Proof that Black Sigil Exists: A Launch Trailer

Studio Archcraft and Graffiti Entertainment's eternally delayed vapourware project, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled, released last week in North America. That sounds like a lie, right? I know I know. If I hadn't been playing it myself, I too would be all "pfffft, stop your LIES!" right now, too.

Graffiti, though, wants you to believe, and has released a launch trailer for the game, which you can watch below.

So there you go.

As I mentioned above, I myself have put several hours into the game, and can honestly say that the game is well-done. Inevitable comparisons to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI aside, Studio Archcraft has succeeded in making an SNES RPG for the current generation (assuming you count the DS as "current") which has its own staying power.

I'll try to get an impression article up for it sometime this week for those interested.

Monday, June 15, 2009

RPGs of This Week and Last Week: Where Have I Been Edition

Greetings from the afterlife! Last week was saw so much going on at work that I barely had time to breathe, let alone pay much attention to RPG news. In an effort to make up for lost time, I will be covering not only the RPG releases of this current week (which are rather disappointing, in case you wanted a heads-up), but also taking a look at what came out last week! Unbelievable!

Let's get to it.

Here are the RPGs shipping to retailers this week (June 15 - 19, 2009):

North America

Fortune Summoners Deluxe - Lizsoft, Jungle Japan - PC
Generation Xth: Code Realize - Experience - PC


Not much unless you're into indie Japanese PC games. Nothing wrong with them, in fact they're probably pretty fun, but they don't give us a ton to talk about.

Anyways, here are the RPGs that you may have missed last week (June 9 - 12, 2009):

North America
Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled - Studio Archcraft, Graffiti - Nintendo DS
Class of Heroes - Zerodiv, Atlus - PSP

Mugen Senro - Platinum Games, Sega - Nintendo DS
Ragnarok Online (Memorial Package) - Gravity Corporation, E-Frontier - PC

Dragonica - Barunson Interactive, gPotato - PC

Hm. Impressively enough, Black Sigil actually did for reals release! I know, I thought Hell might have frozen over or something. That said, I have yet to see a copy in a regular walk-in-and-buy-something store, so you'll probably have to get it online somewhere if you want it. I have personally put in a few hours into it already, so if you'd like a First 3 Hours impression, let me know in the comments.

Anything looking sweet to you as we head into the long summer dearth?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

E3 2009: Konami Announces Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

During their E3 press conference yesterday, Konami took a moment to announce the next entry in the long-running ARPG series Castlevania, titled Lords of Shadow, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Originally announced as an original IP last year at Leipzig, Konami has seemingly redressed the title as a member of the Castlevania franchise. European developer MercurySteam will remain in charge of game's creation, but Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear Solid fame) will apparently be lending his support and the support of his Kojima Productions Studio as well.

There is currently no confirmation of series vetrans Kouji Igarashi (IGA) or Ayami Kojima (who has traditionally handled the gothic-style artwork for the majority of the series) on the project.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is due for release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sometime in 2010.

I have to say that I'm a little bit uneasy about this. Castlevania without Igarashi? And no Ayami Kojima to at least add to the game's style? Worrisome. And while I respect Hideo Kojima for creating a franchise that is so well-loved, I never particularly enjoyed the MGS series, and I don't really understand why the internet is obsessed with Kojima as a Japanese Jesus of game development.

That said, the trailer (above) is completely badass, so I'm not ready to write the game off until I've seen a lot more of it. However, I can't help but feel that the game will abandon its RPG functionality. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

E3 2009: XSEED Confirms Little King's Story Release Date (Finally)

Though this was actually supposed to be released last year, Marvelous and Cing's Little King's Story (Ousama Monogatari in Japan) still has yet to receive a proper release date, continually eluding fans by slipping farther and farther into the future.

Not anymore, North American publisher XSEED claims, as the game will see a North American release next month!

Despite being developed in Japan, the game has already seen release in Europe last month. With the North America date now confirmed, it seems that Japan is the only major territory left in the cold. Exactly what sort of conspiracy has turned traditional release timing on its head is anyone's guess.

Little King's Story will be available on Nintendo Wii on July 21, 2009 in North America. It is already available in Europe. There is currently no concrete release date for Japan.

E3 2009: Final Fantasy XIV Not Exclusive At All

Square Enix held a short, un-publicized press conference yesterday at E3, only to talk about the just announced Final Fantasy XIV. As the recently opened official site reports, the game is indeed an MMO and is planned for a simultaneous world-wide release next year on PC and PlayStation 3.

The very short, very focused conference was devoted almost exclusively to answering questions the press had about the game, most of which ended up being about Final Fantasy XI and how the two will support each other. Suffice it to say that FFXI will continue to be supported, and FFXIV is not set in the same universe, though some of the races resemble FFXI counterparts.

What was perhaps the most interesting bit to come from the meeting, however, was Square Enix's confirmation that the game is not at all exclusive to PS3, and that all platforms, "including Microsoft's," are being considered.

This is, of course, not a confirmation of FFXIV on 360, but it sure makes Sony's "exclusively on PlayStation 3" announcement on Tuesday look foolish. I guess they were going for shock factor over fact.

Ugh, I hate how worked up people get over Final Fantasy.

P.S. I've also attached the game's debut teaser that was shown at Sony's presser. Just in case you haven't seen it yet.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

E3 2009: Nintendo Stealthily Sort of Announces Monado and Glory of Hercules

Nintendo devoted a notable section of their E3 press conference to RPGs coming out on their platforms, which is a move I fully approve of. However, other than what they showed off on the big screen, it seems that the Big N has a few more original RPGs up their sleeve.

The first is an ARPG for the Wii tentatively called Monado: Beginning of the World. Details are almost non-existant at this time as this is the first time we've even heard of the game, and Nintendo has released nothing more than a first look trailer (which you can, and should, watch below).

Fans have speculated (probably accurately) that the game is being developed by the now-owned-by-Nintendo Monolith (of Xenosaga fame, or more recently Soma Bringer). The game has no official release date, but is expected to hit sometime in 2010.

My interest is certainly piqued. Keep me informed, Nintendo.

Next up is a sort of obscure localization choice for the Nintendo DS called Glory of Hercules (the article's header is for this game), which is a JRPG take on classic Greek mythology. Developed by Paon (who are really only known for this series), Glory of Hercules is actually a modern follow-up to several early SNES Dragon Quest-ish RPGs set in ancient Greece. It was released last year in Japan as Hercules no Eikou: Tamashii no Shoumei (lit. Glory of Hercules: Proof of the Soul).

Like Monado, the game was sort of snuck onto the floor by Nintendo with some new media, but no word on a solid release date or any real info. Curious.

I truly applaud Nintendo for its RPG showing this year. They certainly have Microsoft and Sony beat on that front (which is a rare, though welcome change for them). However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, if games like this are coming over, why not their other RPGs? Puzzling. :/

We'll keep both Monado: Beginning of the World and Glory of Hercules on our radar and let you know when we have some more info.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E3 2009: Whoops! Final Fantasy XIV Official Site Confirms PC

Just hours after SCEA President and CEO Jack Tretton announced that Final Fantasy XIV would be exclusive to PlayStation 3 in 2010, Square Enix's official site for the game has appeared to set the records straight, confirming the game's status as an MMO, and its release on both PS3 and PC next year.

How rude.

The newly launched site also features the new trailer as shown at the Sony presser, which I will post here when a decent embeddable version appears on the internets.

Other interesting details from the site confirm that many of the key personnel from Final Fantasy XI will be invlovled in the game's production, as will Final Fantasy soundtrack veteran (and independant composer) Nobuo Uematsu.

I guess Tretton must have meant to say "it won't be on Xbox 360 next year."

E3 2009: Here is Your New Final Fantasy XIII Trailer

As shown in Sony's press conference today, here is Square Enix's latest full English trailer for their upcoming PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 RPG, Final Fantasy XIII. I doubt you need any more of an introduction that than.

I've had my doubts about this game, but this is definitely bad ass.

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

E3 2009: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years Trailer Confirms Episodic Downloads

Square Enix has just published a new trailer for their WiiWare port of the cellphone follow up to Final Fantasy IV, cleverly titled "The After Years." Take a look.

*Groan* Well, call me spoiled, but in a day and age when we can download entire current gen games, can someone explain to me why Square Enix insisted on keeping this in episodic form? Wait, don't answer that. I know, more downloads = more money. But seriously.

The game looks nostalgically interesting, but I'm just not willing to shell out 9 different times to play one (retro) game. When/if the big SE decides it can behave civilly and put them all into one package, I will reconsider picking this up. Until then, someone please tell Square Enix what year it is.

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is currently available for Nintendo Wii's WiiWare service in North America.

E3 2009: Here's What Trinity Zill O'll Zero Looks Like in Motion

Koei Tecmo dropped off a new trailer for their upcoming PlayStation 3 ARPG, Trinity Zill O'll Zero (to be known as Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll in North America) as part of their E3 presence. Take a watch below.

As the first Zill O'll game to reach North America, I hate to say this, but it feels a little generic from this trailer. In fact, it looks like another Koei hack-and-slash fest that we've all come to know and love(?) Koei for.

That said, I like the subtle cell-shading they have going on, and the elf girl, at least, has an attractive character design.

Winter 2009/2010 is still a ways off, so let's hope the game comes into its own by then.

Trinity Zill O'll Zero will be available for PlayStation 3 this Winter in Japan, and sometime next year in North America.

E3 2009: Sony Hearts Final Fantasy, Announces Final Fantasy XIV

The PlayStation 3's RPG lineup is starting to look decent this year with several interesting (if obscure) exclusives making their way across the pacific. Not least of which is Sony's own White Knight Chronicles.

However, as predicted, Sony doesn't actually care about White Knight Chronicles, giving it only a few brief seconds during one of their many many montages throughout the event. Sad times.

What Sony does care about is Square Enix's Final Fantasy, and they took several opportunities to remind you and I that Final Fantasy is totally on PlayStation 3.

Their first Final Fantasy name drop came with the announcement of Final Fantasy VII becoming available for download via the PlayStation Network starting today. They mentioned that they have 50 other PS1 classics that will be following it, but didn't mention what any of them are. Hopefully there will be some more RPGs?

Later during their conference, they gave us a look at a brand new, full-length, full English Final Fantasy XIII trailer, which not only gave us a better look at the game's story, but also briefly introduced a new character who we assume to be playable. I will post it soon.

However, the big Final Fantasy announcement for Sony was that the next next next FF installment, Final Fantasy XIV, will be coming to exclusively to PlayStation 3 in 2010.

Though the trailer shown was short and generally uninformative of what to expect from the game, it was revealed that the game will be an "Online" title, similar, it seems, to Final Fantasy XI.

Since Square Enix originally claimed that their next MMO would be on PC and Xbox 360, Sony's announcement of FFXIV as exclusive is suspect, especially with the "exclusively to PlayStation 3 in 2010" part, which may be indicative of a timed exclusive.

We will await further details, but it was made clear that FFXIV will be on PS3 next year. So yeah.

Unfortunately, there was no news of any other RPGs.

E3 2009: Nintendo Announces Golden Sun DS, Shows Several RPGs

UPDATE: Trailers for Crystal Bearers, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Golden Sun DS up. Still waiting on Bowser's Inside Story vid.

During Nintendo's E3 press conference this morning, the company showed off several RPGs for both their Wii and DS systems, both from Nintendo itself, as well as several from RPG giant Square Enix.

As the only representation for the Nintendo Wii, Square Enix's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers received some time in the spotlight, gaining a new trailer, but still silent on a release date. The game continues to look interesting, but may not appeal to fans of the older Crystal Chronicles, as it appears to be heavily story-driven.

Next, Nintendo gave us another look at Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days for Nintendo DS, the latest in Square Enix's Final Fantasy meets Disney crossover ARPG series. It is slated for a release in North America sometime this September, and will apparently feature the English version Hikaru Utada's song 'Passion,' known as 'Sanctuary' and used in KH2.

Nintendo then took some time to announce Mario & Luigi RPG 3 for North America, receiving a name-change to Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. M&L3 features classic 2D sprites with timed elements in battle. The story follows Mario, Luigi, and several other citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom as they get trapped inside Bowser's body. It will be reportedly available in North America and Europe sometime this fall.

Finally, Nintendo's big RPG announcement came that they would be resurrecting the GBA RPG franchise Golden Sun with lazily-named Golden Sun DS. It will feature full 3D graphics (think the Final Fantasy DS remakes) and a new story. Details are scarce at the moment, but it was announced that we will have the game sometime in 2010.

It should be noted that The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks was also mentioned, but no new footage nor a release date were given. It will apparently be playable on the show floor, so there is a good chance to see the game's release in the near future.

Overall, though Nintendo failed to show Microsoft up in terms of technology and innovation (plus the incredibly embarrassing pulse tracker peripheral), their selection of new game announcements was very impressive.

I personally would have liked to see the new Golden Sun get the Wii treatment over the DS, but I guess I'll take what I can get. Also, if Nintendo is bringing that over, what's the deal with ditching ASH and Soma Bringer (which are exceptionally well-developed titles)?

But all in all, not a bad show, Nintendo. Not bad at all.

E3 2009: Atlus Announces Shiren the Wanderer

Atlus USA dropped word early this morning that they will be localizing ChunSoft and Sega's Fushigi no Dungeon: Furai no Shiren 3: Karakuri Yashiki no Nemuri-Hime (lit. Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren of the Wind 3: The Sleeping Princess of the Mechanical Mansion) for Nintendo Wii as Shiren the Wanderer.

Though the Mysterious Dungeon games have never really gained much of a following in the West, Furai no Shiren 3 is definitely one of the nicer-looking entries into the series, featuring attractive 3D modeling, fully rendered dungeons, and a heavier emphasis on story. The game is still, however, a Mysterious Dungeon game, and will feature all of the Mysterious Dungeon trademark designs you have come to love/hate/be indifferent to.

Originally released in Japan last June, Atlus will be making the title available in North America "sometime" in 2010. I would imagine the game will be on display somewhere at Atlus' E3 booth.

It's nice to see Atlus spreading around the love. Hopefully we'll see more console announcements from them sooner than later.

E3 2009: EA's RPG Offerings are High Levels of Hardcore

If you had told me two years ago that EA would be showing 3 hardcore RPGs at E3, I would have laughed in your face. EA? RPGs? Hardcore? Pfft. What planet are you from?

But since the publisher has decided to put a little more effort into making games for us ("us" meaning "gamers"), their efforts have paid off in spades (at least in reputation). Some of the fruits of their labours include BioWare's two upcoming WRPGs, Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2, both of which were shown off during their press conference yesterday. Take a look below.

Dragon Age: Origins

This appears to be one of the bloodiest, one of the most scandalous, and one of the most graphic RPGs of recent memory, and EA makes no apologies for it. In fact, they are releshing in it, as the above trailer so poignantly depicts. And I have to admit, I'm a little intimidated by it.

Dragon Age: Origins will be available for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on October 20, 2009 in North America.

Mass Effect 2

The follow-up to 2007's critically acclaimed science fiction WRPG, Mass Effect 2 looks to be shaping up to outdo its predecessor in every category. Perhaps its only downside is that we have to wait until 2010 to play it.

The above footage really only plays the pre-E3 trailer that we have already seen, which is a little disappointing, but I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more about the game as the year presses forward.

Mass Effect 2 will be available for PC and Xbox 360 early next year in North America.

APB (All Points Bulletin)

Finally, EA announced that a strategic parterniship with Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds in order to publisher their upcoming gangs vs. cops MMORPG, APB. Origjnally announced for both Xbox 360 and PC, only the PC version has been confirmed so far. Since it's EA we're talking about, a release on multiple consoles in the future is definitely possible.

Unfortunately, we have no word on a release date other than '2010.'

It should also be noted that EA is publishing BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, though details are still very slim.

Monday, June 1, 2009

E3 2009: Watch Final Fantasy XIII Gameplay in English

During Microsoft's E3 press conference this morning, some time was taken to show off Square Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy XIII for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Though the area was the same area available in the recent Japanese PlayStation 3 demo, the footage released today at the conference showed the game with its English voice track and running on an Xbox 360.

Though the video was short, the voice acting was very impressive. The video quality isn't perfect, so I can't be 100% certain, but it looks like the voices actually fit the facial movement. Impressive if true.

Final Fantasy XIII was confirmed for a Spring 2010 release in North America.

Final Fantasy XIII was the only RPG shown at Microsoft's press conference. There go my hopes for a Mistwalker announcement at E3. :(

RPGs of the Week: Nightmare of E3 Edition

For anyone who might have forgotten, this week is E3, one of the biggest video games industry expositions of the year. With a return to the large format show of yesteryear and rumors of big announcements from all sides, it's little surprise that there just aren't very many games shipping this week, especially here in North America.

That said, here are the RPGs shipping to retailers for this week (June 1 - 5, 2009):

North America
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years - Square Enix - WiiWare
Knights in the Nightmare - Sting, Atlus - Nintendo DS

Arc Rise Fantasia - imageepoch, Marvelous - Nintendo Wii
Lineage II: 2nd Throne: Extra & Ultimate Pack - NCSoft - PC

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - Ascaron, Deep Silver - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Star Ocean: The Last Hope - tri-Ace, Square Enix - Xbox 360
Valhalla Knights - K2, Rising Star - PSP

Knights in the Nightmare and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years will be hitting retailers this week in North America while most North Americans game-savvy enough to know about these games will be no doubt preoccupied with E3.

Japan grabs imageepoch and Marvelous' Arc Rise Fantasia, which indeed looks worth its price of admission, as well as a Lineage II expansion.

Europe gets Sacred 2 for consoles and Valhalla Knights 2 for PSP. They also finally get Star Ocean 4, which is a big recommendation for anyone who enjoys action-JRPGs.

Anything looking worth your cash this week?

Pre-E3 2009: Square Enix Announces Front Mission Evolved, is not an RPG

Publishers just can't wait for the show floor this year, it seems, as Square Enix has stepped up to announce it's second North American developed project: Front Mission Evolved for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Traditionally a mech-based SRPG series, Evolved takes the series in a new direction and gives it some new developers. Being handled by Double Helix (the studio recently responsible for Konami's Silent Hill Homecoming), Front Mission Evolved will be a mech-based action/shooter title, putting players into the driver's seat of their very own Wanzer.

The game will reportedly allow for a level of Wanzer customization, though how true it stays to the series has yet to be seen.

Since this is not an RPG, we will no longer be covering it, but it's nice to see Square Enix branching out a bit. Hopefully this wins them some new fans and doesn't alienate the current ones. (What am I saying? I don't know any avid Front Mission fans.)


Pre-E3 2009: Koei Tecmo bringing Trinity Zill O'll Zero to North America

Wow, that was fast. Just revealed for Japan last week, Koei Tecmo announced Friday that it would be bringing Trinity Zill O'll Zero to North American PlayStation 3s as well.

Though no release date has been given yet, the game will still apparently release under the Koei brand, but will be given a name change to Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll for the North American market.

Koei Tecmo will reportedly be showing the title off at E3 where we hope to see the game in action and get a release date.

Trinity Zill O'll Zero will be available for PlayStation 3 sometime this Winter in Japan.

Pre-E3 2009: XSEED bringing Lunar PSP and Valhalla Knights Wii to North America

Late last week, XSEED Games announced their full list of titles that they are planning to show off at E3 starting tomorrow. The list featured several RPGs, some we have known about, others we didn't. Instead of trying to remember what's new and what isn't, I'll just post their list below.

-Lunar: Silvar Star Harmony (PSP)
-Half-Minute Hero (Yuusha 30) (PSP)
-Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)
-Arc Rise Fantasia (Wii)
-Little King's Story (Wii)
-Ragnarok Online (DS)
-Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga (Wii)

Lunar and the new Valhalla Knights were news to me, so I thought I'd mention it.

There is currently no word on North American release dates for any of the above titles.