Friday, November 20, 2009

Square Enix Formally Announces Estopolis

Teased last week, Square Enix, via the recent issue of Weekly Famitsu, has broken word on the revival of the Estopolis/Lufia series. Currently titled The Land Cursed by the Gods: Estopolis, the game is being handled by developer Neverland, who are most recently notable for their Rune Factory titles for Marvelous.

As previously feared, the game is indeed a DS remake utilizing God-awful DS 3D, though it is a remake of Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, rather than the original Lufia. Despite being a remake, however, Estopolis is receiving a fairly extreme make-over, making the jump from traditional turn-based battles to action-based role-playing. Additionally, the character designs have all been revamped. For instance, the slicked-back hair and traditional armour of the game's lead, Maxim, has been ditched for a modern spikey mop and a leather jacket. Changes in the other characters are similarly notable.

Besides the character and battle system changes, it seems that the gameplay will also be changing to involve more action-oriented puzzles and interactive dungeons.

The basic plot appears to remain the same at this point, with Maxim and his friends eventually standing up to face the threat of the Sinistrals. However, how close Neverland will stick to the original's script is difficult to determine at the moment.

Finally, Estopolis will also feature some 3D cell-shaded FMVs, which look extremely nice, and make the terrible DS graphics all the more noticeable. It's too bad the developers chose not to use a console and make all the graphics look like that.

While I suppose its nice to see the Lufia series return after all this time, I am never pleased about handheld titles taking preference over consoles.

What about you? Are you excited to see Lufia II remade as a modern action-RPG on the DS? Were you expecting/hoping for something else?

Estopolis will be available for Nintendo DS on February 25, 2010 in Japan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RPGs of the Week: Puzzled Princess Edition

The RPG news continues its slow, slow trickle this week, matched by a very slow release schedule. If you are absolutely dying to play something new this week (November 16-20, 2009), check out what's coming to a system near you.

North America
Gyromancer – PopCap, Square Enix – PC, XBLA
King’s Bounty: Armored Princess – Katauri, 1C – PC

Lineage: Episode 1 Memorial Package – NCSoft, E-Frontier – PC
Monster Finder – Alpha Unit – Nintendo DSi
Wizardry: Seimei no Kusabi – Genterprise – Nintendo DS

Divinity II: Ego Draconis – Larian Studios, dtp – PC, Xbox 360
King's Bounty: Armored Princess - Katauri, 1C - PC
League of Legends – Riot, THQ – PC
Pokemon Mysterious Dungeon: Explorers of Sky – ChunSoft, Nintendo – Nintendo DS

Europe probably has the best looking lineup this week with Divinty II for 360 and PC, the perhaps slightly not-well-known PC title, King's Bounty: Armored Princess, the MMO League of Legends, and the latest Pokemon.

Japan gets the DSi title Monster Finder (which utilizes the machine's built-in camera), a repackaging of the MMO Lineage, and the DS revival of the Wizardry series.

North American gamers will have to settle this week for a puzzle-RPG from PopCap and Square Enix downloadable for Windows and on XBLA. They can also muscle in on Armored Princess if they so desire.

Anything looking interesting to you this week?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Final Fantasy XIII gets a North American/European Release Date

If you like Final Fantasy, you may be pleased to hear that Square Enix has finally gotten around to giving the 13th main installment of the enormously popular JRPG series a release date outside of its home turf.

In a special press release issued today, Square Enix has confirmed that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Final Fantasy XIII will be released simultaneously in North America and Europe on March 9, 2010, a mere 3 months after the Japanese PS3-only release.

Among story and gameplay tidbits revealed in the press release, it is interesting to note that Square Enix has licenced the song "My Hands" by Leona Lewis to replace Sayuri Sugawara's "Kimi ga Iru kara" (lit. "Because You are Here") as the game's theme song in the West. Currently, it is unclear whether or not the Japanese language track will be included in the Western release.

It's nice to see Square Enix working hard to get the game into our hands sooner than later, though I'm never a fan of dropping original content out of localizations.

[Square Enix]

Square Enix Resurrecting Lufia

In the latest issue of Famitsu, Square Enix took an opportunity to tease a new (?) title in a series thought to be forgotten forever: Estopolis.

Though the name Estopolis may not readily be recognizable to many of you, certainly RPG fans old enough to remember gaming on the Super Nintendo will likely recognize its Western name: Lufia.

Currently, Square Enix has shown nothing but a logo accompanied with the tag, 'The Land cursed by the Gods,' and a single piece of concept art. Whether or not this is a truly new installment of the series, or nothing more than a port or remake remains speculation, as does the game's target platform(s).

Optimistically, I would like to think it to be an actual new entry on HD platforms, but the cruelty of this generation cautions me to remember that the vast majority of JRPGs are on handhelds. A DS 3D remake from Matrix (the studio behind the Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV DS remakes) seems (unfortunaltey) highly likely.

I'll keep my fingers crossed if you will, though.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RPGs of the Week: The DS Returns Edition

Whoa. Where have I been recently? Actually, in all honesty, the RPG scene is really depressing me lately.

...And I guess by "lately," I mean "the majority of 2009." Maybe you disagree with me (and that's totally fine), but after 2008, the meager offerings of 2009 have felt so disappointing that it's all that I can do to even check the newest issue of Famitsu.

Sure, there have been a couple of bright spots, like Star Ocean 4 and Magna Carta II, but in general, everything feels like a port or a portable title this year. That's great for people who like ports and portable titles, but I don't happen to be one of them. Sure, there are a few more console RPGs announced that even look good, like End of Eternity, Final Fantasy XIII, Tales of Graces, and Ar Tonelico III (to a lesser extent), but they are all 2010 titles.

Now, I suppose that the relative lack of interesting titles (in my mind) is probably a blessing in disguise, as I don't have as much disposable income this year as I did in 2008, but it doesn't make it feel any better.

Okay okay. So I'm being a little whiny about this. I know. I'll try harder.

Anyhow, for this week's RPG releases, you might see a system that has been uncharacteristically quiet lately make a return to its place of domination. Yeah, the DS. Woo.

Check out what's hitting shelves this week (November 9 - 13, 2009) around the world:

North America
Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection – Square Enix – PC, Xbox 360
Harvest Moon DS: Sunshine Islands – Marvelous, Natsume – Nintendo DS
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade – Marvelous, Natsume – Nintendo Wii
Phantasy Star Zero – Sonic Team, Sega – Nintendo DS
Spectral Force Genesis – Idea Factory, Ignition – Nintendo DS

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers – Square Enix – Nintendo Wii
Final Fantasy XI: Vana’diel Collection 2 – Square Enix – PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2
Hexys Force – Sting, Atlus – PSP
Lunar: Harmony of Silver Star – GameArts, GungHo – PSP
Rockman.EXE: Operate Shooting Star – Capcom – Nintendo DS

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World – Namco Bandai – Nintendo Wii

Yep. The DS is back in the spotlight with over half of this week's NA releases: Spectral Force Genesis, Phantasy Star Zero, and another Harvest Moon. Meanwhile, Harvest Moon: Animal Parade hits the Wii, and what has to be the 100th Final Fantasy XI collection sees 360 and PC release.

Japan, meanwhile, gets some much cooler titles with Crystal Bearers for Wii, a new MegaMan RPG for DS, Atlus and Sting's Hexys Force for PSP, and GungHo's Lunar remake for the PSP. Oh, and that same FFXI collection is seeing Japanese release this week as well on 360, PC, and PS2 (for all those people who just can't give up MMOs on PS2. ...what?).

Europe, meanwhile, gets Tales of Symphonia 2 fashionably late. Like, very fashionably late.

Anything worth it for you this week?

P.S. Sorry I missed last week's list. Probably the game that most of you care about on that list was Dragon Age: Origins, which I'm told is about as quintessential BioWare as it gets.