Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nintendo to Publish Dragon Quest IX in North America

So, Dragon Quest. It's kind of a paradox. While it is unquestionably the biggest JRPG series in Japan, and fiercely defended by JRPG purists around the world, its presence outside of Japan is niche at best, unmemorable at worst.

Though Square Enix has tried several times to make the series relevant to North Americans, their recent effort with the DS remakes has been with an air of resignment. "Westerners just aren't interested in Dragon Quest," seems to be the attitude, and many fans have been worried that Dragon Quest IX might be passed up for localization completely.

But with over 4 million copies sold in Japan, it appears that Nintendo isn't interested in letting this one slip under the radar, and has announced that they will be assuming publishing duties of the title on this side of the Pacific.

Though Nintendo claims that they have formed a "unique partnership" with Square Enix to make this happen, Microsoft and Ubisoft have made similar partnerships to publish titles Square Enix wasn't interested in (Project Sylpheed and Drakengard 2 respectively, if anyone is counting).

Though Nintendo has yet to announce a formal release date, they have promised that the game will be out sometime this summer for Nintendo DS, and will be released as Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies.


Monster Hunter 3 gets a North American Release Date, Free Online

Nintendo held a press event today called the Nintendo Media Summit, where they've shown off and announced release dates for several of their 'core' titles.

Among the list of (mostly) first and second party offerings, Capcom made an appearance to talk about the long overdue North American release of Monster Hunter 3 (pronounced 'Monster Hunter Tri' for reasons still unknown). Released last summer in Japan, MH3 was a game Nintendo hoped would draw core gamers back to their white box of waggle, and though the game enjoyed decent sales, it wasn't the phenomenon the PSP titles were in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Regardless, it appears that Capcom has decided to allow North American gamers to hunt monsters alongside their Japanese counterparts this Spring.

Like the Japanese version, the North American release will be fully playable with a classic controller and be able to utilize the WiiSpeak peripheral for chat online with friends/co-players. However, Nintendo and Capcom are aware that Monster Hunter is not popular on our side of the ocean as it is in its native land, and have announced that Monster Hunter 3's online functionality will be available for the very agreeable price of FREE.

For those interested in trying before buying, a demo disc is set for release exclusively from GameStop/EBGames on March 8, 2010.

Monster Hunter 3 will be available for Nintendo Wii on April 20, 2010 in North America. It is already available in Japan.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

RPGs of the Week: Awake and Rebellious Edition

Well, this is the last week of February. It seems like it went much faster than January (for me anyway). With that in mind, check out your last fix of RPGs before March hits.

Here are the new titles hitting shelves during the week of February 22 - 28, 2010:

North America
Last Rebellion – Hit Maker, NIS America – PlayStation 3
Risen – Piranha Bytes, Deep Silver – Xbox 360

Arc Rise Fantasia (Minna no Osusume) – imageepoch, Marvelous – Nintendo Wii
Borderlands – Gearbox, Microsoft – Xbox 360
Demon’s Souls (The Best) – FromSoftware, SCEI – PlayStation 3
Estopolis: The Land Cursed by the Gods – Neverland, Square Enix – Nintendo DS
Fushigi no Dungeon: Fuurai no Shiren 4: Kami no Hitomi to Akuma no Heso – ChunSoft, Spike – Nintendo DS
Grand Fantasia – Aeria, Cyberfront – PC
Kin’iro no Corda 3 – Koei – PSP
Oboro Muramasa (Minna no Osusume) – Vanillaware, Marvelous – Nintendo Wii
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Mugen no Frontier EXCEED – Monolith, Namco Bandai – Nintendo DS
Tales of Symphonia: Ratatosk no Kishi (Minna no Osusme) – Namco Bandai – Nintendo Wii
WiZman’s World – Jaleco – Nintendo DS

Adventures to Go! – Global A, Zushi – PSP
Fable II (Classics) – Lionhead, Microsoft – Xbox 360
Puzzle Chronicles – Infinite Interactive, Konami – Nintendo DS, PSP
White Knight Chronicles – Level 5, SCEE – PlayStation 3

Yikes! That's a lot of stuff!

Japan gets a tidal wave of stuff this week including the 360 version of Borderlands, Neverland and Square Enix's Lufia II remake/reinvention, the sequel to the busty turn-based Super Robot Taisen OG Saga, Jaleco's second attempt at an RPG, a for-girls dating sim/music RPG, yet another MMO, the fourth DS Shiren the Wanderer, and a small fortune of budget reprints. (Whew)

Europe takes distant second this week with amount of new RPGs, scoring Global A's Adventure's to Go, Infinite Interactive's Puzzle Chronicles, and Level 5's White Knight Chronicles. Fable II is also getting a budget reprint for those who have been holding out for the cheap.

By contrast, North America nabs only two titles, with Piranha Byte's 360 Risen port, and Hit Maker's Last Rebellion.

Anything looking worth it this week?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Xenoblade First Look

Famitsu has recently pulled back the curtain on Monolith and Nintendo's upcoming Wii RPG, Xenoblade to give us a taste of what's to come. The taste is not a big taste, but it is enough to possibly wet your appetite.

The article focuses on an interview with one of Monolith's bigwigs, Tetsuya Takahashi, who answers questions and expands on the game's world, its gameplay, and content. The article is unfortunately too blurry to make a full translation viable, but it is notable that the game will apparently use a real-time battle system. Expect more coverage as information becomes available.

UPDATE: Nice scans GET! Translation requests now accepted.

Xenoblade will be available for Nintendo Wii sometime this Spring in Japan.


RPGs of the Week: Ragnaroky Edition

Alright, I'm behind this week, so let's just barrel straight into this. Here are the RPGs hitting shelves this week (February 15 - 20, 2010):

North America
Aveyond: The Lost Orb – Amaranth – PC
Ragnarok DS – GungHo, XSEED – Nintendo DS

Classic Dungeon: Fuyoku no Masoujin – Nippon Ichi – PSP
Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu: Legendary Saga – Kadokawa Shoten – PSP
Gensou Suikoden Tierkreis (Konami the Best) – Konami – Nintendo DS
Hyakuman-ton no Bara-bara – Acquire, SCEI – PSP

A Farewell to Dragons – Arise, KranX, Excalibur – PC
Half-Minute Hero – Opus, Rising Star – PSP
White Knight Chronicles – Level 5, SCEE – PlayStation 3

North American gamers get the DS version of the 'casual' MMO, Ragnarok Online, as well as the next iteration of the indie Aveyond series.

Japan gets a ton of portability this week with a dungeon crawler for Nippon Ichi, a weird patchwork title I've never heard of before, an anime spinoff, and a budget reprint of Suikoden Tierkreis.

Europe, meanwhile, gets the charming Half-Minute Hero, the late-coming White Knight Chronicles, and an action-RPG for PC.

Not a bad haul for a single week. Nothing for me, but a decent showing overall.

Anything for you this week?

End of Eternity gets a North American Release Date

As previously reported, Europe got its End of Eternity (AKA Resonance of Fate) release date confirmed last week, and as expected, North America's was announced (albeit very quietly) right afterward.

And, similarly to Europe's release, tri-Ace's 3rd current gen RPG will be hitting North American Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3s mid-March. Yes, right after Final Fantasy XIII.

I don't know if I should tip my hat to Sega for their sheer bravery or shake my head sadly for their apparent stupidity. Whether or not you think End of Eternity is going to be better than FFXIII is really a moot point, as either way FFXIII is clearly the heavyweight of March.

I'll be buying both, but I have learned that I am a clear minority amongst gamers.

End of Eternity will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as Resonance of Fate on March 16, 2010 in North America and March 26, 2010 in Europe.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

X10: Microsoft Announces Final Fantasy XIII Xbox 360 Bundle

UPDATE: According to Gamekyo, Europe will actually be getting two 360 bundles. In addition to the previously announced black Elite bundle, European gamers will also be given a white 'Super Elite' bundle that will come with the Special Edition of the game instead of the standard edition.

So, uh, still no Special Edition for NA, then? :(

Rumored earlier this week, Microsoft has
taken a moment at their currently in-session press conference, X10, to announce a Final Fantasy XIII Xbox 360 bundle.

For North America, the bundle will include a white 'Super Elite' 360 console (250GB HDD), 2 wireless controllers, all the usual wires and accessories, a 'standard' copy of FFXIII, and exclusive FFXIII-themed Avatar items.

Seeing as no 'special' or 'limited' edition has been announced for North America yet, it seems strange for Microsoft to specify that a 'standard' version of the game will be included. Hmmm...

Europe will also be getting a FFXIII 360 bundle, but it will be a black Elite (120GB HDD) with the same contents.

In addition, there will be several limited FFXIII white faceplates distributed across North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Finally, Microsoft has announced that Xbox 360 is the only console that will receive a Final Fantasy XIII bundle outside of Japan, which is a pretty big deal considering its current 'exclusive to PS3' status in Japan.

The bundle will launch at the same time as the game on March 9, 2010, and will retail for $399. If I didn't have a 360 already, that would actually be a pretty sweet deal.


End of Eternity gets a European Release Date

So Sega is publishing tri-Ace's third 7th generation RPG, End of Eternity. Unlike previous tri-Ace games, EoE is a gun-based title with only 3 playable characters. Additionally, it is the very first tri-Ace title to get a true multiplatform release.

Though the game was released last month in Japan, Westerners have had to do with a vague promise that the game will someday be released to us too, albeit under the strange name Resonance of Fate.

Sega of Europe has recently - and very quiety - revealed the game's European release, along with its cover art. And that release is much earlier than many expected, apparently due late next month!

Though Sega of America still lists the game for 'Spring 2010,' North American and European release dates for 360/PS3 titles have gotten much closer to each other, often no more than a week apart. We expect Sega of America to announce something soon, but until then, planning your calendar around late March is probably a good guess.

Though its proximity to Final Fantasy XIII seems to seal its fate as second fiddle for most gamers.

But, hey, I never claimed to understand Sega.

Resonance of Fate will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 26, 2010 in Europe. It is already available as End of Eternity in Japan.

[Sega UK]

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ninety-Nine Nights II Scan has Playable Characters in it

It's been a while since I've posted some scans (mostly because I haven't been able to find them online much anymore), but I recently ran across some N3II scans, so here they are!

The scans cover several gameplay points, including character specific abilities and learnable skills, as well as different types of soldiers that can be added to your army. However, the main topic of interest in the scans is the characters.

Three of the game's main characters are shown, one of which is confirmed to be playable: Zaji the dark elf, who fights alongside the game's hero, Glen, and is also the elven queen Sephia's cousin. Additionally, Lyn, the little girl from the TGS trailer has been revealed to be a survivor from the destroyed village of Tramont, saved by Glen and Zaji. Finally, apparently one of the game's antagonists, Galdo is a grand sorcerer who has shown great talent in leading troops, and fights on the side of the Army of Night.

Ninety-Nine Nights II still has yet to receive a solid release date, but is still planned for a 'Spring 2010' release in Japan and North America for Xbox 360.

Big Fable III Announcement at X10 will Apparently Piss You Off

After a quiet couple of years, Microsoft is bringing their own personal press conference back to life this year with X10, held this Thursday (February 11, 2010) in San Francisco. The publisher has promised several announcements, some of which have been vaguely described as "big" or "exciting" or other PR-speak equivalents.

This much is not news (yet).

However, one announcement we have already been told to expect is one related to Lionhead's upcoming Fable III, which is due sometime this year. Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux - generally infamous for brash statements and over-hype - told Game Reactor last week that many gamers may not be happy about it.

"There's some very, very big things happening in Fable III, and it's really going to upset people. I'm really scared when I go out and tell people what it is [that] they're going to get super pissed off. They really are."

Well, I'll make sure I'm sitting down for it.

Personally, my guess is that Fable III will require Project Natal, which I can definitely see pissing some people off. But since I also expect the next Zelda to require Motion Plus, I don't see it as that big of a deal. Unless of course Natal will cost $100+.

Any speculations?

[Game Reactor]

BioWare and EA Have Big RPG Plans for 2011

2010 is just getting started and we already have a high volume of really great RPGs, but that hasn't stopped EA from talking about how awesome next year is going to be.

Though BioWare's Star Wars MMO is also planned for 2011, EA apparently isn't given them any breaks as a new Dragon Age title is planned for early next year, as well as "something far reaching" for Mass Effect - whether that "something" is Mass Effect 3 or something else is hard to determine at the moment.

Either way, EA seems eager to keep BioWare's titles flowing, and after their recent RPGs, I can't find a good reason to disagree.


Monday, February 8, 2010

RPGs of the Week: Wandering Edition

Welcome to a new week!

There are new RPGs hitting shelves this week (February 8 - 13, 2010), and you can check out what they are below! Convenience!

North America
N.E.O. Online – Sonov, PlayOMG – PC
Shiren the Wanderer – ChunSoft, Atlus – Nintendo Wii
Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope International – tri-Ace, Square Enix – PlayStation 3

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel – Ascaron, Spike – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Bleach: The 3rd Phantom – Sega – Nintendo DS
Phantasy Star Zero – Sega – Nintendo DS
Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope International – tri-Ace, Square Enix – PlayStation 3

Atlus brings some dungeon crawling love to the Wii with the now-pretty-old Shiren the Wanderer, while yet another MMO enters the oversaturated fray with N.E.O. Online.

Europe gets a couple of DS RPGs from Sega, while Japan will have to be content with on an old B-grade WRPG this week.

And PS3 owners in North America and Europe can now pick up a year-old Xbox 360 RPG port courtesy of Square Enix. Yay?

With Valentine's Day on Sunday, my wallet is glad I won't have to buy any games this week. ;)

Anything for you guys?

Alpha Protocol Delayed Yet Again

Obsidian Entertainment is a developer that I have a hard time really associating a strong identity with. For a long time they've really been in BioWare's shadow, picking up where they left off on already established IPs.

Alpha Protocol - a modern day spy RPG - was to be their first true original title (even if the comparisons to Mass Effect diluted that claim to fame), and many fans in 2009 were eager to see what Obsidian is capable of with (mostly) their own ideas.

Well, 2009 has come and gone with neither head nor tail of the fabled 'better than Mass Effect' RPG, and now ME2 is already out. What's a developer to do?

Delay the game again, of course!

According to publisher Sega, the delay(s) have been to "polish the game up" and "position it better." The extra year plus has apparently been spent on "tweaking" in things like lighting and inventory management, but I personally have a hard time believing any such things require as much time as it has taken.

Fear of the competition is probably a more honest reason, but what company in their right mind would say that, right?

Either way, the game is now apparently scheduled for 'Summer 2010' on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. We shall see.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas gets an Ambiguous Trailer, Ambiguous Release Date

If you are like most Western gamers, you probably really liked Fallout 3. It had a lot of things in it that Western gamers like: guns, nuclear bombs, a post-apocolyptic setting, open world exploration, moral choices, endless dialogue trees, and a heavily brown and grey colour palette.

Bethesda Softwork's first self-published title, it is also probably their biggest, and no money-respecting company would be foolish enough to ignore big franchises. Thus, we were teased last year that developer Obsidian was working on a new Fallout title, set on the other side of the once-was USA, in a city called New Vegas.

No other details were given at the time, but Bethesda has raised the curtain on a new CG trailer that really sheds no light on the subject at all. It also came with an incredibly vague 'Fall 2010' release date announcement, for whatever it's worth.

I personally never could get in to Fallout 3, and so you'll have to excuse me if I'm not falling all over myself over a short, pointless trailer like the rest of the internet seems to be. But at least they're consistent with the style of the series.

Planned for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, we are sure to hear more details sooner than later with a 'Fall 2010' release scheduled.

...Speaking of Obsidian, are they ever planning on finishing Alpha Protocol or what?

[Bethesda Softworks]

NIER Dated in North America

That was quick. Just a few days after Square Enix announced the Japanese release date for Cavia's upcoming action-RPG NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Replicant, the company's North America branch has done the same.

As previously noted, the North American version of NieR will only be Japan's Gestalt version, and the game's official spelling on our side of the world is apparently NIER (like it matters, but there you go).

The game will launch in North America on April 27, 2010 on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, a mere 5 days after its Japanese release.

Given Cavia's reputation, NieR could either be extremely interesting or extremely boring, but will almost assuredly be far from mainstream. I'm hoping for at least interesting.

[Square Enix]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Final Fantasy XIV Headed to Xbox 360?

According to Square Enix employee Yuuki Akama's LinkedIn profile, Final Fantasy XIV is in development for Xbox 360 on top of its already confirmed PC and PlayStation 3 iterations.

Though not an official announcement by any means, this information is hardly surprising considering Square Enix's comments on the title at last year's E3, hinting that the game could indeed show up on any console.

Since Square Enix and probably Microsoft would rather you hear about this apparently big news from them officially, the LinkedIn profile has been hastily removed, so we'll go ahead and label this one with a trusty RUMOR tag.

Just try to act surprised when someone makes a big deal out of the official reveal.

Final Fantasy XIV has been announced for release sometime this year for PC and PlayStation 3.


Final Fantasy XIII 360 Version to Ship on 3 DVDs

After a Gamefly listing for Square Enix's upcoming PS3/360 RPG Final Fantasy XIII tipped off the gaming public that the much-debated RPG would be shipping on 3 discs for the Xbox 360 version, fanboys on both sides of the line went wild for probably the 10 millionth time over the game.

VG247 followed up with Square Enix, and was told that the game will indeed fill 3 dual-layer DVDs when it ships to North American and European retailers next month.

Depending on your view of disc-swapping, this could be good or bad news, or not news at all.

Some feel that disc-swapping is an out-dated work-around that should no longer need to exist in an increasingly lazy world, while other, more nostalgia-oriented gamers enjoy the opportunity to gauge their progress by how many discs they have finished. Still others don't see why this is a big deal either way.

I happen to personally fall in the third category. Many 360 RPGs - and, indeed many RPGs in even the last generation - required disc swaps. My feeling is, if they need to span multiple discs to fit the whole game in, shouldn't we just be happy that there is so much content? Is the physical act of swapping out discs really such a critical issue in the enjoyment of a game?

That said, I admit I enjoyed swapping the discs in Lost Odyssey because it gave me a sense of acheivement, while I hated the disc swapping in Star Ocean 4 because it felt like the developers just threw the swaps in wherever they felt like it (like in the middle of gameplay).

But honestly, either way, is it really a big deal? People will buy the game for whichever console they have, or whichever console they prefer. Disc swapping will have little, if anything to do with it.

Final Fantasy XIII will be available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on March 9, 2010 in North America and Europe. It is already available in Japan for PlayStation 3.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NieR Dated in Japan

Cavia's upcoming hack-n-slash action-RPG, NieR, has been given an official Japanese release date by the publisher, Square Enix.

The story of a father trying to find a way to cure his young daughter from a mysterious plague (or a brother doing the same for his young sister, depending on which version you like), Cavia has stated that the game is an attempt to appeal to Western audiences, and will feature more blood and mature subject matter than many other Japanese RPGs. (I'm not sure blood and sex are truly the best way to make a game sell, but then, I'm not every gamer.)

As previously noted, there will be two versions of the game in Japan, each exclusive to either Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, titled NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Replicant, respectively, while North American and European gamers will only get NieR: Gestalt for both platforms, titled simply NieR.

Both NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Replicant will be available on their respective consoles on April 22, 2010 in Japan. Square Enix has yet to specify a date for North America or Europe beyond 'Spring 2010.'


Koei Tecmo Delays Trinity: Zill O'll Zero Indefinitely

With a rough financial year for nearly everyone last year, recently merged Koei Tecmo has posted some heavy losses. Despite these pressures, or perhaps because of them, a couple of games slated for Japanese release next month have been postponed indefinitely.

One of the two is their upcoming PlayStation 3 hack-n-slash action-RPG, Trinity: Zill O'll Zero (to be known as Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll in North America). This is at least the second delay for the game which has dropped on and off the radar sporadically over the last year for no given reason.

Why the title has been put on the back burner is anyone's guess, but it is likely along the same lines as the excuse for the other postponed title: quality improvement.

Trinity: Zill O'll Zero's release has been changed from 'March 2010' to 'TBD.' We'll let you know when Koei Tecmo announces a new release date.


Tales of Graces to Get a Summer 2010 Release?

According to the Official Nintendo Magazine (the Nintendo Power of the UK), Namco Bandai will be bringing the latest iteration of the Tales of series, Tales of Graces, to Europe sometime this summer.

One of the biggest JRPG series in Japan, the Tales of games and their fanbase in the West have been repeatedly slighted or overlooked completely by Namco Bandai, with only 1 in 3 Tales of games ever seeing the light of day outside their home country. With little rhyme or reason to which Tales of games are allowed a chance in North America or Europe, many feared that the recently released in Japan Tales of Graces would be similarly forgotten.

While the ONM article provides new hope that an English release may be in the cards, many North American Wii owners are already very aware that Europe has repeatedly got the better end of the stick with Nintendo this generation, having received bundles and games that Nintendo of America seems bent on preventing.

Though the Tales of Graces article offers few details, the 'Summer 2010' release date alone is welcome news to many eager fans, and hopes for an official announcement from the publisher have been renewed.

(Thanks to GameFAQs user tylerx27 for the scan)

Monday, February 1, 2010

RPGs of the Week: Late Knight Edition

It's a new week and a new month all at the same time today, and that means new RPGs!

January was quite good, and with this week's offering, it looks like February will be keeping up with that trend.

Check out what RPGs are available this week (February 1 - 6, 2010):

North America
Global Agenda – Hi-Rez Studios – PC
Legends of Exidia – GameLoft – DSiWare
Puzzle Chronicles – Infinite Interactive, Konami – Nintendo DS, PSP
Star Trek Online – Cryptic Studios, Atari – PC
White Knight Chronicles International – Level 5, SCEA – PlayStation 3

Moe-Moe 2-ji Taisen(ryaku) 2 – SystemSoft – PlayStation 2, PSP
Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope International – tri-Ace, Square Enix – PlayStation 3

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days – NIS Europe – PSP
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers – Square Enix – Nintendo Wii
Legends of Exidia – GameLoft – DSiWare
Star Trek Online – Cryptic Studios, Atari – PC, Xbox 360

North America starts out the month with a couple of new sci-fi MMORPGs for the PC, Star Trek Online and Global Agenda, along with the portable version of Puzzle Chronicles, and Sony's original first-party PS3 JRPG, White Knight Chronicles (which has taken more than its sweet time getting over here).

Japan gets the PS2 and PSP versions of an obscure SRPG, as well as the PS3 port of last year's Star Ocean 4.

Europe meanwhile gets Square Enix's first real attempt on the Wii, The Crystal Bearers, the PSP port of Disgaea 2, and both PC and 360 versions of Star Trek Online.

Additionally, the first DSiWare RPG (that I am aware of, at least), Legends of Exidia, is hitting both Europe and North America this week.

Nothing really striking to me this week, though I may give Puzzle Chronicles a spin just to check it out.

Anything for you this week?