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Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham's 2009 Halftime Report
2nd Half
Games Not
to Overlook
1Demon's Souls
2Adventures To Go
3Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
4Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy
5MagnaCarta 2

While the rest of this feature talks about the most wanted RPGs overall, I just wanted to take a minute to point out games that RPGamers (even our own staff) are likely to overlook if they're not careful. These games were not among the overall staff picks and are in danger of being ignored by the rest of the populous if they don't look close enough. As much as I want to continue to pimp Little King's Story, it was at least in the top picks and it's already out, so go get it. As for the rest of the year, the first half was so dull I couldn't come up with five games to talk about, so here are the games you need to not ignore during the rest of the year.

My first pick is Demon's Souls. Sadly, the game is getting a reputation as a game that is too hard. People are also scared that other players online can come into your game and kill you. What they don't understand is that the game is balanced and designed for just those situations. It's not a game where you go charging in head first, die, and see a game over screen. And you will not have to deal with griefing. It is a game where you cautiously progress throughout the stage, die, and learn from your mistake (and others' mistakes as well). The online component is there to create a more immersive experience, not to bring you pain. While Demon's Souls is more of a hardcore experience than lots of other titles out there, it's not a game to fear. You will learn to enjoy and make the best of death, and in turn you will become a bringer of death in your own right.

The next two titles are ones that I fear might be overlooked on the portable market. First up is the PSP title Adventures To Go, a game developed by Global A, the creators of Dungeon Maker and My World, My Way. Much like those prior titles, Adventures To Go focuses on creating and modifying your game world, but the major difference here is that the combat takes place in simple tactical RPG form. While it's likely to be quite a long game, the unique spin on the combat system hopes to breathe new life into the "create your own adventure" process that Global A is known for.

Next on the list is the DS puzzle RPG title Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. This game is a mix of puzzle elements combined into a tactical RPG and looks to have the same kind of Puzzle Quest addictiveness. Battles in this adventure will have players lining up units from one of five different factions to out damage their opponent, so the connection feels more personal than just moving around a bunch of gems. Add to that the classic Might & Magic world and you have what could truly be a stand out game in the second half of 2009.

Closing this out are two console titles. We all know that new PlayStation 2 RPGs are becoming something of a rarity, especially with retailers not really having a strong desire to carry older games. That doesn't mean you should count the PS2 out though, because from what little I played and what more I've read about Mana Khemia 2 makes me think you should stand up and take note. Fast combat, alchemy, a dual story line, and the fact that it won't have a Wii counterpart like Sakura Wars will makes me think you should at least think about closing out your PS2 collection with this one.

Finally, we have MagnaCarta 2. This is a game thought long dead by most, but was resurrected this year in Japan just shortly before Namco Bandai confirmed it for North American release. One of the biggest reasons I think you should be on the lookout for this game is because of how little is being said about it. It doesn't really seem to be a top tier game for Namco Bandai, so it's not getting months and months of marketing, but it still seems like it will be solid. Our E3 2009 impression was quite favorable with lots of good things being said about the combat system, so it might be a sleeper hit instead of a big flop like the original game. After all, Xbox 360 exclusive RPGs have been few to come by this year, so you might as well try it.

1st Half
Japanese RPGs
We Need
1Shining Force Feather
2Growlanser
37th Dragon
4Dungeons and Dam
5Dragon Quest IX

I'm going to reach a little here, especially in terms of my time frame, but considering all we've seen come out in Japan within the last little while, there are a lot of games that we still need to have some confirmation on for North American release. So here are my top five games that are out in Japan and that we need to hear something official on over here.

Without a doubt, the game I most want to see cross the shores that has yet to have any kind of confirmation on is Shining Force Feather. Though not developed by the team that did the original tactical Shining Force games, I do tend to enjoy games from Flight-Plan. This isn't your standard grid-based tactical RPG. It's an interesting spin on the subgenre and one of the first Shining Force games in around a decade to return to the series' roots. I'm hoping that someone picks this game up for localization, as I'm seriously doubting Sega's desire to do so.

Next on the list is the PSP remake of the original Growlanser. While this game is developed by Atlus Japan, Atlus USA has been quiet about it so far despite announcing and showing off the Persona PSP remake that was featured around the same time. I still hold by my guns that Atlus USA will bring this title over despite the fact that they've only brought one of the other six here. I say just give them some time and fans will get their wish.

Third on the list is another game that apparently Sega USA isn't in any rush to bring over here, if at all. From some of the development staff behind Etrian Odyssey comes imageepoch's 7th Dragon. It takes a slightly different approach than EO, as you're no longer just mapping and fighting your way through dungeons, but venturing after the dragons of the world. Its unique art style for its characters and hardcore gameplay mechanics make it a game that might be more suited to a publisher that works more on niche titles than Sega's more mainstream focus.

Another very niche and quirky RPG that I would like to see would be Dungeons and Dam. This RPG from Acquire will have players not only venturing through dungeons, but also unleashing dams to flood enemies in combat. Ever since I read Michael Baker's import review, I've been very curious to try this out. With NIS America and Atlus USA having brought out some of Acquire's other strange games, I'd say we still have a strong chance of seeing this one stateside.

Rounding out my list of Japanese RPGs that we need to see in North America is the recently released Dragon Quest IX. While I have no doubts whatsoever that we will see DQIX make it over here, it's still quite saddening to not have a release date or even official confirmation of its release. I know it just hit in Japan only days ago, but after selling over three million copies since release, I would love to at least have an idea of when we'll be seeing this one to know if I should import it or just be patient.

Much like I've heard from others, this second half of the year has been a lot easier to pick from than last year. My personal picks for my most wanted RPGs are: Dragon Age Origins, Hero's Saga Laevatein Tactics, Sakura Wars ~So Long, My Love~, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, and Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment. I picked those without much thought, but that doesn't mean that I'm not interested in others. Especially those I listed in my section on games not to miss out on. Who knows, maybe come January we'll all be looking back and thinking of how great it was not to be flooded with too many RPGs after all.

- Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham
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