Koei recently unveiled its new Game Boy Advance RPG, Houshin, and like most games developed by the company it
is based heavily on Chinese mythology. Specifically, the epic Fengshen Yanyi is the primary inspiration for the story. In Houshin the player assumes the role of Sky, who is charged by God to defeat monsters
and devils that are infringing on a once-peaceful human world. There are, of course, insidious machinations that must be thwarted,
in this case the devils' plan to compound ancient treasures in order to revive the evil queen Tengei. If reconstituted in the human world, she
will lead the dark forces to ultimate conquest.
Treasure hunting is paramount in Houshin, as items found throughout the game's world can be synthesized into powerful treasures used for casting
magic and summoning gods. The game is said to contain myriad secrets, and up to four players can link-up and scour the world for treasure simultaneously.
The game also has link-up features with a GameCube version of Houshin, Battle Fengshen, which is said to emphasize the action elements to the GBA's more
traditional RPG gameplay. Linking allows the player to engage a scenario in connection with the hero of the GameCube version and possibly receive a rare, hidden
item that can be used to further power-up accumulated treasures.
Both versions of Houshin are scheduled for a spring 2002 release in Japan. Houshin for the Game Boy Advance (the Magical Fengshen version) is priced at
5,800 yen, or approximately $44.00 US. Koei is also developing a PlayStation 2 RPG in the same series, titled Houshin Engi 2, which was announced last November.