Another week, another batch of items making news in Japan and other places abroad. The past month has seen several European developers come out of the woodwork with RPGs in development. Both JoWood's Gothic II and Times of Trouble, from French developer X4, have surfaced of late, and promise to bring gamers a fresh perspective on the genre -- assuming they ever make it to North America. If not, then European RPGamers will finally have a little revenge for all the late release dates they're forced to endure.
- More European news starts out this week's import tidbits. Development house Arxeltribe is working on a PC title with an unusually realistic setting. Mistmare will be set on an Earth which didn't have the benefit of an industrial revolution. The year is now 1996, and the world is a place without technology. Players will assume the role of the monk Isador, who must travel across Europe to track down a man branded anti-Christ and murderer by the church.
The game will incorporate action, RPG, and adventure elements, and features a deep story, immersive gameplay.There will over eighty characters players can interact with, set against the backdrop of a continent of cities that have not known contact with each other in generations. Terrains will be lifelike, with realistic weather effects and a time-management system players will be forced to follow in order to succeed. The game is still relatively early in development, as no release date has currently been set.
- Moving to Japan, the first news item concerns Square's entry into the fashion market. This refers, of course, to the Tidus pants that will go on sale there sometime this July. The pants are fashioned after those worn by the lead character in Final Fantasy X, and feature a wide array of zippers to allow wearers to customize the overalls. With a 40-centimetre waist and length varying from 165 to 175 centimetres, the pants, which are fashioned from nylon, should be on the top of every cosplayer's shopping list. That is, of course, assuming they're rich cosplayers; the pants have a steep price tag, selling for 28,000 yen, or roughly $220 US.
- Back into the world of games, fans of Sony's inaugural PlayStation 2 offering, Dark Cloud, will have a sequel on the horizon. Entitled Dark Chronicle, the sequel will follow the stories of a young boy named Uris, and a girl named Monica. The events are set a hundred years following the story of the original Dark Cloud, and the game is currently shaping up to be rather similar to its predecessor; both the diorama system and the automatic dungeon generation return to this entry. What will be different will be Dark Chronicle's graphics; shaded cartoons, similar to Namco's Klonoa 2 will be used in the title, which has yet to be confirmed for North American release, nor even given a Japanese date.
- The prolific Banpresto is churning out yet another Super Robot Taisen entry. The popular robot battle simulation series will be showing up this time on the Game Boy Advance, in the form of Super Robot Taisen R. The titular "R" stands for "Reversal", although apparently for no particular reason; Banpresto did not elaborate upon what this was intended to mean. Events in the game are set during a one year war, and a number of new features have been included in the title; animation skipping and an instant gamesave feature, the likes of which is becoming ubiquitous for Game Boy Advance titles, are among the prominent changes. The gamesave feature is so extensive it is even possible to save during dialogue and animations, which is even further than most games with this feature have gone.
Robots making an appearance in this iteration will include those from Nadesico OVA, Getta Robot Neo, Gear Dendoh, Gundam X, and a number of original robots created by Banpresto itself. There has been no release information revealed at this time, and chances are good the game will never see North American shores.
- The Swan Crystal rumours reported last week have turned out to be true. Bandai will launch the portable in Japan on July 12 for 7800 yen, ($61.00 US, approximately) as revealed earlier. 500,000 units of the handheld will ship, in red and blue models. The screen will go from the 2.5 inches WonderSwan Color boasts to 2.8 inches, and the unit will support four-channel stereo sound. With fifteen hours of battery life for a single AA battery, as well as compatibility with all previous WonderSwan Color titles, Bandai should have no trouble moving the Swan Crystal. Just in case, though, the company will put out a total of eleven games over the summer months, including five RPGs: SD Gundam g-Generation, Front Mission, Promised Ground Rivera Fantasia, Arc the Lad: Machine God Resurrection, and Gransta Chronicle. Gransta Chronicle and Front Mission will sell for 5200 yen (approaching $41 US) and the other three titles will go for 4980 yen ($39 US exactly). Gransta Chronicle will be out on June 13, and SD Gundam will present the longest wait with its September release date.
- Skip, a developer out of Japan, will showcase the title Giftia - A Day of E at E3 next week. Development on the title is being headed by Kenichi Nishi, a former Square employee whose credits extend back to the days of SNES glory, where he was instrumental in several of Square's big name titles. Little is known about the game currently; no screenshots or information have been divulged, so next week's unveiling at E3 will truly be the game's first real taste of publicity. Skip is looking to release the game sometime this year in Japan, and while no North American release has been confirmed, one should not be ruled out, given the game's presence at E3.
- When Suikoden III hits stores on July 11 in Japan, gamers there will have the opportunity to pick up a limited edition version of the game. Konami's online store, Konami Play, will sell the Genso Suikoden III Konami Style Premium Set, which will include a four-CD soundtrack, a clear CD case, two mousepads, a doll, and a metal plate. The special version, exclusive to the developer's online store, will sell for 8800 yen, or just shy of $61 US.
- Microsoft recently managed to lure a rare Japanese developer into working on a game for its system, which has been met with indifference in Japan. Otogi is under development by the folks at the cleverly named From Software. The name, which translates to "fairy", apparently has little to do with the plot, which is being touted as dark fantasy. Gameplay will primarily consist of 3D, action-based battles, which will allow players to take out not only monsters, but also the buildings around them, if they so desire. Otogi is currently slated for a Japanese release towards the end of the year, and may slip into 2003.