A recent posting on the Shadow Hearts III: From the New World official site boasted both character updates and some information regarding the title's battle scheme. One of the characters mentioned had been revealed in several previously released screens, but the others were completely unheard of up until this point. Be forewarned: the fourth paragraph of this article contains a spoiler for Shadow Hearts: Covenant
The first character mentioned was Natan, a 35-year-old Native American. He accompanies Shania everywhere, continually referring to her as "Princess." A skilled warrior, Natan is dangerous whether he wields a gun or simply opts for hand-to-hand combat; however, he dislikes unnecessary conflicts and makes a great effort to avoid them. Rather laconic, he is often received as being much colder and indifferent than he actually is. Despite this terse behavior, the few words Natan decides to utter are always full of wisdom and should be heeded with strict rigidity.
The next character revealed was Ricardo Gomes, a 27-year-old wandering musician. Used to living as he pleases, his behavior has labeled him as bit of a womanizer, but he has learned when to keep his hands to himself and avoid trouble. During his years of traveling, he has added some unique "improvements" to his guitar for protection. Despite his tendency towards wandering, Ricardo has spent the last few months playing at the same small bar in Chicago. There's a rumor going around that this awkward behavior is due to his love for the local mob Don's daughter.
The final character disclosed was Lenny Curtis, a 40-year-old steward. He was formerly a member of Sapientes Gladio and the leader of the Iron Claws in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. In From the New World he deals with all of the paperwork for Johnny's detective business during the day, while serving Johnny as a butler at night. His rather uncommonly large build frightened many of the neighbors at first, but once his polite disposition was discovered he became one of the more popular citizens of the area.
As far as battling goes, the Judgement Ring will return once again, this time accompanied by several interesting additions to the scheme of things. One such addition is tech "Stock Gauge," which will be displayed as a bar beneath each character's HP/MP count and will fill as the character deals and receives damage. A number, located in a circle above the right hand of each bar, dictates how many times the bar has been filled, twice being the maximum. When players decide to utilize any built up "stock," they can perform any number of double-actions; however, the actions must be different, e.g. attacking and using an item. Stocking is also useful for combos, as it allows players to automatically link two characters' turns. Of course, since the player has this ability, the enemies will as well, although certain attacks can lower an enemy's stock bar.
The other addition to battles is the implementation of different "hit zones;" that is, each opponent will possess between one and three of said zones, each labeled as either low, middle, or high. Every attack executed by the player will strike in a specific zone, and if attack it utilized against a zone that doesn't correspond with its own, it will count as a miss. Thus, a high attack against an enemy possessing only middle and low zones would be completely ineffective.
Shadow Hearts III: From the New World will be released in Japan this summer. As of yet, a North American release has not been scheduled, but rest assured that RPGamer will report this, or any other news should it surface.