Only a few weeks remain between now and the Japanese release of Shadow Hearts III: From the New World. It is at this late hour that Nautilus has decided to unveil the special abilities inherent to each of the title's characters, along with several other details concerning the battle system.
The special abilities are as follows:
- Johnny/Handy Tools - In classic series form, the technology characteristic to pre-WWII America will play no part whatsoever in Shadow Hearts III. The tools available to Johnny include, among other things, a cell phone and a flash camera. The phone, whose fashionable appearance is not unlike modern models, is very useful in tight spots. Simple give Lenny a ring and he'll come to your aid, delivering the beating of a lifetime to your opponents. The camera serves two purposes: players can either take pictures of their enemies and thusly learn their data specifics, or they can trade in their pictures for neat stuff at the local collectors' shops.
- Shania/Harmonixer - The resident harmonixer of this latest installment, Shania will have several elemental fusions at her disposal. As was previously disclosed, one of these fusions is Ta Tanka, the earth elemental. Thunderbird, most likely the air elemental, can now be added to her roster of fusions as well.
- Hilda/Magical Arts - Much like her brother Joachim's abilities in Shadow Hearts II: Covenant, Hilda's skills are rooted deeply in personal metamorphosis. By ingesting calories stolen from enemies, Hilda can transform between Slim Hilda and Fat Hilda, the latter of which is a kinder, gentler, and much larger version of herself. Once Hilda has become Fat Hilda she can use the calories from her excessive girth to execute the Magical Arts. One of these Arts, Grand Slam, will be rather familiar to series fans.
- Ricardo/Serenade - Depending on which song he plays, Ricardo can either utilize the hidden armaments in his guitar to damage enemies or boost the party's stats with inspirational melodies.
- Frank/Ninja Arts - Not surprisingly, this aging ninja will call upon his masterful skills to perform such feats as summoning giant, glowing shuriken for enemy decimation.
- Mao/Drunken Mastery - This giant cat makes good use of her hard-learned abilities. For example, when a foe is defeated with the technique "Cat Touch" players will be rewarded with "Nyan-koins," which are somehow linked to the movie in which Mao is starring.
- Natan/Gun-fu - Natan's special ability is rather straightforward and involves the use of multiple gunfightning techniques to dish out damage.
Special abilities aside, several other pieces of information regarding the new "Stock System" have surfaced. As was previously mentioned, the stock gauge for each character will fill slightly whenever damage is dealt or received. When the bar has been completely filled once, the character has one stock. Players intending on building up massive amounts of stock, be forewarned: the gauge can only be filled twice. When a stock of at least one has been accumulated, players will have a choice of executing either a "Combo" or "Double" command.
The Combo option plays out much like it did in Shadow Hearts II. Once this option has been selected, players must complete both a judgment ring and a separate combo ring. Upon the completion of these rings the second character for the combo -- who must also have a stock of at least one -- must be selected and the same two rings must be completed again.
The new addition to the command list, the Double option, will enable a character to perform two actions in one turn. These actions, however, must be different; that is, one cannot attack twice in the same turn. The actions must be a combination of attacking, magic casting, and item using. Also, players will not have to complete two separate rings to execute a Double command, as all the hit areas have been mashed into one ring. While this might sound like an advantage, remember that if all the necessary areas aren't hit, only one -- or none -- of the two actions will be executed.
However powerful these commands might sound, patient players will be rewarded with an even greater command: "Double Combo." Although it works much like a regular Combo, Double Combo enlists the abilities of four party members, and as such requires every one of them to have two stocks built up. Like the four-person combination attack in Shadow Hearts II, Double Combo gives the final participant the option to cast the ultra-powerful "Combo Magic." To make use of this magic, though, the character will need both a large accumulation of MP and a completely filled stock gauge.
To even out the playing field Nautilus has given the Stock ability to enemies as well, but this doesn't mean players can expect wave after wave of devastating combo attacks. One must simply utilize the "hard hit" attack type to stop combo attacks in their tracks, as it will knock an enemy's stock gauge back a whole charge. This doesn't mean it can be used flippantly and without consideration, however, as it will also deplete the character's gauge by half.
Shadow Hearts III: From the New World will become available in Japan on the 28 of July. No mention of a North American localization has been made thus far, but RPGamer will keep you posted should this information arise.