When it was announced in early 2001, the revelation that Namco and Monolith Soft (the latter being a development house comprised of many of the same people who worked on SquareSoft's classic 1998 title Xenogears) were working on a new title called Xenosaga, it confirmed rumors that had been running rampant throughout the gaming community at the time: that SquareSoft's beloved Xenogears would see a sequel. While it didn't exactly turn out to be a sequel per se, with the Xenosaga series only being loosely based on the SquareSoft RPG it borrowed its moniker from, it created excitement within the community nonetheless with promises that the series would be a truer adaptation of what Xenosaga director Tetsuya Takahashi originally wanted to achieve when directing Xenogears. In the game's infancy, it was announced that the series would span six titles. However, with an official announcement of Xenosaga III: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Also Sprach Zarathustra in German) within the latest edition of Famitsu also came the revelation that this third installment in the console-based Xenosaga series shall be its conclusion.
As for details of the game itself, it has been confirmed that the same cast from the previous titles will return, though in what capacity is currently unknown. The game will also employ a new character illustrator in place of Kunihiko Tanaka, who had filled that position for both Xenosaga: Episode I and Episode II, as well as for Xenogears. The plot will take place one year after the events of Episode II, with Zohar Emulators making a return, mech battles containing more mechs and attacks, and the inclusion of more ES units. Further, a dialogue tree system will be present for talking to people on the field screen.
While the new information concerning the newest Xenosaga title and the series' future will no doubt be the biggest story to come of this feature to many, Xenosaga I + II was also announced for the Nintendo DS, which is looking to be a remake of the first two Xenosaga titles for the handheld. The battle system is said to be based on Episode I's battle system with a "PF System" added on. The gameplay will be complimented by recreation of some cutscenes using the in-game engine, with others using an FMV format. It is said that this title is being made to prepare people for Episode III. Whether or not this title is one in the same with Xenosaga DS, which has been announced for quite some time, is unknown, but it seems likely.
Other Namco-related news to come out of Famitsu this week is the announcement of a sequel to last year's card-based RPG, Baten Kaitos. Information pertaining to this title isn't as abundant as it is with the various new Xenosaga games however, with only its development for the GameCube being confirmed, as well as a Japanese release in December.
None of these titles have been confirmed to be shown at the Tokyo Game Show starting on September 16. That said, if any new information concerning these titles comes to light at Japan's most prestigious gaming show this weekend, RPGamer will be reporting straight from the show to bring you the latest.