The Aksys Games panel, while not packed to the gills like some panels at Anime Expo this year, had a good-sized crowd of fans eager to see what new title from Japan was going to be announced. That's sort of the interesting thing about Aksys Games; you never really know what you're going to get from them. After all, we've gotten fighting games (BlazBlue), RPGs (Record of Agarest War), adventure games (999), and shmups (DeathSmiles). To me, there was a definite sense in the air that we were going to get something unexpected.
And Aksys did not disappoint. They wasted no time in showing the trailer for their first new title, Fate/Extra for the PSP. Instead of the same setting as in the Fate/Stay Night visual novels, Fate/Extra takes place in a parallel world. Like in Persona 3 Portable, players can choose to play as a female or a male protagonist. They also have their pick of three different servants to use in battle: Caster, Saber, or Archer. From there, you spend time socializing and leveling up your servant, and then ultimately taking on other enemy servants and their masters. Aksys plans to release Fate/Extra in a boxed form and over PSN. There will also be a special edition version of the game as well.
Aksys kept the momentum up with the trailer for their second new title. Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, an otome visual novel for the PSP, is not technically the first otome game ever to be brought to the US. However, if attendees at Anime Expo are anything to judge by, it has a pretty strong fanbase. The game follows Chizuru Yukimura, a young women living in Japan at the tail end of the Edo period who is searching for her father. It turns out that the Shinsengumi, a kind of special police force at the time, are also trying to find Chizuru's father. They decide to take her under their protection, and as Chizuru you get to take your pick of the many gorgeous men available so you can pursue a relationship with them. ::insert dreamy sigh here:: Oh yeah, and find your dad. Cause that's important too.
With beautiful art and strong Japanese voice talent, this game has good potential for success. Not to mention the general curiosity the title will garner in those anime fans who Hakuoki is geared towards but haven't until now gotten the chance to play an otome game. I mean, I'm definitely in that category and there's no doubt I'll be picking this one up. As with Fate/Extra, Hakuoki will be released physically and also over PSN, and there will be a special edition available.
After the two game announcements was the Q & A. Besides the general questions about Hakuoki and Fate/Extra (plus an amusing scene where one of the attendees offered a peanut butter sandwich to one of the panelists), several questions about getting more Guilty Gear games were brought up. One person asked if there might be a BlazBlue/Guilty Gear crossover fighting game at some point. The response to that was that BlazBlue's story is not yet finished, and until it is the creators don't want to do a crossover game. Someone even queried if Aksys might be able to bring over the Operation Rainfall most wanted trio: The Last Story, Xenoblade, and Pandora's Tower. As I understood it, Aksys brings over third party titles, and since the three mentioned games are all first party, no dice there.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in this panel. Aksys Games made a definite strong impression on me with their intriguing choice of new titles and the general great rapport that they had with the attendees. It's really no wonder how Aksys Games has managed to earn themselves such a tight knit legion of fans. Now that I've seen it first hand, I have no doubt it's well deserved.