In February, Hironobu Sakaguchi told Famitsu magazine that his studio, Mistwalker, was developing a title for the Nintendo DS. Today, Sakaguchi proudly showed off what had been previously hidden behind closed doors: ASH.
ASH – Archaic Sealed Heat – is about an ancient sealed flame. Anyone who is burned by this flame turns to ash; while the person's body becomes ash, their heart and memories remain and they can be revived. Queen Aisha, the main character of ASH, must solve the mysteries of the dead coming back to life, buried secrets, and time-travelers from the future.
Sakaguchi labeled ASH as a simulation RPG – his favorite genre – and said that he is filling the game with twenty years' worth of his ideas. His staff, however, says the game has "team tactics," so it appears that the game will synthesize simulation and tactical gameplay. ASH will also put the DS to work by using 3D graphics and displaying battle scenes on both screens. While the bottom screen shows the perspective around the character, the top screen will display the overview of the field.
It was also announced that ASH is being backed by notable talent in the game development industry. Hitoshi Sakimoto, whose lengthy resume includes the music of Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Breath of Fire V, is composing the game's music. Final Fantasy art veteran Hideo Manaba is serving as the character designer, although this is his first endeavor in character design. He has also worked as the Art Director for Final Fantasy VI, IX, and XII, and he worked in the art departments for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Super Mario Brothers RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
ASH will be released sometime next year in Japan. A North American release has not been announced. More details should surface in the future, so keep watching RPGamer for updates.