In an interview with Famitsu magazine, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has divulged numerous new details on ASH, the upcoming Nintendo DS RPG from Sakaguchi's MistWalker company.
As previously reported, the story of ASH stars Queen Aisha and involves an ancient sealed flame that turns to ash any who touch it, though their heart and memories are unaffected by the transformation. Sakaguchi has now elaborated further on the plot. Queen Aisha's castle is destroyed in a fire, and she is the only survivor. However, her servants are revived in ashen form. Despite the pain in their hearts, they feel a strong sense of duty toward the queen and so they accompany her on her quest to uncover the mysteries of the Archaic Sealed Heat. In addition to the ash characters, who function as units in the strategy RPG's battles, the game will have over twenty named characters.
Sakaguchi also expounded on the gameplay of ASH. The game will be controlled exclusively through the stylus to maneuver characters across a grid-based map and dictate their actions through menu commands. Sakaguchi claims that ASH will play out half like a traditional RPG and half like a strategy RPG. The game's grid-based map will be displayed on the bottom screen, while the top screen displays character closeups. In battle, the top screen will allow the player to view the allied characters, while the lower will show off enemies and the command menu.
Previously, Sakaguchi has stated that he wanted a very realistic look for the game, and he has now detailed how, exactly, this will be accomplished. Avoiding 2D and polygons, ASH will incorporate pre-rendered CG in its battle sequences, giving the game what its producer has termed a fresh look which looks crisp and clean on the DS's small screen.
Sakaguchi revealed that he has discussed with Nintendo the possibility of making ASH a series, but he also delivered a bit of bad news: the game is still early in its development cycle, and is still a year away from completion.