Saturday, May 30, 2009

Development on Atelier Rorona More or Less Complete

Been a little busy to update due to work, but things have calmed down now so I have a little more chance to update things here. Now, it seems like this is turning into a Gust/Compile Heart blog but I assure you that's not the intention. 3 niche games from those 2 companies are approaching completion so it's inevitable that there's a lot more information about them cropping up.

That said, on the Atelier Rorona's developer blog, it's mentioned that the staff is on a short holiday to relax from work. There will be a lot of things to do once the staff returns, but it's explicitly mentioned that the tasks on hand will not be related to Atelier Rorona at all. Whether it will be for Trinity Universe or the new Playstation 3 Gust game project is unknown.

Unless a similar issue with Atelier Annie occurs with Atelier Rorona where materials used for the limited edition paper weight doesn't meet new materials safety laws in Japan, it looks like the game itself will not be delayed. The preorder allotments for the premium box set and Gust store limited edition premium box sets are sold out in Japan so if you were looking to get the premium box set, I recommend you order soon from your online import shop of your choice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Atelier Rorona Review (preview?) Surfaces

Original source c/o the usual weekly GK (sony) fanboy on 2ch.

**If you'd like to use this translation or paraphrase it, please have the decency to give credit where credit is due.

From the July 2009 edition of Gemaga

Atelier Rorona is an RPG which has a puzzle-esque aspect in which you gather materials and transmute them within a limited amount of time to pass various exams set forth. As long as you clear these exams which crop up on a regular basis, you're free to do what your heart desires, whether it be helping townsfolk out and earning money, gathering mats and transmuting left and right or what not. Thus, the amount of freedom granted to the player in this game is extremely high.

Because exams are designed so that
you're able to clear them in a just barely a timely manner, I told myself often, "I can do this with just a little more time!" and ended up prolonging my play time.

The alchemy system is simple, but for those that want to delve into more of it, there is an advanced system prepared as well so gamers new and old to the Atelier series will be able to enjoy this game easily. In addition, the musical score contains some amazing tracks. Highly recommended.

Recommended for these types of gamers:
People that are looking for a game which has a LOT of replayability
People who like Rorona's character design

Agarest Senki ZERO Event Video Up

Event video for Agarest Senki ZERO is now available at the official homepage. The comical chaos presented is an improvement over a lot of the events in the original. If you enjoyed the first installment of this game, it appears as though the prequel will add another layer of entertainment on top of it.

Video available for your viewing below as well if you have problems navigating the website.

Agarest Senki ZERO Trailer up on PSN-Japan

Not a new trailer if you've seen the promotional video on the official website, but if you've wanted to see it in high-def, then head on into your PSN Japan account and rummage around with new arrivals. There should be an entry that looks like アガレスト which is what you would want to download.

Release is scheduled for June 25th alongside Atelier Rorona and BlazBlue in Japan.

If you don't have a PSN Japan account, you can find instructions here or you can view the video down below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Atelier Rorona Gameplay Details Surface

Some new details for Atelier Rorona have surfaced in what I believe is this week's Dengeki issue.

There will be 3 different task types that Rorona can accept:

Government exams
Request from townsfolk
Request from friends

As you may or may not already know, Atelier Rorona is based around the premise that the Alchemy Atelier that Rorona has taken the reins of will eventually be shut down by the government of Arland due to inactivity. To keep the Atelier alive, Rorona is required to submit to government exams every 3 months.

Requests from townsfolk range from item synthesis to eliminating monsters and leads to trust and positive rating from townsfolk when successfully completed. The UI is designed so that it is easy to see how many of each items and what not are required for the quest.

And finally, friends you meet in the town will occasionally have requests for you to fulfill which not only lead to income, but also strengthening the relationship between Rorona and her friends. Various events and endings will be reliant upon these types of relationships throughout the game.

The bald weapons merchant makes another appearance with the name Hageru Baldness. For those that know Japanese, you might get a small chuckle out of that.

Trinity Universe Website now Open

Finally, back to some of the more niche games from Japan.

Trinity Universe Official Homepage is now open. While there's not much information available, the known characters and their VAs are listed as well as some details of the two story lines in the game.

A 3 party cross-over RPG featuring characters from Disgaea (NIS) and Atelier Viorate (GUST) as well as a few Idea Factory originals, characters from their respective developers are the protagonists for two separate story lines dealing with space debris polluting the underworld.

Featuring Noriko Shitaya as Viorate, Tomoe Hanba as Etna, and Asuka Tanii as Pamela. Release date is set as September 10th in Japan. Whether this gets localized or not probably will hinge heavily on how Cross Edge, which was released today, does in terms of sales.

Dengeki PS Nomura Interview Cliffnotes

Dengeki Nomura Interview Summary (not verified)
-There will be some type of announcement in the game archives in the future
-Not involved in FF13 much anymore; design, voice recording, and marketing only
-Currently focusing on Versus and Agito
-Agito's battle system has taken on a form different from previously shown battle scenes
-Even though it's on PSP, Agito aims to be the pinnacle of this generation (of handhelds?)
-Third Birthday can be played through the prologue
-Looking forward to the final product
-Looking to create a masterpiece
-Versus members are more or less the same as FF7 members and everyone is working very synergistically
-Synergistic team isn't making compromises, so the quality is naturally going up
-I try to audit the progress, but because everyone is auditing themselves very severely, most problems are cleared at lower levels
-Currently testing battle system and map gimmicks (?)
-Town lighting test for day and night were inspected and it felt as though the town really existed in front of me
-I really want to show, right away, character's actions when they're left alone for a while
-Please wait a little bit longer for new Versus information. Once we get to a certain point, I will show you something very surprising
-New images/videos(?) for FF13 will be shown at E3

Edit: From the limited text I could read, it appears that a good portion of the above are valid.

Famitsu (5/26/09): Next MGS, yet another new PS3 RPG

Will update as more info becomes available.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2
Idolm@ster Dearly Stars (DS)
No More Heroes 2 (Wii)
Game with No Name (DS)
Trinity Zill O'll Zero (PS3): 1, 2, 3, 4

Nomura Interview Cliffnotes
FFXI to PS3 Dengeki PS cover

edit: Apologies...the Dengeki interview appears to have just been a sound producer interview with the front cover being, for one reason or another, a huge FFXI based cover.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Few New Clips from Atelier Rorona Soundtrack

3 tracks from Atelier Rorona are embedded in the official site. A track listing for the 2 CD original soundtrack, as well as some preview clips are available at the OST homepage.

I've gone ahead and compiled the 45second clips into one video here. Track listing can be found underneath the video.

0:00~ 森の散策 / A Stroll in the Forest
0:45~ 困ったときは相談してね / Talk with me if you're Troubled
1:30~ 父と母 / Father and Mother
2:15~ Ultimate Rondo
3:00~ 地下に眠る基地 / A Base that Slumbers Underground
3:45~ ひなたぼっこ / Sunbathing
4:30~ 水辺の詩 / Poem of the Shore
5:15~ いいコトあるかも / Something Nice Might Happen
6:00~ 古代樹の鼓動 / Heart Beat of the Ancient Tree
6:45~ Nose Dive
7:30~ Eyes of the Dragon

Typical GUST fare which conveys the light hearted nature present in most of their games. If you enjoyed the Mana Khemia soundtrack as well as the non-vocal Ar Tonelico soundtracks, you'll most likely enjoy the music Atelier Rorona has to offer as well. Scheduled to go on sale on June 24, a day before release of Atelier Rorona

Sunday, May 24, 2009

GUST Starts Development of New PS3 Title

Buried amongst other things in this weeks news, it appears GUST has started development of a new, yet-to-be-announced, Playstation 3 title. Details are scant, but a new banner appeared a few days ago on, which is a Gust run informational website about their games.

While most without Japanese knowledge might be quick to dismiss this as being fake due to the hiring banner displaying Rorona from Atelier Rorona, translated, the banner states that Gust is quickly looking for programming applicants coinciding with the start up of a new Playstation 3 game project.

With Atelier Rorona scheduled for release on June 25 and Trinity Universe being headed up by Idea Factory and being ~60% complete as of a few weeks ago, it's highly doubtful that this is for either of those two titles. With Mana Khemia being part of the main Atelier series of games, that most likely eliminates a possibility of a Mana Khemia sequel as well, bringing hope that this may be the next installment in the Ar Tonelico series or a completely new IP.

Like with most companies, they're also always accepting applications. If you're fluent in Japanese, have a background in sales & marketing or scenario writing, and are interested in Gust as well as living in Japan, why not go ahead and send them an application?

Active Animation System in Agarest Senki ZERO and Trinity Universe

Perhaps you've heard of Agarest Senki, also known by the name Record of Agarest War or Agarest: Generations of War. It was a niche SRPG by Compile Heart / Idea Factory that was released on the PS3 in October 2007 and approximately a year later for the Xbox 360. While sales figures weren't amazing by western standards, the PS3 release had a rumored break-even budget of 3000~4000 copies sold, and ultimately went on to sell slightly shy of 15k copies.

More known for its "soul breed" system where characteristics of future generations of protagonists depended on who prior protagonists "bred" with, the game itself didn't feature anything technically groundbreaking. It had a solid story line, a complex and enjoyable battle system, amazing replayability, and gorgeous 2D character designs which saved this game from mediocrity. In reality, for the niche that the game was targeted at, it ended up being quite good.

The 2D character design use standard fare in the sense that they were static and facial expression changes were a result of a new image being redrawn. However, in the prequel, Agarest Senki ZERO, a 2D graphical system dubbed "Active Animation System" (AAS) has been incorporated into the adventure portion of the game which allows for a more natural looking change in facial expressions of the characters.

The AAS appears to be similar to the "Motion Portrait"(MP) system used by Namco-Bandai in games such as "Tora Dora Portable!" and "The Promise of Suzumiya Haruhi". Due to the fact that "Motion Portrait" is not mentioned on the official website, it is thought that the AAS is different from the MP system with both accomplishing the similar tasks. To note, it is also thought that Trinity Universe, another upcoming RPG from a trifecta involving Idea Factory, as well as Gust and Nippon Ichi Software, will be utilizing a variant of the AAS, dubbed "Active Animation Adventure" (AAA). Preliminary information in a recent Famitsu mentions that AAA will feature qualities similar to AAA, but going a bit further in also incorporating graphic symbolisms of emotion which are used throughout anime.

See below for a few examples of the AAS in action with the first generation heroines of Agarest Senki ZERO.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welcome, and a few details

Hello and welcome to my blog~

This blog will primarily be focusing on import games from Japan for HD consoles; in particular, those that would normally go unnoticed by western audiences. However, I'll try to cover general gaming news coming out of Japan as well to the best of my abilities.

Expect gaming clips, live broadcasts, and in some cases, tutorials in addition to text entries. For those that are interested, my video capture setup is indicated below, so you can expect to see some decent quality videos and screen caps:

CPU: AMD Phenom 9500 (quad core)
Video: nVidia GeForce 6800GT
RAM: 2GB DDR2-800
HD Capture: Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro
Storage: 500Gb Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 x2 in RAID 0
OS: Windows 7, Build 7100

Sample video

Sample Screencap
Click for full size image

Also, feel free to visit my channel for occasional live broadcasts. A tentative calendar of events will be up in a few days time.

Ciao for now~