Sunday, May 24, 2009

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.

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