Braving the dangerous streets of San Francisco (and their maddening parking structures and pricing, 23 dollars for 3 hours, THAT IS AWESOME) I made my way to Vessel in the heart of the shopping district just a slight north of Market in hopes of getting to see the latest titles coming from NIS America. Besides walking away with a new pink prinny of the Disgaea cannon I left with a great sense of excitement for the titles that will be hitting the US shores in just a few short months. NIS America has now publicly announced the following titles that will be out over the course of the summer. Grim Grimoire for the PS2, an RTS, Soul Nomad, a strategy RPG with a lot of interesting twists, Dragoneer’s Aria for the PSP, and lastly Disgaea for the PSP.
The first title I got to check out was the title that NIS was hoping would rope in some more casual gamers. Titled Grim Grimoire the game is an RTS developed by Vanillaware known for their “Princess Crown” title for the Sega Saturn and “Odin Sphere” for the PS2. Grim Grimoire is a very colorful game and I feel like saying that is an understatement. It looks really nice and has a lot of interesting looking character designs, which is evident by the character portraits that have an almost eerie movement to them when the characters are speaking with each other. Game play wise this game feels more like a game of chess than an actual RTS. From the little bit of time I got to actually play this game, I had a large cluster of fairies trying to fight off ghosts, and then a large dragon appeared and made a mess of things, the system follows a rock-paper-scissors mentality where certain types of magic are strong against another type but have a corresponding weakness. Controls were the biggest surprise as it was really intuitive to select units and get them around the map. Another interesting thing about this is how the game is not displayed in the typical top-down style. Instead it is a cut-away of a giant tower with a number of portals that the user must control and tap for assets. The game’s story looks like an interesting cross between a Harry Potter book and the movie classic, Groundhog Day. As our heroine Lillet Blan repeats the same five days at her school so she can figure out the how and why all of the other residents of the school have been killed and to prevent it from happening. Look for this title in the early summer around June.
Next up for the PS2 is the newest entry in NIS America’s long line and catalog of Strategy RPGs. “Soul Nomad & the World Eaters” (Soul Cradle in Japan) takes a lot of conventional rules for a strategy RPG and decides nuts to that noise. For in Soul Nomad you’ll be able to cheat in a number of ways in order to destroy your foes. One of these interesting cheating facets to the game is that you can become powerful enough to defeat the final boss within about twenty minutes in to the game. Or you can steal from any of the townspeople, or kidnap them if you feel so inclined to make them join your army. Depending on how you decide to gain strength in this game also affects the story. Let’s say you did want to become powerful enough to take out the end boss right away. Then you are going to be trading your soul for power. The amount of your soul that you give up will indeed have some bearing on the story.
Battle takes place on a grid, and you designate your troop battalions with preset battle commands and once you and your foes clash it will switch to a real time attack setting. One other interesting thing to note is that you don’t really need to level up any time you make a new character, as they can become as immediately powerful as the main character. So no more useless grinding to get your characters buffed out. Unfortunately there was no playable demo available on the show floor, but this title will be hitting during August 07, so be sure to check back here later for a preview.
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