September 24, 2008 // 10:03 pm
- Yesterday Ushiro
for PSP was announced by Level-5, and today they have unveiled another four titles as well.
For those who didn't know, Level-5 is the independent Japanese developer who was worked on everything from early PlayStation 2 RPG Dark Cloud to the world-beating, epic Dragon Quest VIII.
The games set to be unveiled, as profiled by this week's issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine, are as follows:
Ninokuni: The Another World
(Nintendo DS, with an port to an unspecified console also planned) is an RPG starring a 13-year-old boy who's invited into a magical fantasy land by a spirit, a world eerily close to Earth that's under the rule of a dark sorcerer.
There he hopes to deal with the issues that haunt his life, not the least of which being that he was responsible for his mother's passing not long ago. This project is no doubt the biggest announcement of the day, mainly thanks to one small detail: Studio Ghibli, Japan's most famous animation studio, is working on Ninokuni's animated sequences, the first time the company has ever provided original work for a video game.
(PSP) is a build-and-fight RPG with more than a passing resemblance to Nintendo's Custom Robo series. In the game world, people build and customize small battle robots called LBXes, then duke it out with friends in special miniature battlefields made from cardboard reinforced to weather combat damage (the game's title literally means "Cardboard War Machines" in Japanese). You'll take up the role of a new hobbyist in the field, searching for rare parts and trying to become the best robo-fighter in town.
Inazuma Eleven 2
(Nintendo DS) is the sequel to the Level-5-produced soccer RPG that just came out in Japan last month. Once again, you'll be leading a middle-school soccer team as they try to save the world from a new, alien soccer menace. Seriously. As before, it's equal parts JRPG exploration and fast-action soccer sim.
Professor Layton and The Last Time Travel
(Nintendo DS) is the third game in the Layton series, one with the usual full new set of puzzles and characters. The Professor receives a strange letter one day claiming to be from his assistant Luke ten years in the future. Tracking its source down leads to a scientist creating a new, working time machine, one that sadly goes haywire and throws the Prime Minister of England and his wife into some unknown spot in time-space. Can Layton rearrange matchsticks and stuff quickly enough to save them?
(PSP) is a first for Level-5 -- a horror RPG. You play Reiichiro Ushiro, a newly-minted shinigami spirit who has the power to give people near the brink of death a single wish in exchange for their lives. Whether listening in on conversations in spirit mode, possessing the living to do your bidding, or fighting personifications of the evil in man's heart, you can be sure that being a not-so-friendly ghost is nothing if not hectic.
All of these games are due out 2009 in Japan with the exception of Layton, which hits Japanese stores November 27.
In an interview with Famitsu, founder and producer Akihiro Hino
looked back on the first ten years of his company's existence. "I never even thought about [becoming a publisher]," he reflected.
"In the beginning, I didn't see any need for us to be a publisher because I thought the important thing was to create games we'd be satisfied with -- if we could make good games and put food in the table with that, that would be perfect." He noted that of the new games, Ninokuni is likely to be the one released the soonest -- and with Ghibli involved, it's undoubtedly going to be the one that attracts the most attention overseas.