Monday, January 31, 2011
1973 - Aya Brea born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1977, December - Aya's mother and sister die in an automobile accident.
1997, December 24 - Carnegie Hall Incident, Parasite Eve takes place.
1999 - Hyde Bohr, future head of the Overdive investigation squad, was invited to become a project manager for the Defense Sciences Office at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), a unit of the U.S. Department of Defense that was rsearching and developing new military technology.
2000, September - Aya's first encounter with Kyle Madigan. The two meet in the Mojave Desert. Parasite Eve II takes place across the country in Los Angeles.
2002 - Thelonious Cray, future CTI employee, marries Sandra Smith a nurse he met while recovering from injuries from a Delta Force mission.
2005 - Hyde enters the FBI research center where he lead his own forensics team before becoming the Director of Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence.
2010, December 24 - Aya Brea found unconscious outside of St. Thomas Cathedral in Manhattan by Hyde Bohr. Hyde picks up Aya from the snow covered ground and takes her in.
2010 - Hyde is head of the newly formed Counterproliferation Strategy Support Division, forerunner to CTI.
Decembers tend to be a bad month for Aya and New York. A few years later The Twisted ambush the city forcing Aya to travel back in time with the Overdive system to save it.
THE TITLEFinal Fantasy Type-0 was known until last week as Final Fantasy Agito XIII. Just as Dengeki asked in its interview last week (see here for a summary), Famitsu asked about the name change, specifically the use of kanji in the name.
The Japanese version of the name uses the kanji form of zero: "零." The standard Final Fantasy numbered games, and most other games, use more familiar 1, 2, 3 and such (although written in roman numerals sometimes).
The reason for the use of kanji is to contrast with the standard FF numbered games, giving the game a sort of backside numbering scheme. Additionally, Kitase noted that the game itself has some unique kanji used throughout the official story descriptions. Also, writing Type-0 in kanji as "零式" (pronounced "Reishiki") gives the game the feel of being a war chronicle.
The kanji in the game's logo, incidentally, was drawn directly by art director Yusuke Naora. Kitase recalled asking Naora if he was going to draw it himself, and Naora responded angrily, "I drew Final Fantasy VII's 'Shinra' myself, you know."
STORYType-0 is set in a world of four countries, listed in the game's Wikipedia entry as Milites, Rubrum, Anaze, and Kogai. Crystals serve as the power and energy source for the countries. Each country protects their crystal in a "Peristerium," a magic academy.
The story begins when the Milites Empire invades Rubrum. Their ultimate goal is the crystal in Rubrum's Peristerium. They plan to use their new weapon, the "Crystal Jammer," to make the crystal powerless, leaving Rebrum vulnerable.
Students at the Rebrum Peristerium band together to defeat the invaders. These are the characters you control.
The Milites Empire has developed a mechanized civilization. Its troops equip not just guns, but warships and mecha as well. Rubrum, on the other hand, is a country of magic and summon beasts. The Rebrum students face off against he imperial army and its mecha through magic and summons.
The Rebrum Peristerium can be considered the equivalent of both a city and a base of operations, according to Tabata. You get your orders from the Peristerium. Once you've gotten your orders from the academy, you select the place you'd like to go from the world map, and the mission starts once you've arrive.
At a broader, Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology level, Type-0 places the focus on mankind, born from the blood of the goddess Etro. It's a "war chronicle drama" that shows how the gods are part of people's lives, and how this is seen in the eyes of history.
MAIN CHARACTERSAs originally announced long ago, Type-0 has 12 main characters, all academy students. These 12 are the characters seen raising the Rebrum flag in the recent artwork.
The game's Wikipedia entry lists some of the names as Cinque, Seven, Trey, Eight, Nine, Jack and Queen (some of these names can be seen in the screenshots in Famitsu).
There are two other principal characters: Rem and Machina. They're shown in the new image artwork (shown below). While Rem and Machina are not considered "main characters" as far as the game goes, from a historical perspective, they will be viewed as the story's main characters. During the game, they will fight alongside the main characters and will be party members (screenshots seem to confirm that this means they'll be playable).
BATTLE SYSTEMMuch of Type-0's battle and growth systems still remains a mystery, but Famitsu did get a few additional details from Tabata.
Type-0 will have an experience system, where your characters will level-up by earning experience. Your characters can also be strengthened through abilities and accessories.
The key point, however, is "magic customization." Type-0's magic system is a bit different from other Final Fantasy games. In the case of Fire magic, for instance, you can achieve the more powerful Fira or Firaga spells by holding the button down. If you customize the fire spell, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to cast Fira, and also change speed and power of the fireball itself.
In the screenshots, you see things like "Fire ST" and "Thunder MW." Those are the names of customized magics.
In the world of Type-0, magic is used like weapons. They're like guns, explained Tabata. You can fire away like you would a gun.
As indicated by the recent trailer (see it here), summons are another central element in the combat system. Summons in Type-0 aren't unique -- that is, there are multiple copies of all summons. They're like weapons, and the army has them stocked up. If your Bahmut is killed, there's nothing to worry about, as there are plenty.
When heading out to battle, you select the summon you want to carry out with you. At the start of the game, you aren't allowed to select from all the summons, though.
When you call out a summon, you take full control of it. Tabata says that the summons are very powerful and feel good to control.
MULTIPLAYERAs detailed in our summary of the Dengeki interview, Type-0 has a unique implementation of multiplayer. Basically, you don't play extended multiplayer sessions with other players. Multiplayer takes place in three minute bursts with other players joining in to support you.
The basic single player battle system has all twelve (actually fourteen, but Tabata kept on saying "twelve" during the interview) head to the battle field together after you get your mission assignment. However, you only select three characters to take part in battle at a given time. When one of your characters is defeated, the other members come in as support. You loose the battle when all twelve members are defeated. Said another way, you can continue with the mission if at least one person remains alive.
Tabata said to think of multiplayer as being like your other party members coming into battle in support, except in this case the other characters are from other players. After three minutes of playing like this, the support player sees a "Mission Ended" and disappears. You can, of course, have another player join in. (Famitsu joked that this sounds like Ultraman.)
Support players get some sort of bonus depending on how much they help the host player over the three minutes play time. In the Dengeki interview, the two also said that it's possible to increase the play time beyond three minutes through good play.
The multiplayer, incidentally, appears to be ad-hoc. This is the only form that's listed in Famitsu's information box on the game.
2 UMDSOne big surprise from the recent Premier event is that the game uses two UMDs, making it the first Square Enix title to do so. The reason they went with two UMDs, said Tabata, is that if they'd gone with one, they'd have to get rid of some of the things they wanted to do. They're aiming for quality that matches HD systems, even making event scenes into movies. This requires space.
Development on Type-0 is currently 60% complete, Tabata told the magazine. Because the game is being prepared for summer release, Kitase said to expect information updates to gradually accelerate from here on out.
Platinum Games, developer of Bayonetta and Vanquish, have announced their third high-definition video game.
Titled Anarchy Reigns, Platinum Games' latest venture is an online action combat game. This week's issue of Famitsu contains a full-blown reveal of the game, as well as an interview with Platinum Games producer Atsushi Inaba.
According to Inaba, Anarchy Reigns has the feel of a fighting game. You'll be in a fight against a other players online, where at any time someone can strike you from behind. While he says that synching up all the players online is difficult, he doesn't say how many players can play at once.
Aside from multiplayer, a single-player story mode is also in the game. MadWorld's Jack Cayman is a playable character (in full color!), but he has nothing to do with the story or game world.
Anarchy Reigns, like past Platinum titles, will be published by Sega and will launch worldwide simultaneously this year.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
This is really exciting news for those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s and would watch the originalThunderCats series. Even more exciting news comes out today, though, as WBA and Studio 4°C have released the first image of their upcoming ThunderCats anime.
While still to be produced here in the states by Americans, Studio 4°C will be providing all the animation and perhaps some sort of direction as well. Our hopes are that they take on a serious tone with ThunderCats, since those cats kicked major ass back in the day.
Sam Register (“Teen Titans,” “Ben 10,” “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”) will be working on this project as executive producer, along withMichael Jelenic (“Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” “Wonder Woman”) and Ethan Spaulding (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”) as producers.
And with that, my fears may come true. If you look at these peoples' track records, series like Teen Titans, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and evenBen 10 take on a more family friendly approach to cartoons, often mixing Japanese animation (or faux-Japanese animation as in Avatar's case) with the sillyness you can find in American animated series.
If they are to have Lion-O making goofy and exaggerated faces, then I would be very unhappy. The most positive thing so far, as evident in the image above, is the superb animation done by Studio 4°C.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The entire NGP announcement has remained mysteriously devoid of one of Sony's biggest talking points of 2010, and Sony Europe head Andrew House has an explanation for why that is. "We view 3D as having the greatest potential, in the near term, in what I would call a dedicated entertainment environment," he told Eurogamer.
House continued, "That's in the home, around the television, and where it's a shared experience. I think that's really important." A statement from Sony clarified that, "In the development process, we had studied the possibility of introducing stereoscopic 3D feature to NGP, but decided not to install it."
House added to that, needling Sony's handheld gaming competition a bit in the process. "We struggle a little bit to see how that 3D, shared experience translates to portable devices as they currently stand." Perhaps he was holding the 3DS at a weird angle? We can't be sure.
Keep in mind: the images from 2011 are ripped from a video. The images from 2009 are official screenshots released by Square Enix. Their quality may differ. Also note: the visuals in the trailer are reportedly before the graphics were given a significant boost.
Betcha didn't think this day would come, but it finally has. Sony has just come clean with its next-generation PlayStation Portable. It's actually codenamed NGP and will revolve around five key concepts: Revolutionary User Interface, Social Connectivity, Location-based Entertainment, Converging Real and Virtual (augmented) Reality. It will be compatible with the PlayStation Suite.
Specs include a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 5-inch touchscreen OLED display with 960 x 544 resolution, dual analog sticks (not nubs as on the current generation), 3G, WiFi, GPS, a rear-mounted touchpad, the same accelerometer / gyroscope motion sensing as in the PlayStation Move, an electronic compass, and cameras on both the front and back. Available this holiday season
Games will come on "new media," not UMD anymore, but we're unclear on what sort of flash memory is being used. Sony's rather proud of the fact it's offering the world's first dual analog stick combo on a portable device, though we're more geeked about the quadrupling of pixel count from the original PSP.
Sony's live event has been graced by demos of some pretty popular games, including Killzone,Resistance, Little Big Planet, and Uncharted -- with the latter serving as a demo platform to show off how the NGP's rear touchpad can be used to more intuitively climb up some vines. That touch panel on the back is the same size and positioned directly under the front OLED touchscreen, which allows for some pretty sophisticated controls when using the two simultaneously.
The new console's UI will be called LiveArea, which has a bunch of vertically navigable home screens and built-in social networking (presumably through PSN). You can jump between games and the LiveArea without losing your progress and comment on your buddies' great feats of mobile gaming.
In closing its presentation, Sony trotted out Hideo Kojima to show off a cutscene from Metal Gear Solid 4 rendered in real time on the NGP. It was pulled directly from the PS3 version of the game and ran at 20fps, which looked very smooth indeed
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The surprise announcement from Square Enix's 1st Production Department Premier event last week was Final Fantasy XIII-2. The direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII was announced as a Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 multiplatform title that will be released some time this year.
Following the event, Dengeki PlayStation was able to interview Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama, who are reprising their respective producer and director roles. The magazine delivered a full report in this week's issue. A Japanese blog has provided a detailed transcript/summary of the interview.
At the Premier event, the XIII-2 unveil was preceded by an animated account of the Fabula Nova Crystalls mythology. This mythology serves as the foundation for all the games in the series, including XIII, Versus XIII, XIII-2 and Type-0 (formerly known as Agito XIII).
The purpose for showing this footage, explained Kitase to Dengeki, was to show that FFXIII only dealt with a portion of the mythology, covering such concepts as the fal'Cie and l'Cie. FFXIII did not explain the full breadth of the mythology, however. To better know the whole of the mythology, players will have access to the upcoming Fabula series titles.
XIII-2 covers a different area of the Fabula mythology from XIII. While the original focused on the relation betwen the Pulse and Lindzei deities, the focus for XIII-2 will be on the Etro deity. Toriyama said the game will delve deeper into the Fabula mythology this time.
If you're confused about your Etros, Pulses and Lindzei's, I'd suggest having a look at the Final Fantasy Wiki.
According to Toriyama, the XIII-2 story will be like taking the afterstory that was written in the bonus booklet that was included with the Japanese Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII and expanding from there. The story kicks of after XIII, in the Gran Pulse world.
The story is a true sequel to XIII and will answer some of the mysteries of what happened in the background in the build up to FFXIII's ending. The world will expand further in XIII-2 (I'm not sure if Toriyama is speaking literally or figuratively here). The story's taste will be darker and more mysterious than the original.
Similar to XIII, Lightning will be a principal character. Other characters will also appear in the game in "unexpected forms," according to Toriyama. Some of the returning characters will see major changes to their atmosphere. The game will also have a number of new characters, in addition to the mysterious male character from the trailer.
That mystery character is the character next to Lightning in the game's logo, Kitase confirmed. He's meant to be a character in conflict with Lightning, a character of equal strength.
The early trailer and single official screenshot show a major change for Lightning: she wears armor. While this is a big change, the character's image will not have a Final Fantasy X-2-style change, said Kitase. For those who haven't played it, FFX-2 had a poppy, comedic feel compared to FFX, with Yuna and the other leads dancing around and changing clothes during battle. XIII-2 will have the serious feel of a true numbered entry in the series, said Kitase.
Lightning appeared in the trailer surrounded by feathers at some points. These features are used in a number of areas, including parts of Lightning's armor. Remember how roses appeared on the screen when Lightning summoned Odin in FFXIII? This time, the feathers are meant to represent something holier -- a closer approach to the realm of gods
The two only briefly discussed gameplay. The game's battle system will be a further evolution of FFXIII's ATB (active time battle) system. Because it's a sequel, explained Toriyama, they want to actively use the the experience they gained in making the original to address issues that need to be addressed, and to make areas that are already considered good even better. For XIII-2's development, they've been running tests and listening to opinions from inside and outside the company and even from overseas.
Toriyama wants to add some sort of system for controlling difficulty. This could take the form of the inclusion of an easy mode, which is something they're currently looking into. Toriyama also assured that they're working to make it so that those who didn't play the original will be able to enjoy themselves with XIII-2.