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BulletMagnet avatar 7:38 PM on 01.16.2009  (server time)
The Obscurer Tribune: Something Old, Something New

Welcome back, connoisseurs of niche gaming and curious onlookers alike – this issue of the Tribune has a lot to cover, so without further ado, let’s get right to it.

First up, a handful of interesting-looking games that I’ve just recently become aware of, via various inklings – first up is Iron Master for the DS, which takes place in a fantasy world full of legendary weaponry and whatnot, but with a bit of a twist. This time, instead of actually slaying misbehaving dragons yourself, you run a smithy, tasked with forging said equipment for use by various adventurers and heroes, who will pay well if everything’s made to their specifications. It looks to be, at its core, a combination of a business sim and a minigame collection, but I still find it an intriguing overall concept – especially as it’s coming from a new developer, I’m eager to see how it turns out. Slightly less interesting-looking is Avalon Code, an action-RPG also appearing on the DS. It doesn’t look to rate particularly high on the creativity scale, but if it’s well-made then it should still be worth playing – feel free to check out a trailer for the game if you want a closer look.

Also, a few of you out there might know the name Umihara Kawase, a puzzle-platformer which originally appeared on the Super Famicom and later scored a remake on the PS1 – your character is equipped with only a fishing pole, but the line’s rubbery physics allow it to be used as a grappling hook which can attach to almost any surface. Finding the “normal” way through a level will be enough of an accomplishment for many, but those who master the grappling mechanic can perform some truly awe-inspiring speed runs – there’s even a superplay video or two out there. Anyway, the game was ported to the PSP in Japan (there have been rumors of this version coming to the US, but nothing’s developed as of yet) not too long ago – unfortunately, the job was outsourced, and the team didn’t do a very good job of it. Thankfully, though, the game’s being given an all-too-rare chance for redemption on the DS - this new version on Nintendo’s handheld will not only be done by the original developer (Jack Pot/Clary, I’d suppose?), but will be based on the “Second Edition” PS1 release, which includes a few extra levels and a handful of tweaks. If you’re into the genre, be sure to keep an eye on this title.

On the “release update” front, LocoRoco 2 has been confirmed for a February 10th US release date – as fate would have it, that’s the same day that the Ys 1 and 2 remake for the DS is set to hit shelves. I’ve already got the former on reserve (which grants you an access code for a preview version via PSN) – following in the steps of the original it’s only twenty bucks, so make sure to grab yourself a copy if your L and R triggers are in dire need of a workout.

In terms of fighting game miscellany, the “eroge to doujin fighter to arcade” trend continues with Nitro Royale, which is apparently indeed headed to the arcades according to this. This game features characters from all across the titular company’s catalogue (with a semi-random guest appearance by Saber from Fate) – from what I gather about the game it’s not that great (at least not in its current form, maybe the arcade version will improve it), and I’m honestly most interested in it since shooter company Milestone is somehow involved with the port, but hey, keeping an eye on it doesn’t cost me anything. Continuing on the path of possible fighting game disappointments, Samurai Shodown Anthology is listed to come out in the US on March 9th via the Wii and PSP…but there’s no mention of a localized PS2 port, though one is mentioned on SNK Playmore USA’s official (and rather neglected) site. Hopefully this doesn’t mean it’s been cancelled, or else a sizable chunk of fighting fans will either have to hope that the other ports turn out better than Metal Slug Anthology did, or go back to importing. Well, at least KoF ’98 Ultimate Match looks like it will keep its current release date (knock on wood).

However, to add a bit of very-likely-NOT-disappointing fighting game news, Arcana Heart 2 is coming to the Japanese PS2 on April 9th – considering how well the first turned out, I have naught but high expectations for this one. That said, it’s probably too much to hope that this one makes another unlikely trip stateside as its forebear did, unfortunately – maybe I should start begging Atlus now. Or kidnap Jack Frost and demand the game as ransom.

Speaking of which, thereare a few bits of late Atlus news to catch up on as well – first up is the recent announcement of Tokyo Beat Down, which, as you might expect, is a beat-em-up, headed for the DS (it’s been briefly referenced here on DT, but not in detail). I’m not as much of an expert on this genre as I am when it comes to others, so I probably ought to withhold even partial judgment on it until more info is available – you guys, of course, are under no such obligation, heh heh. Off to the side, a recent poke around the Japanese Atlus site (yeah, this is what I do in my spare time), revealed an interesting-looking page, centered around the recently-released “Baroque International.” This threw me for a loop – usually only big-name titles (a la Final Fantasy) ever get an “international” re-release in Japan after being sent overseas – moreover, this implies that stuff was added to the US version, which I was, frankly, completely unaware of. Does anyone out there know any more about exactly what’s entailed here? Considering how limited the audience for a game like this must be, I’m very interested in what features warrant such treatment for such a seemingly odd fit of a title.

Since it wouldn’t be an issue of the OT without an announced delay or two, the PSP port of Mana Khemia, originally slated to hit shelves on the 20th of this month, looks to have been pushed back to February 17th – of course, some of us will probably already have plenty to pick up that day as it is, since Street Fighter IV and Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? come out at the exact same time. Speaking of Prinny, the Rosen Queen site started taking pre-orders for the game last week, and introduced two “deluxe” sets, in addition to the ”Premium Box”, a fancy name for the 40-dollar retail version which includes the OST and a comic page by default. The limited-release sets, which will have a thousand units apiece, are the 65-dollar ”Hero to the Rescue Set”, which also includes a Prinny plushie (smaller than the store’s existing one, but with a scarf) along with a soft PSP carrying case, and the 70-dollar “Ultra Dessert Set”, which tosses in a Disgaea graphic novel on top of everything else. The plushie and pouch can also be ordered separately.

Personally I’m going to have to pass on either of the Prinny deluxe sets (though I’ve had the “regular” version on pre-order for a while, of course), since I’ve already geeked out enough to get the bonus direct-order stuff for Ar Tonelico 2, which is out in less than a week – I do, however, have my limits when it comes to AT fanboyism, perfectly summed up in a contest invitation recently received via email. Apparently (since their previous contest, which meted out 100 AT2 bath towels, wasn’t cheeky enough), to the ten people who send in the nicest piece of fan art or fan poetry before the 25th of this month, NIS America will award a genuine 24 x 60 Ar Tonelico 2 “body pillow.” The pillowcase will feature a character named “Jaclyn,” who is not found in the “characters” section of the official AT2 site (unless I overlooked something) – at least some solace can be taken in the fact that she’s fully clothed (though doesn’t that sort of kill the point of the pillow to begin with?). Anyway, I’m stopping here, as I’ve devoted more than enough words to this already – for the slightly more discerning (and rich), there will also be a handful of giclee prints made for the game, weighing in at 300 bucks apiece. Say what you will about the game, the developer, or the publisher, but they’re certainly giving fans plenty to keep them…busy.

On the shooter front there are no new release dates for any big-name (relatively speaking) titles, but there have been Achievement lists released for DDP Dai-Ou-Jou Black Label X and R-Type Dimensions – nothing too noteworthy, but at least they indicate that the titles are still out there. Nothing new on Ketsui X or Death Smiles, unfortunately, let alone any new ports (come on Mushihime-sama Futari and Muchi Muchi Pork!…and a bug-fixed Pink Sweets might not be bad either…though I’ve given up hope of ever seeing ESP or Guwange, let alone Battle Bakraid, 19XX, or the Vasara games on home consoles…ack, pardon the rant). I suppose that we ought to see if the existing titles can make it out the door in one piece before jumping too far ahead…ah, to be a shooter fan in 2009. At least Ultimate Shooting Collection is on the way for Wii owners (after a plethora of previously-covered delays).

Finally, a few quick recaps of interesting stuff that’s already been covered elsewhere on DT – shooter fans are probably already aware of this interview with Masato Maegawa of Treasure, who talks, among other things, about the situation (or lack thereof) concerning a possible re-issue of the famously expensive Saturn-era shooter Radiant Silvergun. In case you missed it, Vitamin Awesome has a post about it right here. Also, make sure to stop by Colette’s front page article featuring a preview or two of the Wii’s Fragile, over here, as well as her video of Another Code R here. Aside from the recently-posted semi-rumors of Persona and The Red Star appearing on the PSP, and the non-rumor of Steal Princess on the DS, there’s also been a reference or two to this interview with some Arc System members. Oh, and some additional info on the PSP remake of Cho Aniki – run, don’t walk, to [url=]Mr. McVengeance’s post.[/url]

Whew, I think that covers about everything I can think to mention regarding the realm of the obscure over the last week or three – thanks for reading, ‘til next time.

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