Ninokuni hit the shelves yesterday, and the first chapter of its prequel game Hotroit Stories appeared on various cell providers at about the same time. Available via Level-5's Android service, "Chapter 1: Oliver and Mark" takes place in the weeks before the main game starts, and seems to focus on the title characters' adventures as they gather all the parts they need to build their own mini-racer. There's no magic involved in this game; instead, characters attack with items like dry ice for similar effects.
Normally I don't comment on online games. More often than not, they're soon to be translated into English anyway. Every once in a while though, I come across something that is so unlikely to ever leave the shores of Japan that it deserves a mention. I think this is one of those games.
Apparently the teaser site for the teaser site (yay redundancy!) went up back in September, but I missed it then. The real teaser site has been slowly updating information since October. Here's a brief story summary:
Long, long ago in war-torn Jipang, the Root Clan sought to revive the sleeping force known as Yomi (Hell). In order to accomplish this, they planted Dark Orchids across the land. The orchids grew strong and huge on the blood of the people of Jipang, and Yomi's power and terror grew.
However, there was another force strong enough to stand against the power of Yomi -- Mari (no kanji attached, but possibly meaning "to nourish"), which was tied to the bloodline of the Fire Clan. Under the leadership of the Fire Clan, the people of Jipang found hope in battle once more.
There are seven countries in Jipang, and seven types of characters to choose from. It is time to make a stand and fight it out, Jipang-style.
Everyone's getting in on the action, it seems -- from the regular folk of Jipang to the heroes of the Fire Clan, from brutish Oni to delicate Mermaids. Even the wily Tengu are up for a challenge.
The primary play method in this game is card-based and heavily influenced by the old rock-paper-scissors trichotomy, but with wild-cards added to spice things up. There appears to be a wide variety of cards with which to build a deck, some form of equipment setup, as well as an item sythesis system. How it all works together has yet to be explained.
In any case, it's Red Company here. You just know it's going to be something odd with them.
I played the original Final Fantasy Legend 3 quite a bit back in the day, and while in the end it didn't have the same staying power as its immediate predecessor (at least for me), I still remember most of the major plot points. That said, I barely recall who these four guys are:
The four former crewmen of the dimensional transport Talon really didn't have much impact on the story, as I recall. They were mainly there to sell stuff, mix magics, fix swords, and take up space inside the ship. In the re-invented SaGa 3, it seems that the scope of their influence has expanded just a bit. Also, they've got a new comrade-in-arms.
Whatever else they may do now, they still provide the same services they did in the original. This mainly involved elemental stones that the player will accumulate over the course of the game. In the original, these were used to mix powerful new spells to teach characters, fabricate new armor, and forge new weapons. Like so:
The Princess Sword that the heroes get in that last screen can do some neat things when an Esper character is wielding it.
And let's not forget that these guys can also steer the ship around while the main party isn't present.
It's looking like fun times for the new year, no?
Yup, that's about all there is for this week. It's slim pickings for the only-ever-in-Japan market so far this month. I didn't even get an email to help pad the length this time. Shikata nai tsutai...
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,