Dragon Quest journeys to Nintendo DS[ds]
In a surprise announcement at a press conference held in Tokyo today, Square Enix announced that the next main entry in the long running Dragon Quest series of RPGs, entitled Dragon Quest IX: Defenders of the Stars (alternatively translated as Protectors of the Sky), is currently in development exclusively for Nintendo DS. PlayStation home consoles been the debut systems for flagship Dragon Quest series entries since Dragon Quest VII, leading many to assume PlayStation 3 would host the ninth main entry; some speculated the series would head to Wii in order for the now consolidated Square Enix to spread its across a broader install base. Few likely predicted it would come to a portable system. Still, the news is less strange in light of Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii's frequently stated principle of bringing Dragon Quest to the most successful system in order to give it the biggest potential audience. The series is Square Enix's biggest in its home territory of Japan, where DS is the current undisputed sales champion.
Dragon Quest IX is rendered in a similar style to TOSE's Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (NDS), using a 3D world with art direction drawing from the cel-shaded style of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2). In a new development for the series, it features a wireless four-player cooperative mode, which reports from online publications have indicated operates over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game will also be fully playable in single-player mode. Early screenshots and videos suggest that the game does not feature random battles, but is rather an action RPG which may bear gameplay connections to titles in the vein of Secret of Mana (SNES).
The same team at developer Level 5 responsible for the acclaimed Dragon Quest VIII will be returning to develop Dragon Quest IX. Long time character designer Akira Toriyama will also be reprising his development role, as will series composer Koichi Sugiyama. Horii will take the reins as project lead, with Level 5 president Akihiro Hino. This is the second DS game known to be in the works from Level 5, following the recent announcement of Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village.
Development of Dragon Quest IX apparently began some time ago, and the game is expected to ship next year in Japan. No North American release plans have been announced, but with strong worldwide sales of Dragon Quest VIII it is very likely the game will see broad release across all major territories. We've got some early screenshots here.
Age of Conan unearthed on Xbox 360[xbox360]
Developer and publisher Funcom announced today that its upcoming MMO Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, initially announced solely for traditional MMO platform PC, has been approved by Microsoft for development on Xbox 360. It does not appear that actual production of the Xbox 360 version of the game has yet begun, and it is not likely to release simultaneously with the PC version. "This is a groundbreaking leap forward for Funcom. The fact that we now get the chance to develop 'Age of Conan' for the Xbox 360 means access to a potentially whole new and large MMO market," said Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. "The fast-paced and innovative combat system in 'Age of Conan' will suit the demanding console audience perfect. We believe the amazing online capabilities of Xbox 360 will be a great match for MMOs like 'Age of Conan', and as one of a handful officially approved MMO games for the console we aim to create a unique, brutal and powerful online gaming experience."
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is planned for release on PC some time in 2007; no expected release period has been announced for the Xbox 360 version.
Wii, PSP contract Alien Syndrome[wii] [psp]
Last December, TIE Fighter and Secret Weapons Over Normandy developer Totally Games announced that it would be developing a new game based on a classic Sega title; this September, the company announced that it had become an officially licensed Wii developer. Today, those vague statements became more clear as the company announced Alien Syndrome, based on the Sega property that began life as an arcade overhead shooter that was eventually brought to numerous console platforms. Coming to Wii and PSP, the new game will be a sci-fi action RPG with a variety of extraterrestrial environments and some twenty different weapons. It is entirely unrelated to Sega's coincidental announcement yesterday of multiple games based on the Alien films. I guess Sega just likes aliens.
As far as how the game will use the Wii's motion-sensitive controller, the announcement states that the remote will give players "a full range of motion" when performing various actions, as well as being used to craft and enhance items and abilities, and hacking in-game computers. The PSP version of the game will feature a local wireless co-op mode for up to four players.
Sega plans to ship Totally Games' Alien Syndrome for Wii and PSP in summer 2007.
MLB 07 The Show to air on all Sony platforms[ps2] [ps3] [psp]
Sony Computer Entertainment America will be bringing its upcoming baseball title MLB 07 The Show to all three of its currently supported console platforms, the publisher announced today. The SCE Studios San Diego-produced series is the only first party baseball franchise licensed by Major League Baseball, and one of only two MLB-licensed franchises currently in production, thanks to 2K Sports' exclusivity deal. MLB 07 The Show will add online league play and a new Adaptive Pitching Intelligence system, and will feature returning components such as career, season, and exhibition modes. It was not specified whether the new online league play feature will be heading to all three platforms. The PlayStation 2 version of the game will feature the return of Rivalry Mode and Home Run Derby, as well as EyeToy compatibility. The PSP version will have access to online MLB news feeds.
SCE Studios San Diego's MLB 07 The Show is expected to ship for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PSP in spring 2007.
We've got a hands on look at Sandlot's Earth Defense Force X (X360).
Screenshots: Alien Syndrome (Wii, also PSP).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Soul Blade for the PlayStation. "A precursor to Soul Caliber [sic], this game was a great port of a great arcade game. The quest mode gave the game some length, and the ability to upgrade to different weapons added a new depth to the gameplay." (submitted by Begawkiness)