Massively Multiplayer: Gaming In The New Millennium

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Winter 2012 (Part 2) - Gemini Growing Pains
Virtua Fighter Infinity

Virtua Fighter Infinity is the seventh mainline game in Sega/Apple's Virtua Fighter series, and the first to originate on a handheld system, launching in January 2012 as a Gemini exclusive. The game continues the tradition of previous titles in the series, improving on the graphics of Virtua Fighter 6 and adding new characters and gameplay mechanics to create the most robust title yet in the series in terms of content. The game features a total of 44 fighters at launch, with more planned for DLC. This includes every single fighter to date in the series and several newcomers, each with their own unique movesets and gimmicks. The game retains the familiar three button system of previous Virtua Fighter games, but introduces a new counter/cross-counter system in which each move can potentially be countered by every other move, and not just a few moves like before. This makes timing and strategy more important when deciding which moves to use against an opponent, and also makes matches move faster as players spend a great deal of time countering each other's moves. The game features more battle arenas and musical themes than any previous Virtua Fighter title as well, bringing back old favorites while also featuring a brand new musical score that gives each character their own theme. Numerous classic characters including Jacky Bryant, Pai, and Dural have brand new looks, but there's also the option to use those characters' classic appearances, with every character in the game having at least one alternate outfit. The game also includes a bevy of new side modes and bonuses, including a ladder mode, a challenge mode, a mini-game mode with various sports, and two storyline/adventure modes: one mode that involves arcade-style fighting and is the main storyline mode of the game, and then a side mode with an RPG that's like a mini-Virtua Quest, playing just like the games of the classic series and featuring an alternate story. Because Virtua Fighter Infinity is initially released on a handheld and not a home console, its multiplayer is geared more toward online play than live tournament play. The game has its own dedicated servers, and the counter/cross-counter system has been designed in such a way to minimize the input of lag on gameplay, in order to optimize the online experience for players. The plot itself sees Dural returning once more as the game's main villain, along with a new character, Eddie Kriss, who seeks to capitalize on the world's new obsession with fighting in order to profit by creating a stable of fighters who cheat in undetectable but lethal ways. Though the stakes aren't exactly worldwide (even Dural's plot is more subdued than in previous games, with much of her storyline revolving around an internal struggle between her AI and her previous life), they become deeply personal for a number of characters, creating a more involved story than a lot of contemporary fighting games. Virtua Fighter Infinity would see at least a year's worth of downloadable content after its release, and while the base game is quite complete, there is a sense that Apple is building toward something bigger... the eventual console version of the game, intended as a launch title for the iTwin's successor. That will come later, and in the meantime, Virtua Fighter Infinity is considered by both critics and fans to be one of the best fighting games in years, and perhaps the best game in the series despite its handheld exclusivity. The biggest complaint from fans is that Apple refuses to port the game to the iTwin, which is seen by some as a scheme to sell more Gemini units. However, it does become somewhat of a killer app for the Gemini, especially in Japan. Review scores are outstanding, averaging at least 9/10, and the game quickly becomes the best selling Gemini title thus far, even surging past the launch titles in overall sales.

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Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil: Revelations is a survival horror video game exclusive to the Apple Gemini. Comparable to OTL's game in terms of gameplay and somewhat in terms of story, the game features Jill Valentine searching for a kidnapped friend on board a cruise ship infested with zombies. Like OTL's game, and like the TTL handheld titles that have recently been released in the series, Revelations hearkens back to the old school style of survival horror gameplay, with less checkpoints and ammo to help Jill defend herself against the infected. The graphics are significantly better than the OTL Revelations for 3DS, and more comparable to the later HD versions for OTL's PS3 and other systems. Many gameplay elements from the two Desertion titles are carried over, and like those games, Revelations is one of the more difficult titles in the series. The game takes place after the events of Resident Evil 5 (IOTL, it took place before), but has many of the same plot points as OTL's game, including a bioterrorist organization and the plot to infect the world's oceans with a deadly virus. The plot is loosely connected to TTL's Resident Evil 5 (with the P-Virus from that game and its villain Shini being mentioned, though Shini doesn't directly appear in this game). Instead of Chris (who was killed off in TTL's Resident Evil 5), it's eventually revealed that Jill is attempting to rescue Sam Lovell, the protagonist of Desertion, who survived the events of that game and ended up joining the BSAA shortly after Jill did (flashbacks tell the story of Sam's survival, joining of the BSAA, and her friendship with Jill). After Jill rescues Sam, the two end up meeting with Leon and another BSAA agent named Wade, who is eventually revealed to be a traitor. Leon is seemingly killed about two-thirds of the way through the game, forcing Jill and Sam to go it alone, but he eventually returns in time to save Jill during the final battle against a mutated Wade. Jill, Sam, and Leon defeat Wade and escape the ship together, and Jill and Leon are then tasked with helping to track down the P-Virus, which has been auctioned off by Shini. Meanwhile, Sam meets with a mysterious figure and is revealed to be a mole within the BSAA, though it's not confirmed whether or not she's friend or foe. Resident Evil: Revelations is highly praised at the time of its release in February 2012, with its review scores averaging in the high 8s. Its graphics receive special praise, considered by many to be the best graphics ever seen in a handheld game. It's the continuation of Capcom and Apple's strong business relationship that sees the company almost exclusively working with Apple, a relationship that will continue as the companies get ready to launch Resident Evil 6 together.

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Deva Station Icosa

Deva Station Icosa is a third person action/shooter title and the fourth game in the Deva Station series, which remains exclusive to Apple's handhelds. Icosa is a sort of rebooting of the series, with very little of the canon from the first three games alluded to in this title, and cutting out most of the previous 20 Devas down to eight: returning characters Ruby, Alice, Petra, and Lucrecia, and introducing four brand new Devas to the fray, including the titular Icosa, a mysterious young woman whose power is able to warp space and time. The gameplay has also changed a bit from the previous games. Like Deva Station 3, it mostly tosses out the friendship/relationship system from the past three games, and instead focuses on giving each of the eight Devas their own unique powers and storyline. This works to an extent, though it also comes at the expense of the player's freedom to develop the relationships between the characters. Instead, it sort of spoonfeeds the story to the player, with the relationships primarily being established by the storyline itself. That said, new dynamic layers have been added to the game's fighting system, with spectacular new combos and weapons, and a variety of new enemy types as well. The series' core gameplay remains largely intact, with fans mostly complaining about the storyline itself, and also the length of the game's main campaign (it's shorter than the last two games and comparable to the first, without a bunch of side quests to pad things out). The graphics have improved significantly from the iPod Play trilogy, but look a bit less impressive compared to other Gemini titles such as Virtua Fighter 6 and Resident Evil: Revelations. In addition, the game's English voice dub has also seen a bit of a change, with the loss of several more voice actresses from the original cast (a process that started in Deva Station 3's dub). The cast now is largely comprised of actresses who normally work on anime, and though the dub quality is still considered quite good, most fans don't think it's as good as when actresses like Tara Strong and Cree Summer voiced the main characters. Overall, Deva Station Icosa gets good reviews slightly better than those of Deva Station 3 but not as good as the reviews the first two games got. North American sales are a bit of a disappointment, though the game sells quite well in Japan where the series is still extremely popular (and where the game's voice acting is still performed by top flight seiyuu, the same that have been performing the characters since the beginning of the series). It's released in March 2012 worldwide.

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"Apple's Gemini handheld has continued to struggle in North America, despite the release of Virtua Fighter Infinity providing a small post-holiday sales bump. Sales continue to lag far behind those of Nintendo's Connect, and the Connect is expected to widen the gap as more games are released for both systems. The Gemini's higher price tag and download-only game sales have harmed the system, and retailers in particular seem to be revolting against the Gemini, promoting it far less than Nintendo's cartridge-based console. Gamestop has promoted the Gemini less in recent weeks in favor of promoting numerous upcoming Nintendo Connect titles, while big box retailers like Walmart and Kmart are also devoting less shelf space to the system. However, the Gemini is doing quite well in Japan, where it enjoys a much closer race with the Connect. The Gemini in fact outsold the Connect during the month of January, in which Virtua Fighter Infinity launched to record breaking sales on digital marketplaces there. While the Connect has sold more units in Japan than the Gemini, the gap between the systems is much smaller in Japan than it is in either North America or Europe, and Japanese consumers seem much more receptive to the idea of a download-only device. Though the Gemini's North American sales have been disappointing, the system is still thus far a financial and commercial success, exceeding Apple's early sales projections by about 5%. As more games are released for the Gemini, it may yet catch on with players in North America, but in the meantime, Japanese sales will continue to keep Apple's next-gen handheld competitive and are expected to do so through the end of the year."

-from an article on Destructoid, posted on March 8, 2012
 
Winter 2012 (Part 3) - Hazardous
Hazardous

Hazardous is a third person shooter/RPG developed by Guerilla Games and published by Sony exclusively for the Nintendo Sapphire. Combining elements of OTL games such as The Division, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Shin Megami Tensei IV, Hazardous takes place in New York City, years after nuclear war has devastated the world. Though much of the city remains intact, what remains is now controlled by deadly, heavily armed gangs of scavengers and mutated creatures known as the Risen, forcing ordinary people to conduct their business in secret, dodging hostile humans and mutants as they try to carve out a living in the ruins of a destroyed city. The main gameplay is much like OTL's The Division, taking on a sort of "looter shooter" format in which the player gains experience by killing enemies and completing missions. Weapons, equipment, items, and upgrades can be found scattered throughout the city or by killing enemies, and there are five different levels of rarity: common, uncommon, rare, legendary, and unique, with higher rarity equipment generally being more powerful than equipment of a lesser rarity. Loot drop rates are generally higher than they would be in games like The Division or Destiny, but not as high as games such as Borderlands or Diablo. Equipment improves incrementally as the player progresses through the game, with damage numbers trending higher and higher as well, and the player is able to level up to 60 during the course of the game (with higher levels eventually being opened up via DLC). Hazardous is strictly a single player game, with no online component as there is in other games of its type. Guerilla wanted to focus on the storyline and on single-player gameplay, which is why there's no competitive or cooperative online mode. Players can acquire a variety of different gun types as they play, including pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, and even rocket/grenade launchers, and are able to equip three weapons at once: a sidearm, a long gun, and a heavy weapon. Armor is also differentiated, with players able to acquire helmets, chest armor, and leg armor, as well as accessories that provide buffs to various stats. There's a massive variety of loot to be had in Hazardous, and in addition to the game's main story and bosses, there are plenty of side quests and challenge enemies to keep the most skilled players occupied even well after the main campaign has been beaten. Hazardous plays less like an open world RPG and more like a Metroidvania, with different sections of the city opening up as the player acquires different items that allow them to pass through different areas. There is an open world component to the game, with backtracking and hub territories, but overall progress comes in stages, with plenty of secret/optional areas to explore for different types of items and loot. Hazardous enjoyed a large budget, and thus high production values, with graphics among the best in any Sapphire game thus far, showing a wide array of cityscape environments and plenty of post-apocalyptic destruction, along with realistic looking humans and a wide variety of enemy types. The game features a strong voice cast as well, with Troy Baker as the voice of the game's protagonist, Joshua Redding. Other members of the game's voice cast include Salli Saffioti as Commander Jessica Tremain, Rami Malek as Ciaran Singh, Terry O'Quinn as Malbor Davis, Cariba Heine as Lily Apple, Khary Payton as Lou Willis, and Steve Blum as the voice of the game's primary antagonist, a cloaked assassin known as Dark Truth.

The game takes place in 2057, fifteen years after World War III left much of the world an irradiated wasteland. New York City is now a radioactive hellscape of collapsed buildings, where the subway tunnels are inhabited by survivors scrapping out a living as hordes of mercenaries and mutants roam the streets above. The city streets are thick with a variety of gasses that prevent easy travel aboveground, with disease also running rampant. However, there are people who make a living amongst these wastes, and Joshua Redding is one of those people, helping to run cargo and sometimes people back and forth between safe parts of the city. He's friends with Ciaran Singh, a member of a mercenary group known as the Riders, who normally extort people roaming on the streets, but some of them are still somewhat honorable and will allow innocent people to travel safely in exchange for small bribes or favors. Ciaran's squad controls most of the part of the city where Joshua travels, and with his help, Joshua is able to protect a band of people in a community known as 56 Town, so named because it's primarily located under 56th Street in Manhattan. Joshua's friend Lou also helps him smuggle goods back and forth, while another friend, a young soldier named Lily, helps him scout out safe areas of the city. The game's primary action between when Joshua is somewhat forcibly recruited by Commander Tremain to take down the Riders, blaming them for a series of massacres. Ciaran denies the murders, though he thinks that an old gang leader, Malbor, may be responsible, as his gang once did business with the Riders sometime ago. Joshua finds himself conflicted between his longtime friend Ciaran, who is shady but honorable, and Commander Tremain, who is clearly trying to make life safer for civilians but whose heavy-handedness and unwillingness to listen to reason makes her somewhat dangerous and prone to authoritarianism. To make matters worse for both factions is the increased incidences of mutation around the city: mutated humans and animals have been attacking unmutated humans in record numbers, and are making the city more and more dangerous to traverse. Joshua learns of a way that the mutation can be mitigated or perhaps cured, but is required to travel deep into uncontrolled areas of the city to hunt down leads, most notably a scientist named Rena Fleiss (voiced by Lorraine Toussaint) who has discovered how to reverse the mutations. Joshua finds himself forming an uneasy alliance with Malbor to clear out these unknown areas of the city, bringing himself into further conflict with Tremain (who is slowly becoming Joshua's love interest, as she reminds him greatly of the wife he lost several years back). Joshua also begins to encounter Dark Truth, who initially is presented as being a lone wolf, but who is eventually revealed to be working under Malbor, and who Joshua is barely able to prevent from killing Tremain in a sequence a little over halfway through the game. Joshua and Tremain end up separated from their factions, forced to work together as they're stranded in a dangerous part of the city. They eventually meet Rena, who uses her mutation antidote to cure a large creature, transforming it back into a dog, though it dies soon after. Rena needs to perfect her formula, and as it turns out, has been experimenting on a number of subjects, some of them human. Joshua and Tremain both question the ethics of this, with Joshua being more receptive to the procedure, and Tremain his reluctant partner as he helps Rena find what she needs to perfect her antidote. Joshua is eventually cornered by a humanoid mutated creature, one that's been stalking him throughout the game. Tremain saves him and is about to finish off the creature, when Joshua realizes that the mutant might be his wife and stops Tremain from killing it. Joshua wants to use Rena's antidote on the creature to get his wife back, leading to a rift between Tremain and himself, as Tremain disagrees too much with the ethics of Rena's methods to allow them to continue. However, the question is soon settled after Dark Truth murders Rena and Malbor takes control of her research and subjects. Tremain leads a mission to destroy Malbor once and for all, while also sending a squad to take down the Riders. Joshua returns to protect his friends, only for Ciaran to lose his life in the conflict. Dark Truth eventually turns on Malbor and kills him, and nearly kills Tremain before Joshua arrives to save her. Joshua blames Tremain for Ciaran's death, while Tremain admits that she and her squadron went too far in their efforts to clean up the city. Tremain is able to use the last of Rena's antidote on the mutant that was once his wife, giving him a few last moments with her before she dies in his arms and Tremain finally realizes that there's no way to truly cure the mutants, and that they must be killed to free them from their suffering. Dark Truth, as it turns out, is the result of government experimentation to create a race of nuclear-immune supersoldiers to turn the tide of the war, and that the same experiments that created him also created the mutants (not the radiation from the war). Rena was a member of the team that created this serum and she was hoping to atone for her past deeds by making a cure, while Malbor was the leader of a squad of mercenaries for hire that the government brought in to train the supersoldiers (only to be slaughtered by them as a result of the training exercise). Dark Truth is able to use what he gleaned from Rena's research to create a group of mutated supersoldiers and obediant mutated animals to help him take over the city and kill whoever stands in his way. While Tremain leads what remains of her squad, along with a few remaining rebel factions, to battle Dark Truth's army, Joshua faces off against Dark Truth himself in an epic final showdown. Dark Truth and his armies are defeated, and much of the mutants and hazardous materials are cleared from the city, giving humanity a hope of resettling the surface safely, though the danger still remains. Joshua and Tremain share their first and only kiss, but Tremain can't stay with him, deciding to instead move on to clear out other cities, while Joshua remains behind to protect his people and oversee the resettlement of the city.

Hazardous is released on February 21, 2012 to extremely high critical praise, making it the second best reviewed game of the year thus far (slightly behind Virtua Fighter Infinity). Critics praise the game's storyline and shooting action, along with its Metroidvania-style world progression. While some critics and fans do criticize the game's loot system, others praise it for its ability to make even mundane battles exciting with the chance to pick up some great loot. Hazardous would receive numerous DLC packs, including two new story chapters and DLC packs containing more gear variety and costumes. The DLC would mostly be praised as adding to the game's content and replay value, with the two main DLC chapters offering numerous hours of content and 20 additional levels for $14.99 a piece. Moreover, the DLC wasn't tied into the game's loot system (there were no "pay to win" DLC packs containing lootboxes or time savers), with the small bits of gear offered by DLC consisting primarily of unique cosmetic gear that wasn't especially good in terms of strength. The game's release would mark Guerilla's shift from development of the Killzone series to development of robust, single player experiences, much in the same way that they shifted from Killzone to Horizon Zero Dawn IOTL (though Hazardous' development time was quite a bit shorter, three years as opposed to the six of OTL's Horizon, thanks mostly to the game's smaller scope and slightly less polish in terms of character development and storyline). Hazardous would sell extremely well at the time of its release, considered as one of the games that pushed the Sapphire to its limits and helping to usher Nintendo and Sony into the last segment of the Sapphire's lifespan.
 
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with Troy Baker as the voice of the game's protagonist, Joshua Redding. <snip> and Steve Blum as the voice of the game's primary protagonist, a cloaked assassin known as Dark Truth.
Minor typo there :p

Anyway, glad you're back; hope you had a good break!

Really liked the VFI chapter and this one, the major question remains...."Will Apple's insistence on download only for the Gemini be the first major contributor to the death of physical media ITTL, or will it bite them in the ass and cause it to just limp along as little more than an "also ran" in the handheld arena (at least outside of Japan)?"
As much as I love physical media.....I still want the Genini to be successful in the U.S......kinda torn there....
 
Coldplay and Mumford and Sons are definitely still around, as are Imagine Dragons (one of their songs will be showing up in the TL soon).
YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Children Of Men still exists,
Cool! Is anything different from OTL? Is it still a box office bomb? or is it more successful? Does the lack of Bush and Iraq effect it?

Sigur Ros
They were formed in Iceland in 1994, so the butterflies (which started three years ago by that point) should not have affected them yet.
 
Winter 2012 (Part 4) - Squaresoft: Little Games, Big Plans
Air Of Mystery

Air Of Mystery is an action RPG/dungeon crawler developed by Squaresoft exclusively for the Nintendo Sapphire. With a somewhat lower budget than the normal AAA Squaresoft title, Air Of Mystery is intended to be both the launch of a new IP and a throwback to classic RPG storytelling, even as it presents itself in the form of a 3-D action RPG not unlike the 3-D Zelda titles, or games such as Dark Cloud and Brave Fencer Musashi (which appeared ITTL as Brave Fencer Kyuriadan, a game which Air Of Mystery can be called a spiritual successor to). The game's protagonist is a young squire named Elliot who serves the heroic knight Falkan. After Falkan goes missing, Elliot must search across the land for him, all the while hunting down magical crystals and helping to defeat a great evil force. Combat can somewhat be compared to the OTL Crystal Chronicles games: it's a somewhat slow-paced hack and slash title, with Elliot able to use both sword attacks and magic spells. The player is able to build Elliot's stats up in several ways: leveling up via fighting, gaining skill points via the use of skills, and finding magical artifacts in the world that can also be used to raise Elliot's stats and grant him experience and skill points. The combat is fairly basic, with a few basic slash attacks, some special sword techniques, and a variety of magic spells. Techniques and spells are both earned and found throughout the game, with players able to equip a few at a time. Gameplay alternates between overworld exploration, town scenes, and dungeon crawling, with six major dungeons and several minor dungeons located throughout the game. Typically, Elliot will progress through the overworld to a town, where he'll be given a problem to solve. He'll then visit a dungeon, solve that problem, and return to the town for his reward. This formula isn't ironclad, however, and occasionally Elliot will find a dungeon while he's out exploring, or will find a town without a problem to solve. Dungeons themselves play out somewhat like Zelda dungeons, with puzzles (most of them fairly simplistic), treasures, combat with minor enemies, and then combat with a boss. The game itself has a lot of throwback elements to classic Final Fantasy games, with moogles and chocobos both present and a few classic Final Fantasy music tracks as well. The graphics aren't quite as detailed and polished as those in recent major RPG titles, instead taking on a bit more of a cartoonish style. The game features a soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta, and it also features voice acting, with an English dub featuring some decently well known voice artists. The game's plot itself plays out somewhat straightforwardly, with Elliot taking up an adventure by himself after his knight goes missing. As Elliot searches the world for Falkan, he learns of the Four Crystals that have maintained balance in the world becoming damaged, and Elliot being the only one who can restore them. With help from numerous allies (though none of them actually aid Elliot in combat, this is a strictly single player party), Elliot journeys throughout the world, to various towns and dangerous dungeons, all the while hunting down Falkan and seeking to restore the crystals. During his travels, Elliot begins to piece together more and more of what Falkan has been up to, and eventually learns that Falkan is not only alive, but that he's responsible for the Crystals' corruption, though it takes him some more time to learn why. The two eventually confront one another, with Falkan telling Elliot to stop his journey and that he wouldn't understand. Elliot stands up to Falkan and is nearly killed, only to awaken in a nearby town. He's knighted by his friend/love interest Princess Celia (now queen after the death of her parents following the corruption of the Fire Crystal). Now a knight, Elliot resolves to restore the crystals, defeat Falkan, and save the world. He learns that Falkan is serving a higher master, an ancient evil known as Meteris, and that Falkan had absorbed the Crystals' power so he could stop Meteris' plans. This ultimately fails, and Falkan and Elliot are forced to battle one last time, with Elliot forced to strike Falkan down. Elliot then journeys into the last dungeon and defeats Meteris, restoring the Crystals and saving the world. Queen Celia asks Elliot to marry her, but Elliot must refuse, as the knight's journey requires him to remain a lone wanderer. Air Of Mystery is favorably reviewed by critics, averaging an 8/10 even with the somewhat simplistic gameplay and plot. It's considered a moderately successful game, doing quite well in Japan and all right in North America, though in some ways it's seen as yet another Squaresoft IP that ends up launching a single good game and then going nowhere afterwards, unable to quite live up to their classic games.

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SaGa Frontier 3

SaGa Frontier 3 is a new installment in the SaGa Frontier series, which last appeared on the SNES-CD and Ultra Nintendo more than a decade earlier. This game appears exclusively on the Nintendo Connect. While the game doesn't have any storyline ties to its predecessors, it shares the games' Region system and its presentation as seven smaller quests rather than one large one. It also has many things in common with other SaGa games, including spontaneous learning of skills and powering up based on what attacks a character uses or defends against. SaGa Frontier 3, instead of featuring different characters, features a single character: a hero named Ravel, whose story is told in seven parts, spanning 50 years of his life as he travels the regions having adventures and fighting a series of evils. Ravel's story can be experienced either chronologically or in any order the player chooses, with certain scenes designed to play out differently depending on which quests the player has already completed. The seven stories, in chronological order, follow Ravel as an 11-year-old boy called to adventure for the first time (1), as a young 17-year-old hero first learning of his destiny (2), as an 18-year-old hero falling in love with a beautiful maiden (3), as a 25-year-old man who experiences great tragedy and loss (4), as a 32-year-old man who avenges his loss and saves the world (5), as a 45-year-old general leading a kingdom into battle (6), and as a 61-year-old legend who must save the world one final time (7). Each of these seven stories has its own tone and unique feel, with some characters exclusive to one quest and others appearing in multiple quests (and some in all seven). While Ravel's growth as a hero starts somewhat anew in each story, there are some stats/aspects that carry over once certain quests are completed, and Ravel generally becomes more powerful in the "later" quests than the earlier ones, though he gains at least one unique power in each. Like many SaGa titles, the player controls a five character party and is able to recruit even more than that. Ravel must appear in the main battle party, and when his LP are depleted (a character loses one LP each time they are knocked out in combat), it's a game over. After all seven quests are completed, depending on the completion of certain conditions, the player opens up a final mini-quest which resolves the remaining mysteries of the story, allows Ravel to undo an ancient tragedy, and reveals what happens at the end of Ravel's life. A certain task has to be performed in each of the seven quests to unlock this mini-quest, but the player is able to go back and accomplish that task no matter what point they're at in each story (when a quest is completed, it's saved to the system file from a point just before the point of no return, and the player is allowed to go back into that quest, complete side quests and accomplish the hidden task, though they do have to beat the final boss again to properly log those changes). SaGa Frontier 3 is somewhat of a throwback in its visual design, featuring a mix of 2-D and 3-D graphics (a bit reminiscent of OTL's Octopath Traveler, though the backgrounds look a bit less polished and the characters aren't rendered as 16-bit esque sprites), no voice acting, and a menu-based navigation system. However, the game also features a beautiful soundtrack by SaGa maestro Kenji Ito. Reviews are quite excellent, perhaps the best for a SaGa game to date, with a 37/40 in Famitsu and North American reviews averaging in the mid to high 8s. The game is a chart topper in Japan, and beats expectations in North America, though it's still not a mainstream success by any stretch. Still, the game's success proves that Squaresoft can still get new life from some of their older franchises, and as the company heads into the next generation and ponders what franchises to continue and which ones to cease making games for, the performance of SaGa Frontier 3 is an encouraging sign for that IP's future.

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Squaresoft's upcoming Final Fantasy XIII has thus far only been announced for the Nintendo Sapphire, but rumors continue to swirl that a potential Google Nexus port of the game could be announced as soon as this year's E3. This comes on the heels of an announcement that Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI are being ported to Android after last year's successful release of Final Fantasy IV on the platform. While rumors that Final Fantasy XII would be coming to the iTwin ultimately proved to be false, Squaresoft and Google have cozied up with one another over the past year, with the likely announcement of an Android exclusive Final Fantasy title also expected later this year. Despite a series of successful game releases, Squaresoft's profits have dipped over the past few years, with industry experts citing the company's continued loyalty to Nintendo and refusal to release ports of their modern games to other consoles as the main reason that the RPG giant's success appears to have stagnated. With more and more companies announced to be porting their games to the Google Nexus, Squaresoft could be just the latest company to release new games for Google's highly anticipated machine, and if Final Fantasy XIII makes it to the Nexus, it will likely be the premiere version of the game, with graphical detail exceeding that of the Sapphire version. It also comes at a time when Squaresoft has been consolidating its operations, releasing fewer games and even releasing several members of its production team, all on the heels of lower than expected profits since 2008. The success of Final Fantasy XII and the Sapphire version of Final Fantasy Online have helped keep the company well in the black, but Squaresoft's profile has shrunk in recent years, and recently, rival Japanese companies such as Konami and Enix, and even Game Arts, have inched closer to Squaresoft's total market share.

This consolidation is expected to see the announcement of several new games for the next generation, with new IP development being prioritized over the continuation of classic franchises such as Mana and Chrono. While Final Fantasy is expected to continue (and indeed, the next generation may see more Final Fantasy games, with several of them perhaps coming to mobile), other series may be left out in the cold despite successful previous outings. One property expected to continue is the Disney crossover Kingdom Hearts, which is already confirmed to have at least one more handheld title and one more console title in production. Squaresoft also recently released a cryptic message on their website that may hint at the production of a new game in the Fairytale franchise, which last saw a new release in 2008. We're also expected to learn about a true sequel to Final Fantasy Online, and that sequel could well end up on the Nexus, along with perhaps Nintendo's upcoming (and also unannounced) Sapphire successor. Squaresoft is planning a major keynote speech at E3, and we'll likely get our first real glimpse at the company's next generation plans in just three more months.

-from an article posted on March 1, 2012 on Games Over Matter
 
Air Of Mystery

Air Of Mystery is an action RPG/dungeon crawler developed by Squaresoft exclusively for the Nintendo Sapphire. With a somewhat lower budget than the normal AAA Squaresoft title, Air Of Mystery is intended to be both the launch of a new IP and a throwback to classic RPG storytelling, even as it presents itself in the form of a 3-D action RPG not unlike the 3-D Zelda titles, or games such as Dark Cloud and Brave Fencer Musashi (which appeared ITTL as Brave Fencer Kyuriadan, a game which Air Of Mystery can be called a spiritual successor to). The game's protagonist is a young squire named Elliot who serves the heroic knight Falkan. After Falkan goes missing, Elliot must search across the land for him, all the while hunting down magical crystals and helping to defeat a great evil force. Combat can somewhat be compared to the OTL Crystal Chronicles games: it's a somewhat slow-paced hack and slash title, with Elliot able to use both sword attacks and magic spells. The player is able to build Elliot's stats up in several ways: leveling up via fighting, gaining skill points via the use of skills, and finding magical artifacts in the world that can also be used to raise Elliot's stats and grant him experience and skill points. The combat is fairly basic, with a few basic slash attacks, some special sword techniques, and a variety of magic spells. Techniques and spells are both earned and found throughout the game, with players able to equip a few at a time. Gameplay alternates between overworld exploration, town scenes, and dungeon crawling, with six major dungeons and several minor dungeons located throughout the game. Typically, Elliot will progress through the overworld to a town, where he'll be given a problem to solve. He'll then visit a dungeon, solve that problem, and return to the town for his reward. This formula isn't ironclad, however, and occasionally Elliot will find a dungeon while he's out exploring, or will find a town without a problem to solve. Dungeons themselves play out somewhat like Zelda dungeons, with puzzles (most of them fairly simplistic), treasures, combat with minor enemies, and then combat with a boss. The game itself has a lot of throwback elements to classic Final Fantasy games, with moogles and chocobos both present and a few classic Final Fantasy music tracks as well. The graphics aren't quite as detailed and polished as those in recent major RPG titles, instead taking on a bit more of a cartoonish style. The game features a soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta, and it also features voice acting, with an English dub featuring some decently well known voice artists. The game's plot itself plays out somewhat straightforwardly, with Elliot taking up an adventure by himself after his knight goes missing. As Elliot searches the world for Falkan, he learns of the Four Crystals that have maintained balance in the world becoming damaged, and Elliot being the only one who can restore them. With help from numerous allies (though none of them actually aid Elliot in combat, this is a strictly single player party), Elliot journeys throughout the world, to various towns and dangerous dungeons, all the while hunting down Falkan and seeking to restore the crystals. During his travels, Elliot begins to piece together more and more of what Falkan has been up to, and eventually learns that Falkan is not only alive, but that he's responsible for the Crystals' corruption, though it takes him some more time to learn why. The two eventually confront one another, with Falkan telling Elliot to stop his journey and that he wouldn't understand. Elliot stands up to Falkan and is nearly killed, only to awaken in a nearby town. He's knighted by his friend/love interest Princess Celia (now queen after the death of her parents following the corruption of the Fire Crystal). Now a knight, Elliot resolves to restore the crystals, defeat Falkan, and save the world. He learns that Falkan is serving a higher master, an ancient evil known as Meteris, and that Falkan had absorbed the Crystals' power so he could stop Meteris' plans. This ultimately fails, and Falkan and Elliot are forced to battle one last time, with Elliot forced to strike Falkan down. Elliot then journeys into the last dungeon and defeats Meteris, restoring the Crystals and saving the world. Queen Celia asks Elliot to marry her, but Elliot must refuse, as the knight's journey requires him to remain a lone wanderer. Air Of Mystery is favorably reviewed by critics, averaging an 8/10 even with the somewhat simplistic gameplay and plot. It's considered a moderately successful game, doing quite well in Japan and all right in North America, though in some ways it's seen as yet another Squaresoft IP that ends up launching a single good game and then going nowhere afterwards, unable to quite live up to their classic games.

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SaGa Frontier 3

SaGa Frontier 3 is a new installment in the SaGa Frontier series, which last appeared on the SNES-CD and Ultra Nintendo more than a decade earlier. This game appears exclusively on the Nintendo Connect. While the game doesn't have any storyline ties to its predecessors, it shares the games' Region system and its presentation as seven smaller quests rather than one large one. It also has many things in common with other SaGa games, including spontaneous learning of skills and powering up based on what attacks a character uses or defends against. SaGa Frontier 3, instead of featuring different characters, features a single character: a hero named Ravel, whose story is told in seven parts, spanning 50 years of his life as he travels the regions having adventures and fighting a series of evils. Ravel's story can be experienced either chronologically or in any order the player chooses, with certain scenes designed to play out differently depending on which quests the player has already completed. The seven stories, in chronological order, follow Ravel as an 11-year-old boy called to adventure for the first time (1), as a young 17-year-old hero first learning of his destiny (2), as an 18-year-old hero falling in love with a beautiful maiden (3), as a 25-year-old man who experiences great tragedy and loss (4), as a 32-year-old man who avenges his loss and saves the world (5), as a 45-year-old general leading a kingdom into battle (6), and as a 61-year-old legend who must save the world one final time (7). Each of these seven stories has its own tone and unique feel, with some characters exclusive to one quest and others appearing in multiple quests (and some in all seven). While Ravel's growth as a hero starts somewhat anew in each story, there are some stats/aspects that carry over once certain quests are completed, and Ravel generally becomes more powerful in the "later" quests than the earlier ones, though he gains at least one unique power in each. Like many SaGa titles, the player controls a five character party and is able to recruit even more than that. Ravel must appear in the main battle party, and when his LP are depleted (a character loses one LP each time they are knocked out in combat), it's a game over. After all seven quests are completed, depending on the completion of certain conditions, the player opens up a final mini-quest which resolves the remaining mysteries of the story, allows Ravel to undo an ancient tragedy, and reveals what happens at the end of Ravel's life. A certain task has to be performed in each of the seven quests to unlock this mini-quest, but the player is able to go back and accomplish that task no matter what point they're at in each story (when a quest is completed, it's saved to the system file from a point just before the point of no return, and the player is allowed to go back into that quest, complete side quests and accomplish the hidden task, though they do have to beat the final boss again to properly log those changes). SaGa Frontier 3 is somewhat of a throwback in its visual design, featuring a mix of 2-D and 3-D graphics (a bit reminiscent of OTL's Octopath Traveler, though the backgrounds look a bit less polished and the characters aren't rendered as 16-bit esque sprites), no voice acting, and a menu-based navigation system. However, the game also features a beautiful soundtrack by SaGa maestro Kenji Ito. Reviews are quite excellent, perhaps the best for a SaGa game to date, with a 37/40 in Famitsu and North American reviews averaging in the mid to high 8s. The game is a chart topper in Japan, and beats expectations in North America, though it's still not a mainstream success by any stretch. Still, the game's success proves that Squaresoft can still get new life from some of their older franchises, and as the company heads into the next generation and ponders what franchises to continue and which ones to cease making games for, the performance of SaGa Frontier 3 is an encouraging sign for that IP's future.

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Squaresoft's upcoming Final Fantasy XIII has thus far only been announced for the Nintendo Sapphire, but rumors continue to swirl that a potential Google Nexus port of the game could be announced as soon as this year's E3. This comes on the heels of an announcement that Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI are being ported to Android after last year's successful release of Final Fantasy IV on the platform. While rumors that Final Fantasy XII would be coming to the iTwin ultimately proved to be false, Squaresoft and Google have cozied up with one another over the past year, with the likely announcement of an Android exclusive Final Fantasy title also expected later this year. Despite a series of successful game releases, Squaresoft's profits have dipped over the past few years, with industry experts citing the company's continued loyalty to Nintendo and refusal to release ports of their modern games to other consoles as the main reason that the RPG giant's success appears to have stagnated. With more and more companies announced to be porting their games to the Google Nexus, Squaresoft could be just the latest company to release new games for Google's highly anticipated machine, and if Final Fantasy XIII makes it to the Nexus, it will likely be the premiere version of the game, with graphical detail exceeding that of the Sapphire version. It also comes at a time when Squaresoft has been consolidating its operations, releasing fewer games and even releasing several members of its production team, all on the heels of lower than expected profits since 2008. The success of Final Fantasy XII and the Sapphire version of Final Fantasy Online have helped keep the company well in the black, but Squaresoft's profile has shrunk in recent years, and recently, rival Japanese companies such as Konami and Enix, and even Game Arts, have inched closer to Squaresoft's total market share.

This consolidation is expected to see the announcement of several new games for the next generation, with new IP development being prioritized over the continuation of classic franchises such as Mana and Chrono. While Final Fantasy is expected to continue (and indeed, the next generation may see more Final Fantasy games, with several of them perhaps coming to mobile), other series may be left out in the cold despite successful previous outings. One property expected to continue is the Disney crossover Kingdom Hearts, which is already confirmed to have at least one more handheld title and one more console title in production. Squaresoft also recently released a cryptic message on their website that may hint at the production of a new game in the Fairytale franchise, which last saw a new release in 2008. We're also expected to learn about a true sequel to Final Fantasy Online, and that sequel could well end up on the Nexus, along with perhaps Nintendo's upcoming (and also unannounced) Sapphire successor. Squaresoft is planning a major keynote speech at E3, and we'll likely get our first real glimpse at the company's next generation plans in just three more months.

-from an article posted on March 1, 2012 on Games Over Matter
I assume that you arleady have plans for square soft new IPS for the foreseeable future but I got a few rpgs that are you could use. IF you think there is no room at square they can be released else wear I arleady told them to you but you probably have forgotten them. If you want to hear them again just tell me and I will pm them to you again
 
Winter 2012 (Part 5) - Dragonwar
Dragonwar

Dragonwar is a fantasy adventure game exclusively for the Apple iTwin. The game takes place in a world divided into great, modern cities and a vast, massive plain known as The Wilderness, where great and powerful creatures roam. These creatures have powerful magic and are so powerful and dangerous that even with technology surpassing our own, humans have been unable to conquer large parts of these areas. There are some humans who live in the Wilderness, including the protagonist, a boy named Kai who was once a member of a tribe of hunters before it was decimated by a powerful beast. Kai has been living in the Wilderness alongside a dragon named Flare, scavenging human technology and studying their knowledge as best he can in the shadow of one of these great cities. Dragonwar plays somewhat like a cross between Shadow Of The Colossus and Horizon Zero Dawn. It has RPG elements, but is an adventure game first and foremost. Players manage both Kai and Flare's development, building up their stats and gathering equipment for both. Exploration is a major part of the game, with players able to roam the game's wide open areas on foot, in vehicles, and riding creatures, both Flare and others. Kai has been gifted with the ability to control nature to some extent, both plant and animal life, and is able to use this to befriend the various creatures he finds and also to cultivate and gain power from animals and plants, an ability the player will need to master in order to succeed in the game. Despite growing up in the wilderness, Kai is able to speak to humans quite easily, having gained knowledge both from his old tribe and his observations of the people in the cities who occasionally find themselves lost in the wilderness. Thus, the game has some role-playing aspects, though there are no side missions for Kai to complete (at least not officially, Kai is still able to go off the beaten path, explore, and find treasure, but there are no objectives to complete apart from those the main story places before him). As implied by the game's title, the main crux of the game is an ongoing war between two great modern cities, utilizing both technology and their control over dragons to battle it out in the skies above. This war permeates the game's main storyline, which spans ten years, depicting Kai both as a young boy (in the early part of the game) and a young man (in the latter 80 percent of the game). This storyline tells of the progress of the war and Kai's relationship with both humans and creatures, including his dragon Flare, which grows from a small dragon about the size of a lion to a large, majestic dragon capable of soaring through the skies. Flare is Kai's constant companion, with echoes of Toothless from OTL's How To Train Your Dragon and Trico from OTL's The Last Guardian. Kai and Flare have a very close relationship, more like brothers than that of an owner with a pet, and Flare is the game's secondary protagonist in many ways. The game also utilizes its optional motion controls to great effect, allowing the player to steer their dragon in flight with the two iTwin controllers and even to aim and shoot at enemies onscreen. Dragonwar's epic scale is brought to life by the game's vivid graphics, which are easily some of the best seen on the Apple iTwin to date and comparable with many Sapphire/Xbox 2 offerings, with enormous open spaces, beautiful cityscapes, and detailed animation. The game has an epic, sweeping musical score, and strong voice acting from a cast consisting mostly of unknowns.

The game begins by depicting the destruction of Kai's village and the deaths of his family and tribemates, leaving him alone with only a young dragon as a companion. Kai and Flare are enemies at first, with Kai trying to capture and kill the dragon and Flare trying to kill Kai, but eventually they bond and help each other survive. At the same time, Kai has a run-in with Governor General Ragna, the leader of the great city of Imperion, and he also meets and befriends Beatrix, a young scientist girl who is initially scared of him but who Kai eventually assists and saves from danger. Beatrix is an intelligent and kind child prodigy, someone who has always been fascinated with the Wilderness but who has just been accepted into the Imperion Academy and who won't be able to return to the Wilderness for quite some time. Kai eventually witnesses a great battle between Imperion and its rival, the city of Xanadu, and amidst the destruction, Flare is badly injured. Kai nurses the dragon back to health and eventually hunts down the person responsible for harming him, a cruel officer named Tengu. Kai eventually confronts Tengu, and defeats him, and Tengu is eventually killed. Soon after, there's a flash forward. Over the next few hours of gameplay, ten years pass. Imperion and Xanadu's war has killed millions and has strewn destruction across the land, with many creatures killed. Flare is now a massive and beautiful dragon, with powerful fire breath, and Kai is now a skilled warrior with knowledge of both wilderness survival and modern technology. He hasn't seen Beatrix in ten years, and she's now the lead scientist in Imperion's weapons program, working directly under Ragna. A new character is introduced as well, a professor named Hart, who seems fascinated with Kai and the Wilderness, and who becomes a valuable ally from this point forward in the game. Much of the early part of this segment is spent protecting the Wilderness and its creatures from the war. Kai soon reunites with Beatrix, and though there's tension between them, there's an undeniable attraction. Meanwhile, Kai is eventually invited to visit Imperion, where Ragna believes Kai can help him tame a legion of dragons to use as living weapons. Kai is torn between not wanting to help Ragna tame the dragons, but also wanting to end the war quickly. Kai eventually visits Xanadu as well, learning of the more magic-oriented technology of the city and also meeting its crown princess, an angelic-looking young woman named Sephira who also sees a kindred spirit in Kai and who serves as another love interest apart from Beatrix (who is growing further and further apart from Kai). It seems that the game might be setting Kai up to defect from Imperion and join Xanadu, but he actually ends up opposing both sides after Ragna uses Kai's dragons to commit a hideous war crime while Sephira uses her powers to drain the life from an entire forest. Kai leads Flare on a destructive rampage throughout Imperion, but Beatrix is caught in the middle, and Kai ends up deciding to save her instead of finishing the city off. Kai and Beatrix then conceive a plan to use Xanadu magitech to disable both armies, but the plan leads to a tragedy that causes Hart to sacrifice himself to save the two. Both sides are now commanding powerful armies of creatures and weapons against one another, threatening to destroy the entire planet, while Kai has lost control of his power due to the Spirit of Dragons (who turns out to also be Kai's biological mother) viewing him as a traitor. Kai and Flare manage to reach the Spirit of Dragons, but Flare is forced to sacrifice himself as well. Beatrix uses a mech to hold off Ragna's forces, and Kai's gift is reactivated. He no longer has Flare, but is able to command an army of dragons against Ragna. Meanwhile, Beatrix and Sephira battle it out in the skies above Xanadu. Beatrix defeats Sephira, who renounces her misdeeds during the war, but succumbs to her injuries from the fight. Meanwhile, Kai is able to defeat Ragna by transforming into a dragon himself, defeating Ragna and also stopping the planet's vengeance against both sides. The war ends with Imperion and Xanadu both heavily damaged, forcing the people of both cities to work together to survive in the Wilderness in the aftermath until modern civilization can be rebuilt. Kai and Beatrix retreat to the depths of the Wilderness, living together and hoping to forge their own unity between nature and technology.

Released in March 2012 as one of two heavily hyped iTwin exclusives for that month (along with Panzer Dragoon Phanta), Dragonwar is an immediate commercial success, becoming that month's best selling new game. However, reviews aren't quite up to expectations, praising the game for its production values but criticizing its somewhat simplistic gameplay and a plot that sometimes drags on too much at certain points while also moving too quickly at others. The game's reviews average in the low to mid 8s, still a good game but not the Game of the Year contender it had been hyped up to be. It still remains a major success for the iTwin and one of the most memorable games of the latter part of its lifespan, while also providing a key blueprint for the types of games Apple is hoping to release on its next generation system.
 
Winter 2012 (Part 6) - New IPs Make A Splash
Sindolin

Sindolin is a horror/third person shooter game combining the atmosphere of OTL's Dark Souls (but not its difficulty) with elements of the gunplay found in titles like Devil May Cry. The game's protagonist, Keddeth, is known as a Horrorslayer, a man who hunts down and destroys demonic beings to protect towns and people. Typically, these demons rise from the actions of humans, and so Keddeth must occasionally root out and eliminate the source of these demonic infestations by killing the human responsible or forcing them to renounce their ways. Keddeth has the ability to use melee attacks, but primarily uses guns in battle, and these guns can be upgraded as the player progresses through the game. This is an adventure title, not a loot-based once, with Keddeth upgrading his gear by paying coin that he finds along the way. Keddeth's primary weapon is a long rifle slung across his back, but he can also use pistols and shotguns as well, and also has a kind of captive spear gun that he can use both to kill enemies or to scale to higher places. The game sees Keddeth trekking through incredibly scary, disturbing environments, and like in the Dark Souls/Bloodborne games, there's plenty of lore for the player to discover. The game's graphics are quite detailed and vivid, creating a very frightening atmosphere for the player, while there's plenty of violence and gore as well, with monsters getting their limbs ripped off and spewing blood everywhere. The game's soundtrack is very gothic/symphonic, contributing to the spooky horror atmosphere. Paul St. Peter plays the voice of Keddeth in the game. As for the game's plot, it follows a fairly linear progression, with the player traversing across eight areas spanning a large city and its outlying towns and forests. There are eight primary chapters to the game, with four of them taking place in the city itself, which Keddeth frequently returns to even as he ventures outward to perform his duties. The game's primary antagonist is a corrupt church called the Vicarius, which positions itself as the only defender of the people but which has actually been causing demonic infestations via the actions of its priests. Keddeth initially starts out working alongside the church (but not actually for it, as he opposes it on principle), and even when it's revealed that the church itself is the main cause of the infestations, he doesn't rise against the church itself, only seeking to do his job by killing the demons and destroying the church's corruption. Depending on how much of the game's lore that the player discovers, Keddeth is able to save a few of the game's NPCs who would otherwise be killed over the course of the story, though this has little impact on the game's progression itself, only on the ending. The final battle of the game is against Archbishop Royan, who has been absorbed into a massive amorphous monster as a cause of his evil deeds. Keddeth must extract Royan from the monster before killing him once and for all, ending the church's corruption and (at least for now) saving the realm. Keddeth then leaves for parts unknown, his work done, at least for a time. Sindolin is rather well reviewed by critics due to its graphics, atmosphere, and gameplay, and while the plot itself is fairly generic, the ability for the player to dig deeper and uncover lore about the game's world is seen as a big bonus. Sindolin is released for both the Nintendo Sapphire and Apple iTwin, and would later come out on at least one next generation system in 2013. The game proves to be both a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the best selling new games of February 2012 and one of the best new IP launches of the year.

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Life And Death

A 2-D/3-D fighter, Life And Death is a fighting game based heavily on grappling and scuffles, a sort of Mortal Kombat meets UFC type of title. Gameplay itself somewhat resembles Soul Calibur, in that it features 2-D style fighting on a 3-D plane, with players able to move side to side even while facing each other down. When a grapple is initiated, the action switches to a close-up view with both players able to continue fighting even as one is grappling the other, applying various holds and counterholds in the scuffle or trying to get back to their feet. The game has fourteen different fighters, a mix of men and women with some nonhuman creatures as well. These fighters range from strikers who try to down opponents with kicks and punches to set up their ground game, to straight-up grapplers who go right into attempting to wrestle opponents to the floor. Even though the game is based on grappling, fights feature a traditional health meter with no submissions: grapples will gradually drain the opponent's health until they're able to work their way out of it. Grapples can be quite brutal, with arm/leg breaks common, and if someone's limb is broken in a grapple, it will affect them for the remainder of the fight, making their holds weaker or reducing their ability to stand. As the name of the game emphasizes, these are truly life and death struggles, with fights assumed to be to the death, though there aren't any truly brutal fatalities like there are in games such as Mortal Kombat. The general tone of the game is quite serious as well, with the game's story mode revolving around brutal underground mixed martial arts matches in which brave fighters who are willing to die in the ring battle it out for prize money and honor. The game's graphics are marginally good, with character animations and detail being fairly realistic (especially on the next generation consoles, which this game eventually appears on). The game launches in March 2012 and achieves solid reviews, in the high 7/low 8 range, and decent sales as well, though this game would ultimately become more significant on the tournament fighter scene as one of the most unique fighting games of its day. The grappling mechanics make Life And Death one of the most strategic titles on the market, and the game would achieve more notoriety amongst hardcore players than it would among casual players. It becomes one of the most important new fighting game IPs of its generation, and would see increased visibility in the next generation with sequels and spinoffs released on the new hardware. It also garners some controversy for its violent and brutal visuals, but not enough to seriously affect the game's success one way or the other.

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Scavenger Of The Slums

Scavenger Of The Slums is a shooter/RPG title released in March 2012 for the Nintendo Sapphire (and later for the Google Nexus). Best compared to OTL's Borderlands in gameplay style, but lacking that game's cel shaded art or general irreverent tone, Scavenger Of The Slums is your classic "looter shooter", with a customizable protagonist who ventures through a series of cities in search of loot and money. The game garners quite a few comparisons to Hazardous, but is much more accessible to casual players, with loot flying all over the place and plenty of procedurally generated weapons to be found. There's treasure pretty much everywhere one looks in the game, with enemies freely dropping weapons and ammo and plenty of loot chests scattered all around. The main plot, which focuses on a band of raiders seeking to find "the Ultimate Cannon", is only about 20% of the game's overall content, with much of the game consisting of side quests and self guided exploration. There are plenty of weird characters in the game, and the protagonist, known as the Scavenger, will get to know them as they go back and forth between different slum areas, all the while dodging the forces of the Slumlord, the game's primary villain who seeks to enslave the residents of the slums by tying them down with massive debt. Ostensibly, the residents of the slums pay off this debt by selling the loot they find, but the Slumlord has secretly hired mercenaries to take all the loot for themselves while killing anyone who gets too suspicious. The Scavenger must stand up to the Slumlord's mercenaries (and any other villains they find), help the people of the slums, and find the best treasures. There are plenty of tools at the Scavenger's disposal, including perks (both gained through level ups and gained through equipment), special attacks, and unique weaponry, some of which can be found out in the world, some of which randomly drops, and others which are held by the game's various enemies and bosses. Scavenger Of The Slums doesn't feature the best graphics, but the gameplay is quite addictive and fun, with no two playthroughs ending up quite the same way thanks to all the random loot drops. In addition, since Borderlands has been butterflied away, Scavenger Of The Slums is fairly unique (it's comparable to Hazardous but the two games play out a lot differently). This helps it to achieve mostly favorable reviews and strong initial sales, paving the way for another new franchise.
 
Winter 2012 (Part 7) - The Ghost Of Apple's Future
Panzer Dragoon Phanta

Panzer Dragoon Phanta is the sequel to 2008's Panzer Dragoon Zeta, developed exclusively for the Apple iTwin. While the game's plot itself has nothing to do with the plot of Zeta (with a couple of exceptions that tie the worlds of the two games together somewhat), the gameplay, a mix of JRPG mechanics and rail shooter action, is nearly identical to that of Zeta. The protagonist is a young man named Spir who inhabits a world where the boundaries between life and death have broken down. Ghosts have begun invading the world, waging war on the living, and Spir and his ghostly dragon Phanta must purify the world and re-establish the balance between the world of the dead and the world of the living. Like its predecessors, Panzer Dragoon Phanta is a rail-shooter first and foremost, in which the player patrols the skies on their dragon, shooting projectiles at various enemies with a variety of different weapons and techniques. Much like Zeta, the player can gain experience points and treasure for killing enemies, with both Spir and Phanta able to gain levels and increase their statistical parameters. Unlike Zeta, Spir does not have a partner in battle. He must fight alone, but is able to assist Phanta in combat, attacking with his own weapons while also commanding Phanta to attack enemies as well. Spir has his own separate life meter, and when he rises to attack an enemy, they can damage him, though when Spir is safely shrouded within Phanta's shield, his health points are safe (for the most part). If either Spir or Phanta have their life points depleted, it's a game over. The barrier between the living and the dead is a major part of the game's combat mechanics, with attacks capable of harming either the living or the dead, but not both, making the game function somewhat like Ikaruga in that the player can freely switch their attacks to utilize either Life Energy (which harms the dead) or Death Energy (which harms the living). Both Life and Death have their own separate equipment and techniques, so in a way, the player is gaining stats and stockpiling equipment for four different party members: Spir/Life, Spir/Death, Phanta/Life, and Phanta/Death. The world of Panzer Dragoon Phanta is much less technologically advanced than the world of Zeta, with the environs and landmarks somewhat resembling those of 19th century Japan. There are some ancient ruins that suggest a technological past, but for the most part, the world consists of pre-industrial technology with a few small exceptions here and there. Even though Spir fights alone, he does meet quite a few allies along the way, including a physically powerful old man with a tragic past, a ghostly but beautiful young woman who might hold the key to Spir's true identity, and an energetic and somewhat brash young man who has made a career out of killing ghosts but seems to get into trouble more often than not. Panzer Dragoon Phanta has a similar story structure to Zeta, with a total of 18 main missions and 14 "major" side missions, along with around 100 minor side missions. The main storyline of Phanta isn't quite as epic or as lengthy as that of Zeta, but the game world is bigger and there are a lot more side quests that can be performed, making for a larger game overall if players are willing to go off the beaten path. Panzer Dragoon Phanta features improved graphics over Zeta, with marginal gameplay improvements mostly related to quality of life issues and not necessarily a major evolution in gameplay itself. Saori Kobayashi returns as the game's composer, with a more subdued, melancholy musical score than that of Panzer Dragoon Zeta, owing to the game's more intimate scale and its storyline and world, which heavily deal in life, death, and the afterlife. The game's English dub is once again performed by a number of talented actors, with Christopher Daniel Barnes as the voice of Spir.

The game's first few missions are fairly straightforward, with Spir and Phanta hunting down increasingly dangerous ghost creatures, as the player learns about the nature of life and death in this mysterious world. The afterlife seems to be leaking into the world of the living, and so death is rarely permanent, with ghosts coming back to haunt and attack the living, though some ghosts can live side by side with the living. It's speculated that some kind of ancient being is claiming the souls of the dead, picking and choosing which ones it keeps for itself and which one it sends back, and the open rift between the living and the dead is allowing this being to take control. Mission 6 reveals that Spir might in fact be dead and that his dragon, which was previously believed to be a ghost, might actually be alive and also might be the key to closing up the rift. Spir makes it his new mission to find this rift, but it won't be easy, as a powerful warlord who himself is dead is attempting to stop Spir from completing his mission in order to keep from being sent back (partially because he fears that Hell awaits him when he is permanently killed, and partially because he believes that his lost love is still somewhere in the world waiting for him). The warlord, whose name is Nekuma, becomes the game's primary antagonist, and launches a powerful ghostly invasion of the living world, hoping to claim as many souls as he can for himself. Meanwhile, Spir finds himself caught between his worldly conflict with Nekuma and his attempt to find the ancient being controlling the souls of many of the dead. He believes that this being is the one who tore open the rift and who seeks to rule both the living and the dead. He's able to hunt down a spiritual avatar of this being, a woman named Yamiko, a woman who, like Spir, is trapped between the world of the dead and the world of the living. As Yamiko tries to aid Spir in finding the ancient being that her soul is bound to, Nekuma's armies continue their campaign. As Nekuma kills more and more people, more chaos is sewn across the land, with some souls coming to rest, other souls joining Nekuma's army, others being claimed by the ancient being, and a few remaining free to roam the planet, becoming either monsters or human ghosts, depending on their willpower and state of mind at the time of their death. Though Spir opposes Nekuma's armies, the two rarely clash on the battlefield personally, and when they do, Nekuma always spares Spir. At the same time, Yamiko never allows herself to come into contact with Nekuma. Eventually, in a late-game mission, there are numerous revelations: Yamiko is Nekuma's mysterious lost love, and the two are revealed to be Spir's parents. Spir himself is actually "alive", in a sense: he's not a ghost and he's not dead, but the ancient being, known as The Arbitrage, has a claim on Spir's soul. The only reason the Arbitrage has been unable to take Spir for himself is that Phanta, a dragon that once belonged to the Arbitrage, gave up his own life to protect Spir's soul, and is now spiritually bound to him. Spir was conceived at the moment of Nekuma's death via assassination, and in his dying moments, Yamiko gave up her soul to try and save him, an action that tore open the rift that allowed the Arbitrage to come into the world and allowed the barrier between life and death to weaken. Spir learns that he is able to restore this barrier, but in doing so, must give up the lives of his mother and his dragon and must also give up his soul and that of his father. However, if Nekuma provides enough souls to satisfy Yamiko's debt, he can save both the lives and souls of Yamiko and Spir, while giving up his own soul. Mission 17 culminates in a grand battle in which Spir and Nekuma battle. Spir defeats his father, but refuses to let the Arbitrage claim his father's soul. He tries to stand up to the Arbitrage, only for himself and his mother to have their souls taken into the Realm of Death, along with Phanta. Mission 18 begins with a scene in which Spir encounters a mysterious stranger in the Realm of Death, a beautiful young woman who turns out to be Lenexa (from Panzer Dragoon Zeta). It's revealed that while there are many different universes for the living, the dead of all universes end up in the same place (which explains the small connections to Zeta found within the game). Lenexa helps Spir to reunite with Phanta, then tells him that the Realm of Death used to be much more pleasant until the Arbitrage corrupted it, and that once the imbalance between life and death is fixed, the souls of the dead will be able to move on, even those who have committed unforgivable acts. Lenexa holds the line against the corrupted forces of the Arbitrage to give Spir and Phanta time to escape, and they fly through the Realm of Death to free Yamiko's soul just as Nekuma arrives to try and free it as well. Yamiko is able to use her life spirit to protect Nekuma from having his soul torn apart by the Arbitrage, freeing Spir and Phanta to do battle with it themselves. They must battle their way through endless armies of dead and corrupted souls to reach the Arbitrage itself, and after defeating it, the barrier between the realms of the living and the dead is re-established. Yamiko and Nekuma's souls are able to move on (and they're shown floating past Lenexa's soul as well). Spir, who is not technically dead, must say goodbye to Phanta, and is then able to pass through the barrier just as it closes, re-emerging in the realm of the living. However, as a consequence of spending so much time in the Realm of Death, he loses his memories. He wanders for a bit before being found by a familiar face, a woman who Spir helped earlier in the game. Spir doesn't remember her, but feels warmth as she guides him back to her village to begin his second life.

Panzer Dragoon Phanta is released on March 20, 2012, nearly four years to the day after the release of Zeta. The game is quite well received by critics, averaging in the high 8s/low 9s, though it's not seen as being quite as revolutionary or as memorable as Zeta. It does generally do better in reviews than the slightly disappointing Dragonwar, and achieves stronger sales overall (though this is only when North American AND Japanese sales are taken into account, as Phanta does somewhat worse than Dragonwar in North America alone). Phanta helps to establish Panzer Dragoon as one of the premier franchises in Apple's lineup, and also solidifies the series' formula as a mix of rail shooting and RPG-like gameplay, though the original "rail shooter only" format may continue to be seen in spinoff titles. Seen as one of Apple's most important games of 2012 (and one of the last great iTwin games before the iTwin's successor is revealed), Panzer Dragoon Phanta isn't quite a mainstream hit, but it definitely pleases the fans, and like fellow March 2012 dragon title Dragonwar, pushes the iTwin close to its technical limits.

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Fresh off the success of Panzer Dragoon Phanta, the latest game in Apple's hit shooter/RPG series which has already sold half a million copies in Japan, series creator Yukio Futatsugi says that he's hard at work on "at least two" future Panzer Dragoon projects. With one of these games expected to be a next-generation follow up to Phanta, rumors swirling around the other game are centered on two potentially groundbreaking ideas. The first of these ideas centers around a remake/reboot of the original Panzer Dragoon, a rail-shooter focused game built around next generation technology that could take full advantage of Apple's new "Virtua" motion control system to allow the player to put themselves in the mind and body of a flying dragon. That sounds interesting, but the other idea could be even more revolutionary: a fully online Panzer Dragoon MMORPG. Such a game would serve as a companion to Apple's wildly popular Phantasy Star Online series and could feature an even bigger, more epic world in which players roam the skies in massive dragon swarms, battling truly enormous foes.

Speaking of Apple's next generation online plans, it's almost certain that Apple will soon reveal Phantasy Star Online 3, expected to be a flagship game for the iTwin's successor. Phantasy Star Online 2 was a hugely successful launch title for the original iTwin and still has the largest player base of any console MMORPG, with total sales of more than three million copies. Apple is expected to change the formula for their next MMORPG, perhaps making the game more of an open world experience. Phantasy Star Online 2 allows players to roam the galaxy and travel from planet to planet, but the game's environments are fairly cramped when compared with those of other games in its genre. With the expected capabilities of the new Apple console, Phantasy Star Online 3 may well open up these enormous worlds to create environments rivaling those of games such as World Of Warcraft or Final Fantasy Online.

Apple has yet to reveal more details about its expected MMO collaboration with Capcom, which seems to have stalled since being announced nearly two years ago. The game is still expected to be a massively multiplayer online experience featuring cutting edge graphics and gameplay, and while it's still expected to be a launch title for Apple's next generation console, it also wouldn't be surprising to see another delay for the game, which has experienced several delays already. RPGs are expected to be a major focus of Apple's strategy going forward, particularly with its next generation console. While some of these games will feature online gameplay, a number of sprawling, single-player epics have also been hinted at, including the next Phantasy Star game, the ninth in the series. It's also rumored that Apple may revive the old Shining Force series, and is also looking to collaborate with Game Arts on an old-school RPG intended to call back memories of the old Lunar games.

The one RPG connection Apple hasn't been able to make has been with Squaresoft, which continues to produce titles exclusively for Nintendo consoles. Though there's been rumors that Squaresoft may work with Google on games for its upcoming Nexus console, no similar news concerning ports of Final Fantasy titles to the iTwin or its next generation successor has been announced. While nothing official has come to light, sources close to Squaresoft say that a combination of "creative differences" and misgivings about the iTwin's technical capabilities scuttled the idea of a Final Fantasy XII iTwin port. With the iTwin successor expected to be somewhat closer to its rivals in terms of power, these misgivings may become a thing of the past, which leaves the question of why Squaresoft continues to avoid producing titles for Apple's consoles despite the iTwin's success in Japan (and the recent success of the Gemini as well). Perhaps if the news about Squaresoft producing games for the Nexus is true, ports for Apple's next generation machine will be announced at the same time. The question of "will they or won't they?" regarding Squaresoft games coming to Apple's consoles is one of the most important questions heading into the next generation, and though Apple's future RPG success doesn't necessarily hinge on their relationship with the Final Fantasy maker, Squaresoft's games would certainly be welcome additions to Apple's library of upcoming RPG hits.

-from a March 31, 2012 article on RPGamer.net
 
Panzer Dragoon Phanta

Panzer Dragoon Phanta is the sequel to 2008's Panzer Dragoon Zeta, developed exclusively for the Apple iTwin. While the game's plot itself has nothing to do with the plot of Zeta (with a couple of exceptions that tie the worlds of the two games together somewhat), the gameplay, a mix of JRPG mechanics and rail shooter action, is nearly identical to that of Zeta. The protagonist is a young man named Spir who inhabits a world where the boundaries between life and death have broken down. Ghosts have begun invading the world, waging war on the living, and Spir and his ghostly dragon Phanta must purify the world and re-establish the balance between the world of the dead and the world of the living. Like its predecessors, Panzer Dragoon Phanta is a rail-shooter first and foremost, in which the player patrols the skies on their dragon, shooting projectiles at various enemies with a variety of different weapons and techniques. Much like Zeta, the player can gain experience points and treasure for killing enemies, with both Spir and Phanta able to gain levels and increase their statistical parameters. Unlike Zeta, Spir does not have a partner in battle. He must fight alone, but is able to assist Phanta in combat, attacking with his own weapons while also commanding Phanta to attack enemies as well. Spir has his own separate life meter, and when he rises to attack an enemy, they can damage him, though when Spir is safely shrouded within Phanta's shield, his health points are safe (for the most part). If either Spir or Phanta have their life points depleted, it's a game over. The barrier between the living and the dead is a major part of the game's combat mechanics, with attacks capable of harming either the living or the dead, but not both, making the game function somewhat like Ikaruga in that the player can freely switch their attacks to utilize either Life Energy (which harms the dead) or Death Energy (which harms the living). Both Life and Death have their own separate equipment and techniques, so in a way, the player is gaining stats and stockpiling equipment for four different party members: Spir/Life, Spir/Death, Phanta/Life, and Phanta/Death. The world of Panzer Dragoon Phanta is much less technologically advanced than the world of Zeta, with the environs and landmarks somewhat resembling those of 19th century Japan. There are some ancient ruins that suggest a technological past, but for the most part, the world consists of pre-industrial technology with a few small exceptions here and there. Even though Spir fights alone, he does meet quite a few allies along the way, including a physically powerful old man with a tragic past, a ghostly but beautiful young woman who might hold the key to Spir's true identity, and an energetic and somewhat brash young man who has made a career out of killing ghosts but seems to get into trouble more often than not. Panzer Dragoon Phanta has a similar story structure to Zeta, with a total of 18 main missions and 14 "major" side missions, along with around 100 minor side missions. The main storyline of Phanta isn't quite as epic or as lengthy as that of Zeta, but the game world is bigger and there are a lot more side quests that can be performed, making for a larger game overall if players are willing to go off the beaten path. Panzer Dragoon Phanta features improved graphics over Zeta, with marginal gameplay improvements mostly related to quality of life issues and not necessarily a major evolution in gameplay itself. Saori Kobayashi returns as the game's composer, with a more subdued, melancholy musical score than that of Panzer Dragoon Zeta, owing to the game's more intimate scale and its storyline and world, which heavily deal in life, death, and the afterlife. The game's English dub is once again performed by a number of talented actors, with Christopher Daniel Barnes as the voice of Spir.

The game's first few missions are fairly straightforward, with Spir and Phanta hunting down increasingly dangerous ghost creatures, as the player learns about the nature of life and death in this mysterious world. The afterlife seems to be leaking into the world of the living, and so death is rarely permanent, with ghosts coming back to haunt and attack the living, though some ghosts can live side by side with the living. It's speculated that some kind of ancient being is claiming the souls of the dead, picking and choosing which ones it keeps for itself and which one it sends back, and the open rift between the living and the dead is allowing this being to take control. Mission 6 reveals that Spir might in fact be dead and that his dragon, which was previously believed to be a ghost, might actually be alive and also might be the key to closing up the rift. Spir makes it his new mission to find this rift, but it won't be easy, as a powerful warlord who himself is dead is attempting to stop Spir from completing his mission in order to keep from being sent back (partially because he fears that Hell awaits him when he is permanently killed, and partially because he believes that his lost love is still somewhere in the world waiting for him). The warlord, whose name is Nekuma, becomes the game's primary antagonist, and launches a powerful ghostly invasion of the living world, hoping to claim as many souls as he can for himself. Meanwhile, Spir finds himself caught between his worldly conflict with Nekuma and his attempt to find the ancient being controlling the souls of many of the dead. He believes that this being is the one who tore open the rift and who seeks to rule both the living and the dead. He's able to hunt down a spiritual avatar of this being, a woman named Yamiko, a woman who, like Spir, is trapped between the world of the dead and the world of the living. As Yamiko tries to aid Spir in finding the ancient being that her soul is bound to, Nekuma's armies continue their campaign. As Nekuma kills more and more people, more chaos is sewn across the land, with some souls coming to rest, other souls joining Nekuma's army, others being claimed by the ancient being, and a few remaining free to roam the planet, becoming either monsters or human ghosts, depending on their willpower and state of mind at the time of their death. Though Spir opposes Nekuma's armies, the two rarely clash on the battlefield personally, and when they do, Nekuma always spares Spir. At the same time, Yamiko never allows herself to come into contact with Nekuma. Eventually, in a late-game mission, there are numerous revelations: Yamiko is Nekuma's mysterious lost love, and the two are revealed to be Spir's parents. Spir himself is actually "alive", in a sense: he's not a ghost and he's not dead, but the ancient being, known as The Arbitrage, has a claim on Spir's soul. The only reason the Arbitrage has been unable to take Spir for himself is that Phanta, a dragon that once belonged to the Arbitrage, gave up his own life to protect Spir's soul, and is now spiritually bound to him. Spir was conceived at the moment of Nekuma's death via assassination, and in his dying moments, Yamiko gave up her soul to try and save him, an action that tore open the rift that allowed the Arbitrage to come into the world and allowed the barrier between life and death to weaken. Spir learns that he is able to restore this barrier, but in doing so, must give up the lives of his mother and his dragon and must also give up his soul and that of his father. However, if Nekuma provides enough souls to satisfy Yamiko's debt, he can save both the lives and souls of Yamiko and Spir, while giving up his own soul. Mission 17 culminates in a grand battle in which Spir and Nekuma battle. Spir defeats his father, but refuses to let the Arbitrage claim his father's soul. He tries to stand up to the Arbitrage, only for himself and his mother to have their souls taken into the Realm of Death, along with Phanta. Mission 18 begins with a scene in which Spir encounters a mysterious stranger in the Realm of Death, a beautiful young woman who turns out to be Lenexa (from Panzer Dragoon Zeta). It's revealed that while there are many different universes for the living, the dead of all universes end up in the same place (which explains the small connections to Zeta found within the game). Lenexa helps Spir to reunite with Phanta, then tells him that the Realm of Death used to be much more pleasant until the Arbitrage corrupted it, and that once the imbalance between life and death is fixed, the souls of the dead will be able to move on, even those who have committed unforgivable acts. Lenexa holds the line against the corrupted forces of the Arbitrage to give Spir and Phanta time to escape, and they fly through the Realm of Death to free Yamiko's soul just as Nekuma arrives to try and free it as well. Yamiko is able to use her life spirit to protect Nekuma from having his soul torn apart by the Arbitrage, freeing Spir and Phanta to do battle with it themselves. They must battle their way through endless armies of dead and corrupted souls to reach the Arbitrage itself, and after defeating it, the barrier between the realms of the living and the dead is re-established. Yamiko and Nekuma's souls are able to move on (and they're shown floating past Lenexa's soul as well). Spir, who is not technically dead, must say goodbye to Phanta, and is then able to pass through the barrier just as it closes, re-emerging in the realm of the living. However, as a consequence of spending so much time in the Realm of Death, he loses his memories. He wanders for a bit before being found by a familiar face, a woman who Spir helped earlier in the game. Spir doesn't remember her, but feels warmth as she guides him back to her village to begin his second life.

Panzer Dragoon Phanta is released on March 20, 2012, nearly four years to the day after the release of Zeta. The game is quite well received by critics, averaging in the high 8s/low 9s, though it's not seen as being quite as revolutionary or as memorable as Zeta. It does generally do better in reviews than the slightly disappointing Dragonwar, and achieves stronger sales overall (though this is only when North American AND Japanese sales are taken into account, as Phanta does somewhat worse than Dragonwar in North America alone). Phanta helps to establish Panzer Dragoon as one of the premier franchises in Apple's lineup, and also solidifies the series' formula as a mix of rail shooting and RPG-like gameplay, though the original "rail shooter only" format may continue to be seen in spinoff titles. Seen as one of Apple's most important games of 2012 (and one of the last great iTwin games before the iTwin's successor is revealed), Panzer Dragoon Phanta isn't quite a mainstream hit, but it definitely pleases the fans, and like fellow March 2012 dragon title Dragonwar, pushes the iTwin close to its technical limits.

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Fresh off the success of Panzer Dragoon Phanta, the latest game in Apple's hit shooter/RPG series which has already sold half a million copies in Japan, series creator Yukio Futatsugi says that he's hard at work on "at least two" future Panzer Dragoon projects. With one of these games expected to be a next-generation follow up to Phanta, rumors swirling around the other game are centered on two potentially groundbreaking ideas. The first of these ideas centers around a remake/reboot of the original Panzer Dragoon, a rail-shooter focused game built around next generation technology that could take full advantage of Apple's new "Virtua" motion control system to allow the player to put themselves in the mind and body of a flying dragon. That sounds interesting, but the other idea could be even more revolutionary: a fully online Panzer Dragoon MMORPG. Such a game would serve as a companion to Apple's wildly popular Phantasy Star Online series and could feature an even bigger, more epic world in which players roam the skies in massive dragon swarms, battling truly enormous foes.

Speaking of Apple's next generation online plans, it's almost certain that Apple will soon reveal Phantasy Star Online 3, expected to be a flagship game for the iTwin's successor. Phantasy Star Online 2 was a hugely successful launch title for the original iTwin and still has the largest player base of any console MMORPG, with total sales of more than three million copies. Apple is expected to change the formula for their next MMORPG, perhaps making the game more of an open world experience. Phantasy Star Online 2 allows players to roam the galaxy and travel from planet to planet, but the game's environments are fairly cramped when compared with those of other games in its genre. With the expected capabilities of the new Apple console, Phantasy Star Online 3 may well open up these enormous worlds to create environments rivaling those of games such as World Of Warcraft or Final Fantasy Online.

Apple has yet to reveal more details about its expected MMO collaboration with Capcom, which seems to have stalled since being announced nearly two years ago. The game is still expected to be a massively multiplayer online experience featuring cutting edge graphics and gameplay, and while it's still expected to be a launch title for Apple's next generation console, it also wouldn't be surprising to see another delay for the game, which has experienced several delays already. RPGs are expected to be a major focus of Apple's strategy going forward, particularly with its next generation console. While some of these games will feature online gameplay, a number of sprawling, single-player epics have also been hinted at, including the next Phantasy Star game, the ninth in the series. It's also rumored that Apple may revive the old Shining Force series, and is also looking to collaborate with Game Arts on an old-school RPG intended to call back memories of the old Lunar games.

The one RPG connection Apple hasn't been able to make has been with Squaresoft, which continues to produce titles exclusively for Nintendo consoles. Though there's been rumors that Squaresoft may work with Google on games for its upcoming Nexus console, no similar news concerning ports of Final Fantasy titles to the iTwin or its next generation successor has been announced. While nothing official has come to light, sources close to Squaresoft say that a combination of "creative differences" and misgivings about the iTwin's technical capabilities scuttled the idea of a Final Fantasy XII iTwin port. With the iTwin successor expected to be somewhat closer to its rivals in terms of power, these misgivings may become a thing of the past, which leaves the question of why Squaresoft continues to avoid producing titles for Apple's consoles despite the iTwin's success in Japan (and the recent success of the Gemini as well). Perhaps if the news about Squaresoft producing games for the Nexus is true, ports for Apple's next generation machine will be announced at the same time. The question of "will they or won't they?" regarding Squaresoft games coming to Apple's consoles is one of the most important questions heading into the next generation, and though Apple's future RPG success doesn't necessarily hinge on their relationship with the Final Fantasy maker, Squaresoft's games would certainly be welcome additions to Apple's library of upcoming RPG hits.



-from a March 31, 2012 article on RPGamer.net

It seams that rpgs are bigger it this timeline then otl. Both Nintento and Sega/Apple have invested alot in rpgs. Even Microsfot has invested more in rpgs then otl althou they are still the week in the rpg depamrent. The only xbox rpgs i remamber are sakura tears rise a kinght, enchanted arms viatogly a game involing time travel that was released on all three syems and each verison had an unigue character and some game involing seeds that destoyed cities. Am i forogetting any xbox rpgs
 
It seams that rpgs are bigger it this timeline then otl. Both Nintento and Sega/Apple have invested alot in rpgs. Even Microsfot has invested more in rpgs then otl althou they are still the week in the rpg depamrent. The only xbox rpgs i remamber are sakura tears rise a kinght, enchanted arms viatogly a game involing time travel that was released on all three syems and each verison had an unigue character and some game involing seeds that destoyed cities. Am i forogetting any xbox rpgs
Witcher was/is? exclusive to X-Box if I recall.
 
Winter 2012 (Part 8) - The Rest Of The Games
(Here are the rest of the notable games from January 2012 to March 2012!)

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Nintendo Sapphire-

The Abnormals 3

An action/adventure game developed by Daybreak Studios exclusively for the Nintendo Sapphire, The Abnormals 3 continues the story of a world in which random people gain mysterious powers, leading to conflicts between those who wish to see these people protected and those who wish to destroy them. With more development time for this game than the rushed Abnormals 2, The Abnormals 3 is significantly more polished, with a much stronger plot and significantly improved gameplay that includes an RPG-like gear and perk system and a much larger world to explore that includes several cities and dozens of indoor environments. Human hero Salvo and his witch girlfriend Lenore return as the heroes for this game, along with the mysterious Atsuko (voiced by Kimiko Glenn) whose powers manifest in strange ways and who may not be a supermutant at all, but an otherworldly being and the source of all superpowers. The game's protagonist is far more serious and dangerous than Mayor Machiavelli: a young man known as Shroud, who has the ability to cover everything he touches in a dark void that leads to a pocket dimension full of nightmare horrors. Atsuko and Shroud turn out to be connected to one another, and the battle between them threatens to destroy the entire universe, leaving Salvo and Lenore caught in the middle. The game features plenty of fun side characters, both heroic and villainous, and a wide variety of missions to complete and civilians to aid. The game is far better looking and more fun than its predecessor, and achieves strong reviews, though sales lag slightly behind The Abnormals 2. Thanks to good word of mouth, it eventually sells more than the second game and enough for the series to likely continue on into the next generation, though Daybreak also wants to pursue other projects and considers outsourcing development of the next game in the series to another company.

Twisted Metal Chaos 3

Twisted Metal Chaos 3 is the third and final game in the Chaos trilogy, the series of Twisted Metal games exclusive to the Nintendo Sapphire. It concludes the story established in the previous two games, taking place in Needles Kane (aka Sweet Tooth)'s dark and twisted fantasy world. With less basis on realism than the previous two games, Twisted Metal Chaos 3 is full of nightmare environments and psychedelic horrors, with the plot focused largely around the other drivers' attempts to survive and escape. Sophie returns as the primary “protagonist” of the game, with her power being the only thing that can end her father's evil fantasy realm, while Sweet Tooth becomes the game's main villain (but is still playable, even in campaign mode, where he is cast as a man attempting to escape and destroy his own dark desires, primarily so his soul doesn't end up being cast into hell). The gameplay of Twisted Metal Chaos 3 is seen as somewhat of a weak point of the game, not innovating quite as much as the previous two titles, with the same online modes largely returning with some new balances and tweaks. There are a few new drivers and a lot of new weapons (which are primarily based on the game's new nightmare/fantasy setting), but for the most part, the biggest differences in this game as opposed to its predecessors have to do with the plot and setting. It's still a strong game, and seen as a fitting conclusion to the trilogy, but is seen as a minor critical disappointment even as it garners good sales.

Apple iTwin-

Aquila Shikase

The latest game in the Battle Engine Aquila series and the last to be featured on the iTwin, Aquila Shikase returns to the more freeform, run and gun FPS gameplay of Blue Sky, abandoning the experimental rail shooting of Moonrider for a more traditional approach. Its plot centers around the four main female characters from the previous games in the series: Tatiana from the original games, Ruby and Skipper from Blue Sky, and Kara from Moonrider, teaming up in a sort of Charlie's Angels meets Sailor Moon battle squad to take down a mysterious AI-powered saboteur who seeks to take control of the galaxy's military technology. The game's storyline is a bit more lighthearted than that of previous games, and features a decent amount of fanservice, though it still takes its protagonists seriously. Though Tatiana is sort of the “leader” of the group, all four of them have fairly equal screentime, and can be switched between pretty much at will, with each bringing their own set of skills to the table. Tatiana is a more balanced jack of all trades character, Ruby has incredible firepower, Skipper has speed, and Kara has more special techniques/skill shots. The game has improved graphics over the previous games, with some clever use of mid-mission anime cutscenes interspersed with 3-D combat action (rather than showing characters in full 3-D in these cut-ins, they're actually animated in full anime style, which helps give lots of life to the character animations). There's also a lot of callbacks to previous games in the series, with most of the other playable characters from previous games returning as major NPCs. The game's pace is also fairly quick, with missions that are for the most part able to be completed faster than missions in previous games, making up for the shortness of the missions by having many of them. The game overall is longer than Moonrider (addressing one of the major complaints about that game) and somewhat more accessible, with players able to pick a style of gameplay that appeals to them, with more weapons and specials available as well. Overall, Aquila Shikase addresses many of the complaints that longtime players had about Moonrider, and is considered the superior game, with some fans even calling it better than Blue Sky (though that's mostly a matter of preference). Aquila Shikase is a decent seller in North America and an excellent seller in Japan, and work has already begun on a new game for the upcoming Apple next gen console.

Asura's Wrath

Similar to OTL's game, Asura's Wrath is a Capcom developed beat 'em up action title that combines normal combat gameplay segments with interactive cutscenes to tell a compelling story about a being named Asura who is betrayed and killed by his fellow demons, cast down to the human world and eventually resurrected to gain his revenge. The plot is fairly similar to that of OTL's title, with some minor differences here and there involving different characters and religious influences (the Divine Wrath fighting game series had somewhat of an impact on Capcom's development of Asura's Wrath, and so there are generally more callbacks to a few different religious pantheons, though the basic plot remains the same). The biggest gameplay difference is the reorganization of the game's control scheme around the twin controllers, with motion control not required but heavily encouraged, as players are able to swing powerful dual weapons in combat by utilizing certain movements and button presses, creating a more arcade-like experience and enhancing the game's story by allowing the player to feel more like a part of it. Like IOTL, the game sees more success, both critically and commercially, in Japan, though it does do better in North America than it did IOTL, especially with critics, who heavily praise the motion controls and interactive cutscenes. The reaction to Asura's Wrath is generally positive from critics and fans alike, and a sequel goes into development for the iTwin's successor.

Silvana: Awakened Power

A Western-developed JRPG done by an indie company with funding from Apple, the game centers around a young woman named Silvana, who slowly discovers that she has been gifted with ancient magic, but disaster soon follows her. She learns that she must return this gift to the gods or invite their wrath, but soon unites with a young man who wants Silvana's power to help liberate his people, bringing humanity and the gods into conflict. This game features plenty of anime cliches, with numerous playable characters who are basically expies of various anime stereotypes, and a cast of voice actors mostly known for their performances in anime dubs. Perhaps the best aspect of the game is its soundtrack, which is full of dozens of well composed, emotional songs, becoming one of the most acclaimed soundtracks to date in an indie game. Overall, Silvana gets strong reviews, but sales, while decent, aren't quite what is expected, even of an indie game. It becomes more of a beloved cult gem than a genuine success.

Nintendo Connect-

Shantae's Risky Team-Up!

The latest game in WayForward's Shantae series sees the titular genie heroine forced to team up with her pirate nemesis Risky Boots to battle a dangerous new foe: Medusa, who has turned all of Shantae and Risky's friends to stone and who seeks to do the same to them. Along the way, the two get into a series of wacky adventures and must reluctantly rely on each other if they're going to save their friends and save the world. The game plays fairly similarly to OTL's Half Genie Hero, with a similar graphical style, and players are able to play as either Shantae or Risky for most of the game's levels, with each having their own distinct set of skills. Seen as one of the stronger games in the series thanks to the large open world and the fun antics between the two characters (who seem to have actually become friends at the end of the game despite returning to being rivals), it's one of the more significant Connect releases of the early part of 2012, and helps to bolster the handheld's reputation for having strong indie exclusives.

Apple Gemini-

Peppermint Swirl

A JRPG/fashion design game, this is a very quirky anime RPG where the player must customize all aspects of their characters' outfits to earn bonuses in combat. A popular Gemini exclusive, especially in Japan, with weak North American sales making this game only a cult classic in the West.

The Raid 5

The first game in Apple's exclusive handheld FPS franchise to come to the Gemini, this game is meant as a sort of showcase for the handheld's capabilities, and provides a Call Of Duty like experience in handheld form, easily surpassing the graphics of the Connect's Call Of Duty: Green Beret. The campaign itself, which sees the team of soldiers secretly deployed into Europe to track down a series of terrorist sleeper cells, is fairly short and forgettable, though the game's multiplayer mode is a standout, with significant improvements over The Raid 4 and featuring a unique mode of gameplay where a team of players can procedurally generate a multiplayer battlefield based on their current location in the world. It's a bit of a clunky feature, but it's still quite innovative, and along with the game's outstanding graphics (considered groundbreaking for a handheld game), The Raid 5 proves to be an early success for Apple's Gemini.

Game Boy Supernova-

Code Of Princess

An Atlus beat 'em up/RPG with similarities to Sega's classic Guardian Heroes, Code Of Princess sees a princess named Solange team up with a group of heroes to battle monster invaders and protect her world. The game is much like OTL's title in both plot and gameplay, but does include online wireless play and the ability to customize heroes, features that didn't appear in OTL's game. One of the last significant games featured on the Supernova, Code Of Princess is a minor cult success but doesn't really get a chance to shine until it appears on the Connect and Gemini later on in remade form.

Multiplatform-

Max Payne 5

Rockstar's epic action/crime franchise returns with this, the fifth mainline game in the series and the last to be featured on the seventh generation consoles, coming to the Sapphire and iTwin in March 2012. The game sees Max Payne team up with Mona Sax as the two attempt to settle some of Max's old scores. Revenge is a major theme of the game, with Max and Mona hoping to gain revenge for past wrongs they've suffered, even as some of their enemies seek revenge on them. The gameplay is improved from Max Payne 4, with a healthy balance of stealth and guns blazing gameplay, and a polishing of the well received melee combat from the previous game, along with a full revamp of the gun combat system that allows players full choice about how they choose to approach fights. While players will control Max for about 90 percent of the main campaign, there are a few select scenes where players will control Mona, and these scenes are distinguished quite a bit from the Max segments in an effort to make them fun and memorable. There are also some driving sequences, but for the most part these are centered around fun and thrills rather than difficulty, with the player allowed to approach them however they wish and with few obstacles thrown up in front of the player. The plot itself initially sees Max settling an old score with an informant turned traitor, windng up in over his head, and bumping into Mona Sax along the way. Rather than oppose one another, as the two had done in previous games, Max and Mona actually have a strong partnership, with the game emphasizing that the two are somewhat damaged individuals whose strengths help to mitigate the other's flaws. Both of them seek revenge against various people, and for a time, they achieve it, but eventually their activities catch up to them, culminating in the brutal murder of Max's employer from the previous game at the hands of a dangerous new foe. Max and Mona then focus their quest for revenge on this foe, beginning an intensely personal war between the two lovers and their new enemy's massive underworld army. There's an air of finality surrounding the leadup to the final missions. Eventually, Mona ends up being kidnapped by the villain, and the game somewhat implies that she might end up getting killed before Max can come to her rescue. However, Mona absolutely refuses to be a victim, and even though Max does come to save her (and kills a ton of people in the process), Mona eventually escapes on her own (through brute force and ingenuity, showing both her love for Max and her absolute fearlessness in the face of extreme danger). The two then embark on one final brutal mission together. In the end, however, it's Max Payne who gets killed, as both he and Mona simultaneously take out the final villain. Mona is left mourning at Max's grave, and the ending implies two things: that Mona will continue a life of crime and brutality where Max left off, and that there's a slight possibility that Max is still alive, even though there's also a finality to his “death”. It's clear that the studio intends for this to be the last Max Payne game, and despite strong reviews, sales are fairly mediocre (though improved over Max Payne 4). Whether or not Rockstar moves on from Max Payne has yet to be seen, but if they do, fans and critics consider this to be one hell of a finale (and there is a strong possibility of at least one more Mona Sax spinoff down the road).

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Top Selling New Console Games In North America (in terms of sales over the first four weeks of release):

January 2012:

1. Virtua Fighter Infinity (Apple Gemini)
2. Naruto Revenge (Apple iTwin)
3. Naruto Revenge (Nintendo Sapphire)
4. Aquila Shikase (Apple iTwin)
5. Asura's Wrath (Apple iTwin)

February 2012:

1. Hazardous (Nintendo Sapphire)
2. Sindolin (Nintendo Sapphire)
3. Air Of Mystery (Nintendo Sapphire)
4. Sindolin (Apple iTwin)
5. NASCAR 2K12 (Apple iTwin)

March 2012:

1. Dragonwar (Apple iTwin)
2. Panzer Dragoon Phanta (Apple iTwin)
3. Max Payne 5 (Nintendo Sapphire)
4. Scavenger Of The Slums (Nintendo Sapphire)
5. Twisted Metal Chaos 3 (Nintendo Sapphire)
 
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