Japanese game update

Here's the latest on Suikoden 4, Armored Core: Nexus, Phantom Dust, and Fullmetal Alchemist.

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TOKYO--New information on a number of upcoming titles due for the Japanese market has recently surfaced. Here's a short roundup.

Suikoden 4
In the tradition of the series, Suikoden 4 will consist of 108 party characters. The main character is a youth wearing a black jacket and short pants. By misfortune, he acquires the rune of sin, which absorbs the life of its master in exchange for power. There are 26 other runes in Suikoden 4, and the game takes place on various islands. Suikoden 4 for PS2 is scheduled for release in 2004, and footage of the game will be on display at the Tokyo Game Show.

Armored Core: Nexus
Armored Core: Nexus will consist of two disks, a Past Disk and a Future Disk. The Past Disk has 40 missions from previous Armored Core releases, but with new arrangements, along with bonuses such as documentation used in the game. The Future Disk will be a new game based on the future of Armored Core. However, no further details have been released on this PS2 title.

Armored Core: Nexus is currently 20 percent complete and is scheduled for release in spring 2004. The game will be playable at this fall's Tokyo Game Show.

Phantom Dust
According to the latest Famitsu magazine, Microsoft Game Studios' Japan division will be releasing a new Xbox action game called Phantom Dust.

Phantom Dust for Xbox takes place on Earth in the near future, with modern civilization in ruin. The land is crawling with monsters, and the air is filled with particles called Phantom Dust. Humans who have managed to stay alive are surviving underground. In the world of Phantom Dust, humans have suffered memory loss but have gained the use psychic abilities for unknown reasons. As the main character, the player's objective is to fight through the monsters while searching for the cause of humankind's memory loss and the destruction of the world.

Phantom Dust will support online gameplay for up to four players on Xbox Live. The title is said to be 50 percent complete and scheduled for release in 2004.

Fullmetal Alchemist
According to the latest Dorimaga magazine, Square Enix has announced Hagane no Renkin Jutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist, an action role-playing game for the PlayStation 2.

The game is based on Square Enix's TV anime series and has some connection to the original storyline.

The main character is an alchemist named Edward Elric, who loses his brother Alphonse in an accident. Edward manages to contain his brother's soul in a large piece of armor, but in order to merge the soul and body of the dearly departed, the two brothers (one living, the other not) must embark on a journey to find a mythical stone.

Here's what we know so far: Fullmetal Alchemist consists of two modes--a scenario mode featuring dialogue in 2D and a 3D battle mode. In the battle mode, the player controls Edward, who has the ability to instantly create traps and weapons out of objects in the field. Alphonse is a powerful subcharacter, and he can be controlled by giving orders. Also, Edward can create large weapons to be used by Alphonse.

Hagane no Renkin Jutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist is currently 80 percent complete. Its release date and price are still to be determined.

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