New look: Jade Cocoon 2

Ubi Soft unveils the latest build of its upcoming sequel for the PlayStation 2.

The latest, near final, build of Jade Cocoon 2, which is being developed by Tokyo Xtreme Racing developer Genki, was shown on the final day of Ubi Soft's Gamers Week. Although primarily a Japanese-style RPG, the game does introduce some unique elements to the genre, such as the ability to breed and grow monsters. In the game, players assume the role of Kahu, who is on a quest to save his town and the world in general. At his command are a handful of monsters, which are known as minions in the game. As Kahu progresses in his quest, he is able to command his minions in battle and breed them to create more powerful minions.

The battles in Jade Cocoon 2 are strictly turn-based. During battle, a rotating platform forms around the lead character. There are several slots on the platform, each one housing a minion. During their turn, players can rotate the platform at will and command one of Kahu's minions to attack. The minions can be assigned elemental attacks, and their elemental powers dictate the types of attacks they are able to perform. For example, minions wielding the power of earth are primarily used to guard the player, while minions using the power of fire are able to hurl fireballs at the enemy. After the battle, the minions themselves, as opposed to the lead character, earn experience points and power-ups. Players will also be able to power up their minions in the game's exploration mode. Throughout the course of the game, players can collect eggs and hatch and breed them in order to develop their stable of minions further.

According to the game's producer, Jade Cocoon 2 will be highly cinematic. The final game will feature eight prerendered movies, about 16 movies following boss encounters, and other assorted real-time cutscenes. Additionally, a full voice cast will be featured in the game. During Genki's presentation, the company showed off the game's opening movie, which features a cel-shaded fairy narrating the game's back story. Although the entire scene was in Japanese, the lip-synched animation was impressive.

Jade Cocoon 2 is one of the first games that will support the PlayStation 2 hard drive, which it uses to generate faster loading times. Ubi Soft recently began the game's localization, and the English voice recording will soon be under way. The game will be released in November for the North American PlayStation 2.

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