Phantom Brave, Star Ocean 3 ship to retail

Two anticipated RPGs with roots in Japan are bound for stateside store shelves this week.

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NIS America's Phantom Brave and Square Enix's Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time, two of the year's most anticipated Japanese role-playing games, have shipped to retail today, say the games' publishers.

Phantom Brave, developed by Nippon Ichi Software, is the first release from NIS America, the newly established American arm of the popular Japanese software developer. Star Ocean, developed by Tri-Ace, comes to gamers from the Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior creator Square Enix.

Both games are PlayStation 2 releases that will retail for $49.99 and will feature deluxe collector's packaging. Star Ocean, which ships on two DVDs, will come packaged in a special foil-embossed case. The first pressing of Phantom Brave will be a special edition that includes an original soundtrack CD as well as an art book featuring illustrations from the game.

Although Phantom Brave is the first release from NIS America, it is actually the third in a series of anime-styled strategy RPGs from Nippon Ichi to have garnered critical acclaim and cult success in the US. Its predecessors are Disgaea (published in the US by Atlus) and La Pucelle Tactics (Mastiff).

Star Ocean has a long, topsy-turvy history. Released in Japan in early 2003, Star Ocean was originally on track for a US release later that year, but when Square and Enix merged, the game was pushed back in the release schedule. It was later announced that the US edition would incorporate all the additions and fixes made to the Director's Cut edition of the game that was released later in Japan.

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