In a press conference in Tokyo, Japanese game publisher AQ Interactive announced three new games for next-generation consoles, including a new Xbox 360 project by Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi.
A holding company established in October, AQ Interactive manages and publishes games for three subsidiaries: Cavia (Drakengard, Beat Down), Artoon (Blue Dragon, Yoshi Topsy-Turvy), and Feel Plus (codeveloper on Lost Odyssey). Up until now, the three developers only made games for outside companies such as Square Enix and Microsoft, but with nearly 350 developers working under the AQ Interactive banner, they are now going to publish their own titles as well.
AQ Interactive has already released Tetris: The Grandmaster Ace as one of the Japanese launch titles for the Xbox 360, and a second title, Tsuushin Taisen Mahjong: Touryuumon, is underway for a January release. The company looks to expand into the game market with more titles for the Xbox 360 as well as the PlayStation 3.
With Artoon and Feel Plus already handling Sakaguchi projects of their own, it came as little surprise that AQ Interactive's press conference included the announcement of a Cavia-developed Xbox 360 project from Sakaguchi (who is a shareholder in AQ Interactive).
Sakaguchi appeared at the conference to unveil the action role-playing game Cry On. This will be the first time that Sakaguchi has made an action RPG, and he's been given a budget of 1 billion yen (about $8.5 million) to get the project done.
Cry On takes place in a fantasy world where humanity coexists with subterranean giants freed from their rocky hibernation and used as instruments of war. Throughout the quest, the player controls a girl named Sally and her giant traveling companion, Boggle.
As for the game's title, Sakaguchi chose it for its dual connotations. He noted that tears come from overwhelming joy as well as profound sorrow, and he hopes to create a storyline that delivers such varied emotional experiences.
Cry On's characters will be designed by Kimihiko Fujisaka of the Drakengard series. Its music will be composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who's also working on Sakaguchi's Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey.
The other two AQ Interactive titles unveiled at the conference were Bullet Witch and Vamire's Rain.
Bullet Witch is the second Xbox 360 project under development by Cavia. The action adventure takes place in the exceedingly bleak near future of 2013. Civilization is on the brink of extinction after demons begin appearing on the earth, and the player wades into the fray as a witch named Alicia. Equipped with a broom-shaped gun and powerful magic, players will try to take down the demons and save mankind.
Director Take Yoichi said that Alicia's magic puts a number of catastrophic events in her control, from conspiracies of ravens to tank-tossing typhoons, and even meteor showers that turn entire levels into a sea of fire. The enemies are likewise large in scale, such as a dragon that's big enough to swallow a plane.
Bullet Witch will be heavy on action, but producer Tetsu Takahashi commented that it will also feature a deep storyline that involves Alicia's past. A brief trailer presented at the conference showed Alicia fighting against demons in a city full of skyscrapers. Bullet Witch is planned for a spring 2006 release in Japan.
Cavia isn't the only AQ Interactive label working on two next-generation titles. In addition to Blue Dragon, developer Artoon is also working on an action adventure game named Vampire's Rain, currently in development for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Vampire's Rain puts players in the shoes of Special Forces member John Lloyd. Lloyd has been assigned by the government to track down vampires on the sly, and then wipe them out. The game takes place in low visibility due to strong rain, which will keep players from being able to easily identify vampires from ordinary people until they get uncomfortably close.
Aside from the single-player story, various modes will be offered for online play (including a cooperative mode), and players can also choose to fight as or against the bloodsuckers. Vampire's Rain is being produced by Artoon president Naoto Oshima, and is slated for release in Japan during winter 2006.
In addition to the three announced games, AQ Interactive also revealed a list of other titles currently in development. The list of titles broken down by system follows:
A game based on a major comic book
Original action game
Major 3D game
Jitsuroku Oniyome Nikki
A game based on a comic book for female audiences