Just by being developed by Mistwalker Studios under the supervision of "the father of Final Fantasy," Hironobu Sakaguchi, Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 games Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey are garnering a lot of attention. With the original Xbox failing to capture the Japanese market, Microsoft is determined not to let history repeat itself. Microsoft has signed on several well-known Japanese developers, and Sakaguchi's games might play a key role in establishing the system in Japan. Unfortunately, it might be a while before gamers in Japan get their hands on these titles.
In the latest issue of Famitsu, Sakaguchi revealed that one of the two role-playing games is slated for release within a year of the console's launch, and the other is scheduled to follow within two years. However, he didn't disclose which game would be coming out first. In addition to that newsbit, the article also revealed a few additional details that weren't previously covered.
As GameSpot reported earlier, Blue Dragon depicts the story of five characters that have the special power to shape their shadows into tangible forms that can do battle. Each character's shadow moves according to the character, so if the character stomps its fist on the ground, the shadow will do the same. For example, the main character Shu can cast a shadow in the form of a dragon and take a pose like he's breathing out fire while his dragon shadow actually blasts it out.
Sakaguchi reveals in Famitsu that the shadows can be switched around to give different abilities to the characters, much like the job-change system from the Final Fantasy series. A few of the jobs Sakaguchi confirmed to be in the game are swordsman type, assassin type, and power magic type. Players can freely switch between the different jobs, and each job has a number of different skills that can be used to the players' advantage. Sakaguchi reveals that Blue Dragon will feature hundreds of skills, and players can customize their characters by mixing different skills. For example, the player can create a character that fights as a swordsman but that also has the ability to use white magic to heal wounds.
Blue Dragon takes place on a planet full of ancient ruins from a past civilization. The people of the modern age have no idea how to use the magically operated remains from the past, but the main characters' ability to change shadows is key to solving the mystery of the ancient ruins.
The main character in the game is Shu, a daring and strong-of-heart 16-year-old boy who doesn't really think before he acts. His adventure starts off with his friends, the laid-back Kluke and brainy Jiro. Adding a bit of drama to the story, Jiro has feelings toward Kluke, and he one-sidedly looks at Shu as his rival in love. The main cast is rounded out by Zora, a 20-year-old female mercenary who doesn't trust anyone, and Marumaro, a being from the "Devi tribe" who is about 14 human years old. Marumaro is said to be good at expressing his feelings with dances. They will be going up against Nene, an ancient human who plots to bring chaos to the world by using magical powers that have long been forgotten.
The article also contained some extra details on Sakaguchi's other Xbox 360 RPG, Lost Odyssey. As GameSpot reported earlier, Lost Odyssey takes place in a fantasy world and follows the story of the immortal Kaim Argoner who has grown bored with life over the last thousand years. The game takes place during a time of "mythical industrial revolution," where people have acquired magical forces to further realize their ambitions. While Blue Dragon seems like it's targeted toward younger audiences, Lost Odyssey's atmosphere is completely different, and it seems to appeal more toward the older audiences.
Lost Odyssey is being codeveloped by Microsoft Game Studios and Feel Plus, which is a studio established solely for the development of Xbox 360 games. The game's development staff includes producer Hiroshi Kawai and codirectors Daiskuke Fikugawa and Takahiro Kaminagayoshi. Kawai was one of Square Enix's first 3D CG artists and has been working on 3D games since Final Fantasy VII, while Fukugawa previously worked on the PlayStation games Final Fantasy Tactics and Legend of Mana. Kaminagayoshi is best known for his work as assistant event director for Sony's Legend of Dragoon.
Also working on Lost Odyssey is award-winning Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, who will be injecting the game's script with a bit more depth than gamers are used to seeing. Lost Odyssey focuses on human drama and emotions, and Shigematsu will be penning Kaim's mixed past. The characters' stories include tales about the families that he made (and lost) during his thousand years of living, his experiences, and his many love interests.
In Famitsu, Sakaguchi revealed that Kaim isn't the only person that's been living for a thousand years--the blue-haired lady that appears in the game's E3 trailer, Seth, is also centuries old. Sakaguchi didn't elaborate on Seth's details, but she will undoubtedly play a key role in the game's storyline.
Sakaguchi also gave the first hints on Lost Odyssey's gameplay, explaining that "a man that's immortal is going to be absorbing the powers and skills from people that are mortal," meaning that Kaim will somehow be able to incorporate abilities of enemies he defeats. Sakaguchi also stated that the game would allow the player to customize the absorbed abilities in some method.
In terms of his two RPG titles taking advantage of the Xbox 360's hardware, Sakaguchi explained that the console's specs allow for very good simulated physics. The new real-life physics will give his games good-looking movement in real time instead of simple, canned animation. Sakaguchi also stressed that he hopes to make his games extremely interactive, with Lost Odyssey in particular requiring the creation of new development utilities.