TOKYO--Earlier today, as we struggled to navigate our way through the ever-crowded Square Enix Tokyo Game Show booth, we spotted a number of DS Lite consoles running demos of Front Mission 1st. Originally released for the SNES in 1995 and subsequently ported to the PlayStation in 2003, Front Mission 1st is an isometric turn-based strategy game in which you'll command small groups of mechs known as wanzers in a war between the Oceana Community Union (OCU) and the Unites States of New Continent (USN).
The level we played tasked us with taking command of three wanzers and assisting a fourth who was being attacked by around half a dozen enemies. After using the stylus to tap through some quite lengthy Japanese-language conversations between characters, we found that we were able to play through the demo using the stylus alone.
After selecting which of our wanzers we wanted to move, we simply tapped the square on the map that we wanted it to move to and were then presented with a list of options, including "use item," "end turn," and, where available, "attack." All of these options, as well as the names of the weapons that appeared after selecting the attack option, were in English, so if you're not concerned about the storyline, the game can certainly be considered import-friendly.
When wanzers do battle in Front Mission 1st, the upper screen shows a close-up of the action using nicely detailed models and environments. Wanzers take damage either to their legs (limiting movement), their left and right arms (losing weapons in the process), or their body (game over), but it doesn't appear to be possible to specify which hit points you aim for--at least not with any of the weapons we had access to in the demo.
Front Mission 1st is currently scheduled for release in Japan this winter. No North American or European release date has been announced at this time, but we'll bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.