TGS 2005: Xenosaga Episode I & II Trailer Impressions

KOS-MOS and the crew are heading to Nintendo's handheld.

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TOKYO--The Xenosaga series, with its own blend of science fiction and quasi-religious imagery and references, is one that's usually associated with plenty of grand, sweeping computer-generated cutscenes to unfold the drama. It was a surprise, then, to hear that the first two episodes of Monolith Soft's magnum opus are coming to the small-screen realm--two small screens, if you want to be precise. Yes, Xenosaga I and II are being released for the Nintendo DS. The trailer playing at the Tokyo Game Show didn't show off a whole lot, but it gave us enough glimpses of gameplay and design to draw some inferences.

First of all, as is obvious, the graphical style has changed quite a bit. The trailer claims that all the characters were "redrawn" for this game, and that's true--the characters (Shion, KOS-MOS, and Allen were a few that we caught glimpses of) now have models that are more superdeformed in shape, scaled down to fit comfortably on the handheld system. The environment that they were running around in seemed to be the ship at the very beginning of Episode I, just as the mysterious gnosis were beginning their attack. The surroundings and such all look to be 2D, with the characters and monsters being simple three-dimensional models. There wasn't much in the way of lengthy story sequences shown, but there was a snippet showing what looked like it could be a cutscene of KOS-MOS that was animated and not in-engine. Depending on the size of the two games and how they're arranged for the DS, likely most of the major story-intensive scenes will play out via that animation.

There were also snatches of some battle scenes shown, with KOS-MOS and Shion squaring off against some gnosis. Much like in the game's console counterparts, battle looks to be turn-based, with the two groups squaring off against each other. The actual fighting action was taking place on the top screen of the DS (where Shion was using her arm weapon to smack gnosis in the face), while the bottom screen looked to be taken up with character stats, health bars, and menus. We did see at least a few instances of Shion running around the hallways of the ship and gnosis showing up there as well, but it wasn't clear if it was a story sequence or if (like in the console versions) the enemies were generally visible on the map itself.

We can't help but be curious about how this epic role-playing saga will, well, fit on the Nintendo DS, given the two games' size and scope. You may be assured that we'll keep you informed of any news out of Namco about these RPGs, so stay tuned to this gamespace and our TGS coverage for more.

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