As we have seen time and time again in PlayStation-era role-playing games, mixing 2D sprite animation with 3D graphics can have mixed results. Developer Image Epoch knew that such an experiment would be risky, but the company that made Arc Rise Fantasia and the Luminous Arc series decided to say "screw it" and go for gold with Tokitowa, a game that claims to be an anime in video game motion.
As was evident from the Image Epoch webcast hosted by CEO Ryoei Mikage and producer Kei Hirano, Tokitowa is an action RPG for the PlayStation 3 centered on a blue-haired protagonist (which we would control) and his pink-haired wife, Toki. The key themes of the game's narrative are time and the bonds of marriage.
From the tiny clips of gameplay shown during the teaser, we can assume that Toki is a ranged character who uses her flying dragon pet as a combat assist. We didn't see any sign of the main protagonist in action, so we can't gauge whether players will have a two-person party or just tag in the other during combat.
What was also apparent was that every character and enemy will be in motion via traditional hand-drawn animation. Animation studio Satelight (Macross Frontier) and illustrator Vofan (Bakemonogatari) are handling the entire game's 2D art and look, while Yuzo Koshiro is responsible for the game's music. Speaking of characters, the teaser also showed other female members of the cast, ranging from a bespectacled brunette who may be an outdoor alchemist, to a blonde doppelganger of Toki.
What was interesting was that Mikage joked that players can cheat on the main character's wife and instead find another person to marry and date. Whether the extra glimpse of the cast means they're potential party members or spouses is still open to interpretation, but the possibilities make for something akin to a faithfulness meta-test (like Catherine did last year).
While we aren't fully convinced that what we saw would translate into a smooth gameplay experience, Mikage did state that the game is only 20 percent done and will be ready for display in time for this year's Tokyo Game Show. That said, the brief clips demonstrated the high-quality animation blending in very well with its background.
If all goes to plan, gamers can check out what could be a pleasing marriage between traditional animation and gameplay when Tokitowa is out on Japan shelves this year.