Grand Knights History Impressions Preview

We check out Vanillaware's latest role-playing game chock-full of chivalry and online play.

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Core gamers may have remembered past gems from Vanillaware like Odin Sphere (on the PlayStation 2) and Muramasa: The Demon's Blade (on the Wii) for their lovely art style and action-heavy gameplay. Fans of such lavish aesthetics should pay heed to the developer's latest game, Grand Knights History, which will have the same art style that won many hearts. However, Vanillaware will be taking a slower pace this time around, as this fantasy-themed PSP role-playing game will be turn based and have small elements of party micromanagement.

Players control a group of four knights as they act out the story set in the land of Rystia where three kingdoms--Logress, Union, and Avalon--wage war against each other. These warriors can be customized, from their fighting styles (weapons or magic) all the way to how they look and act. It's really up to you if you want to include either a female knight with a large dress bearing a sword and shield or a Red Riding Hood-lookalike with a rifle.

In the land of Rystia, it's a normal fashion statement to have hats bigger than your head.
In the land of Rystia, it's a normal fashion statement to have hats bigger than your head.

Formations play a huge part in combat. There will be 20 formations for players to experiment with; some will change up a group's attack and defense rating while also giving regeneration bonuses. Some of these formations can make certain enemy attacks ineffective as well.

Your band of knights can also learn special skills, depending on which weapon they mainly use. For instance, a knight that uses a spear more than other weapons will not only deal more damage with that weapon, but can also learn spear-related techniques like gallop beat, which makes your knight charge head-on at an opponent and deal critical damage as a result. A knight who uses a dagger continuously can learn a skill called flash code, which lets a user attack an opponent four times consecutively.

Grand Knights History's other main feature is its online component, which initially sounds promising. You will get to represent one of the three kingdoms in the game, with the goal being to expand your chosen kingdom's territory. You will work together with other group of knights online to fight against other online groups from opposing factions. Whether you'll be fighting against an actual person online or facing off against his or her ghost data, the outcome of each fight will reflect how your kingdom is doing.

Your knight's formations can make a difference between life and death.
Your knight's formations can make a difference between life and death.

In terms of control, players are given two options: They can either have direct control over their group or have the AI handle it. For the former, players will need to stay online to control each aspect of battle. For the latter, they can test out combat patterns and set up which commands to prioritize before sending their group to combat. When a battle is over, each participating player gets to vote over which battlefield they get to contest on for the next fight.

Players do not need to be online while they're handled by the AI, which means that they can put the PSP on standby and check back in a couple of hours to reap the rewards. Gamers can send a total of three groups per online session, as well as make a choice on whether to control them directly or leave it to the AI. Grand Knights History will also have community-based features. Players can check out rankings on the game's leaderboards, as well as follow certain players and chart their battle history.

Amidst the chaos, it seems that the four-legged teapot is gaining the upper hand.
Amidst the chaos, it seems that the four-legged teapot is gaining the upper hand.

Publisher Marvelous Entertainment said that the game's network content will allow players to fight against other users overseas. Together with the notion of commanding three different groups of knights fighting for online supremacy for your kingdom of choice, the success of this idea is dependent on the cooperation of the game's community, as well as the overall kingdom's party setup. Vanillaware has yet to divulge communication options for the game, but any sign of a simple messaging system between groups in the same kingdoms would be welcome.

Right now, there aren't any big details on the game's single-player mode apart from what's been covered on this site, but stay tuned for more information on Vanillaware's PSP debut. Grand Knights History will be out on September 1.

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