Jump Fest 2005: Square Enix and Mistwalker show upcoming titles
New Dragon Quest VIII spin-off announced; new trailers shown for Valkyrie Profile sequel, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon.
The annual Jump Fest hosted by Shueisha is mostly about the Shonen Jump manga magazine and its characters, but a few game publishers closely connected to the company also make an appearance. As usual, Square Enix was at the event, and this time, so was Microsoft, which showed new trailers of Mistwalker's two upcoming Xbox 360 role-playing games, Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon.
The biggest surprise at Square Enix's booth was a new Dragon Quest VIII spin-off for the PlayStation 2, titled Dragon Quest: Shonen Yangus to Fushigi no Dungeon. The story will focus on DQVIII's plump bandit Yangus, and it takes place during his childhood. Growing up with a father who runs a gang of thieves, young Yangus himself dreams of becoming a great thief. One day, his father brings home a mysterious pot, which will set Yangus off on his first adventure.
While few details about the game were released, the Fushigi no Dungeon series traditionally features randomly generated dungeon maps, and it's most likely that this spin-off will follow suit. The trailer showed that the game plays with cartoon-styled 3D graphics, though they are a bit different from those of Dragon Quest VIII. Yangus was seen walking together with monsters on the field, and the female bandit Gelda from DQVIII will also be in the game.
Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii is working on Shonen Yangus to Fushigi as general director, and he is joined by series character designer Akira Toriyama and series composer Kouichi Sugiyama. The game is slated for release on the PS2 in spring 2006. A teaser page has been put up on Square Enix's official site.
Another anticipated Square Enix title presented in trailer form was the PS2 action adventure game Seiken Densetsu 4. It's been 10 years since Seiken Densetsu 3 came out on the SNES, so naturally there have been some major advancements in the series' graphics and gameplay. Not only does Seiken Densetsu 4 feature 3D graphics, but it also uses a physics engine for realistic interaction with onscreen objects and employs voice acting for its characters.
On the subject of characters, the blond boy from previously released screenshots of the project has been named Eldy, and he's confirmed to be the main character in Seiken Densetsu 4. A 16-year-old youth with a cheerful personality and a mysterious past, Eldy will share the story's spotlight with a kindhearted shaman named Lichia. Having grown up together in a peaceful village, Eldy and Lichia find their idyllic existence shattered by an encroaching army. Seiken Densetsu 4 is slated for release in 2006.
Square Enix had a dedicated theater for the latest entries in its Valkyrie Profile series, which drew long lines. In the theater, the company showed off its trailer for Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, a PSP port of the original PlayStation Valkyrie Profile from 1999. Lenneth plays as a direct port rather than a remake, but it also comes with new prerendered movies, as well as additional event scenes that connect the game to its upcoming PS2 sequel, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria.
As previously reported, Silmeria takes place a few hundred years before the original Valkyrie Profile. The player takes the role of two characters named Silmeria and Alisha, who exist together in the same body. Silmeria is the younger sister of Lenneth (the main character in the original Valkyrie Profile), and Alisha is the princess of the lost city of Dipan. The trailer shown at the event introduced two additional characters: Rufus, an archer who's said to have an "imprisoned soul," and Lezard, a sorcerer who also appeared in the original Valkyrie Profile.
The graphics in Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria have been upgraded to 3D visuals with more realistic characters, but the game still keeps the atmosphere of the original Valkyrie Profile by adopting side-scrolling, 2D gameplay. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is slated for a March 2 release in Japan. Square Enix hasn't announced a specific release date for the PS2's Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria yet.
Microsoft also had a booth at this year's Jump Festival to promote upcoming titles for the Xbox 360. Among the series of trailers shown at its booth included new looks at Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon.
As previously reported, Lost Odyssey is one of the two titles currently in development by former Square Enix producer Hironobu Sakaguchi's studio, Mistwalker. Working with Sakaguchi on the project is award-winning Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, who is lending his hand to give more depth and drama to the story of the main character Kaim Aragoner, a man who's lived for 1,000 years. The Lost Odyssey trailer ran for a little more than a minute, starting with a real-time polygon model of Kaim before moving on to a slide show of concept artwork.
After Lost Odyssey, Microsoft showed off a new trailer for Blue Dragon. Although Microsoft already has the game's teaser commercial running on TV in Japan, the new three-minute trailer gave a better look at the actual in-game graphics, including a sandy village with windmills and a mystical town with odd-shaped buildings. Following the landscape clips, a number of characters were shown exposing their alter egos on plain white backgrounds and fighting with some of the game's monsters.
Microsoft also showed Blue Dragon's 15-second TV commercial right after the trailer, which featured the game's character designer Akira Toriyama drawing on a tablet, while Sakaguchi comments on his work from the side. Toriyama is world-renowned for his Dragon Ball manga series, but he's also known to never show his face in the media. The TV commercial unfortunately was no exception, as only the tip of the artist's nose was visible.
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