Namco Bandai readying five for 360

Gundam, Culdcept, and new mech game underway; Pac-Man and Galaga heading to Xbox Live Arcade.


Mobile Ops: The One Year War

TOKYO--At the Xbox 360 Press Conference in Tokyo today, Namco Bandai Games made its first Xbox 360 presentation since its corporate merger on April 1. Company vice president Shin Unozawa appeared on stage as the conference room was filled with the familiar 8-bit music of Namco's classic 1981 arcade hit, Pac-Man. And indeed, that was the first game to be shown off.

Unozawa announced that Namco Bandai Games is currently developing a version of Pac-Man for distribution on Xbox Live Arcade. He presented a real-time demo of the game, and showed off that it plays as a full port of the original arcade release, albeit with functions that take advantage of Xbox Live. Its menu featured the standard options seen in most Xbox Live Arcade games, including leaderboards, achievements, options, and an Unlock Full Game selection (so a downloadable demo is assured). Unozawa also announced that the arcade shooter Galaga is being ported to Xbox Live Arcade. Details about the games release and cost have not been revealed yet.

Unozawa then moved on to discuss bigger projects. The first game he introduced was Zegapain XOR, a mech shooter exclusive to the Xbox 360. The game is currently being developed by Cavia for a summer 2006 release in Japan.

Zegapain XOR plays as a sci-fi game where mankind is in a war of survival against enemies known as the Gars-orm. The player takes the role of an ace pilot named Toga Victor, who fights against the Gars-orm by piloting a mech called Zegapain. Zegapain uses various "holophonic" weapons to take on the Gars-orm, including a light saber and rifle. Showing a trailer of the game, Unozawa explained that Zegapain XOR sets itself apart from traditional mech games with the use of semitranslusent graphics that take advantage of the Xbox 360's hardware capabilities. Zegapain XOR will also feature online gameplay. Interested gamers can download its trailer from Xbox Live Marketplace starting today.

Zegapain XOR is a part of a large scale, mixed-media collaboration project between Microsoft, Namco Bandai, and anime studio Sunrise. While the game's release is a few months away, an anime series named Zegapain debuted today on the TV Tokyo broadcasting network. The companies plan to release Zegapain comic books as well.

"Microsoft has always paid attention to the strongly rooted popularity of anime, and the continuously expanding share of games that are based on them," said Microsoft Japan's Xbox chief Takashi Sensui, who was also up on the stage with Unozawa. "But our plans are not just to release games that are themed on anime. We plan on realizing a true collaboration between [anime and] video games, which takes full advantage of next-generation console capabilities such as high definition, online [capabilities], and downloads."

Following Zegapain, Unozawa showed off Mobile Suit Gundam (working title) for the Xbox 360. The first-person shooter was originally announced during last summer's Xbox 360 press conference in Tokyo, but this was the first time that screenshots and a trailer were presented for the game. Players take the role of a solider during the One Year War and take on various assignments, such as stealing an enemy's mobile suit. The game will show the war from both the Federation and Zeon side's perspectives. Gundam will allow multiplayer games via Xbox Live with voice chat.

A short trailer presented during the conference showed that Mobile Suit Gundam features relatively realistic graphics when compared to other Gundam games, such as Capcom's Mobile Suit Z-Gundam: AEUG vs. Titans. The game is being developed by Dimps and does not have a release period yet.

During his closing statement, Unozawa announced that Namco Bandai Games is working on Culdcept Saga, a Live-enabled game that will be the latest entrant in the popular Magic-meets-Monopoly game franchise. The game will be exclusive to the Xbox 360.

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