Shadow Hearts 2 Impressions

Aruze's upcoming RPG sequel is on display at Tokyo Game Show 2003. We've got the details.

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Pachi-slot company Aruze, the former publisher of SNK, was on hand at Tokyo Game Show 2003 to show off its upcoming sequel, Shadow Hearts 2. The company seemed to have gone to great lengths to promote the game at the show, and posted a series of ads and character illustrations throughout the streets surrounding the Nippon Convention Center.

At the show, the company revealed that the main character of Shadow Hearts 2 will once again be Urmnaf Bort Hyuga (the original game's protagonist), and not the German solider Kallen or Nicholas the exorcist, as Aruze's previous promotions had suggested. The demonstration version of the game actually seems to hint that the giant demon shown in previous screenshots is actually Urmnaf himself, trying to protect the village of Domremy from German soldiers.

Shadow Hearts 2 has a number of interesting supporting characters with unusual personalities. These include the muscular vampire Joachim Valentine, who for whatever reason, strikes poses and flexes his muscles continuously during battles, as well as the blonde-haired, leather-clad Veronica Vera, who resembles a younger Vanna White (complete with poses and gestures from the American TV show Wheel of Fortune). The 700-year-old Roger Bacon from Aruze's past two RPGs also appears in the game.

Shadow Hearts 2 retains the unique "judgment ring" battle system from the original game, and it also adds a new feature called the combination system. By selecting the option from the battle menu and choosing additional party members for a combination attack with, you can have your party members can attack in sequence, which adds a combination bonus to your attack that deals additional damage. You can also choose one of four normal types of attack, which include a standard attack; an attack that thrusts your enemies away; an attack that tosses enemies into the air to set up an easy mid-air combination attack; or an attack that knocks your enemies to the ground. The sequel also includes the "riot system" from the original game--at some points, one of your party members go out of control. The new game also includes Urmnaf's "fusion monster" system from the original game. However, the details on how soul energy (one of the primary game mechanics from the first game) remain unknown, since this system was disabled at the show.

Like the first game, Shadow Hearts 2 also allows for various other miscellaneous menu options, such as viewing a library of game characters and monsters, as well as a ranking screen that keeps track of your statistics. Shadow Hearts 2 is scheduled for release on February 19 of next year in Japan at an as-yet undetermined retail price.

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