Shippin' Out April 20-25: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Persona 3: FES

Niche gaming rules the week, as headliners join SE's The World Ends With You; Battle of the Bands jams on Wii, NBA Ballers slams 360, PS3.


River City Ransom
Lost Cities (2008)
Battle of the Bands (2008)

As is traditional for this time of year, April has been a fairly quiet month as far as high-profile releases go. However, next week's release of Mario Kart Wii and Grand Theft Auto IV will all but ensure that the month will continue the year's trend of double-digit software sales growth, and this week offers its own retail temptations to tide gamers over.

Having perhaps the biggest week is the Nintendo DS. As seen most recently at Nintendo's press event earlier this month, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness and Explorers of Time wander onto the best-selling handheld. A spin-off of the role-playing Pokemon series, the Mystery Dungeon line of games has roots in the roguelike genre of dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash gameplay. As with other Pokemon titles, the game comes in two different versions, in which the gameplay is equivalent but a different cast of collectible monsters is on offer.

Square Enix offers up the second high-profile DS game for the week, The World Ends With You. Released in Japan last year under the moniker It's a Wonderful World, Jupiter's The World Ends With You is an action RPG that appeals to the Japanese aesthetic of high fashion on open display in the streets. Players determine their character's demon-vanquishing abilities by what they wear, while at the same time creating new trends in the world around them.

The niche Japanese RPG crowd also has Atlus's Persona 3: FES for the PlayStation 2 to look forward to this week. An extended version of GameSpot's 2007 RPG of the Year, Persona 3: FES offers 30 additional hours of self-inflicted gunshot-wound gameplay in addition to a revisited version of the original game.

On the Wii, THQ will be attempting to tap into the rhythm-game craze with Battle of the Bands. Initially announced as Band Mashups, Battle of the Bands looks to one-up the idea of music as a weapon by giving players live ordnance with which to bombard their opponents. The game features 30 licensed songs, all recorded in their original spirit as well as a number of alternative takes, such as hip-hop or marching band.

Current-generation platforms not created by Nintendo aren't entirely devoid of new content this week, given that Midway will be lacing up NBA Ballers: Chosen One on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The latest installment in the publisher's biannual street-basketball series with RPG sentiments features more than 65 NBA superstars and offers a range of gameplay tweaks, including a more cinematic look and the ability to learn real-life pros' signature moves. Chosen One also supports online multiplayer action.

On the downloadable front, Nintendo and Microsoft have revealed their lineup of digitally distributed games. On the Wii's Virtual Console, River City Ransom (NES, 1989) is a beat-'em-up in the vein of Double Dragon and retails for 500 Wii points ($5). Sega's Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom is a sequel to Phantasy Star II released on the Wii VC earlier this year, and is available for 800 Wii points ($8). On Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, Sierra Online's strategy card game Lost Cities is available for download at the 800 Microsoft points ($10) price point.

This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).

APRIL 20, 2008
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness (DS)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time (DS)

APRIL 21, 2008
Battle of the Bands (Wii)
NBA Ballers: Chosen One (X360, PS3)
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom (Wii VC)
River City Ransom (Wii VC)

APRIL 22, 2008
Chameleon (PSP)
River King: Mystic Valley (DS)
Wild Earth: African Safari (Wii)
Dream Pinball 3D (Wii, DS)
Persona 3: FES (PS2)
Target: Terror (Wii)
The World Ends With You (DS)
Turok (PC)

APRIL 23, 2008
The Red Star (Wii)
Lost Cities (XBLA)

APRIL 24, 2008
No releases have been announced.

APRIL 25, 2008
No releases have been announced.

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