Shippin' Out February 11-15: Lost Odyssey, Professor Layton

Japanese RPG and puzzle-mystery games lead a wave of new releases including Wipeout Pulse for PSP, 360 Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

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With Valentine's Day coming up this Thursday, the cliché adage states that love is in the air. While that may be true at school dances across the country, it remains to be seen if gaming retailers' new release shelves will elicit similarly enamored reactions.

There's no telling which of this week's new games will catch Cupid's eye, but at least there's plenty to like, both in new software and hardware. This past Sunday saw the release of Nintendo's latest dual-tone DS Lite, the cobalt-and-black combo, while Harmonix's long-awaited unbundled Rock Band instruments are set to arrive a little later in the week.

As for games, perhaps the most anticipated title on the docket is Microsoft's Lost Odyssey. Developed by Final Fantasy producer Hironobu Sakaguchi and his Mistwalker Studios, Lost Odyssey is the second Sakaguchi effort on the Xbox 360, with the first being 2007's Blue Dragon. The game follows the immortal warrior Kaim across four discs of role-playing, suggesting an appropriately just-shy-of-eternal adventure.

For lighter Japanese fare, gamers can check out Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Developed by Level 5, Professor Layton is a mystery game that provides a puzzling twist on previous DS standouts like Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk. Players guide the titular professor and his assistant as they try to unravel the mystery behind an eccentric baron's will.

A handful of other notable titles are set for release in stores this week, as Brash Entertainment follows up its debut game, Alvin and the Chipmunks, with an adaptation of the new teleportation-centric theatrical release, Jumper. Ubisoft's Dark Messiah of Might and Magic makes its long-awaited debut on the Xbox 360, while Conflict: Denied Ops is confirmed for a multiplatform launch and Wipeout Pulse will be released for the PlayStation Portable.

As for downloadable offerings, both the Wii Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade will see a pair of new releases. Nintendo's downloadable service welcomes the Super Nintendo version of Harvest Moon and the TurboGrafx-16 CD shooter Lords of Thunder, each selling for 800 Wii points ($8). Microsoft's service gets its customary Wednesday update with the arcade classic Discs of Tron for 400 Microsoft points ($5) and the turn-based strategy game Commanders: Attack of the Genos for 800 Microsoft points ($10).

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

FEBRUARY 11, 2008
Nintendo Cobalt DS Lite (released Sunday, February 10)
London Taxi Rush Hour (Wii)
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)
Go, Diego, Go!: Safari Rescue (PS2)
Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Mermaids (PS2)
Harvest Moon (Wii VC)
Lords of Thunder (Wii VC)

FEBRUARY 12, 2008
Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
Jumper (Wii, Xbox 360, PS2)
Conflict: Denied Ops (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements (Xbox 360)
Wipeout Pulse (PSP)
Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon (PS2)
Dungeon Explorer: Warrior of the Ancient Arts (DS)
Chessmaster: The Art of Learning (PSP)
Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate (PC)
Pirateville (PC)
Rock Band stand-alone instruments (PS3, Xbox 360)

FEBRUARY 13, 2008
Commanders: Attack of the Genos (XBLA)
Discs of Tron (XBLA)
Sam & Max Episode 203: Night of the Raving Dead(PC downloadable)

FEBRUARY 14, 2008
No releases announced.

FEBRUARY 15, 2008
The Experiment (PC)

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