Shippin' Out March 31-April 4: Mana Khemia

April 1 scares away most publishers, as Nippon Ichi's turn-based RPG for the PS2 is the week's sole retail console release.

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For most publishers, Tuesday is for whatever reason the day of choice to release their pride and joy onto US retail shelves. However, with this Tuesday falling on the notoriously seedy April 1, it would appear the games industry is taking the week off in lieu of having their games regarded as a practical joke.

As it is the sole nondownloadable console release, Nippon Ichi's Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis for the PlayStation 2 is arguably the biggest title on the week. A turn-based strategy/role-playing game, Mana Khemia is a slight departure from developer Gust's Atelier Iris series of games, as much of the gameplay occurs on the campus of an alchemy school.

Adventure gamers have a number of new titles that retailers expect to be stocking in the PC section this week. Dreamcatcher will be releasing Riddle of Tomb, while Lighthouse is booting up its psychological thriller Overclocked. Retailers also expect to see Elephant Entertainment's Women's Murder Club on their shelves this week.

Strategy diehards have an equally stimulating week. With Majesco lining up Toy Shop on the Nintendo DS for the casual gaming crowd, cdv Software and Dreamcatcher will be catering to grognards with their respective Sudden Strike 3: Arms for Victory and Great War Nations: The Spartans on the PC.

Though Sony's PlayStation Store will be devoid of new content for the next couple of weeks as it gears up for the planned PlayStation Network face-lift, Microsoft's Xbox Live and Nintendo's Virtual Console will receive their standard allotment of weekly additions. On the 360, Namco Bandai will be releasing the puzzler Mr. Driller Online for 800 Microsoft points ($10). The arcade-cum-Nintendo 64 racer Cruis'n USA will boost onto the Wii's VC for 1,000 Wii points ($10), with Sega's platforming caveman Wonder Boy following in its dust for 500 Wii points ($5).

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

MARCH 31, 2008
Civil War Mysteries (PC)
Cruis'n USA (Wii VC)
Great War Nations: The Spartans (PC)
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2)
Overclocked (PC)
Professor Brainium's Games (DS)
Riddle of the Tomb (PC)
Wonder Boy (Wii VC)

APRIL 1, 2008
Sudden Strike 3: Arms for Victory (PC)
Toy Shop (DS)

APRIL 2, 2008
Mr. Driller Online (XBLA)

APRIL 3, 2008
Women's Murder Club (PC)

APRIL 4, 2008
No releases have been announced.

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