Xanadu Next Hands-On Impressions

We take a sojourn in Xanadu Next at E3.


Xanadu Next, an upcoming action role-playing N-Gage game from Japanese developer Falcom, hasn’t received much press of any variety in the short time since its announcement--mostly because the game is only about half finished. The very incomplete version we had a chance to play in Nokia’s N-Gage booth offered only a small taste of the final product, allowing play on a single level with just one type of enemy to fight, but the experience was still interesting enough to warrant mention with other soon-to-be released N-Gage games.

The booth build of Xanadu Next featured your sword-swinging hero in a fully 3D texture-mapped castle courtyard. Gameplay consisted of maneuvering the swordsman through a series of mazelike areas and vanquishing the occasional enemy, all from a beautiful isometric viewpoint. A simple overhead map updated dynamically from the corner of the screen as you progressed through the game. Although the only functionality enabled for the test build was moving, attacking, and rotating the camera around your character, the graphics were silky smooth and updated at a very appreciable frame rate. Conceptually, the gameplay seemed like a combination of Gauntlet and the N64 Zelda titles. Although no other attack methods were included in this prerelease version, a Nokia representative assured us that Xanadu Next's protagonist will eventually have access to a wide range of weapons and magic spells.

The release version of Xanadu Next will also feature two-player Bluetooth matches when it hits stores in Q4 2004.

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