Xbox Conference 2001: Xbox receives more third-party support

High profile companies in Japan such as Namco, Atlus, and From Software to support the Xbox with games such as Soul Calibur 2, Gaia Blade, and Shin Megami Tensei Online.


TOKYO - At today's Xbox Conference 2001 Summer, Microsoft introduced the latest third-party developers for the Xbox. High-profile companies such as Atlus, From Software, and Namco have announced their support for the Xbox. Atlus, developer of Persona and Maken X, has revealed its development of Shin Megami Tensei Online [working title], which will feature network online play and voice recognition. From Software showed its two previously reported titles, Gaia Blade and Murakumo. Most interestingly, Namco unveiled its four titles in development for the system: the latest installment of Ridge Racer [yet to be titled], Soul Calibur 2, Dead to Rights, and an unnamed action-adventure game.

The spotlight then shifted onto the developers that signed up to develop for the system earlier on. Capcom's Keiji Inafune was introduced first, and he presented the latest progress on Genma Onimusha, the Xbox version of the PlayStation 2 game Onimusha. While new gameplay footage was being shown, Inafune mentioned that even the enemies have the ability to absorb souls and become powerful in the Xbox version. In order to prevent that, you must absorb the souls before they do. He did not elaborate how this actually works, but based on the footage, it seemed something like a tug of war, as you can see a shining ball of light with streaks of lightning shifting between your character and the enemy. Other new features include new enemies such as a floating Japanese doll with three daggers on each hand and a samurai warrior who threw a number or fireballs as he swung his sword rapidly. There will be new costumes included, such as the ninja and samurai warrior outfits for Samanosuke. Item and enemy placements will also change from the original. Inafune stressed that Genma Onimusha will be ready for the Xbox launch.

Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo showed two of its upcoming Xbox titles, Air Force Delta II and Silent Hill 2: The Final Verse. A clip of Silent Hill 2 was shown without the grainy effect used in the PS2 version, which demonstrated that the textures were clear, allowing the developers to add more atmosphere to the game. Many other additions are expected, though Konami did not disclose any details at the event. The company is aiming to release both titles by the Japanese launch date.

Sega's development teams followed Konami, offering first looks and new information on their upcoming titles. Rikiya Nakagawa, CEO of Wow Entertainment, first introduced Sega GT 2002 [working title]. A video clip gave us a first look at the game, which is still in the very early development stages and was running off an XDK. Featuring detailed car models and a high frame rate, the demo showed off solid graphics that included environment mapping so precise it was possible to see overhead fluorescent lighting and an overhead fan reflected on the car. Citing the team's commitment to selecting car models and attention to detail, Nakagawa stated that the game would be playable at TGS.

Smilebit's Takayuki Kawagoe showed two titles from his company. GUNVALKYRIE, an action-adventure game with an "electronic punk" feel, was shown in video form. The names of the two playable characters were also revealed. The female character is Kelly O'Lenmey, and the new male character is Saburouta Mishima. Mishima's weapon of choice is a katana. The clip alternated between both characters engaging in combat with buglike aliens in a variety of large environments. Jet Set Radio Future was also shown, featuring better looks at the characters and city environments. The game includes enhanced graphics and the uses more-refined cel-shading techniques (called manga dimension by Sega). The game featured what Smilebit calls manga blurs on the characters, which added a cool effect to their movement. The game's soundtrack will be provided by artists on the Grand Royal record label. Suggestions for graffiti designs to be used within the game are being solicited at its official Web site. During the clip, a two-player split-screen mode was shown as well. The company is aiming to release the titles for the February 2002 launch of the Xbox in Japan.

Finally, Tomonobu Itagaki, executive officer and general manager/creative division of Tecmo, anchored the show with a presentation of Dead or Alive 3. The trailer video for the game, set to Aerosmith's "Nine Lives" (the band is now officially providing songs for the game, but not necessarily the song "Nine Lives"), gave the first real look at the game's battle system and huge fighting arenas. Featuring fast action and detailed graphics, the game provided a showcase for the Xbox. Promising full details on the game at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show, Itagaki also mentioned that developer Team Ninja would take the time between the game's US release at the Xbox launch and the Japanese release at the system's Japanese launch to enhance the game further.

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