At Anime Expo last weekend, Aksys hosted a panel with a rather conspicuous name: The State of Anime Gaming. Just what would this conference entail? Would it discuss the blossoming fortune of visual novels in Western gaming markets, thanks to platforms like the Nintendo 3DS and Steam? Would it explore how social mobile gaming has staked such a prominent foothold in East Asia due to long business commutes, or would it ponder just what future might lay in store for games with Japanese anime stylings in non-Japanese markets?
The State of Anime Gaming conference ended up being something quite different. Aksys made clear that they will be defining the future of this genre with their own games. 13 of them, to be precise, each of which received its own trailer yesterday. Most of these, save for Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky and Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate’s “Eternal Wanderer” Edition, were previously unannounced English localizations of existing games.
Exist Archive: Other Side of the Sky is billed as a side-scrolling “traditional JRPG” in the vein of Valkyrie Profile. In addition, players are invited to invest themselves in the game’s story, as well as to explore the game’s multiple endings. It was developed by tri-Ace, who is perhaps best known for the Star Ocean series, and Spike Chunsoft. The English localization, which is slated for release this October, will be handled by Aksys.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate is an action RPG that is known for its series’ history in Japan. It’s already set to release on July 26 this year for the PS Vita, but Aksys revealed yesterday that it will also be receiving a special “Eternal Wanderer” edition, which can be pre-ordered here for $59.99. The Eternal Wanderer edition includes the following:
– Shiren The Wanderer Series 20th Anniversary Hardcover Art Book
– Nonary Bracelet (which may or may not randomly kill its wearer, according to the Aksys PR crew)
– Nonary Display Box
– Limited Edition Soundtrack
Among the more prominent previously unannounced offerings shown at Aksys’ panel were ports for Spike Chunsoft’s 999 and its sequel, Virtue’s Last Reward. This announcement was conveyed through a charming self-aware trailer, which depicted 999’s characters solving a mystery and poking fun at both the Anime Expo audience and at Aksys’ PR team itself. It also followed up on a cryptic teaser posted by Kotaroi Uchikosi several weeks ago on Twitter, which implied that both games would be coming to Steam and Vita at some point in the future. The Aksys representatives, however, did not divulge any further information on which platforms would be receiving the games.
The teaser trailer can be viewed below, courtesy of RPGSite.
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is being ported to other platforms! #AX2016 pic.twitter.com/1R7CP9v3EX
— RPG Site (@RPGSite) July 2, 2016
The audience’s hype was, as they say, real.
Next on the list of interactive narrative thrillers was Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories. Chase, which employs a more photorealistic noir setting to tell its tale, is being led by Taisuke Kanasaki (known for Hotel Dusk: Room 215), and will be localized in English-speaking regions by Aksys for the Nintendo 3DS. The game will receive episodic releases, which will be able to be downloaded via the Nintendo e-Shop.
In the vein of Japanese games with incredibly long names came Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs World Tour, an extended edition of adventure-con-visual novel Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters. The PS4 and PS3 editions will have physical releases, while Vita and PC (via Steam) will receive digital releases come Fall 2016.
What Aksys dubbed their “grand finale” turned out to be a Vita/Steam release for Tokyo Xanadu, which was developed by Nihon Falcom (known for the Ys series). It’ll be heading to the aforementioned platforms in North America in 2017. There are currently no plans to localize Tokyo Xanadu eX+, which is the ‘enhanced’ edition of the original game available for the PS4 in Japan.
You can check out Tokyo Xanadu’s Japanese trailer below. In addition to the tried-and-true formula of pitting high school students against supernatural forces, the game features a “fleshed-out world,” as well as the ability to switch out party members on the fly to create complex combos while in combat.
Here’s a list of other localized titles announced at the Aksys panel yesterday:
– XBlaze Lost: Memories, a visual novel set in Arc System Works’ Blazblue universe for PS3/Vita/Steam
– Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault, a city/tower defense game that is coming to Steam
– Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~, Bad Apple Wars and Collar x Malice, visual novels marketed toward Japan’s otome fanbase (romantic games intended for female audiences). They’re all coming out in 2017.
– Ninja Usagimaru – The Gem of Blessings, a charming platformer in which players take on the role of a ninja bunny. It’s coming to the Nintendo e-Shop in Fall 2016.
Aksys’ translation team has quite the large plate on their hands. But given their past work, we can expect these titles to exhibit their trademark for making Japanese titles fun and engaging for foreign gamers of all walks of life.