Last week, Norm and I ventured off the LA to check out Namco Bandai’s upcoming holiday lineup. From RPG’s to anime inspired fighting games, Namco Bandai appears to have a robust lineup that will satisfy fans of the Tales series, Naruto and Dragon Ball Z fans, arcade racing fans, and even shooter fans.
Two Tales Titles Being Updated and Re-Released
Since the release of Tales of Phantasia in 1995, the Tales series has spanned over 12 titles. From the Super Famicom to all the current gen consoles, Tales has seen them all, the classic Japanese RPG continues to thrive by giving the player the freedom to make the gameplay as deep or as simple as they would like. You can micro-manage each little detail, or play straight through the story. And now two of the stories, Tales of Graces F and Tales of the Abyss, are receiving a touch-up and are being released on new systems.
Tales of Graces has really been overhauled. So much so it is being called Tales of Graces F. Moving from the Wii to the PS3 has allowed the developer to really upgrade the graphics and include some new content as well. Most of what we saw in the demo was content from the original game, however we got to see a new cut-scene, which shows that they are including some new story development. There will also be some new Blast Calibers and character outfits. Another awesome addition is an epilogue called Lineage & Legacies that will add around 10 hours of gameplay and fill in some of the stories from the main game. There will also be drop-in/drop-out co-op multiplayer.
Tales of the Abyss is also receiving a port, this time from the PS2 to the Nintendo 3DS. Tales featured the Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System that was used in Tales of Symphonia (play this one if you have a Gamecube!). This version is more of a port than a remake. They have added a 3D effect that doesn’t do anything but spruce up the visuals a little. However, if you missed it the first time around and you own a 3DS, you may want to give this game a try as it is a great JRPG.
Namco Bandai is working on the upcoming third person shooter, Inversion, due out in February of 2012. We got a hands on preview of the game last week. What makes this game stand out from other shooters is the ability to manipulate gravity. You can use a device called a gravlink to command and manipulate gravity to your advantage. You can use it to provide cover, to kill your enemies, and you can eevn use it to retrieve items like ammo. The trick is that the enemies have this device as well and they can use it to do the same things to you.
Another cool thing about this game is that there are these patches of gravitational forces that manipulate particular areas allowing you and your foes to walk on walls and ceilings affording you a better vantage point to defeat your enemies. There are even portions of the game where you will engage in weightless gameplay in zero gravity.
The game focuses around two police officers, the main character, David, and his partner, Leo. The game can be played in single player mode with an AI partner as well as in co-op. Multiplayer modes are also available however the specific modes have yet to be announced. The game will support up to 16 players online.
I played through the short demo and it controls like Gears of War and, in fact, it uses a similar cover system. There are no health packs to pick up, you regenerate it over time. The weapons are pretty standard for a shooter but it is the gravity manipulation that really sets this game apart from some of the games on the market right now and I can see a lot of potential in the multiplayer.
Inversion is due out on February 7, 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Ridge Racer Unbounded
Ridge Racer has been a popular arcade racing game since its debut in arcades in 1993 and made it’s first home console appearace shortly thereafter. Namco Bandai is currently working on Ridge Racer Unbounded a new experience for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and marks its first appearance on the PC. This is also the first time that Ridge Racer has not been released as a launch title. Ridge Racer Unbounded stays true to the series and features no licensed vehicles and keeps the cars clean and damage free during races regardless of how many times you crash into a wall or building. However, Ridge Racer Unbounded is just that…now you can destroy building and other obstacles on the course. Destroying buildings will create shortcuts within the race so you will want to keep an eye out for them.
The game plays like a normal racing game and gives you indicators when a building can be crashed into and destroyed. I suspect that many players will crash into anything and everything because they can.
Another cool feature of the game is the City and Track creator, which will allow you to create your own custom cities and tracks ready for racing and destruction.
Ridge Racer Unbounded is slated for a March 2012 release and will be available on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi
Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi is the newest installment of DBZ fighting games that follows the story of the anime. The 3D fighter allows players to control characters from the Dragon Ball Z franchise and introduces Hero Mode which will allow you to create your very own custom DBZ character using new and existing attributes to customize your character’s hair, clothing, voice, and attack moves.
The game features a story mode and boss battles to fight agains AI or other players locally or online. The game looks like it ripped right out of the anime and features chaotic fighting sequences. Since this was my first time sitting down with the game (or any Dragon Ball Z title for that matter), there was a slight learning curve in terms of what to do and when but overall, the game is aimed towards a younger audience so it should be easy for most players to pick up and play. I won the battle against one of the other previewers but I couldn’t honestly tell you how!
Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi should be another fun fighter for fans of the series. The game drops on October 25th, 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Ultimate Ninja Impact
Coming to the PSP on October 18th, 2011, is the latest Naruto game, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Ultimate Ninja Impact. Built on the Dynasty Warriors engine, the game strays from its usual fighting game style to an action adventure fighter where you take on multiple waves of multiple enemies.
The control scheme is the same as other Naruto games so fans of the series will have no problems making the transtion to the new game style.
The game will be available via the PlayStation Network as a download as well as a UMD disc available at game retailers on October 18th, 2011.