When it comes to bringing quirky games from Japan and dropping them on North American soil, no one delivers quite like XSEED Games. At E3, we had an opportunity to sit down with them and demo some of their latest treasures coming to the states later this summer.
Ragnarok Odyssey is a handheld action RPG with similar gameplay elements to the Monster Hunter series. Taking place in the Kingdom of Rune Midgard, trouble is afoot after the collapse of the "Thousand Year Mountains" -- a mountain range dividing mankind from ancient ruins left behind by the Gods. Any curiosity surrounding the ruins is quickly forgotten as giant behemoths cross the now open border and terrorize resident of the kingdom, flattening cities as they move across the land. It's up to you to repel these beasts now threatening peace in the land.
Players can create a character using over 20,000 different combinations including facial features, gender, accessories, and more. They can also choose between six different job classes: Cleric, Mage, Hammersmith, Assassin, Sword Warrior, and Hunter. Optional quests bolster the story-driven ones, and you can employ up to three other players for co-op gameplay.
All action is real-time, and the battle system closely mirrors Monster Hunter. Even the way quests are received by small creatures who assist you throughout the game is very similar to the Capcom franchise. In fact, the only thing which felt a bit removed was the exaggerated attacks. Enemies can be flung in the air by upward attacks and literally juggled across the map without ever touching the ground as long as you time the attacks right.
Despite the obvious cloning of the Monster Hunter series the game does provide some fun entertainment and will give Ragnarok Online fans a taste of nostalgia . If nothing else, it also gives players something to do until a new MH portable is released. Look for Ragnarok Odyssey to be released later this summer on the PS Vita.
Way of the Samurai 4
If you've never heard of the Way of the Samurai series, you're not alone (though most of you probably have). While the franchise has seen great success in Japan and was released in North America, it hasn't found solid footing since its Playstation 2 days.
Sporting a wild open world to explore, Way of the Samurai 4 dabbles in a little bit of both humor and seriousness to deliver something like to a cross between Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row. Players have a choice between moving the story forward or exploring the city and joining a multitude of optional quests. If questing doesn't sound too appealing, you may also hit on women -- or do more, but we didn't get any deeper into that aspect.
Our demo focused on the action, and it didn't take long for us to upset the wrong people. We were quickly surrounded by pissed off royal guardsmen, and the chaos began. The fighting was smooth and very satisfying with our character dishing out excellent combinations. Swords are more than just about the blade, though, as we were able to attack with the blunt side of the sword to knock enemies out as well.
There is a conflict arising between three factions in the city, and eventually you will have to swear loyalty to one of them; doing so will determine your path through the storyline. Conversations may also have multiple outcomes as you can decide whether you want to unsheathe your blade or simply communicate a response verbally.
Fully customizable characters promise to deliver a wide array of combinations, but my favorite aspect of Way of the Samurai 4 is the ability to download other players' characters to enter your game as AI controlled assassins. Killing these characters rewards you with the loot they have equipped, which will help boost your equipment stash as well as provide a unique gameplay challenge.
Keep an eye out for Way of the Samurai 4 to be released on the PS3 this summer.