You got your tag-team in my cosplay!
At the most recent Tokyo Game Show, one of the things that publisher NIS America got right was taking their lineup-show on the road—or at least, taking it off the main show floor, and up 39 floors or so in the APA Tokyo Bay Resort for a relaxed, low-key presentation (in a meeting room with a pretty spectacular view). The titles on
preview-tap ranged from the still experimentally-quirky Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! Time to tighten up security! to the announcement of new gameplay types aimed at the North American market (we'll just have to see how the whole 'play novel' thing goes over for us ADD-afflicted Westerners) to the continuation of Gust mainstays like the Atelier series (with the release of the forthcoming Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland, developer Gust will be soon be up to their 11th installment of that baby).
[image1]One of the things they got less than right, however, was a trailer for the forthcoming PS3 title Last Rebellion that was so focused on pretty, static game art that it almost totally neglected any hint of what the gameplay was all about. Allow us to take a tiny GR adjustment-wrench to that oversight here and now...
Last Rebellion is an action RPG starring two differently-skilled protagonists who share the same turn in combat—which means that players have automatic access to a sort of constant tag-team mechanic throughout the game.
Our male hero is Nine Asfel—yes, that's his actual name—and he's a “Blade”, or a melee fighter, specializing in direct, physical combat. He's a rogue, anti-hero, brute-strength sword-wielding badass... and quite a bit stunted when it comes to the interpersonal-relations front. He's the kind of guy who speaks “without regard for the feelings of others”, and often uses “sarcasm to mock people he finds beneath him” (which means pretty much everybody).
Our other protagonist—proud, beautiful, upstanding Aisha Romandine—is a “Sealer”, or a magic-user. She is gifted (some would say cursed) with immense magical power, so immense in fact that at one point in
her life, it went beyond her control and took out a number of innocent lives, prompting the people around her to lock her away under the special 'care' of the kingdom authorities). Just the kind of bi-polar dynamic duo you want to toggle between for epic J-fantasy battles, ne? Each of these two heroes, individually, also has enough self-contained, anime-grade fabulous-costume flair to stare down a sunny Saturday afternoon's-worth of Harajuku cosplayers. But if you've played even one Atelier game, you probably came prepared for that.
[image2]Our anti-hero Blade apparently has a younger Necromancer brother named Alfred, who isn't quite as much of an uncouth, socially-coarse bastard as his elder brother; so that's some good news.
In combat, players will need to carefully choose which character will attack first and will thereafter be able to switch between Nine and Aisha during battle—even during the same turn—as the situation warrants. While it's a familiar turn-based scheme of the sort found in scads of other JRPGs, the fighting system adds at least one extra element of depth by allowing players to target specific parts of the enemy's body. Rather than simply piling on generic attacks for lump-sum damage point tallies, you can strategically, methodically reduce your enemy's fighting effectiveness over time.
Strikes directed at a foe's weapon-arm, for example, will weaken that foe's subsequent attacks (well, the melee-based ones, at any rate). On the other hand, if you focus your attacks exclusively on an enemy's
legs, the damage inflicted will substantially decrease his (or her) movement in the next combat round. By balancing Nine's more direct, violent physical strikes with Aisha's magic—and by hammering the enemy's movement abilities while keeping him/her at a distance, when possible—you can whittle down their ability to fight without risking a close-in, more eye-gouging sort of brawl. Meanwhile, the game's overall exploration scheme is free-roaming. The character-switching mechanic also comes into play in exploring the world as well as in straight-up battles, but details on this are still under wraps.
Last Rebellion will ship in Japan on January 28, 2010, with a North American release to follow on February 23, 2010.