To begin with, watch the official Xbox video below…
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement by Bandai Namco. Some parts in boldface…
Join the young king Evan on a grand adventure that blurs the line of animated feature film and video game in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – The Prince’s Edition, launching on Xbox, Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass today.
As a king, Evan bears the responsibility of great power. He’ll personally set forth and do battle to unite and save his people in this action RPG. However, the king’s duty does not end there. As part of the main game, Evan must also develop his empire in a city simulator-like Kingdom Management mode, and lead his army in a real-time-strategy like Skirmish mode.
These two modes will become important parts of Evan’s journey as he works to demonstrate his leadership on and off the battlefield, so read on for a dive into how they work and a couple of tips to get you started.
Kingdom Management Mode – After a certain point in the story, Evan will be able to sit upon his throne to initiate Kingdom Management mode. Starting from a small humble town, you will help Evan lead his people by choosing which buildings to construct and assigning citizens to work on their respective sections.
Each building will provide significant conveniences or bonuses to your kingdom. Some buildings constructed in Kingdom Management mode are the sole source of some rare items.
Citizens will drive upgrades and research in Evan’s kingdom. Each citizen has their own specialty and bonus that will make them more suited for one job or the other. It’ll be Evan’s job as king to make this assessment and decision.
Skirmish Mode – To build and expand his kingdom, Evan must demonstrate his tactical prowess by leading his army against other enemy armies in a real-time-strategy-like mode called Skirmish mode. In this mode, Evan will command up to 4 units of soldiers. Each soldier type is easily distinguished by the color of their uniform.
For the newcomers reading this, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom was originally released in 2018 only on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. Like its predecessor, the game was positively received by both video game critics and gamers. Loaded with additional content in the form of DLCs, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – The Prince’s Edition’s release on Xbox consoles significant as it adds more weight on the Xbox ecosystem becoming the haven for fantasy RPGs and other types of role-playing games. Japanese RPGs on Xbox this year are looking exciting as Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and the remastered Suikoden and Suikoden II will be released in due time. I should state that recently Persona RPGs were released already on Xbox and XGP.
Xbox fans who love role-playing games (RPGs) should be delighted to know that the new multiplatform fantasy RPG Sea of Stars will be officially released for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One consoles on August 29, 2023, according to an official announcement by Sabotage Studio (The Messenger).
To begin with, watch the official Sea of Stars Xbox video below…
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement by the developer…
Talk about an announcement that was long overdue!
Since the very beginning, we were secretly hoping to be able to cover all current and previous generation consoles. With production being a world of curve balls, we had to leave the messaging at “PC and Consoles” to avoid having to walk some things back. With the big unknowns now in the rear view, we are delighted to finally confirm the addition of Xbox to the party!
For the newcomers reading this, Sea of Stars is a turn-based RPG inspired by the classics. It tells the story of two Children of the Solstice who combine the powers of the sun and moon to perform Eclipse Magic, the only force capable of fending off the monstrous creations of the evil alchemist known as The Fleshmancer. The game also has some music from veteran composer Yasunori Mitsuda whose credits include Japanese RPGs (JRPGs) Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. In terms of setting, Sea of Stars is a prequel to Sabotage Studios’ previous game The Messenger.
In case you missed the news, the acclaimed 2019 science fiction role-playing game The Outer Worlds is back again with enhancements as well as the two DLC packages (Peril on Gorgon and Murder on Eridanos) in the form of The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition which has just been released. Those who already owned the game and wish to replay it with the latest stuff can digitally avail of the Spacer’s Choice Edition for a small price. Expect a series of enhancements while playing The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
To begin with, watch the official Xbox trailer below…
When The Outer Worlds was released to critical success, we at Obsidian Entertainment were excited to see our community thoroughly enjoy this RPG that we felt was fun, fresh, and concise. Now that we’ve announced The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition, an upgrade for the new generation of hardware, we thought we’d go over some of the cool changes we are bringing in and the thought process behind it. If you aren’t familiar with the game, here’s a quick recap:
Lost in transit while on a colonist ship bound for the edge of the galaxy, you awake decades after your planned date only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy the colony. Explore the various planets and locations of Halcyon, including the mysterious Gorgon Asteroid and the delightful distillery on Eridanos. As you encounter various factions, all vying for power, the decisions you make determine how the narrative unfolds.
Since its release, over 5 million lucky spacers have explored the celestial bodies of Halcyon and taken an active part in the power struggle rocking the colony. Everything was going just fine. But then, just over a year later, the Xbox Series X and S arrived in people’s living rooms, pushing the boundaries of console gaming ever further. In a sense, the game was released in between two console generations. When opportunity insists on striking, it’s best to use a Prismatic Hammer.
Living on in the new console generation – With the release of this new generation of consoles, we wanted The Outer Worlds to live on for future spacers to enjoy. We wanted to make The Board proud and prevent this must-play RPG from aging prematurely as new games come rolling in, while at the same time providing a relevant, modernized space colonist experience for all newcomers to Halcyon. The technical capabilities introduced with the Xbox Series X and S made it clear there was room for improvement! Not just in how the game looks, but also regarding how the game feels.
This meant brushing up what were already some of the strengths of the core game: an engrossing storyline influenced by the in-game choices you make, quirky yet endearing companions – each with unique abilities and their own missions for you to help them complete – a freely diversified combat system yielding high-intensity encounters with your enemies, and much more…
The road to making the definitive version of The Outer Worlds – So we grabbed our spacer’s dev kits and got to work. Of course, we worked on visual improvements such as bringing 4K, 60FPS graphics, volumetric lighting, improved special effects, better particle physics, and enhancing the environments with increased asset density and visual storytelling.
But we also strived to create a smoother gaming experience by making the combat and companion AIs smarter, improved the open-world sensation through better depth, reworked the vistas already in the game, and updated weather variations. On top of that, we reworked character models and animations to improve the feel of the game. Finally, we thought this Spacer’s Choice Edition would make even more sense if it included the base game’s DLC expansions, Peril on Gorgon and Murder on Eridanos, so we did just that. Now the experience is even richer! And we increased the level cap to 99, to give players even more ways to build their character from the seven branches of the skill tree.
While I have been waiting for the Xbox-exclusive fantasy RPG Avowed from Obsidian Entertainment as well as Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield from Bethesda, I was surprised to see that The Outer Worlds was enhanced for the more modern Xbox consoles and that the price is not too high for those who previously bought the game. Still, the original game is only a little over 3-years-old now and at the time of its release, it was not exactly a visual standout among video games. Its gameplay, story concept, witty writing and memorable concept really defined The Outer Worlds as a fun game worth replaying.
I personally had replayed The Outer Worlds a lot on my Xbox One console (which conked out in 2021) and I did the same with the two separate DLC packages. I replayed The Outer Worlds and its expansions on my Xbox Series X one last time using backward compatibility and I enjoyed the improved frame rate. To replay the game in the form of the Spacer’s Choice Edition is enticing to say the least. It could ease the pain of the long wait for Avowed and Starfield (note: scheduled for release on September 6, 2023). Oh yes, Obsidian Entertainment is still working on the Xbox-exclusive sequel The Outer Worlds 2.
As of this writing, there are YouTubers and gamers who reported a variety of technical flaws and shortcomings with The Spacer’s Choice edition. In fact, the PlayStation 5 version of the game has so many bugs, a lot of gamers are suffering. Obsidian Entertainment and publisher Private Division (note: the company does not own the intellectual property rights of The Outer Worlds) should pay attention to the complaints and improve the game via patching. For the Xbox gamers reading this, watch below the early videos of The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition tested on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S…
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition is now available for gamers to enjoy.
In concluding this article, posted below for your enjoyment are Xbox-related videos.
If you still have not yet acquired an Xbox Series X console but you already have the means to buy it, then you should seriously consider buying the Xbox Series X and Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition Bundle once it becomes available for $559, Team Xbox announced recently. Having played Forza Horizon 5 a lot on my Xbox Series X since late 2021, I can say that the bundle is great value for you gamers as well as others struggling with inflation.
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com announcement. Some parts in boldface…
Introducing the Xbox Series X – Forza Horizon 5 Bundle, including an Xbox Series X and wireless controller, and Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition with Hot Wheels Expansion, VIP Pass, Car Pass, Welcome Pack and a second expansion when available. This Xbox Series X bundle will be available worldwide and will start shipping to retailers in the US, Canada and select markets in Asia this week. Bundles will start shipping to Europe, Latin America, and more regions around the world later this month.
Xbox Series X: 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power, DirectX ray tracing, a custom 1TB SSD, and 4K gaming – Xbox Series X is the fastest, most powerful Xbox ever. There are thousands of playable titles from four generations of consoles, and all games look and play best on the Xbox Series X. Load times are virtually eliminated and framerates are increased with a custom-built NVMe SSD, which enables larger, more robust games to operate at their full capacity.
Forza Horizon 5 runs at 4K and 60 frames per second on Xbox Series X in performance mode and provides the most technologically advanced Forza Horizon experience yet. You’ll get to explore the vibrant and ever-evolving open world landscapes of Mexico in the world’s greatest cars with 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power, DirectX ray tracing, a custom SSD, and 4K gaming. The power of the Xbox Series X console delivers incredible realism and immersion with a world rendered in higher detail and with extreme draw distances.
Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes Forza Horizon 5 plus the Premium Edition add-ons -Forza Horizon 5: The latest entry in the open world racing series showcases powerful, all-new graphical features. Experience sweeping vistas and scan the distance to see the adventure that lies ahead. Encounter the smallest of details throughout the world, which is rendered with striking realism, down to the smallest details like the light that glows through each needle on a Cholla cactus. Our Mexican HDR sky captures illuminate the world to the point that you will feel as if you are right there. And thanks to Xbox Series X|S, ray tracing is utilized in ForzaVista to make the cars look even more true to real life.
Hot Wheels Expansion: Race 10 amazing new cars on the fastest, most extreme tracks ever devised. You can even design, build, and share your own Hot Wheels adventure! What’s not to love about that? You can blast off to the visually stunning, exhilarating Horizon Hot Wheels Park in the clouds above Mexico today.
VIP Pass: The VIP Pass features 3 exclusive Forza Edition cars, Crown Flair, Vanity Items, Emote and Car Horn, Player House, Double Credit race rewards, weekly bonus Super Wheelspins, and more to give your game a boost and make you stand out at the Horizon Festival.
Car Pass: Expand your garage with 42 new cars, including 8 Formula Drift Cars to get you started in style. Plus, you’ll receive a one-time grant of each car to your in-game garage.
Welcome Pack: 5 special pre-tuned cars, a Player House, a one-time grant to own any car from the game’s Autoshow, and 3 one-time grants for any Common or Rare clothing item.
Second Expansion: The next Forza Horizon 5 expansion will be included when it launches.
Wow! That’s a ton of gaming value for those who will buy the Xbox Series X bundled with the blockbuster game! Indeed, Team Xbox is offering big value for $559 to those who want the premium, fun console gaming experience. I myself am still having fun replaying Forza Horizon 5.
Personally, I see this premium bundle announcement as a form of warm-up on the part of Team Xbox to deliver not just more game-related features and Xbox Game Pass (XGP) content but also the big-budget Xbox-exclusive games that are expected to be released this year such as Starfield (note: first half of 2023), Forza Motorsport (2023), Redfall (note: potentially May 2023) and others. 2022 is over and ended without big budget exclusive games and this is the year that Team Xbox should deliver the great stuff that cannot be found on PlayStation and Nintendo consoles. If you want tremendous gaming value and content at a small price per month, I encourage you to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).
Watch out for the Xbox Series X – Forza Horizon 5 premium bundle online and at the local retailers.
In concluding this article, posted below for your enjoyment are Xbox-related videos.
Given the fact that the Suikoden game franchise has always been very associated with the PlayStation brand and platform, its inevitable arrival on Xbox is indeed remarkable and it could inspire other Japanese game publishers to consider remastering their old Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) and releasing them on the Xbox ecosystem.
I could only imagine the possibility of Capcom releasing their old Breath of Fire JRPGs on Xbox in remastered forms someday. I am interested to replay Breath of Fire IV as I never got to finish that game on the original PlayStation console (PS1). The most extensive Breath of Fire experience I had was Breath of Fire III which I managed to finish. While I never got to play the original Breath of Fire game, I played Breath of Fire II on a rented Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
I don’t know what it would take to convince Capcom to remaster their old Breath of Fire games and have them released on Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, but it would be worth a try for all JRPG-loving Xbox gamers to reach out to the Japanese publisher as well as executives of Team Xbox and express demand for those games.
For the most part, Breath of Fire RPGs have their unique take on fantasy as well as turn-based gameplay. I also noticed online gamers who are nostalgic not only with those games but also with recurring characters Ryu and Nina. Back in 2009, it was confirmed via Capcom’s online message boards that Breath of Fire as an intellectual property was put to rest.
In my honest opinion, having the old Breath of Fire games released on Xbox Game Pass will surely attract the attention of the subscribers who love JRPGs and potentially revive the franchise. Remastering will also give Capcom opportunities to not only enhance the visuals but also correct whatever errors or technical flaws they find in each game. Xbox Game Pass has a lively subscriber base and already XGP has the remastered Ni no Kuni which subscribers are enjoying. Recently, Persona 5: Royal was released on Xbox. If having Breath of Fire games on Xbox platforms and XGP are enticing to you, then I encourage you to reach out to Capcom, Xbox chief Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond, Aaron Greenberg, Team Xbox and Xbox Game Pass on Twitter now.
In concluding this article, posted below for your enjoyment are Xbox-related videos plus a few Breath of Fire videos.
I will get straight to the point here – Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroesis my most wanted Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) of this current console generation and it is one of the main reasons why I subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) as soon as I bought my Xbox Series X console late last year. While a release date was not yet announced as of this writing, I am looking forward to this upcoming JRPG on my Xbox Series X sometime in 2023. Check out the official Xbox listing of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes by clicking here.
During the recent Tokyo Game Show (TGS), publisher 505 Games and Rabbit & Bear Studios executives – including studio head Yoshitaka Murayama (the Suikoden series creator) and Junko Kawano (who worked on Suikoden and Suikoden IV) – had their own presentation and made announcements. During the TGS, the newest trailer of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was unveiled and it sure looks really good even though the footage shown was from pre-alpha build. Watch the newest trailer below…
As I mentioned earlier, no release date was announced during the TGS which I found baffling since that event drew a lot of viewers and gamers’ attention worldwide. Could it be possible that Konami’s surprise announcement of Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to multiple platforms (including Xbox) in 2023 might have something to do with the lack of a firm release date for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes? At least in my view, developer Rabbit & Bear is still working on finishing their JRPG.
Perhaps publisher 505 Games is doing a wait-and-see approach about the many video games expected to fill the market in 2023 with anticipated heavy hitters like Starfield, Forza Motorsport (2023) and Redfall to name a few. 505 Games will have to select soon a firm 2023 release date for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes based on market competition and the development status of the game.
For the newcomers reading this, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a turn-based fantasy JRPG which has a design and style similar to what was seen in the first two Suikoden video games. As seen in the above trailer, the upcoming JRPG has the combined talents of game creators such as Yoshitaka Murayama, Junko Kawano and Junichi Murakami (Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow) plus musicians Motoi Sakuraba (Star Ocean series, Tales of series) and Michiko Naruke (Wild Arms series).
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes has a story set in one corner of Allraan, a tapestry of nations with diverse cultures and values. On Xbox.com, 505 Games released the first set of character profiles introducing: Nowa, Seign, Marisa, Lian and Garr. Their respective descriptions are as follows…
Nowa – When the League of Nations recruits warriors to assist in a joint expedition with the Galdean Empire, our protagonist answers the call and leaves his remote village to test his skills. On the mission, he finds an ancient rune-lens, unaware that the discovery will spark a war between the League and the Empire. After the conflict begins, he joins a unit in the League’s border guard. The protagonist is the “leap before you look” type. He doesn’t always weigh the pros and cons before springing to action, and while his constant need to involve himself in other people’s problems sometimes creates headaches for his companions, they like him for it and know his heart is in the right place. After all, if they ever got into trouble, he’d be the first person there.
Seign – The second-born son to House Kesling, a powerful imperial family. His older brother died on the battlefield. Seign is exceptionally gifted; after achieving outstanding grades at military academy, he was placed in command of a company of his peers and sent on the expedition to find the ancient rune-lens. During the mission, he meets the protagonist. The two warm to each other as they overcome adversity, and they learn of one another’s ambitions. Seign’s strategic mind allows him to analyze things from a broad perspective and make sound decisions. People often confuse his clear mind for a cold heart, but he is guided by strong ideals and a deep passion to fulfill them. After his brother’s death during a border rebellion, Seign began to think long and hard about what it means to fight.
Marisa– A young member of the Guardians, a clan that hallows and protects the forest. Since Marisa was very little her family has instilled their ways and traditions in her. She has a warm, affable smile — except on the battlefield, where she wears the countenance of a warrior.
Although the Guardians live as one with the forest, they have respect for the outside world’s culture and technology, and they are not against integrating the parts of it that make sense to them. Marisa is particularly forward-thinking in this regard and loves new things — especially cute things.
Lian – After the Empire’s forces invade league lands, Lian is infuriated and runs away from home without even the slightest semblance of a plan. She decides the first thing to do is hoof it to the biggest town she can find, and luckily that’s where she meets the protagonist and his companions. Lian was born in a dojo, and her father wasted no time in teaching her. She was doing roundhouse kicks before she even learned to walk properly.
Garr– A veteran beastman warrior. He and his clan make their living as mercenaries, and their vast experience and sheer brutality put them in high demand. War is all Garr has known, and to him life is one battlefield after the other until you die.
To date, Rabbit & Bear Studios already released the side-scrolling spin-off game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and has been working hard to complete Hundred Heroes. The shared game design elements between the early Suikoden games and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes such has having over 100 playable characters, a story of war, in-depth world exploration, heavy use of 2D sprites for the characters along with their acts during battles, and dynamic group battles are not surprising given Murayama’s history of leading the development of the Suikoden JRPG franchise (until the 3rd game) during his time with Konami. Murayama also is a proven fantasy storyteller with the Suikoden games. Personally, I really loved playing Suikoden II which in my opinion is not only the best of the Suikoden game franchise but also one of the very best JRPGs of the 1990s that I have ever played as well as one of the best JRPGs that was not made by Square Enix.
Knowing that Murayama, Kawano and other notable Japanese creators are working together in making Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, I have reasons to be confident about it. On my end, my taste on video games has changed a lot over the past fifteen years and that goes the same with my interest in JRPGs. Along the way, I really miss the fun I had with the first two Suikoden games as they had gameplay elements that were not only uniquely fun but also aged well. For me, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes could become the most delightful surprise among JRPGs in this current console generation. It is my most-wanted JRPG of this console generation and I believe it will fit in nicely with the Xbox ecosystem which is already becoming an ideal haven for fantasy RPGs and RPG fans in general.
Watch out for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass in 2023.
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release from Konami’s website. Some parts in boldface…
Announced during Tokyo Games Show 2022, KONAMI confirmed several fundamental improvements and quality-of-life features in the upcoming remaster collection:
Pixel sprites and environment art enhanced with new screen effects including lighting, clouds, and shadow animations Flickering flames, smoldering smoke, the movement of leaves and insects, all add up to a lively in-game atmosphere!
The effects and direction have been redesigned, bringing memorable scenes back to life in more beautiful ways!
New Character Drawings
All character portraits have been updated in HD. Junko Kawano, who designed the characters for the original version of Suikoden released in 1995, has newly re-drawn all the character portraits for Suikoden I HD Remaster Gate Rune War.
Field Sound – A large number of environmental sounds not found in the original version, such as the sound of running water in the river, wind, insects, and running footsteps, have been added. You can enjoy an immersive experience like never before!
Battle Sound – All sound effects are now in HD. In addition to the impact of the 3D effects, the realistic sound greatly enhances the dynamism of the battles!
Game System Improvements
Many new features have been added, such as dialogue log, auto-battle, double-speed battles, etc.
As I have played Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation console in the 1990s, the announcement of Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars is big dream come true for me personally. I always wanted to replay Suikoden and Suikoden II without the hassle of having to spend a lot of money to buy a PlayStation or a Nintendo console. In my experience, Suikoden II is the peak of excellence of its own franchise as the creative team listened to the fans and learned from their shortcomings on making the first game which resulted in very rich gameplay, several fun features and compelling story. Suikoden II also remains a great example of using 2D sprites aided with 3D camera movements and some polygonal effects. Read my retro review of Suikoden II at https://carlocarrasco.com/2021/07/15/a-look-back-at-suikoden-ii-1999/
That being said, Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to Xbox (note: Xbox One was officially listed as the Xbox console) is a big bonus not just for Xbox gamers who enjoy JRPGs but also for long-time gamers who loved the early Suikoden games who have not been spending much time with console gaming. As seen in the official press release from Konami as well as in the revealed footage in the official announcement trailer, there were several enhancements to make Suikoden and Suikoden II more presentable in today’s age of high-definition gaming. While the 2D sprites and in-game art works of the two classic JRPGs look the same (note: with some minor adjustments), I noticed the improvements on sound effects, the in-game lighting, some adjustments on textures, the higher resolution resulting in sharper images, and the redrawn character portraits (in the first game specifically).
Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to Xbox is looking like a great addition on the Xbox ecosystem’s growing global appeal as the haven for fantasy RPGs gamers and also for gamers who like other types of role-playing games! For Konami, selling the two classic JRPGs on Xbox could mean bigger sales than what they achieved on PlayStation decades ago. Remember that 2023 will see the eventual release of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and the Xbox-eclusive Starfield. Right now, Konami is still at work on enhancing the remastered Suikodenand Suikoden II and they will have to decide which date in 2023 should mark the release. Personally, I can hardly wait to play Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars on my Xbox Series X console. Watch out for Konami’s announcement of the official 2023 release date. Also, here is hoping Konami will do a good job remastering the two classic JRPGs and that the promises they made in their press release will be fulfilled.
For the newcomers reading this, the Suikoden game franchise’s core concept has been based on the motif of the Chinese classic novel Water Margin and the creative team back then (led by a very young Yoshitaka Murayama who is now leading Rabbit & Bear studios making Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) created role-playing games that had engaging fantasy stories, feature-rich gameplay and a wide lineup of characters who collectively contribute to the game endings. The first Suikoden RPG of the mid-1990s follows a protagonist whose father is one of the empire’s five generals, as he gathers his 108 Stars of Destiny and friends to fight against the oppressive rule of the Empire in ruin. Suikoden II happens three years after the first game’s story, further evolving the game systems unique to Suikoden, such as Rune magic, the 108 Stars of Destiny, home base management, and Army Battles, which were well received in the previous game. Three childhood friends, including the protagonist, are tossed about by a great whirlpool of destiny.
Historically speaking, the Suikoden video game franchise has been strongly identified with PlayStation platforms. Suikoden and Suikoden II were released on the first PlayStation console while Suikoden III, Suikoden IV and Suikoden V were released on PlayStation 2. There were also some versions of Suikoden games that got released on Sega Saturn, Windows PC and Nintendo platforms. That being said, the inclusion of Xbox One as a platform for the upcoming Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars is very notable, even exceptional.
During the Xbox TGS2022 event, I was very surprised and delighted to find out that a remastered version of the acclaimed Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was not only released for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One, but also it was immediately on Xbox Game Pass (XGP)!
Officially titled as Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered, I went online with my Xbox Series X to download the game via Xbox Game Pass. The entire experience was quiet jarring as the lightning launch of Ni no Kuni on Xbox consoles and XGP was something I never ever anticipated would happen. Regardless, this sudden release is a bonus for Xbox gamers who want to play more JRPGs as well as XGP subscribers who want new content to enjoy.
For the newcomers reading this, Ni no Kuni was a hit game released only on PlayStation 3 (PS3) in 2011-2013, followed by a remastered version in 2019 for PlayStation 4 (PS4), Nintendo Switch and PC. The game was developed by long-time JRPG developer Level-5 (which is often identified with PlayStation and Nintendo platforms) and published by Bandai Namco. Ni no Kuni is also notable for having lots of anime cutscenes produced by animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli as well as music by Joe Hisaishi.
As I’m writing this, I got to play the game and I am having fun discovering its fantasy world, learning how the game functions and the Studio Ghibli-animated scenes really look nice! I’ve got a long way to go before completing the game.
As far as Xbox gaming for 2022 is concerned, the sudden addition of the remastered Ni no Kuni into the Xbox ecosystem and XGP is helpful in relation to the lack of big-budget Xbox-exclusive games in the 4th quarter. It should be noted that RPG heavy hitters Starfield and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes plus the remastered versions of two certain classic JRPGs (note: here’s a hint) are scheduled for release in 2023. When it comes RPG gaming on Xbox, the Level-5-developed game is a very welcome addition given the commercial and critical achievements, fun gameplay and the nice value of having Studio Ghibli-produced animation sequences that helped emphasize the game’s fantasy concepts.
For those of you Xbox and JRPG gamers who wish to buy Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered online, click right here. If you are already an Xbox Game Pass subscriber eager for new experiences or JRPG fun, go download the game now.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few ones related to Tokyo Game Show 2022 for your viewing pleasure.
To be clear, I find Square Enix’s business relationship with Team Xbox lacking. The HD remastered version of Legend of Mana was very noticeably released on multiple platforms but not on Xbox. Tactics Ogre: Reborn was announced for future release for multiple platforms except Xbox. Still on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the announced sequel are exclusive to Sony’s platforms. The exclusions are clear and disturbing. Why Square Enix excluded the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the Xbox One (which still has many millions of console users until now) as platforms to sell the above mentioned games remains a mystery although there is speculation that Sony Corporation and its PlayStation executives made a secret deal with the JRPG giant to specifically hurt Xbox without affecting Nintendo and Steam. Realistically, Microsoft pointed out that Sony pays game companies for blocking rights to keep games off Xbox Game Pass. Read all about it here, here and here.
While these developments are disturbing and also annoying, I still wish that Square Enix would remaster one of its classic JRPGs and release it on Xbox platforms similar to what they did with the remastered Chrono Cross. That classic RPG I’m referring to is none other than Xenogears.
I played Xenogears on the original PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it due to my academics and other external matters. It also did not help that the CD-ROM of the PlayStation deteriorated.
Regardless, I had a lot of enjoyment during my limited time with the said JRPG, the design of which was led by Tetsuya Takahashi. The fictional concept of Xenogears took a lot of inspiration from real-life forms of religion as well as concepts from certain intellectuals to establish the story themes, the fictional cultures and historical backgrounds within the game. At the same time, the game had this in-depth universe composed of different settings for gamers to explore. In my experience, I felt immersed into the game’s universe and I still remember the moments I got astonished discovering not only the many locations and landmarks but also the many non-playable characters (NPCs presented as 2D sprites) in the form of local communities and the in-game cultures.
While Xenogears had a science fiction concept, it still had lots of settings and gameplay features that made it feel like a fantasy. I love the way how the creative team’s artists implemented their art styles on the environments, the characters, the machines, the interiors of places and more. Visually, this game saw the use of 2D sprites for the characters who move along a 3D polygonal environment which can be explored creatively by a camera that can be adjusted by the players. As such, this approach done in Xenogears made the game look and feel a lot like Grandia.
While Xenogears’ battle system had key elements that were common with other JRPGs, there was a clear emphasis on hand-to-hand combat that took a lot of inspiration from martial arts as well as 2D fighting games of the decade. There were these martial arts-inspired combos which required button combinations and timing which were fun to watch happen. There were also these death blows which were really rewarding when pulled off correctly. Of course, there were still some magic attacks that were nicely presented.
What made Xenogears stand out is the use of giant robots or gears in the game. Not only did the game allow me to travel with the gears, it also allowed me to engage with enemies (both the large and the small ones standing on the floor/ground) with a fully functional battle system that emphasized size, scale and impact altogether. Similar to the other battle system, the gears battle system fun and engaging in my experience. I can never forget the moment I first saw my gear crush a huge enemy with a lot of impact to seal the victory. Travel using gears, however, was hampered somewhat by the creative team who implemented platform gaming elements (note: this includes jumping from one platform to another without falling down to your death) and the controls were not really responsive enough. This is something Square Enix should consider improving if they ever remaster Xenogears.
Right now, I would love to replay Xenogears and complete it but I prefer the game should be remastered and be released for Xbox consoles. I have no intention of buying a new console from Sony and Nintendo to play Square Enix JRPGs that are missing on Xbox consoles. JRPGs on Xbox are not exactly lacking (note: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released via Xbox Game Pass in 2023 while Persona RPGs are coming to Xbox soon) but it would be great not only for Xbox gamers but also Square Enix itself to remaster Xenogears and release it on the Xbox ecosystem. That being said, I believe Xenogears itself would make a great addition into Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which already has many millions of subscribers worldwide!
Think about it carefully. Having a remastered Xenogears for sale on Xbox and also listed on Xbox Game Pass will not only be good for the Xbox ecosystem but also for Square Enix to not only sell games but also reach out to the XGP subscribers who could enjoy the said JRPG and add a lot of new players that the JRPG giant could not reach before. Not only are more Square Enix role-playing games are needed on XGP right now (note: adding Chrono Cross into it will be delightful), they can also benefit nicely as the Xbox ecosystem is gradually becoming the premier ecosystem for RPG enthusiasts in this console generation. Xbox-exclusive RPGs like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, Fable as well as future sequels of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout will collectively generate big game sales as well as increase the number of gamers in the Xbox ecosystem and Xbox Game Pass subscribers will grow big as well. The growth will be even bigger once Team Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. For Square Enix to miss out on fast growing Xbox ecosystem in favor of Sony’s blocking rights will be a regrettable move.
Going back to Xenogears, I want to make it clear to Square Enix that now is the time to remaster it and release it on Xbox as well as other platforms. That being said, I also urge Team Xbox’s chief Phil Spencer, executive Aaron Greenberg and the Xbox Game Pass team to reinvigorate the business relationship with Square Enix and try to convince them to release Xenogears and other classic JRPGs into XGP and the Xbox game store. To the Xbox gamers and RPG enthusiasts reading this, I encourage you to contact Square Enix and Team Xbox to have Xenogears and other JRPGs (both classic and modern) released on the Xbox consoles and Windows PC.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Xenogears-related videos for your enjoyment.
If you are the kind of gamer who loves playing vertical scrolling 2D shooters that have that unique arcade aesthetic, then you should be delighted to know that Raiden IV x Mikado remix will be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One early next year, according to the official announcement at Xbox.com.
To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from Xbox.com announcement by Nicholas Odmark. Some parts in boldface…
High-octane action soars onto the scene in Raiden IV x Mikado remix, coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One in early 2023! The core gameplay of this series includes the classic vertical scrolling and top-down aerial combat that the shoot ’em up genre is famous for. However, this title’s arsenal of gameplay modes, remixed music, new play styles, and more are what set it apart from the competition.
Arcade Origins – Raiden was first released in Mikado Game Center arcades throughout Japan in April 1990 by Tecmo. After a few decades of additional titles and a new developer in Moss, Raiden IV was first released in 2007. By 2008, it had made its way from arcades to the Xbox 360. And now, over six years after the release of Raiden V on the Xbox One, Raiden IV x Mikado remixaims to establish itself as the most definitive version of this title on Xbox to date.
Game Modes – Raiden IV x Mikado remixcomes outfitted with several exciting game modes. Arcade Mode hails from the original release of Raiden IV, and sports two difficulties, Light for beginners and Original for advanced players. It also utilizes the Flash Shot scoring mechanic, meaning the faster you take down enemies, the higher your score will be. This encourages playing near the top of the screen to hit enemies as they spawn, which of course brings with it a high level of risk. Additional Mode has the same mechanic, but adds two new stages along with new enemy bullet patterns.
OverKill Mode, first introduced in Raiden IV: Overkill, adds two new missions and replaces the Flash Shot scoring system with one of its own. After destroying a larger enemy, they’ll remain on-screen for a few seconds, offering you a chance to earn a higher score bonus the more you keep attacking them. However, that means turning your attention away from new enemies who spawn during that time. In Score Attack Mode, every stage is available to replay for the highest score. And finally, Boss Rush offers you a quick shortcut to every end-of-stage boss without having to fuss with completing every level again.
Turn Up the Volume – Named for the addition of remixed background music in collaboration with Game Center Mikado, Raiden IV x Mikado remix features tracks from legendary artists such as the Go Sato Band, Heavy Metal Raiden, O.T.K., and more. This soundtrack also includes live performances, new arrangements, and allows players to choose between the original Raiden IV background music or the remixed version.
Choose your Ship – On top of selecting your game mode and music preference, you also have three different ships to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Fighting Thunder ME-02 is the most balanced, with respectable weapon strength and speed. The Raiden MK-II is the classic ship of the series, sacrificing speed for higher damage. And finally, the Fairy is the smallest and fastest of all the ships and is meant for players who are seeking a challenge.
Play Your Way – While you might think those are enough options to choose from, Raiden IV x Mikado remix isn’t done yet. You also get to select a play style, each of which drastically changes the game. Solo Play is pretty self-explanatory, while Dual Play lets you and a buddy play together, complete with couch co-op. Double Play on the other hand allows one player to control two ships at the same time, offering a unique and challenging spin on whichever game mode you pair it with.
It’s really nice that Raiden IV x Mikado remix is coming to Xbox consoles sometime early next year. I missed out on Raiden IV when it was released on Xbox 360. I also missed out on Raiden V on Xbox One. Anyway, having more arcade games on the Xbox ecosystem is always a welcome development.
Watch out for Raiden IV x Mikado remix on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One in early 2023.