Cross Edge Preview
You know what we don’t have enough of in this generation? C’mon, anyone who knows me is going to know the answer… It’s JRPGs, of course! Thus far, fans have been forced to turn to either the PS2 or PSP to get their Japanese role-playing fix, and there are several reasons for this: 1. companies like Atlus and Nippon Ichi aren’t always so quick to leap into a new generation; they have been content with producing new titles for the PS2. 2. in some circles, such projects aren’t considered “cutting edge” anymore, and the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation is supposed to be all about cutting edge technicals and pushing the envelope. Even so, the genre in question has a very loyal following – and not just over in Japan – and when games like Cross Edge finally arrive for the PS3, that niche fan base stands up and takes notice. Heck, most even applaud. On top of which, as this title features a collaboration that involves many Japanese companies and characters from popular JRPG/strategy franchises, it becomes even more appealing to the targeted audience.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Cross Edge is the fact that it may not boast a fully realized, intricate storyline that we often find in JRPGs; as it’s more of an assembly of old character favorites, it’s more like fanservice. …and we don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. All sorts of Japanese developers, ranging from Gust to Capcom to Idea Factory, have contributed characters to this 2D sprite-oriented JRPG battle extravaganza. IGN went hands-on with the game when NIS America held their press event last week (when they announced another new PS3 exclusive RPG, Last Rebellion), and some of the familiar faces included Raze from Mana Khemia 2, Etna from the acclaimed Disgaea series, Misha from Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia and Zelos from Spectral Souls. As for the gameplay, you can probably guess: very colorful, very hectic, over-the-top in terms of dazzling and very artistic special effects, and a complex battle mechanic. It’s difficult to categorize the combat as “turn-based,” but it’s probably accurate to call it “turn/action-oriented.” Or, uh, something to that effect.
You will indeed utilize all four face buttons during any encounter, and you can string together awesome chain attacks if you’ve got the power and skill. Each character will have unique skills and abilities, plus a pool of AP (Action Points) to use as you will. We just mentioned snazzy special effects, and this can happen with strategic punching of those face buttons; the accompanying animations are gonna be pretty eye-opening for a 2D title. Now, while your allies will be on the right side of the battle screen and the enemies will inhabit the left, you may think you’re looking at a straight-up turn-based system. But that’s not entirely true, because there’s a timer involved: as it counts down, you can assign any actions you wish, but once the timer is over, it’s the enemy’s chance to dash across and wreak some havoc. Now, you’ll be able to switch between the different characters in your party during your turn, and this is where your big ol’ chain combos will come from. This won’t be a challenge in terms of reflexes or dexterity (this isn’t Devil May Cry, but strategically or tactically speaking, it could take a good deal of effort to construct.
As for the rest of the game, we’re quite interested in what the developers are calling “an extensive synthesizing system.” We don’t have many details on this (although we could fly over to Japan and just buy the game; it hit store shelves over there late last year), but we assume it will be similar to systems we’ve seen in titles like Atelier Iris. Creating/inventing items and equipment is always a fairly complex and time-consuming process in most any game, so in addition to many battles, you can probably expect to spend a good chunk of time “synthesizing.” Really, though, Cross Edge is best for those who have played and enjoyed many JRPGs in the past few years. Chances are, you’re going to find many familiar faces in this game – which is exactly the point, of course – and the fans will very much like the idea of combining characters from different games. The hardcore are all out there right now saying things like, “oooh, I wonder what kind of combos I can form between Aurica (Ar Tonelico) and Morgan (Darkstalkers)…?” NIS is well aware that this collaboration won’t appeal to those new to the genre.
But for the avid followers, Cross Edge is just the ticket. Its release is right around the corner, too: it’s scheduled to launch in North America on May 19, so for all you JRPG fanatics out there, this one ought to top your wish list for this month. We’ll also try to find as much information as we can for Last Rebellion, too, so stay tuned for that.
5/9/2009 Ben Dutka