Square-Enix heralded it as one of the world’s first “cinematic RPGs” (if you own the game, go look at the back of the jewel case), and it quickly became a favorite of gamers around the world. Some will argue that the sequel adopted too much of a Resident Evil feel and lost a lot of that cinematic RPG goodness, but that doesn’t mean fans of the original won’t be interested in The 3rd Birthday. Even though “Parasite Eve” isn’t in the title’s name, this is most certainly part of that series; Aya Brea returns as the main character with her unique ability, and we’ll embark on yet another adventure within the troubled city of New York. Now, if you’re hoping for a return to more of a role-playing foundation, you may be disappointed, but considering Square-Enix’s success with Sony’s portable unit thus far, you should remain encouraged. At the very least, you can expect one of the more impressive visual handheld feasts to date, as evidenced by early screenshots and that delicious teaser video.
Initially, The 3rd Birthday was only announced for mobile phones, and in the humble opinion of most avid gamers, this idea made absolutely zero sense. Hence, when it was revealed that Square-Enix would be bringing the promising title to the PSP last year, we finally turned our collective attentions to the third Parasite Eve installment. Details are a little scarce at this point, but thanks to a Famitsu interview with director Hajime Tabata (who is also in charge of Final Fantasy Agito XIII for the PSP) we learn that 3rd Birthday will be a third-person shooter. …but wait. Don’t think about Dirge of Cerberus; Tabata says this isn’t exactly a “true” third-person shooter, whatever that means. What we’re hoping it means is that we might be able to expect a unique gameplay mechanic that puts an interesting twist on the standard action shooter genre. Square-Enix is more than capable of doing this, and although we probably won’t get the combat we found in the original Parasite Eve, perhaps we’ll see something that reinvents the concept of portable “third-person shooters.”
As for the story, you will see Aya looking all scrumptious in that wedding dress, although we’re not really sure how this ties into the plot. At the start of 3rd Birthday, Aya and the rest of the NYPD are assembled in order to combat a fresh outbreak of mysterious attacks in Manhattan. Apparently, the perpetrators are nasty creatures only known as the “Twisted,” which have arrived in modern-day New York due to a bizarre time contortion. Is anyone else reminded of Onimusha 3 at this point? Anyway, as mentioned before, Aya is the game’s primary focus, and she has those powers she exhibited in the original PlayStation title. As a special bonus for all you hormonally driven male teenagers out there, Aya is around 35 years old…but thanks to a side effect of her inherent ability, she still has the look and body of a 20-year-old woman. And what woman out there wouldn’t want that nice little side effect? Scenario director Motomu Toriyama has said it can be difficult to make a woman in her mid-30s the main attraction in any video game, and unfortunately, we do have to agree. We know you remember the shower scene from Parasite Eve II…
As it was only recently announced for the PSP, we have no idea when it will arrive in North America, but it should be some time later this year. We’re also not sure if the mobile phone version has been canceled in order to focus on this one, although we really don’t care one way or the other. The 3rd Birthday could turn out to be yet another Square-Enix handheld gem, so if you’ve already enjoyed the likes of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and you were a fan of the first two PE games, you should stay tuned for more information.
1/6/2009 Ben Dutka