Square will be officially announcing in this week's gaming magazines a new upcoming PS2 RPG, Unlimited SaGa. Square had registered the name a few months ago and speculations were already growing; it was also known, as we were the first to announce, that Square was working on a game project related to Final Fantasy: Unlimited, the latest anime series based off the FF name.
Unlimited SaGa, officially abridged U: SaGa, will be produced and directed by Akitoshi Kawazu, who was the story writer and director for the SaGa series since the first trilogy on the GameBoy (known as Final Fantasy Legend here). He also worked on Square's WonderSwan RPGs Wild Card and Working Chocobo. The main character designs will be headed by Yuusuke Naora, who was the art director of Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X. Artist Tomomi Kobayashi, who did the beautiful character designs of the Romancing SaGa and SaGa Frontier series, will be in charge of the game's illustrations. The key word of the game's visual atmosphere is "flowers". Mr Kawazu mentioned that the game's feel will be close to that of Romancing SaGa and SaGa Frontier 1.
The game lets you choose between a male or female main character, and there are 6 sub-characters. Mr Naora commented that "each of the 8 main characters is combination of a flower and a color". Tidbits about of one of the main characters' have been given: her name is Laura and she's a former pirate who lost her husband.
As for the visuals, a special technique that's neither pixel-by-pixel drawn nor textured will be used to give a unique "pictorial" feel to the animation. The game visuals are described as "neither 2D nor 3D".
In battle, a new system called "reel" will be used, it is described as a thin reel formed by the weapons, in the middle of which the word "stop" is written. This system sounds like it could be based on timing, though how that will work exactly remains to be seen. Skills and techniques will no longer be performed using special points (such as MP); instead, they will consume HP. The light bulb system, a regular feature in the series, will appear in U: SaGa as well: in battle a light bulb will occasionally appear over a character's head, allowing him/her to learn a new skill. One important thing in the game will be the movements on the field. Some important events may occur while moving from one point to another.
Unlimited SaGa will feature voice acting, although it will not be entirely dubbed; the staff is thinking about an original way to use the voice acting. The game's sound will use the Dolby Prologic II technology, rather than 5.1ch.
As for the development status, Mr Kawazu said he didn't want to talk about it, "with a bitter laugh". Unlimited SaGa is scheduled for a December release in Japan. Be sure to check out the first screen shots and artwork as well.