Lost Odyssey
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Games Studios
Developer: Mistwalker
Genre: Traditional RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 02/12/2008
Japan 12/06/2007

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Magical creatures and industrializing metropolises do not always get along
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The bigger they are, the harder they fall... I hope.
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This fantastic creature looks pretty... pretty dangerous that is.
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Stop us? You and what army?
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Neal Chandran
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Neal Chandran

The name Hironobu Sakaguchi is one very familiar to RPG fans. This name has been synonymous with the popular and beloved Final Fantasy series since its inception. It was big news within the gaming community when Sakaguchi stepped down from his position at Square-Enix and formed his own company, Mistwalker. The first taste of Mistwalker that US gamers received was in the form of Blue Dragon for the Xbox 360. This traditional turn-based RPG, featuring character art by Akira Toriyama (DragonBall, Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest 8), received lukewarm response from both press and gamers alike. The next offering from Mistwalker on the horizon is Lost Odyssey for the Xbox 360.

Upon first look at Lost Odyssey, it is clear that it is a different animal than Blue Dragon. Where Blue Dragon possesses a more cartoony and light-hearted aesthetic, Lost Odyssey possesses a darker and more mature aesthetic. Character models, designed by manga artist Takehiko Inoue, are normally sized and proportioned (no super-deformed character models here) and have a look reminiscent of what gamers would expect in a Square-Enix RPG. Although there are characters with non-traditional hair colors (i.e. blue), most have more realistic hair colors such as black or brown. In other words, there are no big-eyed anime people here. Though facial design favors a more realistic style than an anime style and do look aesthetically pleasing, other Xbox 360 RPGs such as Mass Effect sport more intricate facial detailing. Character models wear armor and wield weapons with intricate detailing that looks wonderful in cinematic cutscenes but is less detailed in the in-game engine. The polygonal environments are filled with a good amount of detail giving places a complete and believable look. Many enemies are several times larger than the characters and these behemoths look imposing and have nice texturing.

Another familiar face on this project is Nobuo Uematsu, the beloved composer of many Final Fantasy soundtracks. The sample piece of music heard on the game's official site lends that epic feel associated with high profile RPGs. In this brief piece, symphonic strings, ethereal vocals, brass, pounding drums, piano, and electric keyboard can all be heard to wonderful effect. If this sample is any indication, the soundtrack promises to be stunning.

The two main characters in Lost Odyssey are a man named Kaim and a woman named Seth. Both have lived for 1000 years and are tormented by those 1000 years of past memories. The story is labeled by the official site as the story of the "Magic Power Industrial Revolution." Magic and arcane powers are strong in the world, but so is industrial advancement. Where industrial metropolises and magical creatures reside there is bound to be conflict. Kaim and Seth are the long-lived protagonists whose eyes players will see the past and present through. Many more characters will be met during this adventure, all of whom wield a variety of weapons from swords and staves to guns. Details regarding the story are scant, but the promise of a truly epic RPG tale is certainly present especially with novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu on board.

Hands-on impressions from other gaming media outlets on the web describe battles as turn based affairs that should be familiar to RPG veterans. Attack, skill, spell, item, depend, equip, flee, and formation commands should sound familiar. In order to keep the player focused during combat, the Aim Ring system has been developed. Various rings can be equipped on each party member and have different effects in battle. When you press the attack command and a character rushes toward an enemy, a ring pops up on the screen. Pressing a button will create a smaller ring and depending on how well you release that button the moment both rings overlap, you will either receive no, weak, or strong enhancements of that ring's attribute in combat. This sounds reminiscent of Legend of Dragoon's battle system where a circle converges on a button icon and a timed button press yields a successful action, only in Lost Odyssey it's a timed button release after holding it down that yields the successful action.

Lost Odyssey is shaping up to meet the expectations of what gamers expect and want from Sakaguchi and Mistwalker. The game was released 12/6/2007 in Japan and is slated for a February 2008 US release.


© 2008 Microsoft Games Studios, Mistwalker. All Rights Reserved.

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