Almost exactly a month ago Nippon Ichi Software revealed the upcoming survival-action JRPG Meikyu Toro Legasista. Today they released a slew of new information, artwork and screenshots on the game, that will hit the Japanese shelves on March 15 of next year and will be a PlayStation3 exclusive. With a tagline that loosely translates to “Be a survivor, or face death,” Legasista is shaping up to be a rather intriguing game.
The game is set in a world in which science and technology are reviled as part of a forgotten past, and relics of its former glory are treated with caution. Most of those relics are left in the ancient ruins of the Ivy Tower, in which the game’s protagonist, a hot-blooded and determined boy named Alto, must find clues to reviving his sister, who has been transformed into crystal. In the ruins Alto finds Meliease, an amnesiac android whose former purpose was to serve as a weapon. For what.. well, Alto will find out soon enough.
In the game’s prologue we learn that Alto’s sister, whose name has been revealed as Mari, has been cursed and turned into a crystal. In searching for a cure in the Ivy Tower, Alto wakes the humanoid weapon Meliase from her 1000-year slumber. While the beautiful android remembers her skills, she doesn’t remember why she was made or what purpose she served. Alto must collect memory chips to restore Meliase’s memories, which may hold the key to breaking Mari’s curse. The two must work together and face the challenges of the Ivy Tower if they are to defeat their own personal demons.
Nippon Ichi has released new information on the games characters, notably treasure hunters Reina Mindell and her own android sidekick, Shauto (The names are in katakana, so, as usual, the final transliteration may be different). Shauto, like Meliase, is an ancient weapon that Reina has restored herself using junk parts. Shauto is resistant to poison and provides an excellent defense, calmly analyzing situations and taking his cues from Reina. Reina herself is deeply literate in the ancient ways and has earned the nickname “the Blue Witch.”
Each character begins the game in a certain job class, or profession. Each profession grows with a different balance with each level and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Further differentiation and customization is provided by the “Energy Frame” system, explained below.
Alto begins the game as an Explorer, a class that boasts a good balance of features and theif abilities. Meliase is a Magic Swordsman, a class that features powerful magical-physical combo attacks but is weak in regards to movement or jumping. Reina is an Ice Mage, specialized in ice-based attack spells and recovery magic. Shauto is a Warrior, using superior physical attacks and defensive maneuvers.
Legasista will make use of an unique progression system known as “Energy Frame,” through which the player can dictate the development of a character’s abilities. Over an extended period of time the characters’ ability to grow will be affected by how the player chooses to distribute HP, damage in battle, equippable skills and accessories. These small actions have long-term effects on characters’ ability development at specific levels. The energy frame will provide customization for each class, and allow the acquisition of favorite skills earlier in the character progression.
The Energy frame is graphically represented as the bar in which HP and Durability of equipment are displayed. HP is represented by the green blocks of the bar, while equipment durability is represented by the yellow blocks (one for each piece of equipment). Damage received is represented by a red line labeled (quite aptly) “DAMAGE”. The order and number of the blocks (named “frames”) depends mostly on class, level and on the equipment worn.
The damage line will “flow” back and forth as the character is hit, and at the same time the frames will deplete. If the HP frames are emptied completely, it will be impossible to continue combat — in other words, a K.O.
The Durability frames measure the durability of your equipment; if the endurance of your accessories gives way, their potential is sealed until they are restored (back at the Rail Yards that function as your home base).
The damage marker starts on the right of the Energy Frame, meaning that no damage is being inflicted to the character. The more damage is received, the more the damage marker will move towards the left, increasing the speed at which the HP and durability frames will deplete. Circumstances like being attacked from behind or being surrounded by enemies will cause the Damage marker to move radically towards the center or even the left, causing possibly fatal losses of HP and durability.
Equipping sturdy items can minimize damage done to HP, but equipment placed on the right side of the bar will also be the first to be affected by incoming hits. This means that players will have to decide on a balance between protection and what accessories will sacrificed first. Explorers and Warriors can equip shields, gaining stronger durability frames.
Multiple slots of the Energy Frame may also be used to store mana and skills: this allows the player to sacrifice defense in order to have an increased mana pool for attack spells, or to fulfill specialized roles (for instance with the skill that increase the amount of treasure found in the dungeon). As an example, you can equip Reina almost exclusively with mana frames to increase her offensive potential considerably, but she will be quite weak in her ability to withstand hits.
Remember the visual character creation system in 3D Dot Game Heroes? If you liked that one you’ll be delighted to know that Legasista includes something very similar (and even more extensive).
The player will be able to create his own character and let him adventure side by side with Alto, Meliease and the others. The first step will be choosing a name, a class and a personality. Choosing the combination of personality traits won’t just have a cosmetic effect, but it will directly influence the Energy Frame of the character. For instance selecting the “Boasts his strenght” trait will increase a character’s HP. There are many character traits that can be combined in hundreds of ways.
The visuals of the character can also be fully designed to fit everyone’s taste. Players will be able to use the game’s internal paint tool to draw face, limbs, clothing and weapons of their character. The portrait that appears to the left of the Energy Frame will also be customizable. By increasing the size of the pixels (from 1x to 3x), it’ll be also possible to give characters a “retro” look.
The coolest feature is the possibility to freely upload one’s pictures and artwork from a PC, so if you want to use your own face you will be able to. While the tool included in the game looks fairly complete and user-friendly, it’s quite evident that better results will come by using Photoshop or other advanced painting programs on a PC, so the ability to import image files is definitely welcome.
Character voices will be customizable as well. Players will be able to choose between 40 different voice patterns ranging from cool to cute, passing by elder sister-ish (I’m not making this one up, I swear) or effeminate. Each voice pattern can be further personalized by changing the pitch.
Each character will also have a voiced tagline that will be created by using a combination of pre-defined words like “Sailorgirl”, “Alien”, “Super-macho”, “Legendary hero from another world” (again, I’m not making this up).
You can check the artwork and screenshots released today in the gallery below. You’ll probably notice a few pictures showing how Laharl from Disgaea has been recreated in the game using the character creation tools. By the way, if you’re interested in Meikyu Toro Legasista, you may want to check DualShockers later tonight: another treat might be incoming.