No, I’m not talking about fat soccer moms.
It’s Nippon Ichi!
So a couple of months back, Nippon Ichi announced Soul Cradle, a new SRPG that would be completely different from all the stuff they’ve done since Disgaea (more so than even Phantom Brave), which is good because all they’ve been doing lately (of interest to US gamers, as you’re probably not interested in their PC-style adventure games) is Disgaea 2 and Disgaea PSP.
At the time, we didn’t know why it was you could attack the last boss in the first 10 minutes of the game and actually, in some way, have a chance of winning.
We didn’t know why in battle screenshots, there’s this stat called Potentiality for both you and the enemy party with insane numbers. (Ex. Enemy Potentiality 7,123,982 vs. Ally Potentiality 6,452,501.)
And although we could guess the point of being able to steal, not just from enemies, but from shops and people in towns, we weren’t quite sure why it is you can attack and presumably kill innocent townspeople that you’re supposed to be protecting.
And yes, we didn’t know role that weird cowgirl who keeps digging up random things throughout the site is supposed to have in the game.
And at this point, we still don’t know.
However, as the weeks have gone on, gradually the veil is being unlifted on just what kind of game Soul Cradle is going to be.
The storyline is bla bla bla, bla bla, bla bla blah and bla.
There, now that’s finished, maybe I should start with how you compose your units. First you have to create a room. Rooms can be anything from castle walls that raise your attack and defense to forests that replenish your HP after every turn. They have different formations and sizes as well.
Once you’ve got that, you put your units into it and order them on the square grid. There is one leader unit and the leader unit determines what special abilities the unit can use, as well as how fast they move in the field. The rest of your units of course determine things like attack and defense and types of attack, with archers and mermaids and zombies and footmen and all that.
Interestingly, depending on how you arrange your unit, you can access link attacks, like if you put a magic user in the back of a line and then two archers in front of them, you have access to like a super arrow link attack. There’s a lot of that, like using all water creatures for a special water link attack.
Once you’ve got your unit rooms and units all composed, your main character appears on the battlefield and must summon each unit to the field with a command. A unit can only be summoned if everyone in the unit room will fit onto the squares of the field, unobstructed by another ally, an enemy or an obstacle, so it also pays to make smaller unit rooms.
Movement on the field is in the vein of Ogre Battle and Fire Emblem rather than the isometric Tactics-Ogre style. That is, it is a flat map and forests reduce movement rate, and inside accuracy goes down, flying units are the only ones that can pass mountains, that type of thing.
Attacking is done in the “five archers vs. six soldiers all attacking at once” style. We don’t know a whole lot about it at this point.
So yeah, this one is fundamentally different from N1’s Disgaea-style games.
You can see a trailer here: http://soul-cradle.jp/download/movie/movie1w.html
or if you’d prefer MP4 rather than WMV, here: http://soul-cradle.jp/download/movie/movie1q.html
The website, complete with lots of screenshots and aforementioned digging cowgirl, is here. The game is scheduled for release on January 25th in Japan and maybe for release in the US, whenever the hell they get around to it.