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Capcom and Image Epoch Team For PSP RPG

Last Ranker features all-star staff and a unique premise.


Capcom's new RPG Last Ranker was the latest victim of the Famitsu leak cycle, with first word on the game leaking out from the magazine earlier in the week. Yesterday, Capcom made a more formal announcement.

Last Ranker is a new PSP RPG from Image Epoch, makers of Seventh Dragon and Etrain Odyssey. The game is being worked on by some well known developers, including:

Matsukawa Minae
Producer. Previous work on Phoenix Wright 4.
Niinou Kazuya
Director. Previous work on Seventh Dragon and Etrain Odyssey.
Yoshikawa Tatsuya
Character Designer. Previous work on the Breath of Fire series and Devil May Cry 4.
Kazushige Nojima
Scenario. Previous work on Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts.
Yoko Shimomura
Composer. Previous work on Street Fighter II and the Kingdom Hearts series.

As detailed by Capcom in its announcement yesterday, Last Ranker tells the story of Zig, a young man of a wandering race known as Cantalera. Zig leaves his people in search of meaning for his life and ends up joining a combat organization called Bazalta. This organization is home to all the world's warriors, who compete to reach the number one ranking.

Famitsu provides a few more details on the game, mostly through an interview with the development staff.

The ranking organization is, as you might expect, directly tied into the game. As explained by Niinou, during combat, your rival's rank appears above his head, and by defeating him, you take the rank. Your goal in the game is to climb the ranks in this fashion.

The battle system, said Niinou, mixes real time and turn-based elements. You don't move your character around on the battle field, but your character does perform attacks directly when you press buttons. As explained by Niinou, the battle system keeps the fundamentals of turn-based systems while adding in timing elements for defense and attacks. He stressed that the game is, first and foremost, an RPG and not an action game.

On the equipment side of things, you have access to main and sub weapons. Your main weapon is your sword, which you hold in your right hand. Your sub weapon, held in your left hand, can be freely selected between such things as guns, shields and even a second sword.

Different from most RPGs, Last Ranker's battle system is not party based. Zig fights alone, although Niinou joked that there are some enemies who will form groups of three. As part of the game's scenario, you'll end up teaming up with other characters, but they won't form a battle party with you.

Outside of gameplay, comments from compser Yoko Shimomura revealed one notable point about the game's soundtrack. The battle music will have vocals. According to Shimomura, Niinou originally asked for opera, but then said that he just wanted anything that sounded cool.

Also revealed in Famitsu are a couple of additional characters:

A young female character voiced by Marina Inoue. She joined the Bazalta organization around the same time as Zig, hoping to revive her family name. Ren is described as the game's heroine, although it should be noted that she's technically a rival character to Zig, as they both vie for the top rank.
A young man voiced by Yuichi Nakamura Faz is also a Cantalera and Zig's childhood friend. They thought they'd never meet again once Zig left to join Bazalta, but during the course of the game, they end up meeting as rivals and enemies.

The heroine and childhood friend in place, you might be expecting the typical RPG cliches for the game's scenario. Nojima said that this won't be the case. Also commenting on the scenario, Niinou said that Nojima has come up with something that feels like an adult version of a "shounen manga" (that's the phrase used to describe manga targeting youths -- the stuff you see in Jump).

Capcom has opened a teaser official site for Last Ranker. The site will see its full opening on the 24th, timed with the Tokyo Game Show. The game will appear at the show through a stage event featuring Zig voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya.

Last Ranker is currently 40% complete and will see release in 2010.

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