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Anime Expo 2007
Atlus USA Panel

by Brian Hanson,

After some slight delays and late additions to an already standing-room-only crowd, the Atlus USA panel began, discussing four of their upcoming Japanese RPGs slated to hit retail in the coming months - Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 for the PlayStation 2, Luminous Arc for the Nintendo DS, Riviera: The Promised Land for the PSP, and Growlanser: Heritage of War for the PlayStation 2.

Persona 3 was then introduced with a new trailer, showcasing much of the game's English voice localization, followed by a brief description of the game's setting and structure, which project lead Yu Namba describes as "like a half dungeon crawl, half school-life sim," with a battle engine "just like other Shin Megami Tensei games." Fans then asked if the game would have a dual-language option, to which Namba replied that "sadly, no, there simply wasn't enough space on the disc." Namba also fielded a question regarding Persona 3: Fes, a recent Japanese add-on disc that reportedly adds another 30 hours or so of gameplay. "We started this project way before we learned they were working on Fes," stated Namba, and later added "... there is a possibility, of course, that it will be released, I just don't know." Persona 3 is scheduled for release July 24th.

Afterwards, Sammy Matsushita, project lead for the DS strategy RPG Luminous Arc, introduced the Japanese trailer to the game and polled the audience, "how many of you own a Nintendo DS? All of you? Good! Now, how many of you enjoy tactical RPGs?" Matsushita described the game as an "evolution, not revolution" of tactical RPGs, that utilizes the stylus for a simple point-and-click interface instead of the usual grid-based controls. He then mentioned the immense amount of voiceover work that went into the localization of the game, which included "five full days of voice recording," which, combined with the plethora of full 2D animated cutscenes, made the game quite difficult from a storage standpoint on a typically small DS cartridge. "We're using the full one gigabyte," he chuckled, but then lamented that dual-language support was simply "not an option." It was also revealed that, after a certain amount of progress in the game, Luminous Arc supports internet play via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. "This is one of the top three localization projects I've ever done," he added. Luminous Arc is scheduled for an August 14th release.

Next, the Japanese trailer for Riviera, a PSP remake of the 2005 GBA RPG, was shown, followed by a brief discussion by the game's project lead. It was heavily stressed that Riviera was "more than a simple port," which includes "complete, full voice for every character," fifty new hand-drawn illustrated scenes, dual-language support, as well as numerous bugfixes and other small tweaks. It was also mentioned that there is a whole new chapter exclusive to the US version of the game; an end chapter of the original GBA game that for whatever reason was scrapped in the original Japanese PSP release, as well as talk of the game's "dating-sim" elements, which affects your party's stats, gives you items, and other elements. The game is slated for retail on July 10th.

Lastly, Growlanser: Heritage of War was introduced with a brief Japanese trailer, short on gameplay footage but heavy on 2D anime cutscenes, designed by popular character designer Satoshi Urushihara. The game was described as their "...long, long, long, long, long RPG," a "real-time 'button-smusher'..." that has similarly had numerous tweaks from its initial Japanese release. A meeting with the Japanese developers was discussed, wherein the project lead said "...they asked us, 'should we maybe make it easer for the Americans?'" "Nah," he said, "keep it hard!" Growlanser: Heritage of War is tentatively scheduled for late summer 2007.

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