More on the X360's first RPG as the From Software kids gets their beta kits.
According to Takeuchi, From Software has just received beta development kits from MS. He comments that, while development had gone pretty smoothly under the earlier alpha level development kits, since his team is still aiming to make Enchant Arm into a Japanese launch title, things have just started heating up, leading to a number of development problems. The team is working through each of these problems one at a time in hopes of making a playable debut for Enchant Arm at the September Tokyo Game Show.
Regarding system power, Takeuchi seems to have faith in the Xbox 360. He states that, while the final development kits will have slightly higher specification than the beta kits, the system in its current form has about ten times the power of the current generation Xbox. This isn't taking the switch to high definition into account, though. If they were to make a standard definition game for Xbox 360, they'd have more than twenty times the power of the current Xbox, says Takeuchi.
From Software's considerable know-how with the current Xbox has helped development. From is known for making some of the Xbox's finest looking games, including Ootogi 2 and the more recent Metal Wolf Chaos (both produced by Takeuchi). The Enchant Arm team has been able to use this know-how to speed along the development of its new project. Takeuchi also points to the ease of Xbox 360 software development as reason that they've been able to develop a full-fledged RPG so quickly.
And Enchant Arm does seem to be a full fledged RPG. In terms of volume, Takeuchi reveals that fitting everything on a single DVD could be tough. True to Japanese RPG form, you can count on seeing a lengthy quest rather than a short quest with a bunch of different paths. A large number of characters will appear along the way as you make your way through three massive cities and a number of smaller towns. You'll initially walk from town to town, visiting dungeons and other locations along the way, but once you've visited a major location, the game will provide short cuts so there'll be no backtracking.
From seems to be making use of the Xbox 360 hard disk for caching purposes in order to provide, as Takeuchi states, a stress-free, seamless experience. While it's not the case that there won't ever be a "Now Loading" screen in the game, such a screen will be very rare. This, according to Takeuchi, will be true of pretty much all Xbox 360 games, as it's something that MS is taking seriously.
This week's Famitsu Xbox update on Enchant Arm introduces three characters to the growing cast: Makoto, Karen and Raiga. These three reside in London City, itself one of the five sections of the massive Yokohama City, one of the three major cities in the game. Yokohama City is almost too vast, according to Takeuchi, allowing for distant views that will be familiar to players of massively multiplayer Online RPGs, but not to most console game players. The city is also minutely detailed -- From Software was originally considering allowing players to go inside every room in every building.
From is still keeping one part of Enchant Arm under wraps: the game's battle and gameplay systems. It's currently known that the game will make use of an item creation system known as Enchant, where you make items by combining ingredients called Material with an energy source called Ether. Ether serves as a form of money in the game. As part of the storyline, Yokohama City has made use of Enchant abilities to advance into modern times.
The game makes heavy use of one particular type of item created out of the Enchant process: Golems. Golems are mechanical dolls who live alongside humans in the world of Enchant Arm. Players will be able to create Golems and add them to their party for battles. Golem creation will allow for a strong customization component for the game, with numerous types of Golems waiting to be created.
From Software promises to reveal more on the battle system in a future update. We can expect a standard RPG-type experience where you move around on the game field, encounter an enemy, and are taken to battle. Battles are menu based, but are said to include elements one would expect of a From game.
Enchant Arm will also feature Xbox Live functionality of some form. Specifics have yet to be revealed, but the Xbox Live features will allow for players to communicate with one another.
Development on Enchant Arm is at the 40% mark. This, according to Takeuchi, is a typical number for a From Software Tokyo Game Show debut title, meaning From is on its way to launching the game with the Xbox 360.