Spectral Souls

February 1, 2006

NIS is known for giving players what might be considered fan service, delivering a selection of niche titles that play to the tastes of their ever-growing army of devoted followers. And we love them for it. This fall the company will bring Idea Factory’s Spectral Souls for the PSP to North America. Set in same universe as Generation of Chaos (which ships in 2006 as well for the PSP, and is itself part of a long running series in Japan), this is a new SRPG made by Idea Factory. The game is unique in that is shows the story from the vantage three different armies who all are fighting each other to unite the land of Neverland. Recently we spoke with NIS America’s Jack Niida and Idea Factory’s Kenji Kitami regarding this upcoming portable RPG.

Given the somewhat anemic RPG lineup for the PSP thus far, Nippon Ichi is in a position to become perhaps the premier RPG publisher on the PSP. How aggressively are you going to pursue the PSP?

Jack Niida: You will perhaps see us grow aggressively. We are not going to announce exactly how many titles we will launch every year for the PSP; however, you can expect a solid number of games. If we want to gain a bigger market share, we have to take a different approach than others and the PSP is one of them. It is an untapped territory for RPGs, but we see a great potential in it.

Nippon Ichi games have a penchant for allowing gamers the opportunity to advance their characters to dizzying heights of power and experience. Will Spectral Souls follow this tradition?

Jack Niida: Characters on Spectral Souls can be powered up quite extensively, but not to the same caliber as say Disgaea with Level 9999. It might be a let down for some people, but Spectral Souls makes up for it with a unique item synthesizing system and a battle system to keep gamers happy for hundreds of hours.

What differentiates the three armies in Spectral Souls? Will each army have access to certain exclusive classes or spells?

Kenji Kitami: In Spectral Souls, there are three major military powers. There is the demon royal empire, an imperialistic human nation, and a liberation army formed of human soldiers. There are exclusive classes and jobs per army, but many of them can be obtained later on in the game.

Would it be possible for a player to go through the entire game using just one of the three armies?

Kenji Kitami: You can play the game as a single nation; however, at certain scenes the game will automatically switch over in order to progress the story. Depending how much you play with the three nations the ending will change.

With three separate armies driving the plot, how many different endings will the game feature?

Kenji Kitami: I cannot give you the exact numbers, but more than 2.

Will there be any “Special” zones in Spectral Souls, like the “Dark World” and “Item World” from La Pucelle and Disgaea, respectively?

Kenji Kitami: Yes, Spectral Souls has a free battle system that allows you to battle enemies to power your characters up and search for rare items. What is interesting is that if you stay inside the free battle long enough, you may encounter a ridiculously powerful enemy. I personally have yet to defeat this monstrosity, but I hope everybody else can.

Finally, do you see the PSP as a more fertile breeding ground for 2D games than the home consoles that seem to emphasize bigger and bigger poly counts as a measure of a game’s quality?

Jack Niida: I truly hope so. If more companies make 2D games it will create a better awareness among the consumer, and creating awareness will expand the market as a whole. Fortunately, developing adventurous games like 2D titles are far suited for the PSP than the home console. First, the development cost is lower and second many consumers can easily be convinced to try the product, as they are priced lower. Therefore, yes you can argue that the PSP is a more fertile breeding ground for 2D games than the home consoles.