Forget saving the world: In Time and Eternity, you have to save your marriage (preview)

Time and Eternity

The big day is finally here. You’re ready to profess your love to your soon-to-be spouse in front of friends and family. But before you can seal the deal, a mysterious band of assassins barges through the church and tries to murder you. Meanwhile, your red-headed fiancé Toki transforms into a knife-wielding blonde woman who fights them off with ease.

At least you weren’t left at the altar, right?

Time and Eternity is one of three PlayStation 3-exclusive Japanese role-playing games that Nippon Ichi Software (better known in the States as NIS America) revealed at its annual press event this week in San Francisco. A new entry in the Disgaea series and another game called The Guided Fate Paradox looked okay, but it was Time and Eternity’s unusual wedding theme and the beautiful, hand-drawn animation that caught my eye. It’s a joint venture between NIS America and developer Namco Bandai, and it’s coming out this summer.

A weird relationship

You control Toki and Towa, the two “dual souls” of the bride. They are traveling back in time with the former groom (whose soul is now inside a pet dragon named Drake) to unravel the mystery of the wedding crashers.

“Normal RPGs have grand and epic themes, but I wanted to do something different, something unexpected,” said Namco Bandai producer Kei Hirono, via a translator, to GamesBeat. “Marriage is one of the biggest events that everybody — maybe not everybody [laughs] — that most people have. … [Time and Eternity] kind of just happened. It wasn’t planned or anything. My marriage and wedding happened around the same time [as development].”

Time and Eternity: Toki and Drake in battle

The developers incorporate much of the story and personality between Toki/Towa and Drake into the gameplay. Toki/Towa will transform into either of the souls when she levels up from combat. While each side of her has a basic set of attacks, it also has its own powers. Later in the game, you’ll have more control over which soul you want to use. Drake just acts as an autonomous sidekick, attacking enemies on his own.

Battles in Time and Eternity happen in real time, resembling more of a fighting game than a traditional JRPG because of how fast you need to react. From the 20 minutes I played, a key part of the decision-making involved how far or how close Toki/Towa was to the enemy. Pushing up on the left analog stick causes her to rush toward the foe until she’s right in its face while pushing back down returns her to the original position.

The controls are simple: Ranged and melee commands share the same button (with your powers mapped to the others), L1 is your block (and if timed right, a counter), R2 pulls up a menu of items you can use, and rolling the left analog stick left or right makes Toki/Towa dodge in those directions. Unlike some fighting games, however, you can’t cancel a move once you’ve triggered it — the animation has to play out, making timing all the more important. The enemies I saw usually had an obvious tell to let you know what they’re about to do.

An interactive anime

Time and Eternity is a peculiar juxtaposition of 2D hand-drawn animation (with no polygons, textures, or cel-shading) and 3D levels. It’s jarring at first as the backgrounds look somewhat lackluster compared to the detailed characters that populate the world. But after a few minutes, you grow used to it and realize that the distinctive styles actually complement each other rather well.

“It was really challenging because for anything that’s polygon-based or 3D-based, there are a lot of resources that we can use,” said Hirono. “There’s a lot of middleware, and a lot of places are already doing it — it’s easier to make something like that. But since here everything is hand-drawn, we actually had to make the game around the animation rather than making the animation around the system itself.”

Jumping into Time and Eternity kind of felt like I was in the middle of an anime movie or TV series. Though I couldn’t hear any sounds at the event due to loud music playing and a lot of people talking, a NIS America representative told me that most dialogue scenes feature voice actors. The plot was fun and lighthearted from what I could glimpse of the subtitles: Drake seemed to act as a comic relief role with his short temper and exaggerated gestures, characters questioned whether Towa knew about Toki’s marriage (they’ve “talked” about it before), and I fought two wannabe assassins named Linus and Lucy.

For Hirono, the tone was a welcome change of pace from his work on Dark Souls, a JRPG known for its grim atmosphere and punishing gameplay.

“So just like how it is with your life itself, you want to have variation,” he said. “For me, I think it was a good balance to be able to work on something dark and serious like Dark Souls and then at the same time, [Time and Eternity] is more casual and happier. [It’s] a good balance.”

Time and Eternity

This screen is a good example of how the 2D animation meshes with the 3D levels.

Time and Eternity

Time and Eternity

Time and Eternity



Pirate Idol Rabbit Jump: PlayStation JapanStyle November 2012

Here’s the release info, sales speculation, and other little news bits regarding the PlayStation brand in Japan. I wrote portions of this shortly before the most recent sales figures update, but couldn’t post this until now. Forgive a couple of slightly outdated comments on that topic. The rest is good though!

~News Bits~

Namco Bandai has announced that PSP RPG One Piece: Romance Dawnwill be getting a special hardware bundle when it is released on December 20. The pack will include the game and a black PSP-3000 with special One Piece crossbones artwork on the back, and it’ll sell for 19,780 yen (about $235 by today’s conversion rate).

In other anime related news, and not too coincidentally, other Namco Bandai news, it’s been revealed that the next Naruto fighter will have ring-outs, as shown in this trailer:

This has been causing some controversy among the fan base, as the YouTube page itself is loaded with comments expressing dismay. I guess that explains the high number of dislikes.

While we’re posting videos, let’s post one that will make us all a little bit uncomfortable. The next AKB game, AKB 1/149 Love Election for both PSP and Vita, will be coming out December 20th. It’s another dating sim starring the members of Japanese pop idol group AKB 48, as well as other, incredibly similar acts. Of course, winning their hearts nets you some kiss action. Technology doesn’t allow a woman to actually pop out of the screen and kiss you (yet), so this is the best we’ve got:

I already joke about making sweet love to both my PSP and Vita regularly, but knowing for a serious truth that this will make at least a couple thousand people kiss their screens — possibly in public — is a little unsettling.

~Game Releases~

For PS3:
Tales of Xillia 2Yakuza I&II HD Collection, and Okami HD made their debuts on the first of the month, and you can expect to see all three near the top of the sales charts when we get the data. The front-runner will be Tales of Xillia 2, whose elder game took top honors during its debut last year.Dead Island: Zombie of the Year Edition and NBA 2K13 were also released on this day. On the 8th, PS3 gamers got Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires andSilent Hill Downpour.

The 15th might well be named “The Western Invasion,” as Need for Speed: Most WantedAssassin’s Creed III, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter will all be released. The only Japanese PS3 game being released that day isDream Club Complete Edipyon. That’s not a typo in the title, it’s a Japanese-language pun about the sound a rabbit makes when it jumps, andDream Club is a series about girls who…just…just don’t worry about it, never mind.

The 22nd has a boatload of PS3 titles moving into “Greatest Hits” status:SSXinFamous 2Killzone 3LittleBigPlanet 2, and Grand Theft Auto IV Complete Edition. That’s a lot of budget right there…. Oh, right, new games, um, the Doom 3 BFG Edition comes out.

The last release day of the month, the 29th closes out PS3′s November withDarksiders IISports Champions 2, and Super Robot Wars OG 2. That last one will also be available in a “Complete BD Box” that includes 26 episodes of the Super Robot Wars anime and an art book, and will for a price of 41,000 yen (about $500). And you thought the Final Fantasy Anniversary Collection was expensive, ha.

For PSP:
Sony’s original portable began the month with sports titles Winning Eleven 2013 and NBA 2K13 arriving on shelves, as well as Greatest Hits re-releases of Patapon 2 and White Knight Chronicles Portable Episode: Dogma Wars. This week will bring only some budget-friendly versions of Fairy Tale Portable 2 and Dynasty Warriors Mao Sairin.

On the 15th, PSP will get highly anticipated RPG Summon Night 4, and on the 22nd, it gets four different visual novels. Some of them have special editions that sell for $120. Seriously, you would not believe the market for these things here.

Nippon Ichi will release a visual adventure of its own on the 29th with the oddly titled MISSINGPARTS the TANTEI Stories Complete (all capitalization and spacing preserved). Other PSP games releasing that day include a fighter based on the Saint Seiya anime series, Unchain Blade Exeev, and School Wars.

For Vita:
No new Vita games were shipped last week, and none will be shipped this week. The next Vita releases will arrive on the 15th, in the form ofAssassin’s Creed: Lady Liberty and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The system will also get pretty new red and blue hardware on that day, so look for sales to get a much-needed spike.

Despite all other systems getting new software on the 22nd, Vita takes another week off.

On the 29th, it will see release of Fate/Stay Night [Realta Nua] (a PSP port with no new content), Atelier Totori Plus (PS3 port with bikinis), theSamurai and Dragons Deluxe Pack (regular version has been out for a few months), and a “Sega The Best” version of Virtua Tennis 4, which was a Vita launch title.


No lists this time, since we just had one, but here’s some sales perspective. The race to be the best-selling Vita game of the year in Japan looks to be a tight one between Persona 4: The Golden and Hatsune Miku: Project Diva fP4G leads by about 30,000 units (claiming 260k versus Miku‘s 230k), but the game also came out more than two months earlier than Miku did, meaning its best days are a little further behind it. They’re both great games, so it’s nice to see them selling well, and it’ll be interesting to see which comes out on top. And yes, it is safe to say that they will be finishing #1 and #2, in whatever order, because as you’ve seen above, the rest of the year doesn’t have any Vita software releases that will really explode off the shelves.


American Thanksgiving is in November, Canadian Thanksgiving is a month behind us already, and there’s coincidentally a similarly named day here in Japan, on November 23rd. Most Japanese people have never eaten turkey, nor even have an oven big enough to cook one, so the Hindmans make it an annual event to have like 25 people over to our place (this is a lot for a quaint, Japanese house) for the works. My wife does up a turkey that we order online with frozen shipping, and we meanwhile whip up some stuffing, taters-n-gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and all that good stuff.

Someone will inevitably show up with riceballs, and I won’t uppercut them because it’s the holidays. The first time it happened, the American part of me was thinking, “Get that **** out of here, bro.” But then I learned to mellow the hell out and accept that this is where we are and who we are. I think a lot of times when Americans use the buzz word “globalization,” they really mean “making other people do what we do in the exact way that WE do it,” which is OK some of the time, but not all of the time. I now welcome riceballs wrapped in seaweed, gyoza, and all manner of goofy Washoku at the Hindman Thanksgiving Dinner.

At some point during the dinner, we take a pause, and each person talks briefly about something he/she is especially thankful for in that particular year. It’s heartwarming to hear what everyone says, and cute to see the little kids get all shy and say things like ともだち (friends) and 母さん (mom).


source: psls