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



This is PlayStation JapanStyle

Welcome to a monthly look at what’s happening with the PlayStation brand in its home country. This is PlayStation JapanStyle.

Read on, and let us know what you think below. よろしく.

~Game Releases~

This won’t cover every game released in Japan this month, rather those that stand out for their hype or for their Japanese-ness.

Freshly announced for North American release, Tales of Xillia for PS3 is already on the Greatest Hits line in Japan, which we call “PS3 The Best” over here.  It’s joined by No More Heroes: Red Zone Edition, which is basically the North American version of the game. Not on the official list but making EA’s own offshoot line of re-releases is Battlefield Bad Company 2.EA calls its own best-sellers the “EA Perfect Best” line; a lot of game companies have their own names for re-releases here. EA actually has two of them, as Shadows of the Damned will appear on EA Best Hits at the end of the month. If you’re confused by this, don’t be. One of them is clearly for the best hits and the other is obviously for the best which are also perfect. Duh.

While some shooters get their second go at retail, two others make their debuts with Heavy Fire: Afghanistan and Sniper Elite V2.

PS3 rounds out August by getting Hyperdimension Neptuina V and Dirt Showdown on the 30th.

Vita’s month is, like most months up to this point, less than spectacular. The big feature will be on the 30th, when the Hatsune Miku: Project f + white Vita bundle is released. Like Tales of InnocenceGravity Daze, andPersona 4 before it, however, I fear that this will only give Vita system sales a mere moment above water. I of course hope that my fears are not prophesies.

Before Miku makes its big show, however, Sony’s second handheld will also get a mystery/adventure game called 特殊報道部 (Tokushuu Houdoubu), which can mean “Special Investigation Division” or “Special Reporting Division,” by Nippon Ichi Software on the 23rd. In it, players control characters including broadcaster Chika Murase, known throughout the land because of her outstanding…qualifications.

Other than the above, Vita has been the recipient of Orgarhythm, a small number of visual novels, and a Japanese chess game in August.

Believe it or not, the PSP is still very alive and successful in Japan, with both its hardware and software usually outselling its younger brother the Vita. While new PSP games are released in North America on like a semi-annual schedule these days, Japan is still cranking them out. It won’t leave August with any new heavy-hitters, but it will be getting a new Gundam game, a newElminage, and a “PSP The Best” version of Grand Knights History, among several other small-to-mid-sized releases.


Here are the 20 best-selling games in Japan for the week ending August 12th.

1. (3DS) New Super Mario Bros. 2
2. (WII) Dragon Quest X: Rise of the Five Tribes Online
3. (NDS) Pokemon Black 2/White 2
4. (PSP) Kuroko no Basuke: Kiseke no Shiai
5. (3DS) Run for Money Tousouchuu: Flee From the Strongest Hunters in History!
6. (WII) Just Dance Wii 2
7. (3DS) Brain Training 3D
8. (PS3) Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena
9. (WII) Kirby: 20th Anniversary Special Collection
10. (3DS) Taiko no Tatsujin: Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb
11. (WII) Wii Sports Resort
12. (3DS) Kobitodzukan: Kobito Kansatsu Set
13. (PS3) Sniper Elite V2
14. (PSP) Digimon World Re: Digitize
15. (3DS) Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry no Wonderland 3D
16. (WII) Mario Party 9
17.(3DS) Rune Factory 4
18. (NDS) All Kamen Rider: Rider Generation 2
19. (PSP) Super Dangan-ronpa 2: Sayonara Zetsubou Gakuen
20. (PS3) Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2012

Hardware sales looked like this:

3DS – 102,646
Wii – 16,145
PS3 – 14,580
PSP – 12,018
PSV – 9,446
PS2 – 1,187
360 – 998
DS – 952


I’ve been playing the PS3 version of Ni no Kuni lately and I really like what I see. This game is a lot of what stateside fans have been starved for. Forgive me for being brief here, but I’ll have more on this next time. It starts out heavy on story and very light on challenge, but so far it’s done an excellent job of gradually expanding. I’m having more fun with this than I have with most RPGs of the generation so far. I listened to some shitty podcast about it where the guys were kind of bagging on it, but the point where they described being “10 hours in,” was well behind me in less than five hours. People are idiots. Let that be a lesson, guys. Never ever listen to anyone’s opinion on the internet. They’re all wrong.


This week in Japan was Obon, a string of national holidays. That means in next week’s sales charts (which someone will post in a regular news story, I reckon) will probably have some things jumping up. We’re going on a 6-hour train ride to grandma’s house, so what do we do? Buy the kids a portable game and pray it keeps their mouths shut for at least half the ride, right?

Udon is the specialty food around here, and Kagawa’s part in the Shikoku Festa shows it. A circle of smiling old ladies gathers in a circle every year as they march and do the “Sanuki Udon Dance.” It’s cute, but the song drags a little bit, especially when you can hear someone pressing a button on a CD player somewhere to skip back to the beginning of the track.


 Another part of the festivities that looked promising was Tony’s Burger Stand. I went up to order one, and he was like, right over there, dude, and pointed to a table beneath the tent on the right side of the picture. There was a tray of burgers sitting idly; they’d been there a while. I was like “…Those?  Just, you want me to take one of those?  You’re not gonna cook one?” This cat was like “Naw, we’ve got a bunch that have just been sitting there.” When I thought about it, I hadn’t seen them add new burgers to that pile in a long time and had no way of knowing how long they’d been sitting around in the hot, humid Shikoku summer. No thanks, Tony. I like the idea of a burger, but I don’t like the idea of rockstar throwing up all over the festival.


~Seeya next month~


Source: psls