NIS America’s Tipsy Prinny Night

By: Cortney Knox

Tuesday June 10, 2008

San Francisco once again plays host to 3rd Annual NISA bonanza! And Static Multimedia was there!
Last Thursday, June 5th the Zebulon Bar in downtown San Francisco played host to the much-awaited 3rd annual NIS America’s “Tipsy Prinny Night”. The sheik but packed quarters of downtown’s Zebulon Café were abuzz just prior to the big demonstration with the sounds of chatting video game journalists and constantly hustling kitchen staff. The swank glass two-story bar/straunt also seemed to be suffering from a sudden infestation of the indigenous Japanese Tipsy Prinny. These green winged souls were literally strung-up from every window, banister, and light fixture. After a few minuets of schmoozing and food sampling, the charming Ms. Nao Zook, PR and Marketing Coordinator for the company, informed everyone that they were about to start.

The grand show began with a translated opening speech by NIS America’s own president, Haru Akenaga. Focusing on where the company has been and what amazingly secretive cards they still have up their sleeves, his was a benchmarking first step of the evening. Top NIS Localization Director Jack Niida proceeded to give a lengthy and detailed guide through some of the upcoming titles. Shortly after, Disgaea 3, Rhapsody, and Disgaea DS producer, Sohei Niikawa presented a final short talk about the newest titles. Of course, topping the interest list was the long awaited powerhouse Disgaea 3, featuring more and more content than ever before. Jack Niida asked the question, “How awfully crazy can we get?”

New team attacks, new tower attacks, the Evility scale, Class world, homeroom seat swapping, the student assembly, Geo combos, magichange, the ability to generate millions of damage points, and the list could go on and on forever. Some of my favorite highlights would have to include the new Skill Merge ability, a simple move that combines two characters abilities into one even more devastating attack. One of the more amusing system builds is the magichange maneuver which takes a teammate and transforms them into a weapon for the remainder of the fight, each being different based on weaponer and weaponee. Preferred forms to me were the Prinny Gun and Prism Ranger Blade.

Perhaps the hugest change to the gameplay itself is the Geo Block addition. Yes, the days of simple 2-D geo panels are behind us now, as only the massive Tetris-esque future of Geo Blocks looms. These stackable, destroyable effect cubes now shape the way a level is played, adding a new more complicated, gaming factor. Yes, MORE complicated. The old randomizing levels such as Item World and Class World are now more evolved, hosting not only your old buddies the Pirates, but Time Patrol as well. With two hundred and seventy different customizable characters, each with their own class world, a realm of over TEN THOUSAND different stages await its players. Downloadable stages and characters are also rumored to be tossed in for even greater replay value.

Among other titles reviewed were the reincarnations of Rhapsody and Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, both remastered for the Nintendo DS. One of the new features of Disgaea DS will be a multiplayer competition posing one players team against another’s for, what could be, endless hours of frustration or glory. These oldies but goodies look to have an excellent reception to the public in September of this year. Other new titles introduced that night were additional DS companions, A Witch’s Tale and puzzler Puchi Puchi Virus.

President Akenaga, Sohei Niikawa, and Chief Programmer Masahiro Yamamoto were on hand for interviews post-presentation. In a short interview with President Haru-san, he was asked what was his favorite new element about the new and upcoming Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. He responded, “ I believe Disgaea 3 is special title because of its unique story line. The main character is not like an everyday hero. In his school you cheat, steal, and skip class to be Evil and do better. It is refreshing to see something different in games.” I proceeded in conversation, “After coming such a long way, and making so many successful titles, which one is your personal favorite?” After a pause he told me it had to be Phantom Brave, one of their firsts and most unique. “There is a lot of buzz about the Japanese RPG title X-Edge, which features several of NIS’s most popular characters. Is there any chance we will be seeing this in the States anytime soon?” Mr. Akenaga stated, “My official answer, is that I would like to make that happen. But we will see.”

My final and potentially, simplest question was, “What’s next?” Without going into too much detail he informed me that he really wanted an actiony title and to work with the Wii system, anything else was stated off the record. I later sat down with the round table of lounging Programmers and Directors from NISA and asked them a round or two. I asked the group what they though of the boisterous crowd reaction to the character of Pleiner being a playable character on the DS version. After translating Mr. Yamamoto’s energetic reaction, Jack Niikawa responded, “Well, Masahiro had a heavy hand in designing the character is was really pleased at the big reaction.” One of my parting questions to the gentlemen was “After working on these projects for so long, who still plays the game way too much?” Again Mr. Masahiro raised his hand and I was informed that he, aside from being the head developer also spent the most time simply grinding away at the game, and that he was especially interested in the multiplayer. All in all, an amazing trip and thankfully I’ll have Disgeae 3 to keep me busy until next year’s soirée.