Imageepoch reveal Tokitowa, "the world's first HD animation RPG".

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#1 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -
http://andriasang.com/comzoi/tokitowa_details/ 

Tokitowa, which can be translated to English as "Time and Eternity," is a PS3 RPG that's being published by Namco Bandai Games and developed by Imageepoch and animation studio Satelight. The game is produced by Kay Hirono and Kensuke Tsukanaka, has character designs from Vofan and music from Yuzo Koshiro. 
 
The game is set in Kamuza Kingdom, a nation formed when a prince, known as the Knight King, and a magic wielding princess married. The castle town floats on the water (I'm not sure if this means it's on an island or if it's actually floating on the water like a ship). 
 
You play as that prince whose marriage formed the Kingdom. You're 18 years old, and even though you're married, you still haven't had your first kiss. The prince is meant to be named by the player, although he does have a voice actor, Tsubasa Yonaga. 
 
The princess's name is Toki. Toki is 16 years old and always keeps Drake, her blue colored dragon-like pet, at her side. Toki is voiced by Kana Hanazawa.


The most interesting parts:

One of the big early talking points for the game appears to be its animation system. The game uses hand drawn 2D animation for main characters and enemies during movement throughout the world and in battle. This isn't an approximation of hand drawn artwork using cell shading -- it's actual hand drawn art. Backgrounds and other areas appear to be 3D.


Ryoei Mikage (CEO, Imageepoch) 
 
Mikage said that he created this project plan long ago when he thought that he wanted to show 2D anime as is on a game system. The systems at the time were incapable of pulling this off. To get it to work on the PS3, they had to do many trials.


Development on Tokitowa is currently 45%. In a blurb next to the percentage, a Namco Bandai PR person refers to the game as "the world's first HD animation RPG."


Screenshots and concept art from Famitsu:
 
Princess Toki and the main character, the prince:

Official site: http://tokitowa.channel.or.jp/ 

It's impossible to tell if the game's going to look any good without seeing it in motion, but it certainly has the potential to be something extraordinary. I'm really looking forward to seeing some videos!
#2 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

I'll have to keep an eye on this. I always wondered what would happen when a developer decided, "no, we're going to pour all our resources into pushing sprite art forward." Maybe this is what will happen when you do.

#3 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

Well, that's fuckin' amazing.

#4 Posted by TheHT (11553 posts) -

Hm, too bad the art style looks generic. Nonetheless, the HD uber-sprites (cause they're technically sprites, no?) might make it stand out enough.

#5 Posted by Commisar123 (1796 posts) -

That combat shot actually looks pretty cool, but it seems a kinda strange feature to be pushing.

#6 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3108 posts) -

That looks and sounds pretty goddamn incredible.

#7 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Now I'm wishing more and more that I had a PS3. I'll just have to hope that somebody MacGyvers up some PS3 emulation thing for the Vita (I am a very lazy bastard).

#8 Posted by ShiftyMagician (2131 posts) -

I hope this turns out good for them. Always nice to see developers try their hand at forwarding 2D stuff some more in interesting ways.

#9 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

That is strange as hell.

#10 Posted by Doctorchimp (4078 posts) -

I'd have to watch it in motion.

It could either be mindblowing or really stilted.

#11 Posted by believer258 (12019 posts) -

Cool.

Does it really require something as powerful as the PS3 (cue PC gamers giggling) to render 2D hand-drawn animation? I wouldn't think so.

Meanwhile, just from those screenshots it looks like Dragon Quest or something of that ilk. Complete with 16 year old (married!) protagonists.

#12 Posted by Jimbo (9881 posts) -

Right, because the Knight King and the magic wielding princess wouldn't be consumating like bunnies on their floating castle town island ship or anything. Also, lol @ Knight King of Kamuza.

#13 Edited by Beforet (2931 posts) -

So direct control over actual, hand drawn anime style? I'm interested from a technical and artistic stand point because I have no idea how that would work or feel. It almost sounds as crazy, to me at least, as full control over a human in an FMV game.

#14 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -
@believer258

Cool.

Does it really require something as powerful as the PS3 (cue PC gamers giggling) to render 2D hand-drawn animation? I wouldn't think so.

Meanwhile, just from those screenshots it looks like Dragon Quest or something of that ilk. Complete with 16 year old (married!) protagonists.

Sprites are actually interesting to render. What has to happen is that you have to load all of the frames of animation for something into memory, along with all of the other entities on the screen. Then you have to access that spritemap as quickly as possible to animate whatever's on the screen. Conceptually, it's simple. But when you're dealing with high-resolution images and limited memory, especially on the PS3, it becomes a lot more complicated.
#15 Posted by RoboRobb (1052 posts) -

well that game's never coming out

#16 Posted by Gerhabio (1977 posts) -

Today, completely interactive anime, tomorrow the bottom of the sea!

#17 Posted by Vonocourt (2145 posts) -

So yeah, even if the art style doesn't exactly resonate much with me, I'll buy it for the novelty no question.

#18 Posted by Turambar (6813 posts) -

A game with Super Robot Wars animation quality but with you in direct control definitely sounds interesting.

#19 Posted by SuperWristBands (2266 posts) -

I've seen a lot of different styles of "generic" anime and this is, in my opinion, the best kind of generic so I am okay with that. As for the game, well, I want it to be good but I have a bad feeling, the setup sounds kind of boring. Well, we probably wont even see this game in the west anyway.

#20 Posted by Hector (3366 posts) -

Oh wow. I'm going to follow this game. I dont think no one ever has tried to get close to this art style in a video game well maybe the DBZ fighting games but that was still 3D.

#21 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -
@believer258 said:

Does it really require something as powerful as the PS3 (cue PC gamers giggling) to render 2D hand-drawn animation? I wouldn't think so.

It makes sense. Keep in mind that the Playstation 2 had issues running Odin Sphere smoothly:
It's a beautiful game, but it's purely a side-scroller and uses various techniques to reduce the number of required sprite changes (for instance, much of the character animation is done using numerous independent body part sprites that move and distort without actually being replaced as in traditional sprite animation). If Imageepoch aim to truly simulate the look of an anime show with full 3D movement and everything, it's going to require way more sprites being changed way faster.
#22 Posted by Brendan (7847 posts) -

I'm not getting really impressed by the screen shots alone. This is a game I have to see in motion.

#23 Posted by JackSukeru (5922 posts) -

@believer258 said:

Cool.

Does it really require something as powerful as the PS3 (cue PC gamers giggling) to render 2D hand-drawn animation? I wouldn't think so.

Meanwhile, just from those screenshots it looks like Dragon Quest or something of that ilk. Complete with 16 year old (married!) protagonists.

Whatever man, she told me she was 18!

Aside from this main gimmick I can't say that the premise is very interesting, buuuut that gimmick just might be enough depending on how the final product turns out.

Online
#24 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -

The first trailer: http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/1327479905 
 
Very little in-game stuff -- there are some quick flashes at 0:47-0:52 and that's it. It looked pretty nice though. 
 
http://andriasang.com/comzr9/tokitowa_trailer_debut/ 

Nico Nico viewers were invited to ask questions. Unfortunately, they mostly asked questions that could not be answered. However, Mikage did share a few bits in his responses:

  • The game is not a turn-based RPG. It's very close to an action RPG. 
  • The game has a mix of fixed and moving cameras. 
  • The game will be released this year -- 2012. Mikage said that it probably won't take all the way until Winter. 
  • The game will be ready in time for TGS (I believe Mikage is talking about it being shown at TGS rather than being released by then).
  • The game will have download content. 
  • Mikage said that you can cheat on your wife and you can select your wife. It's possible he was joking. 
  • Asked to give a percentage completion, they said said around 20%. The basic program is done.
#25 Posted by Chemin (633 posts) -

Nice. The Q&A gave some valuable insight. So the game is 20% complete, but will be released before winter this year? Well, I hope they are working hard. Hopefully this turns out to be more than the average budget JRPG we've seen a ton of this generation. Of course, they can still deliver an awesome product if they do things right. This has a few things going for it, so.

#26 Posted by GunslingerPanda (4839 posts) -

I hope this ushers in a new era of HD 2D sprite games so we can get back to 2D platformers.

#27 Posted by PenguinDust (12568 posts) -

Hope they release an international edition. Looks pretty neat, but I can't get too excited until I know it's coming to North America. Hopefully, should that come about, we'll get more information here stateside.

#28 Posted by Cozmicaztaway (221 posts) -

Am I the only one who thinks the princess looks EXACTLY like Yoko from Gurren Lagann? Ok, pink/red ponytail and a rifle might not be original, but just all the stances and stuff.

#29 Edited by Master_Funk (739 posts) -

Looks interesting. Hopefully stuff like this and ni no kuni will help reinvigorate jrpgs in terms of quality

#30 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

@Cozmicaztaway said:

Am I the only one who thinks the princess looks EXACTLY like Yoko from Gurren Lagann? Ok, pink/red ponytail and a rifle might not be original, but just all the stances and stuff.

The character designs are bland as hell, she simply looks like generic anime female character.

#31 Posted by Valkyr (668 posts) -

We all know that cell shading games will look like animation next gen or the other, just look at Ni No Kuni or Naruto Ninja Storm, so it's really stupid to go bananas and waste money on a technology that will be useful only during the current gen.

#32 Posted by Ace829 (2083 posts) -

The character designs and art style look a bit bland, but this is pretty cool. I wonder if the story will be any good.

#33 Posted by Mesoian (1574 posts) -
@Icemael: Ni No Kuni says hi. 
 
And this game will be lucky if anyone considers bringing it to america. I can tell you right now, NamcoBandai has 0 plans. 
 
Start your writing campaign to Atlus.
#34 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -
@Mesoian: Ni No Kuni is certainly one of the better-looking anime-styled games with cel-shading, but it's hardly a game that can fool you into thinking that what you're looking at is an actual anime show.
#35 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -

The first HD screenshots have been released: 
 

More here.
#36 Posted by Grixxel (768 posts) -

Does look neat.

#37 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

I am so concerned about how this actually looks in motion and how it looks if you pan the camera around your character.

#38 Posted by MikkaQ (10319 posts) -

Neat idea. Too bad that looks like the blandest thing ever.

#39 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

I guess it's pretty cool from a technical standpoint. However the character design crosses the threshold from "anime-ish game I want to play" to "balls-deep anime bullshit"

#40 Posted by Ducksworth (662 posts) -

Is it just me or do the characters look out of place in comparison to the environment?

#41 Posted by byterunner (314 posts) -

so...this coming to the states?

#42 Edited by Icemael (6343 posts) -
#43 Posted by EVO (3921 posts) -

@Ducksworth said:

Is it just me or do the characters look out of place in comparison to the environment?

It's not just you. They shoulda gone the whole 9 yards.

#44 Posted by DeeGee (2141 posts) -

That is the most generic description for a game I have heard in my life. Drake the dragon? Really?

Awful.

#45 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -

The first trailer with substantial in-game footage:

  
The 2D stuff looks really out of place in general, and especially when the main character is shown running around in the world. It's a shame too, because those sprites could've looked fantastic in a side-scroller or top-down game with full 2D graphics and perspective change to behind-the-back for the battle scenes.
#46 Posted by Questionable (619 posts) -
#47 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -
#48 Posted by Questionable (619 posts) -

Wow, i was totally not expecting that!

#49 Posted by believer258 (12019 posts) -

@Icemael said:

The first trailer with substantial in-game footage:

The 2D stuff looks really out of place in general, and especially when the main character is shown running around in the world. It's a shame too, because those sprites could've looked fantastic in a side-scroller or top-down game with full 2D graphics and perspective change to behind-the-back for the battle scenes.

You're right, that does look incredibly weird.

#50 Posted by Ducksworth (662 posts) -

That's fairly unexpected but they must have some sort of expectation for it. It looks "horrible" though, the main character looks like she's barely power walking and the world speeds by at a sprints pace. There's also just something off about they way the sprites look on top of the backgrounds, the biggest worry I have though is how the english translation will go. I can't think of a whole lot of Bamco games where voice acting is considered more than passable. The huge amount of VA and noises that the chick makes don't alleviate my worries either. Will pick up if it gets cheap, will pass with no regrets if it turns into one of those "rare" titles.

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