E3 2019 IMPRESSIONS: NISA (Nippon Ichi Software)

Monday, July 1st, 2019

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Now that I’m in the home stretch for my E3 2019 coverage, it’s time to talk about NISA. They were extremely courteous during the show, letting me demo and check out several upcoming games as well as introducing me to the CEO, Takuro Yamashita, Senior Director, Sean Kim and PR boss, Erin. We met at the spacious Triple 8 China Bar & Grill, where I got to sit and relax in glorious air conditioning as I played what was available. Though there were a handful of playable demos, I went with two that I felt would most interest our audience. First I’ll mention those two games, and then briefly touch upon some upcoming titles I wasn’t able to check out.

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I knew our audience (and several of our writers) would murder me if the first game I demoed with NISA wasn’t the newest entry in the Trails of Cold Steel series. So first thing I sat down to get some hands on time with The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III. I should mention that although I own the first two Trails games on Vita, I haven’t actually gotten a chance to play either yet. Having said that, I found the combat in the demo incredibly intuitive. Essentially, if you’ve played a classic turn based RPG, you should be able to figure things out quickly. I loved that about the game. If that wasn’t enough, the game will feature an interactive introduction if you aren’t familiar with the previous games.

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Another great thing about Trails of Cold Steel III is the art and atmosphere. This is the sort of game that reminds me why I love Japanese culture and JPRGs in particular. The characters are complex and animated, and the monsters are hideous and challenging. Most of my demo involved me running around a cold metallic facility, killing monsters and finding loot while learning the basics. Though the combat was intuitive, it also had tons of nuance and depth that I can imagine learning and perfecting over time. It was especially fun teaming up with party members to assault foes, as well as just using the various skills and physical attacks.

NISA | Trails III announcement

I think I can say with confidence that if you love the Trails of Cold Steel series, you’ll have a lot to look forward to when The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III releases. It officially is coming out September 24th in North America, and is exclusively for the PS4. It will feature both Japanese and English audio options, and English and French text options. My only hope is that it does so well that it eventually gets a Steam or Switch port, cause I had a lot of fun playing it.

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If I didn’t know a lot about Trails III, the next game I demoed with NISA was even more mysterious. That game was Utawarerumono: ZAN. To say I am unfamiliar with the Utawarerumono series is a massive understatement, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the demo. This particular game is a musou styled one, so you’re facing off against hordes of nasty insectoid monsters in the demo. I played as Haku, using my fan to blow mighty gusts of wind all over, throwing the monsters into each other and generally causing mayhem. That worked quite well until a big one showed up, and I went from walking RAID can to mouse running from a cat. The action totally shifted, with me comically sprinting like hell as the gargantuan beast chased me, and little ones tried to corral me. I was finally victorious when I tricked it into running off a snowy ledge.

NISA | Utawarerumono Monster

The gameplay was fantastic, but so was the art and style. There’s a ton of personality here, especially how different the various characters are. I only got to see a couple, but one was an over the top gentleman who inexplicably spoke old english. I could tell even from this brief demo that there’s a lot of great story to be told here. The little I know is that you play as Haku, who has a case of amnesia, though you can also play as 11 other legendary heroes.

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If you love musou games or are a longtime fan of Utawarerumono, you should definitely check ZAN out. It’s not too far away, slated to release in North America on September 10th, also exclusively for PS4. As an added incentive, the game will feature up to 4 player multiplayer to help you massacre insectoid hordes.

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One of the titles that I opted not to demo was The Alliance Alive HD Remastered. The primary reason I didn’t get hands on time with it is cause I already own the original on my 3DS. That said, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered gives a shiny new coat of paint to the original game, as well as bringing it to new consoles.

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The game is technically turn based, though it has some very unusual combat conventions. To read more about them in depth, just check out our published review here. The game features a world split into separate regions where humans are enslaved by Daemonic overlords. Your goal is to rebel and find out the truth of what has brought this to the world. I enjoyed the original game, and think fans of classic RPGs should like this HD remaster published by NISA. The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is slated to release for PS4 and Nintendo Switch this October 8th.

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The other title I wasn’t able to play during my NISA meeting was Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories. What’s interesting about this series is that, as far as I know, it’s never been released in North America. Japan, certainly, and I think Europe as well, but never here in the good old USA. Regardless, now one entry is coming stateside, and at what feels like a pretty timely moment. After all, our climate gets more and more chaotic by the day, so why not play a game about catastrophic environmental hazards?

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Things start calm and quickly devolve into madness after a huge earthquake strikes your city. Your goal is to make quick decisions and try and survive, which leads to many possible endings. Run from fire and shifting buildings while doing your best to navigate the chaos. If nothing else, Disaster Report 4 certainly sounds unique, and I’m glad we’ll soon be able to check it out in this part of the world. If you’re interested in it, you’ll be happy to hear it’s releasing in 2020 for PC, PS4 and even Nintendo Switch.

All in all, I got to check out a lot of unique experiences courtesy of NISA, even a couple I can’t mention quite yet. Thanks for tuning in, and please check out my and Quentin’s last few E3 articles as they go out!

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.