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You may have noticed updates here at Icaro have been far and few between. I apologize for that; Maiji and I have been extremely busy due to school and such. In light of that, we will no longer cover every update from the official Japanese website. We will still of course continue to cover major news regarding SH; but minor things like magazine appearances, JP-only events, etc will not be covered.
In recent news, IGN has a roundtable discussion with Nautilus regarding FtNW.
Another batch of official website updates:
The first two “web special campaign” videos are now available on the website.
New characters have been added to the character page: Gilbert, Baigen and Gerard. Voice samples have also been added for a few characters.
Results of the forth illustration content have been posted. The fifth contest as already been announced, and the theme is simply “From the New World". Entries are due on August 26th.
SH:FtnW will appear on the cover of the 6/24 issue of Dengeki Playstation, featuring an illustration of Johnny and Shania. The magazine will also contain developer interviews. 2 new fusion monsters will be revealed in the 6/24 issues of Weekly Famitsu and Famitsu PS2.
Sorry for the lack of updates recently, here’s what’s new at the official website since my last report:
Character page has been updated with the new characters: Frank, Mao, Hildegard, Killer and Lady.
Starting 6/10, a special program will be broadcast on the official website in commemoration of the release of SH:FtNW. Popular actors You Shirota and Aki Hoshino will play the parts of Johnny and Shania respectively as they “navigate the American continent". A second program will follow on the 20th, and a third on July 1st. The 3rd program will only be available to fanclub members. Fanclub members can also take a quiz during the final program to win a LCD TV or an overseas vacation.
Blog site Cafesta has started a SH:FtNW promotion: You Shirota and Aki Hoshino, mentioned in the above news item, now have their own blogs on Cafesta and will post pictures from the production. They also have had special Cafesta-style avatars of Johnny and Shania created for them. Fanclub members can also get special SH-themed skins for their Cafesta blogs.
SH:FtNW Premium Box contents revealed:
-Playstation 2 software “Shadow Hearts: From the New World”
-Special Image DVD
-Special Soundtrack CD
-"Johnny” Deluxe T-Shirt (free size 1)
-"Shania” earring-style keychain light
-"3 Valentine Siblings” 3 cell phones straps
-Special B5 notebook
900 internet & manga cafes across Japan will have demo stations of SH:FtNW starting June 1st, and will run for approximately a month. Full list of locations is available on the official website.
The Diary section of the official site is now up. There is a “diary” for Lenny, and a developer’s diary. So far there are entries from production manager Hamamoto and planner Ishida.
Lastly, a second trailer has been added to the streaming media section.
The official site updated today with a new trailer for SH:FtNW. It starts of similar to the trailer that was included in the Director’s Cut of SH2, but it contains lots of new gameplay and cutscene footage.
New playable characters in SH:FtNW were recently revealed in the latest issue of Famitsu and on the official website. Hildegard Valentine, the Peach Bat from SH:C and self-proclaimed magical girl heroine; Mao, a giant cat that uses drunken fist fighting techniques; and Frank Goldfinger, a 46-year-old wannabe ninja.
Scans of the Famitsu article can be seen here, thanks to maskrider.
Also recently revealed on the official website is the “Shadow Hearts Series Creation Materials Collection” book, which will be given out with pre-orders of the game. The book is 44 pages, B5 sized, and will contain art from all 3 SH games. It will also contain special guest art by “Fruits Basket” manga artist Natsuki Takuya.
According to Games Are Fun, the Japanese release date for Shadow Hearts: From the New World has been set for July 28. The standard edition of the game will retail at 7329 yen; a limited edition will also be available for 12390 yen. This limited version will include a bonus DVD, a music CD, three Valentine Sibling phone straps, a Johnny t-shirt, a Shania keychain and a notebook.
More information is also available from RPGFan (which, interestingly, gives different prices for the releases).
RPGamer posted the belated results of their best of 2004 awards today. This may interest our readers because SH:C walked away with awards in many categories, most notably the staff’s top overall pick for 2004!
1st in Best PS2 game
3rd in Best Storyline
2nd in Best Soundtrack
1st in Best Overall
2nd in Best PS2 game
2nd in Best Storyline
3rd in Best Battles
3rd in Best Soundtrack
3rd in Best Gameplay
3rd in Best Overall
Game Watch and IT Media Games have nice quality pictures from Shadow Hearts: FtnW (mostly the same as the previous article, but there are a couple new ones).
RPGamer has more details on the story of Shadow Hearts: From the New World.
The next game in the series has been announced through a Japanese gaming magazine. The title is “Shadow Hearts: From the New World” and is due out in Japan this summer. The game takes place in America during 1929. The main characters are Johnny Garland, a 16-year-old boy from New York, and Shania, a 21-year-old Native American female warrior. Locales in the game include Chicago, Brooklyn, the Grand Canyon and Chelsea.
Scans of the article can be found here and here.
IGN has a short news item on the game, also mentioning that a number of past characters will appear in this game.
RPGFan has posted an interview with Nautilus’ consumer game division. Thanks to darthhowie on the LJ community for the link.
The official Shadow Hearts site finally updates with a page on the Director’s Cut. Additional & larger images can be seen at Game Watch as well.
In earlier news, the Shadow Hearts II Complete Guide is getting yet another reprint thanks to the guide’s popularity. The next printing will be available around the beginning of February.
Also, profiles for Lt. Kawashima and “secret” (Halley’s mother) have been added to the official site’s SH1 characters section.
Following recognitions from other gaming sites, Shadow Hearts: Covenant weighs in at a healthy number 6 at Penny Arcade’s review of the videogaming highlights of 2004.
After making it on IGN’s holiday list, SH:C bags both the PS2 RPG of the Year and Best PS2 Game No One Played awards on their Best of 2004 list.
Some of these items are a bit dated, but in our quest to bring you obsessively detailed SH news, here are recent occurrences of SH in various news sites.
Starting off with the ‘good’ (and most recent) news, GameSpy names SH:C as their PS2 RPG of the year. In slightly older, but similarly pleasing news, SH:C makes it as the only RPG on IGN’s PS2 Holiday Buyer’s Guide.
In a more traditional news item, GameSpot reports that Midway’s revenues climb 47% during the July-September quarter. Despite the article’s sub-header, the article itself barely makes mention of SH:C, but it’s nice to think perhaps it had at least a little bit to do with this success.
Lastly, and definitely the most odd bit of news, is that a coalition of various groups placed a Shadow Hearts game on its list of top 10 “most violent video games”. Breaking from our usual impartiality(?!?), I have to say that this list is considered unreliable and rather ridiculous by most of the gaming community. Not only does the list contain a Japan-only import (Gunslinger Girls) and a game that has yet to be released (Hitman: Blood Money), it has typos as well. In fact, it’s not clear which SH game they mean, since it’s listed as “Shadow Heart". This Penny Arcade strip pretty much sums it up.
Go! Game! Music! has put up an interview with Yoshitaka Hirota regarding his work on Shadow Hearts II.
The CD-Rom that comes with the October 15th issue (Vol. 287) of Dengeki PS2 will contain “useful save data” files for Shadow Hearts II. No info on the specifics of the save data yet.
Also earlier announced, Vol. 5 (Oct. 8) of The Playstation will come with special illustrations (DVD cover?) for Shadow Hearts II. The comic from an earlier issue will be continued as well.
Yet another Shadow Hearts-themed comic strip at Penny Arcade. Wow, they must really like the game. :)
It’s nice to see that Gabe and Tycho are caught up in the fever too. =D
IGN praises Shadow Hearts: Covenant’s gameplay, presentation and characters in a glowing, in-depth, four-page review, stating that “it deserves to be in every role-playing fan’s personal library, and deserves even more another sequel.”
PSM also awards the title a 10/10 score, labelling it a “Buy or Die” in its November 2004 Reloaded issue. It emphasizes that “the words ‘epic’ and ‘engaging’ don’t really do this one justice.”
IGN now has a video profile of Joachim. However, many people (including myself), can’t get the audio to play on the WMV video. Has anyone gotten it to work, or can confirm if the Quicktime version has working sound?
As reported on a Midway press release available at numerous gaming websites, Shadow Hearts: Covenant has gone gold, meaning the game has completed production and should meet the projected release date.
A new gameplay movie is available at GameSpot, as well as an interview with Jeremy Airey, producer of the English-language release.
IGN has another “profile” movie up, this time of Karin. (Karin is Kallen’s official US name)
This time from Gamespot, a short cutscene in English is now available. Although it does barely have any dialog, it does show a cutscene in it’s entirety unlike previous trailers.
Another English-language movie is now available at IGN, this time mainly comprised of cutscenes. The movie is a profile of Yuri, but also includes dialog from other characters.
IGN now has the first English-language movies of SH:C available. While they only show battle footage, they have fully translated menus and a few short voice clips.
For those fans who weren’t quite so lucky to be at the Otakon convention, our friend Zealboy at the Shadow Hearts LJ community had a lucky encounter at the July 30 evening voice acting panel. Panelist Richard Epcar mentioned that he had recently completed directing the voices for Shadow Hearts : Covenant.
Apart from his writing and directing experience, Epcar has done extensive vocal work on various anime series, including Digimon, Fushigi Yugi, Rurouni Kenshin and Ghost in the Shell. He’s perhaps best-known in the RPG voice fandom as the voice of Ziggurat 8 (Ziggy) in Xenosaga.
An update on the earlier news regarding GameStop and EBGames bundling copies of Shadow Hearts with preorders of Shadow Hearts: Covenant - Gamepot reports that Midway, the North American publisher for the title, has announced this offer itself. With this official connection, it’s pretty safe to assume now that all game stores taking preorders will have this available. Hoorah!
GameStop now has a new thumbnail for the cover of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, featuring a never-before-seen image of Kallen. No idea if this is the final cover though; EBGames is still using the previous one.
Those who pre-order Shadow Hearts: Covenant at GameStop will receive a free copy of the the original Shadow Hearts. No word on whether this offer is good at other stores.
Update! EB Games is running the same offer, so it looks like it will be good at other stores.
Midway is bringing Shadow Hearts II under the name Shadow Hearts: Covenant to the US (and as later confirmed, Europe). Source: Gamespot