A while ago, I “finished” Streetpass Garden – a mildly entertaining, if frustratingly slow timekiller about growing flowers – and saw the name Koichi Ishii in the credits.
That … hurt, a little bit. Koichi Ishii had been one of those names that had been with me since the start of my videogame career. He made Secret of Mana, which was probably the most influential game for me, a very special gaming experience. Europe in the 1990’s wasn’t a great place for JRPG fans, so I played and replayed and replayed Secret of Mana for years and years. And each time I loaded up the game, there was the wolves’ howling, the gorgeous tree artwork – and the name “K. Ishii”. And now this! Seeing his name attached to some (comparatively) irrelevant Streetpass game, over twenty years later … well, it does kind of make you feel sad. Like the gaming joys of your youth are so, so far in the past. Like we’ve all lost our ways. Koichi Ishii should be out there making new RPGs that would shape the genre, dammit!
Ok, this is just the context you need to understand why I was completely thrilled by yesterday’s announcement of Ever Oasis, a 3DS action RPG by Grezzo … *drumroll* … by Koichi Ishii.
Based on the first trailer and a gameplay video, I’m excited. The first associations are Fantasy Life, Animal Crossing, Zelda and – yes – Secret of Mana. The similarity to the latter mostly has to do with the battle system: three party members with unique skills that you can/must switch between? Secret of Mana! Good. I’d love if there was an option that would allow some kind of multiplayer co-op, to play with friends, but I have not heard anything of the sort and … shouldn’t just project my unfiltered SoM nostalgia onto this new game, right? ;)
Because aside from these obvious connections that any 3DS RPG player can’t help but notice, Ever Oasis seems beautifully distinct. The general, decidedly non-western look makes it stand out.The setting is described as Egyptian-inspired, to fit with the desert setting. Cool! I have to say, it also makes me happy to see a dark-skinned main character, seriously a rarity in JRPGs – and you’ll get to choose between male and female, too.
Hey, can the feminist blogosphere maybe take a break from complaining about Link still being male, and acknowledge Nintendo’s new IP? ;)
Most of the characters in Ever Oasis appear not to be human, but some human-animal hybrid. And amazing penguin-owls! Koichi Ishii has brought us such distinct mascot creatures as moogles and chocobos. Will Ever Oasis‘ “noots” become as iconic? Fingers crossed!
Something to look forward to in 2017.