Upcoming Xbox 360 RPGs Previewed in Tokyo

Microsoft previewed several upcoming role-playing games (RPG) for its Xbox 360 in Tokyo on Tuesday. The games included three titles from Square Enix, one from Bandai Namco and two from Microsoft's game studios.

Bandai Namco's "Tales of Vesperia" will launch in Japan on Aug. 7 and cost ¥7,800 (US$73). It will go on sale in North America in August, during the summer in Asia but won't be available in Europe until 2009.

Using a trick it's employed with other high-profile games, the title will also be bundled in a pack with an Xbox 360 console. Sales of the console have been low in Japan compared with the rest of the world so all-in-one sets might be more attractive to Japanese gamers, many of whom might be interested in the game but don't already own the Microsoft console. The set will include custom face-plates and the game and will cost ¥37,800.

Among the three games from Square Enix, "Star Ocean 4" was previewed and will be available in 2009.

Like the other titles in the series the game takes place in the aftermath of a nuclear war at a time when humans take to the stars to flee the dying Earth. The fourth installment takes place several hundred years before the original titles, around 2074 -- just a decade or two after the war when space travel is just becoming possible.

The only one of the Square Enix titles to get a launch date was the Xbox 360-exclusive "Infinite Undiscovery," which will hit store shelves on Sept. 11 in Japan and Asia. Square Enix didn't name launch dates but shipping dates -- when the packaged software leaves the warehouse for shops -- for North America and Europe. They are Sept. 2 and Sept. 5 respectively.

In front of the largely Japanese crowd, Producer Hajime Kojima tried to spin the earlier shipping dates as meaning it will get into the hands of gamers around the world at "almost the same time" but foreign gamers can likely look forward to getting it several days earlier than those in Square Enix's home market.

The final game on show was "Last Remnant." Square Enix promises the title in the winter with a simultaneous release in Japan, North America, Europe and Asia. The maker declined to give a more precise date but provided good news for Xbox 360 gamers by promising it will hit the platform before the PlayStation 3 version is launched.

From Microsoft will come "Fable 2," an action RPG that is due out by the end of this year.

The company also said it will bring "Mass Effect," which has already been launched in other markets, to Japan.

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