It’s been years since the last Growlanser game, dearest members of the Blog of PlayStation (Growlanser: Heritage of War, for those of you playing “PlayStation Blog: The At-Home Edition,” was released for PS2 back in 2007). Even before that, hardcore RPG fans have been clamoring for the fourth entry, one of their favorites in the series, to make its way to North America. Now, there are always factors for games released in Japan to either never come or come much, much later to US shores. This was one of those cases where hope seemed quite faint.
Just this past week, those hopes were given a prescription-strength injection of horse steroids as Atlus (that’s us) officially announced Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time, the enhanced PSP version of the long-beloved and much-requested fourth chapter in the popular series of RPGs, for release this summer in North America.
Let’s tune out all those exclamations of shock that ATLUS is releasing a PSP game in 2012 (because it isn’t going to be the only one) and get to the heart of the matter: telling you everything you need to know about Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time.
First of all, a fun fact: we decided not to put the numeral in the title because a) none of the other North American releases of the Growlanser games have done so, and b) because we didn’t want folks unfamiliar with the series to avoid it outright because they were worried they were jumping in too far into things. Like many Japanese RPG series, the games don’t have a narrative tie, meaning uninitiated genre fans will get as much enjoyment (i.e. a lot) as will those who live and breathe the series.
Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time tells of a land—once rich with culture and technology—long ago nearly obliterated by evanescent divine entities. Two millennia later, the mysterious entities appear again, threatening to bring about an end to all things unless a fabled warrior of destiny can rise against them. It may sound similar to games you’ve played in the past, but Wayfarer of Time —and in a more general sense, the Growlanser series at large—goes much further than most RPGs when it comes to the level of interaction players have with characters they encounter during their journey.
Much like the very popular Social Links in the Persona series, players can pour a lot of time and energy into winning over a special someone in the game and then, when they think they’ve won them over, invite the party member to join them on a special getaway. It’s a chance to learn a lot more about the character’s motivations and backstory and really helps build the sense that you’re getting to know them. They’ve even added the ability to save a character from otherwise certain death, a decision that—like many of the others you can make during your play time—can change how other events will unfold. Did I mention the game has over 40+ endings, and that it keeps track of how many of them you’ve unlocked?
Combat is tactical, the story is epic, the character designs are done by the LEGENDARY Satoshi Urushihara, the PSP version has improved visuals, quickened load times, features to make players’ experiences more streamlined and enjoyable, and much more. It’s a ginormous RPG experience, it’s coming to PSP this summer despite tons of doubt that it ever would, it’s getting a quality Atlus localization…High fives all around, right?