Yasumi Matsuno, the genius behind Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story and FFXII, has been quiet of late. Goichi Suda, the genius behind No More Heroes and Killer 7, has not. Behind the scenes, however, both are knee-deep in Guild 01, the first game from a development supergroup that's also roped in a Japanese comedy star, an experimental game designer and Level-5.
It's four games for the price of one - notice we didn't say 'minigames', because these are full... well, semi-fledged titles in their own right. Suda's is Liberation Girl, Matsuno's is Crimson Shroud, and we're saving the other two for next month's issue. Ooh, the tension.
Liberation Girl places you in the skintight leather bodysuit of Shoko, a high-school girl moonlighting as the president of Japan. She's obviously learnt from western Prime Ministers too, as she likes to commit the odd war crime, though to be fair none of ours did it from an 11-metre-tall transformable flying mech called Kamui. We suspect Blair would have, while Brown would have haplessly fallen out.
MECH MY DAY
Shoko becomes president after her father is assassinated, presumably by the invading nation you spend the game gunning down. And she's even more hands-on than David Cameron when it comes to immigration, jetting around like a particularly lasery version of Ace Combat. Her mech can also deploy a shield and execute flashy special attacks, while the chain counter suggests an arcadey flavour - a theory backed up by pretty much everything Suda has ever done.
Crimson Shroud, Matsuno's offering, couldn't be more different. At first glance it appears to be a traditional JRPG, but it's inspired more by the tabletop RPGs of yore. Yep, he's taking the genre back to its roots, incorporating dice rolls and text adventure mechanics into the game's unusual framework.
The star is a guy named Giauque, a chaser - literally, someone who chases things down for other people. Quite how the game will play is currently anybody's guess, but there seem to be proper 3D battles between all the stylus-based dice-rolls. Matsuno's one of the best RPG designers when it comes to the real nuts and bolts, so we're pleased to see he's making these the priority of Crimson Shroud.
As for the other games, well - you'll have to wait. However, if they're even half as promising as these first two offerings, Guild 01 is going to be one... well, four games to keep an eye on over the coming months.