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WII
GENRE
RPG
DEVELOPER
From Software
PUBLISHER
TBA
WI-FI ENHANCED
no
WII EXCLUSIVE
only-gcn
EXPECTED RELEASE DATE
BUY NOW AT

Lost Kingdoms (RUNE)

In late July, Nintendo Co. Ltd. posted to its website a partial list of titles to be playable at its upcoming Space World convention in Japan. NOA followed suit. Rounding out the list was a mysterious 'RUNE;' its publisher listed simply 'Company name secret.' The announcement incited baseless speculation about any number of significant third-party RPG developers joining the GameCube ranks.

Several days later, Nintendo updated the roster, including RUNE's actual developer: From Studios. Most recently known for Evergrace on the PS2, From Studios may not be Squaresoft or Enix, but is an accomplished developer in its own right.

We have little to report on RUNE. Listed in all-caps, as it is on Nintendo's web site, indicates that 'RUNE' is perhaps a working or code-title. NCL's list labels the title 'tentative;' indeed, should the game be released Stateside, RUNE will have to overcome numerous copyright precedents to avoid a change of name.

According to esteemed Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, RUNE is an RPG, with monster-collecting elements akin to Pokémon or Crave Entertainment's Jade Cocoon.

Famitsu also released the first screenshot of RUNE. It's difficult to decipher much about any game from a single shot, but some attempt can be made to gauge the title's technical accomplishment and gameplay design. Note that this analysis is highly speculative. (It's also mostly obvious.)

Visuals:

  • Perspective:
  • The on-screen map and button menu establish that this is a real-time shot, and not FMV; the screenshot is representative of gameplay, which indicates a third-person perspective.
  • Lighting: The woman appears to be pre-shaded; neither she nor the wooden structure look dynamically lit. That may be due to the screenshot's angle.
  • Joint Articulation: The woman has five distinct digits on each hand, establishing that RUNE at least crosses that critical next-gen threshold: no block hands.
  • Facial Articulation: The image appears to be real-time, yet the woman is not looking forward. This indicates that her face will be animated in real-time, perhaps, like Rare's Conker, according to environmental context.
  • Environments: The screenshot is too tight on the central figure to see much of the background, but the wood-and-grass structure beside her indicates an exterior. The grass and rolling clouds in the background are not particularly detailed.
  • Textures: Dull and not too impressive. RUNE isn't quite Eternal Darkness.
Gameplay:
  • Power Meter: Might measure some ability or health. A health meter, displayed as it is, suggests that damage can occur in real time. This tells us something of the battle system.
  • Ability Gauge: The circular item left of the 'power meter' appears to be a gauge, measuring some commodity collected or stored. It's likely a function of the magic/monster feature.
  • Button Menu: The on-screen button menu suggests either context-sensitive actions (Conker) or item-specific commands (Zelda).
  • Party: Multi-character parties are commonplace in RPGs; however, if the 'power meter' is indeed a real-time health meter, this suggests a one-character adventure.
Bad news: If this first screenshot is representative of the whole game, then RUNE is thus far the least impressive visually of the GameCube's headliners. The good news is that RUNE is an RPG, a genre so lacking on the N64.

Nintendo intends to reveal a playable RUNE at Space World later this month.

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WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Gordon Distin
Staff Profile | Email
"In the room, the women come and go, talking of Miyamoto."


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