Mike Salbato
Winter Wrap-Up: March 2013 In Review
A retrospective of quite a busy month in the world of RPGs.
04.03.13 - 2:25 AM

If you hadn't noticed, March was a crazy busy month for RPG news. Big news, even: I'm talking not simple release dates and gameplay details, but full-on new game announcements. This fact hit me mid-month, so I started compiling everything particularly noteworthy to test the viability of a "Month in Review" feature. As you can see below, there's more than enough to talk about.

Consider this a pilot program for now – We want to find out if you find this summary useful, and if it shines a light on anything you may have missed. It's also likely that upcoming months (say, post-E3) may slow down, but we'll see. In any case, take a look at everything that happened in March, and let us know what you think of this mini-feature!

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk
Adorable Ayesha gets top billing for March, not simply because Derek penned a lengthy and glowing review of the title, but Gust's latest alchemist also walked home with our Game of the Month Award.

March was a good month for RPGFan Podcasts. The music-centric Rhythm Encounter joined our long-running Random Encounter in February, so you can hear us talk about the stuff we love even more!

Random Encounter Episode 59 featured Rob, Stephen and Derek discussing two of the biggest recent JRPG releases, Etrian Odyssey IV and Atelier Ayesha.

On the music front, we managed to squeeze in two episodes of Rhythm Encounter, with Episode 2 focused on our favorite world map themes. Episode 3 is part one of a lovefest for SEGA's Phantasy Star series.

Notable Releases
A great month for the JRPG, as long as you like either Square Enix or NIS titles, and I'm sure most of you fit in one of those camps. The Tecmo Koei-published but NISA-localized Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk kicked things off on March 5th, which NISA followed with Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory on March 21st. Between those – and you're forgiven if you missed it – North America suddenly saw the release of Atelier Totori Plus for the PS Vita. An enhanced port of the PlayStation 3 original, the release was preceded with zero marketing, something that drew the ire of many fans, including our own Editor-In-Chief John McCarroll, who wrote an extensive editorial on Tecmo Koei's botched non-effort.

Outside of Atelier Totori's stealth release, perhaps the strangest announcement/release came from GungHo Entertainment, who brought a handful of Japanese PSone Classics to the North American PlayStation Network. Sentimental Graffiti, First Queen IV, and Favorite Dear ~Enkan no Monogatari~ are available for a mere $5.99, and have not been localized, but released in their native Japanese-text-heavy forms.

Square Enix closed out the month on mobile, releasing Chaos Rings for Windows Phone and Final Fantasy V for iOS. This coincided, as always, with a temporary reduction on most of the company's existing iOS lineup. If you want to score FFV for cheap, you may have to wait for the hopefully-in-the-cards Final Fantasy VI port.

Game Announcements
This category is a doozy! We had fourteen new game announcements in this month alone. Fourteen! Let's get to it:

Square Enix had three major announcements, although only one of these was a purely new title. While the updated port of Final Fantasy X was known, the company surprised by not only finally revealing the game, but announcing that Final Fantasy X-2 would be getting the same redrawn textures and HD treatment that its predecessor is getting. Even better, we learned that Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster will see a North American release this year, and at a budget ($40) price point. Last year's excellent Deus Ex title is coming to Nintendo's Wii U later this year in the form of Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut which will include gameplay tweaks, include DLC content and more. Finally, and most unexpectedly, the company announced that Drakengard 3 (or Drag-on Dragoon 3 in Japan) is in development. And even though developer Cavia is no longer around in name, several key members from the first game art working on this new entry.

We got our first look at the final Penny Arcade title, Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, including a few samples of HyperDuck SoundWorks' soundtrack for the game.

Almost Human surprised last year with its excellent dungeon crawler Legend of Grimrock, so we were pleased to learn the developers are hard at work on Legend of Grimrock II.

Daedalic, publishers of several adventure games that we're fond of, surprised by announcing not one, but two new games. Memoria is a new adventure title set in Aventuria, like its previous title, The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav. Next came news that Daedalic would be venturing into new territory, with the all-new turn-based RPG Blackguards.

We can never have enough Shin Megami Tensei around RPGFan, and Atlus continues to feed our obsession with the announcement of the updated and improved Devil Survivor 2: Code Break for 3DS.

Crowd-funding website Kickstarter continues to prove lucrative for devs, with InXile's Torment: Tides of Numenera being the latest success story. Completely funded to the tune of $900,000 within hours, the campaign continues until this Friday and currently sits around the $3,500,000 mark. It's safe to say RPG fans are looking forward to this one.

Supergiant Games, makers of 2011's stunning and wonderfully-narrated action RPG Bastion finally revealed their next title at PAX East. Coming in 2014, Transistor is a sci-fi action RPG that combines both fast-paced action and strategic planning. Oh, and to no surprise, it looks marvelous.

Natsume's super-secret game once known only as Project Happiness was finally revealed, as the company released a new trailer for the mobile/3DS adventure now officially known as Hometown Story.

We just saw the release of Etrian Odyssey IV in February, and there's already another on the way. Etrian Odyssey: Millennium Girl is a 3DS remake of the DS original, with a heavier focus on story and character development.

The last announcement of March was of particular note if you've been trying out your alchemical skills in those two new Atelier games. Gust revealed the 15th Atelier title in Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. Taking place in Ayesha's land of Dusk, this next PS3 installment gives us control of two protagonists, who each experience the game's story events in unique ways.

Reviews, Previews & Editorials
John's opinion piece on Tecmo Koei wasn't the only editorial to stir up controversy, as Kyle recently shared his misadventures with Ni no Kuni.

We took a look at some upcoming titles, sometimes even hands-on! I shared my thoughts on the now-in-open-beta Scarlet Blade, and more recently, Stephen spent time in the Neverwinter beta. Ponder with us what it will be like to battle mutants and more in Mars War Logs. Finally, Kyle talked about one of NISA's many upcoming releases, the IMAGEEPOCH-developed Time and Eternity (aka Tokitowa).

And reviews! Boy, did we post some reviews for you this month. One of RPGFan's biggest fans and supporters of the indie RPG community, Neal reviewed the graphic adventure Richard & Alice. Ashton reviewed February Game of the Month contender Etrian Odyssey IV (spoiler: He liked it), as well as Mass Effect 3: Citadel, the very last piece of content to be created for BioWare's epic trilogy. In fact, Ashton even dipped into our backlog and delivered a long-overdue Code of Princess review.

Speaking of backlogs, we never did get around to that Pokemon Black & White 2 review, did we? No worries, Andrew has you covered.

Dave brought us our final review of the month, with the iPad version of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, a solid remake marred by control issues.

News & Media
There's a bit of news besides actual game announcements, but none as massive as longtime Square Enix president Yoichi Wada resigning, citing poor sales of big titles like the latest Tomb Raider. While most companies would be overjoyed that a new title managed to sell well in excess of 3 million copies in a matter of weeks, it seems Square Enix had loftier (perhaps too lofty) expectations.

In more upbeat news, two highly anticipated titles finally have release dates... or at least release windows. Announced at E3 2011, Vanillaware's PS3/PSVita title Dragon's Crown has been hiding for far too long. Once set to be published here by the now-defunct Ignition, Atlus stepped in to both publish and lend a hand in development. With the game back on track, it's finally set to release this summer.

Released in Japan in 2011, Tales fans have been longing, if not frothing at the mouth, for its eventual English release, which is finally set to happen this summer.

There's a bunch of long-awaited news here, isn't there? Indie darling, bacon-loving XSEED Games is bringing another title to North America that Nintendo passed on: Pandora's Tower should take the crown of "last noteworthy Wii game" from The Last Story when it releases later this month.

Oh, and Borderlands 2 is getting a ton of new content uh... today. So you're probably already playing it as I type this.

Another noteworthy update in KickstarterLand, Dreamfall Chapters got a new trailer.

There was a slew of media released, though much of it for a handful of titles. We updated our gallery with many new screens and videos for Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, debuted our Phantasy Star Online 2 (Vita Edition) gallery, and continue to drool over the first batch of media for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Wrap Up
That's it! If you stuck with me this long, we hope you enjoyed this trip down an admittedly-short 30-day-long memory lane. I'm still amazed at just how much was packed into a single month though, on all fronts. I'm thinking that the following months may be similarly frantic as not only E3, but other game shows such as Gamescom and PAX Prime draw near. As I said above, we're really interested in your feedback on this Month in Review concept, so please let us know what you think! Too much, too little, too lacking in pop culture references? (Sorry, I'm usually better at that last one)

Happy April, everyone!