Mike Salbato
May 2013 in Review: Hot Ham Water Edition
The calm before the storm.
06.02.13 - 2:04 AM

I was almost certain that May was a somewhat uneventful month news-wise until I looked back and refreshed my memory. It was a slow month for releases, and while June will likely prove more active news-wise, there were still quite a few interesting things that went on in May. Plenty of pre-order incentives, game announcements, and as usual, our writing staff cranked out so many reviews that I still can't believe it.

Behold May in Review, and hopefully this will shine a light on something interesting you may not have seen the first time around!

Podcast Updates & Feature

Four podcasts this month! I'm always so impressed with our podcast crews, and they delivered the goods in May, for sure.

Random Encounter #62 — Anger Management featured a very frustrated Rob learning why so many people dislike Dragon's Dogma as he plays through the re-release/expansion, Dark Arisen.

Things took a happier turn in the next episode: #63 — Skill Tree. The crew talked at length about character progression, and they interviewed Aksys Games' Karen McOscar and Ben Bateman, so you'll want to give it a listen.

Rhythm Encounter was no stranger to guests this month either. In Episode 5 — Ormond Alliance, Stephen and Derek were joined by Casey Ormond, who arranged and performed the Piano Collections Final Fantasy XII album. The trio talked about not only FFXII music, but many of the games in the Ivalice Alliance, from Vagrant Story to Final Fantasy Tactics and more.

Finally, in an effort to get you ready for summer, Rhythm Encounter #6 — Summer Chill was all about summery tunes: beach themes, island songs, and some other generally laid-back music that you can relax with (margarita optional).

Game and Music Reviews and Previews

In previews, we had two new additions in May. Dave Yeager penned a hands-on preview based on an alpha build of Stygian's Underrail, and Bob spent some time with Neocore's The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. Look for many more previews coming in June during E3!

The first review of the month was John Tucker's Gemini Rue review, based on the new iOS version of the graphic adventure. He liked it, which is more than can be said for how Bob felt about Sacred Citadel. Similarly, John was less than impressed with the stylish but bland Black*Rock Shooter for PSP. Landing in a weird no-man's land between so-so and good in Derek's eyes was the long-awaited Pandora's Tower, the really, seriously, last noteworthy Wii game.

I'd make a joke about people still playing Final Fantasy XI, but I think it's old now. Clearly people are, as Square Enix's March release of Seekers of Adoulin (the game's 5th expansion) proves. Our FFXI junkie Derek has been playing it, and gave us entry #1 in his review journal, with more updates coming in time.

Dave reviewed Sorcery! for iOS, a game based on the Choose Your Own Adventure-style Fighting Fantasy books. Following his podcast comments on the game, Rob reviewed Capcom's Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen. Stephen has been playing Phoenix Online Studios' episodic Cognition since January. Episode 3 released in May, and he promptly got a review together. So far, his scores have gradually increased with each episode; a promising sign!

Level-5's Guild program continued with the 3DS title The Starship Damrey, the first Guild 02 title. Derek reviewed the bizarre little experiment. While he made his way through that, Kyle was prepping his review for The Night of the Rabbit, a stylish graphic adventure from Daedalic Entertainment.

The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have long played second fiddle to the mainline titles, but John Tucker found quite a bit that he liked about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity in his review. Speaking of love, do you like dating sims? So does Neal, and he reviewed yet another, in Heartstring Bugs. Not only did he tackle the game, but the soundtrack as well. This leads us gracefully into the RPGFan Music reviews for May...

In music, we posted a trio of singles, starting with a review by some guy named Mike for Chrono Trigger: The Last Day of the World Orchestra, a delightful little single by the Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra. Also in singles reviews are John Tucker's review for Lindsey Stirling and Peter Hollens's cover of the Skyrim main theme and Stephen's look at Kyle Landry's piano solo of Kingdom Hearts II's "Passion."

We were a bit behind schedule on all things Code of Princess, but Neal reviewed the Code of Princess OST. How John Tucker managed to review the soundtrack to Dave's beloved, I have no idea. But check out his Torchlight II OST review.

Notable Game Announcements and Releases

Mid-month saw the release of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing in an otherwise very slow month for releases. Just days ago, Daedalic's The Night of the Rabbit released, and those who pre-ordered on GOG.com snagged a free copy of Deponia.

To the relief of would-be attorneys everywhere, Capcom confirmed a fall release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Dual Destinies in both North America & Europe.

Compile Heart announced a new PS3 RPG primarily from the team that developed Hyperdimension Neptunia, Fairy Fencer f. Also on board are Final Fantasy legends Yoshitaka Amano and Nobuo Uematsu. The goal of the game is apparently to appeal to people "who like us," according to the developer. Which makes sense. I like the artwork quite a bit (though I'm curious about Amano's involvement, as he didn't seem to design the characters).

City Interactive announced a new next-gen RPG in Lords of the Fallen, a challenging action RPG pitting a mortal against a fallen god. The game is being headed up by Tomasz Gop, who previously produced The Witcher 2 while he was with CD Projekt RED. We'll be seeing Lords of the Fallen at E3, so look for more details soon!

Seemingly having learned that fans don't mind knowing a game is coming prior to release day, Tecmo Koei announced that the enhanced-for-PS Vita Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland is coming to North America on September 3rd.

Someone who apparently did not learn from the Atelier Totori Plus situation is Aspyr Media, who, earlier this week, suddenly released an iPad version of BioWare's amazing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Meanwhile, after teasing the game way back in early 2012, Capcom released Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy HD for iOS as a Universal app. The trilogy contains updated HD versions of the DS titles Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials.

Noteworthy News Bytes

With its release looming, Gust revealed plenty of character details for Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. Later in the month, we got to see a 46-minute (!) gameplay trailer. While it seems the trailer has been removed, our article still has plenty of details on the title.

We had two company-related news stories within a day on May 6th: Marvelous Online and XSEED JKS Inc combined to become Marvelous USA. As this was happening, a trio of important NIS America folks officially announced their new publishing company, acttil.

Back in the land of games, Square Enix is offering a spiffy artbook to those who pre-order Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, while Atlus showed off their own artbook going to folks who pre-order Dragon's Crown.

For aspiring game makers, CD Projekt RED announced the availability of the rather-impressive REDkit, a set of dev tools based on the ones that CDPR themselves used to create The Witcher 2.

Final Fantasy XIV came up in the news twice this month: first we learned that a batch of codes that Square Enix distributed with initial copies of Final Fantasy XIII (originally intended to grant a free item in FFXIV) will give people priority access in the upcoming beta test of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on PS3. Even more exciting is that the re-imagined FFXIV finally has not only a release date (August 27), but is getting a gloriously epic Collector's Edition.

Joining the ranks of countless other MMORPGs, Trion Worlds' Rift is going free-to-play in June.

Monkeypaw Games finally gave their PSP RPG, Class of Heroes II a release date, and you'll be able to pick it up on June 4th. The fourth and final Penny Arcade title got a release date: Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 releases on June 7th.

GOG.com added the last three main Wizardry titles (VI, VII & 8) to their catalog, with a handful of extra bonuses and for a great price.

Marvelous USA/XSEED announced their E3 2013 lineup, which will include Ragnarok Odyssey ACE, Rune Factory 4, Valhalla Knights 3, Ys: Memories of Celceta, Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE, and more.

Namco Bandai really seems to love Tales fans this year, and based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Tales of Xillia Collector's Edition, they announced the Tales of Xillia Limited Edition. Limited to the first run of the game (so pre-order now), the LE includes a character booklet, music CD, and two DLC costumes based on classic Tales outfits.

Dragon's Crown isn't out until August, but we already know about the game's first DLC: the option to swap the title's narration with any of the game's six classes. It's a fun bonus, and it will be free for the first month following the game's release.

Exciting New Media

May's media kicked off with a new gallery for Falcom's Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki, and some extensive updates to our Atelier Escha & Logy gallery (the latter of which releases later this month in Japan).

Atlus has been steadily upping the volume on their Dragon's Crown promotion, and released several character videos showing each class in action. And with Shin Megami Tensei IV's release inching closer, we got a new look at the game with this 8 video mini-collection and "The Ritual" trailer.

We got our first look at English screens from NIS America/Imageepoch's Time and Eternity. Oh, and the second English trailer, too.

From Capcom, we got the first English screens & trailer for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Dual Destinies, and a nice video showcasing the Capcom characters in Project X Zone.

We got a first look at Telltale's next adventure series with new screens for The Wolf Among Us.

We already knew about Final Fantasy X-2's inclusion in the upcoming HD Remaster package, but we didn't get a proper look at the sequel's updated graphics until our latest gallery update. If reboots are more your style than remasters, check out the newest trailer for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which shows off seven of the game's jobs in combat.

Very quickly after we learned of four new Pokémon coming in Pokémon X & Y, we got to see the newly-revealed pocket monsters in video form. That same day, Atlus released three new videos for New Etrian Odyssey: Millennium Maiden, the upcoming 3DS remake of the first game in the series.

Finally, just prior to its May 22nd release, Neocore Games released one last trailer and batch of screens for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.

Wrap Up

And with that, I declare May over. Though I guess that was obvious since June is here. The biggest gaming event of the year is mere days away, so it goes without saying that June will be packed with updates. Not only do we expect countless news updates from E3, but you'll be able to look forward to as many hands-on previews as we can possibly write for you. I've counted a possible 50+ RPGs that may be on hand, so we'll have no shortage of games to check out.

If you have any thoughts on our Month in Review features, drop me a line! Email me, tweet @ me, whichever is easiest for you. And as always, thanks for reading!