Ninety-Nine Nights

FeatureQ Entertainment's Tetsuya Mizuguchi

Remakes, revolutions and the future of media.

Tucked away in one of central Tokyo's sprawling, bustling regions, Q Entertainment's office building is small and incongruous - but impossible to miss, thanks to the striking logo on the side. "Q?" it asks. "Hopefully," responds the somewhat lost foreign journalist.

If you're going to play Serious Sam, Croteam's riotous PC/Xbox FPS, through to completion, it's hardly going to leave you with any thorny existential questions to ponder. It's a game that's giddying in its simplicity. Several billion (well, many dozen) enemies spawn and charge/shoot at you, and you shoot back at them, endlessly circle-strafing and pumping the trigger in a gloriously dumb haze of gunfire and death yelps. And that's it, over and over, for the entire game. Zero subtlety. Minimal variation. On paper, it's deafeningly flat. It's the action-hero equivalent of LOLspeak. So, if you play Serious Sam through to completion, you are actually left with something to ponder: what the hell am I doing?

N3: Ninety Nine Nights

N3: Ninety Nine Nights

And you will know us by the trail of dead.

Ninety Nine Nights? More like two hundred and ten nights, because that's precisely how long it's taken for Microsoft to get around to releasing a new Xbox 360 game in Europe.

Yep, when Dead or Alive 4 hit the shelves way back on January 27th, it kicked off the most prolonged first party release famine there's ever been following the launch of a new console - an incredible seven months without a single boxed product from one of the biggest game publishers in the world.

Fortunately for Microsoft, high-profile third-party successes (notably Oblivion and GRAW) helped enormously to plug the gap, not to mention various Live Arcade titles. But as the platform holder, its inability to deliver content for most of its console's early lifespan is odd to say the least - especially with rivals breathing down its neck.

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Ninety-Nine Nights dated

US version 53-84 nights away.

It's been out in Japan for ages, but Microsoft's finally announced that Western gamers will be able to get their hands on Xbox 360 exclusive Ninety-Nine Nights this August. Well, the yanks will anyway - there's still no word on a European date. Bah.

Japanese N3 bonuses

Demo disks and magic chains.

Microsoft's still trying to win over the Japanese, who are currently thought to be negotiating a deal saying they'll all buy Xbox 360s if Peter Moore stops talking.

Ninety-Nine Nights dated

Out in April.

One of Microsoft's highest-profile Japanese investments - Xbox 360 hackandslash Ninety-Nine Nights - will be released in Japan on April 20th, the platform holder said this week.

Ninety-Nine Nights delayed

On Mizuguchi's orders.

Legendary producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi has confirmed that his forthcoming Xbox 360 hack-and-slasher Ninety-Nine Nights has been delayed.

Enchant Arm, N3 slip in Japan

So, er, no Arm done, then.

Microsoft may be confident of doing better in Japan than last time following Xbox 360's launch there on December 10, but it'll have to get into the groove without help from Enchant Arm or Ninety-Nine Nights - at least for a little while.

99 Nights dated in Japan

Retailers point to January launch.

Ninety-Nine Nights, or N3, the fantastical hackandslash Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment is developing for Xbox 360 with Phantagram, has been dated in Japan - it's set to go on sale from January 12th according to retailers.

FeatureNinety-Nine Nights

We saw it today, we play it tomorrow.

Phantagram CEO SangYoun Lee and I probably don't have a lot in common, but today I knew just how he felt. Having arrived in Tokyo yesterday thoroughly jetlagged and without the slightest understanding of either written or spoken Japanese, I've been quietly and respectfully fudging the simplest of conversations ever since.

Ninety-Nine Nights trailer

Ninety-Nine Nights trailer

Mizuguchi's X360 title.

Tetsuya Mizuguchi may not quite be a household name in the West, but the news earlier this year that the developer of Space Channel 5, Rez and Lumines was creating games for Xbox 360 certainly made waves around our paddock - and seemed to be the surest sign yet that Microsoft was taking serious steps to establish its development credentials in Japan. Or at least to win us over.

His first project - a collaboration between his Q Entertainment studio and Korean outfit Phantagram - was unveiled at E3 earlier this year, resembling a cross between Dynasty Warriors and the Lord of the Rings movies. Today we have a brief teaser trailer showing off just the sort of thing it's capable of: hundreds of on-screen units in glorious high-detail.

Although firm gameplay details remain elusive, Mizuguchi's stock gives him a lot of credibility when he tells us that the game engine can handle up to 2,000 characters on-screen simultaneously. Players will be able to command the legions of units involved, but also select individual characters and experience unique storylines within the conflict depending on the selection.

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Mizuguchi's X360 title?

A shot thereof, it seems.

As Dead or Alive 4 shots sweep the Net into hysteria (or something approaching excitement at the very least; almost forgot ourselves there!), a lone shot of what is said to be Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Xbox 360 title has appeared on Ruliweb.