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NOW PLAYING: Lost Odyssey.

Sakaguchi's latest masterpiece JRPG is here, and it's awesome. Currently Yahoosoda is playing (using the 'Tankblitzer' gamertag....long story, I'd rather not get into why she had to use a different gamertag). We took some pics....the art direction is very Japanese and is quite gorgeous.

Another thing that owners of the Asian-English version may not have noticed: Look carefully at the paper for the box art.

Look closer.

The box art paper is textured, giving the overall package a more artistic look and feel. Nice touch, Hironobu Sakaguchi.

Early impressions from Yahoosoda indicate that the game is much, much more difficult in comparison with Blue Dragon, and battles require a bit more strategy than before. She seems to be enjoying the story a lot. After seeing her play a couple of scenarios I've told myself that I'm going to play this game with my Scytherage gamertag...not just for the achievements, but because it looks like an overall worthwhile experience. I got to read some of the 'Thousand Years of Dreams' stories in the game. I think every gamer who appreciates good stories owes it to themselves to read those. They really add to your overall impression of the main character, Kaim.

Also, while she's playing, I'm surfing here on my laptop and when there's a story point I end up playing loud music so I can't hear the story spoilers. However.....occasionally I find myself not playing a track on my music player, and I end up hearing the music of this game. Man! I love the boss battle theme in Lost Odyssey! It's so catchy!!! For a game with dark themes, it does a good job of hitting on various emotional notes with the music. The game never feels or sounds monotonous at all.

Microsoft, if you're planning to buy a game studio anytime soon, here's a hearty recommendation: BUY MISTWALKER. Make them first party. There's talent in there that not only has experience, but amazing creativity and artistic sense. Sure, right now (and probably in the foreseeable future) they're not doing as well as their counterparts in Japan, but there's great talent in their company that deserves to be on Microsoft's payroll on a permanent basis. I've always dreamt that the greatest RPG ever made in the future will combine the artistic sensibilities and creative storytelling of Japanese RPGs with the complex and challenging gameplay systems from Western games. Perhaps that is where the next evolution of RPGs will occur....a merging of the two cultures in design and ideas....

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