It was difficult to read info about FuRyu’s The Alliance Alive when it was revealed in Japan last year. The mere announcement that the company was planning to release a 3DS game in 2017 was a surprise, and it was first shown right before the Nintendo Switch’s reveal. It was also surprising because FuRyu rarely makes sequels to their non-licensed titles, since many of them garner low sales.
One game that broke the trend was The Legend of Legacy, a 3DS RPG that took heavy inspiration from Square Enix’s SaGa franchise. It involved players venturing through several scenarios starring different characters, and included the efforts of Masashi Hamauzu and Tomomi Kobayashi for the music and promotional art, respectively, both of which have been involved in several SaGa games. It also inherited the SaGa franchise’s tradition of its games being a very acquired taste, as some players didn’t appreciate the minimal amount of story and dialogue. The game sold well, but its reception had to make FuRyu wonder if a significant-enough audience would return for a sequel.
It’s also amusing that the game released close to SaGa Scarlet Grace on Vita in 2015, the first brand-new SaGa game in twelve years. At least The Legend of Legacy released outside Japan, though.
Despite a potential hurdle with the previous game’s critical reception, they went ahead with a sequel anyway, since it was still one of their best-selling games. This turned out to be a good decision, as though it didn’t do as well as The Legend of Legacy, it still did better than the average FuRyu game (scroll down to #14). This can be attributed to the game fixing many issues players had with the previous effort, which made for a more accessible game while still retaining features that made its predecessor unique.
Atlus USA is betting on that same logic applying outside Japan, as they confirmed through the most recent Nintendo Direct that they’re bringing the game to western territories. While it will be even harder to sell a 3DS game in 2018, it’s possible for great games to perform well regardless of the platform they release on if their reception is good enough. It will also help that Atlus USA is releasing a steady stream of titles for the 3DS’ twilight years, like Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, and potentially others like Persona Q2. Even better, they could pack the physical release with something extra, like an artbook similar to the first game to make it more of a collector’s item.
(I’m also glad I didn’t break my promise of not posting about games with little-to-no chance of being localized. Heck, maybe I used a secret power to increase its localization chances when I posted about it!)
The Alliance Alive occurs in a world where humans were enslaved by Daemons around one thousand years prior to the start of the main story, which gave birth to the malignant Dark Current. This force was responsible for destroying many of the world’s cities, and leaving humanity in ruin. It took only a few hundred years for the Daemons to completely conquer the land. The story begins when humans have tired of the Daemons’ oppressive rule, and are forming a movement to fight back and reclaim the land. The overall plot won’t win any awards for originality, but it’s the execution that will matter.
The character development will also be important, and it helps when the right talent is on board. The previous game involved the efforts of Masato Kato as writer, who seemed like a perfect fit for a game whose story juggled plenty of characters given his work on Chrono Cross. It also helped that it didn’t juggle quite as many as Chrono Cross. But he ended up not contributing much, as shown through its thin plot.
The Alliance Alive is more story-focused, though it still features the concept of playing through the scenarios of several characters — nine, to be exact. For this, FuRyu enlisted the efforts of another writer who contributed to character-heavy RPGs: Yoshitaka Murayama, who was director and co-writer for the first three Suikoden games. This is also the first game he’s involved in for over a decade, and hopefully he won’t go on another hiatus.
Other staffers involved include Masataka Matsuura and Kyoji Koizumi for the direction and game design, respectively, while Hamauzu returned to do the music. Unfortunately, Kobayashi didn’t return to provide promotional illustrations, which left all those duties to character designer Ryo Hirao. The story and Japanese promotion gave the impression that this was less a faux SaGa and more its own separate franchise, and that’s good for the franchise’s future.
Impressions from the Japanese version of The Alliance Alive were good, with many saying it’s better than the last game, so it’s good that Atlus USA is taking a chance on it. The game will receive a retail release in America, but will be eShop-only in Europe when it arrives next year.