I’ve talked about Nippon Ichi Software’s development woes in enough posts that I’ve become a broken record, but don’t worry, I’ll briefly run back through their predicament anyway. It’s a fun tale to tell!
Their games were never the highest sellers, but sold well enough for them to remain as a stable niche game developer. This was the case on PS2 and PSP, but they couldn’t faithfully make the transition to subsequent platform, and their situation has only worsened since then. Recent sales of their titles in Japan are low to the point that I’m concerned about their future. You know it’s bad when even making sequels to installments that sold well like Disgaea 5 and The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 didn’t work.
Thanks to their reliance on low-budget software and generous executives, they’ve been able to take multiple shots at trying to establish new franchises. They mostly haven’t ended well, but super-small experiments like htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, the Yomawari titles, and A Rose in the Twilight did well — note that all of them have similar art styles. Their newest project is also low-budget, but like their others, some of its ideas are intriguing enough to make it worth watching: Your Four Knight Princess Training Story.
This game occurs in a medieval fantasy-style world suffused with anime aesthetics, where the player controls an Instructor Knight first tasked with visiting the four Relic Islands. While there, he’ll have to instruct the four princesses who represent each island and could use some assistance, making this Your Four Knight Princess Training Story. See? The title is very literal.
The first princess is Liliati, who serves as the head knight for the Alixarn Kingdom, a territory with lush agriculture. She’s always cheerful and positive and is adored by her fellow soldiers and people, but she has issues when it comes to thinking about complicated issues. The second is Veronica, a young genius witch who serves as the leader of the Rust Magic Guild, the islands’ greatest black magic guild. She’s a charismatic free thinker, but has an arrogant attitude with everyone she comes in contact with.
Third is Monmaria, a fallen noble who represents the Nobile Business Alliance, but remains the princess of the Eudalia family despite that. She also has many vassals who admire her, and manages to get by through a vassal and mercenary business. Lastly, there’s Alpana, the princess of the Dragon People followed by the North Amata Clan Federation, who’s a philanthropist desiring the peaceful coexistence of all races. That’s a sweet goal.
As the “Instructor Knight,” the player will forge a contract with the four princesses, and will help them with their unique goals. They’ll subsequently train them by choosing to either “Praise” or “Scold” them at certain points during conversations and battle. They’ll react differently depending on the decision made, since they have unique personalities, but making the right decision for each situation will lead to temporary stat increases and advantages in battle. This sounds like it could get creepy in a heartbeat, particularly when my mind leapt to the Criminal Girls games after heaving about the feature. But current screenshots don’t show anything suggestive, so there’s no cause for concern… at least, not yet.
In battle, the game is an action-based RTS title, as the player directly controls a princess while issuing commands to accompanying soldiers. It will have four unique scenarios for each princess to complete. A short and mute gameplay video can be seen on the front page of the official website after leaving it idle for a few seconds after it finishes loading.
Continually giving new properties a shot is one part of NIS’ strategy to stay around as a small-but-profitable company that supports dedicated gaming platforms. Another is expanding their software output to Nintendo Switch. This initiative started after Disgaea 5 Complete sold well on the system, especially outside Japan, which led to ports of The Longest 5 Minutes and Penny-Punching Princess being announced for the localization.
But Your Four Knight Princess Training Story is the first new game to be announced for the system in Japan, which shows how they weren’t kidding when they claimed Switch would be one of NIS’ main platforms in the future, joining PS4 and Vita. This is remarkable because NIS has a history of sticking to Sony platforms while providing only scraps for Nintendo systems, but now, Switch should receive a nearly-equal amount of support from them.
You’ll get the opportunity to experience Your Four Knight Princess Training Story on January 25th for PS4, Switch, and Vita, assuming you understand Japanese. NIS America is currently backlogged, as note how The Longest Five Minutes isn’t releasing in western territories until early next year despite hitting Japan in July of 2016, but this newest title should come sometime next year.