XSEED was more or less responsible for keeping the PSP alive in the United States over the past few years. Between 2010 and 2011, Sony themselves only published twelve games for the PSP. XSEED meanwhile nearly matched that over the same period, releasing spectacular curios like Half-Minute Hero and Corpse Party along the way. Like Sony though XSEED has moved on to bigger and better things in the PlayStation Vita. The niche publisher has announced two Vita games it’s localizing for the U.S., both of which are worthy of attention.
The first of XSEED’s new projects is Ogarhythm. First announced in Japan back at the end of March, Ogarhythm is the first game from Tak Hirai’s studio Neilo. Hirai isn’t a household name even in his native Japan but he should be. The guy has worked on some of Sega’s best games. He was the lead programmer on Sega’s ambitious epic Shenmue and was a long-time member of Tetsuya Miziguchi’s Q Entertainment team, with whom he worked on Space Channel 5 and Rez. Ogarhythm has some of the DNA of those games, since Hirai describes it as a strategy rhythm game that is difficult to understand. When he first announced it, Hirai said his own studio was confused by the concept. Nothing like a dollop of aggressively weird rhythm play to spice up the Vita’s anemic library.
As co-owner of the copyright on Ogarhythm though—it shares rights with Japanese publisher Acquire, makers of XSEED’s first downloadable Vita game Sumioni—it isn’t surprising that XSEED is bringing the game to the U.S. More surprising is the announcement that XSEED is publishing Ragnarok Odyssey.
Part solo action RPG, part multiplayer brawler adventure in the vein of Capcom’s Monster Hunter, Ragnarok Odyssey distinguishes itself trough its pedigree; The game was made by Game Arts, the studio behind some of the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn-era’s best role-playing games. Game Arts is behind games like Lunar: Silver Star Story and Grandia, obscure titles at this point, but great ones nonetheless. Ragnarok Odyssey was developed alongside GungHo Entertainment, creators of the popular Ragnarok Online MMO, but Odyssey has a bit more of Game Arts old console game style in it than the typical GungHo title.
XSEED’s announcement couldn’t come at a better time for Vita. Releases have slowed to a trickle and original content is scarce on the horizon. Sony needs some new blood on its machine if it’s going to survive its first year without a Nintendo 3DS-style price drop.