Saturday, March 31

GrimGrimoire: side-scrolling RTS

RTSs have been around for a long time. From WestWood's Dune, to Supreme Commander, the genre has made great strides in its development and complexity. However, the RTS can generally be broken into a "formula" that most all games in the genre adhere to. Leave it to Nippon Ichi then to break the mold. Nippon Ichi Software is the publishermost known for their slew of turn-based tactics games, including Disgea and Phantom Brave. Their games are considered by many to be rather innovative. NIS is now publishing a new RTS called GrimGrimoire for the PS2. The developer behind Grimoire is Vanillaware, which previously developed a game called Odin Sphere. Like the rest of NIS's titles, Grimoire is definitely innovative. Unlike any RTS I've ever heard of, GrimGrimoire is a side-scroller.

In GrimGrimoire, the player becomes Lillet Blan, a magic student at the Tower of the Silver Star magical academy. Five days into classes, the entire school is killed, except for Lillet. She instead falls into comotose, and when she awakens finds herself back at school day one. The goal is to discover the reason for the massacre and prevent it from occuring again. Like all other Nippon Ichi titles, Grimoire features a colorfully animated anime style, in this case, also potentially considered chibi. But what makes Grimoire so cool, is that its side-scrolling, and how the RTS gameplay accomodates for this. Players move around a hand cursor to select and order ghosts. The worry for a side-scrolling RTS, would be to order a bunch of minions over various levels and annoying blockades. However, Grimoire avoids this pitfall by allowing ghosts to pass through walls, floors, and objects. Now, I really like this. The game presents itself with a problem, that of terrain. But Vanillaware subsequently solves the problem in a clever and fitting way, by allowing units to pass through things otherwise considered obstacles.
In related news, apparently Nippon Ichi is now developing for Wii, which means we may soon be controlling GrimGrimoire with the signifcantly more convienient remote.

What other techniques would you emply to make an RTS work in a side-scrolling environment?
How do you think the fact that Grimoire is side-scrolling affects the issues of console RTS control, generally tackled with by games including Goblin Commander and Lord of the Rings Battle for Middle Earth II.


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