MMO on the go?

Out in Japan since December of last year, it seemed extremely unlikely that the co-operative hack-and-slash RPG Ragnarok Online DS would ever see an international release. Thankfully for North American gamers, XSEED Games have just announced plans via press release to localise and release the game later in the year. Read on:

*XSEED Games today announced that Ragnarok Online DS for the Nintendo DS is in development and scheduled for release in North America in winter 2009. Ragnarok Online DS brings the same addictive gameplay of customization and exploration that has more than 3.14 million North American registered users as of May 11, 2009, for the PC version to the Nintendo DS platform.

Throughout the world, the people of the major powers throughout the land live in peace and prosperity, unaware that a great evil lurks on the horizon. There is a clandestine group, under the guise of scholarly research, plotting to resurrect a goddess whose time has long since passed. To achieve this goal, they need two things; a vessel of flesh and blood to house the spirit of the goddess and the lives of every living being offered up as a sacrifice.

It is against the backdrop of this coming chaos that Ares, an orphan from a small, forgotten village, sets out to seek his fortune as an adventurer. At the start of his journey, he encounters a beautiful young girl with mysterious powers named Sierra, who has not only lost her memories about herself, but also of the world around her. Together, they embark on an adventure that will ultimately decide the fate of the entire world.

”We could not be more pleased to be involved in bringing such a well-known and beloved series on the PC to a handheld platform,” said Jun Iwasaki, President of XSEED Games. “Ragnarok Online DS stays true to the original while adding elements to optimize the experience on the Nintendo DS.”

In Ragnarok Online DS, players upgrade their character’s armor and weapons by either taking them to a blacksmith to be refined, or by affixing effect cards dropped by defeated monsters. In addition to having their characters’ base levels increase, each character earns both Status and Skill Points each time they gain a level. These points can then be used by the player to customize their characters to best suit their playing style, choosing from a number of different job classes such as Swordsman, Thief, and Merchant.

Staying true to the community and teamwork that the original is based on, Ragnarok Online DS allows players to team up with two other friends wirelessly to take on the Tower of Mirages, which has more than 50 floors, randomly generated maps and completion conditions, and the chance to obtain rare items. Ragnarok Online DS offers current players of Ragnarok Online a chance to enjoy the same world and addictive gameplay on a portable platform, while people new to the series will enjoy the original epic storyline within an experience optimized for a handheld.

XSEED Games has partnered with GungHo to secure the North American rights to publish and distribute Ragnarok Online DS. This title is being developed by GungHo and will be available during winter 2009 exclusively for the DS. *

Bear in mind that Ragnarok Online DS is not an MMO like its older brother on PC, but rather a co-operative dungeon-crawler with online play in the same vein as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes Of Time or Phantasy Star Zero. Interestingly enough, the proposed "winter 2009" release schedule for Ragnarok Online DS would put it in direct competition with Phantasy Star Zero for gamers' attentions. It never rains, but it's definitely starting to pour, isn't it?

Expect more news, impressions and updates on Ragnarok Online DS here at Nintendo Life as it comes to hand.