XSEEDing Atlus (and other niche game companies)

In honor of Solatorobo being released this week, I thought I’d write a blog about the publishers of that game, XSEED, and how they surpassed Atlus as my favorite niche game company. Now, I’m not bashing Atlus in any way, they’re still a great company and all. And they’re publishing an upcoming game I’m looking forward to (the next KOF game). But recently, XSEED has been releasing a wider variety of games that interest me more, so I thought I’d feature some of those games in this blog.

I know that as a game reviewer, it’s important not to have a bias toward any one company. But to me, the most important aspect of a game reviewer is honesty. And I will be honest with you all. I am a human being and I do have favorites when it comes to games and who releases them. We all do. It’s pretty obvious that I like big companies like Namco and Nintendo. But I also like smaller, quirky games so I’m thankful that there are niche companies out there like Aksys, Atlus, and XSEED who publish those kinds of games, too. Used to, Atlus was my favorite niche company. But lately, they are focusing more on releasing games in the Persona series, and other, similar styles of games like Catherine. And that’s fine and all, but they’re just not my cup of tea. However, XSEED has kind of filled that void that Atlus left with a wide variety of games they’ve released, so here are some of XSEED’s games that have really made an impact on my in the past few years.

Retro Game Challenge

I think this was the first XSEED game I ever bought. I was so glad they localized this game, as it was originally a Japanese game based on a TV show where a comedian played hard retro games with funny results. The game gives you six made-up retro titles to play and take on challenges with. There’s a Galaga clone, a couple of 2-D platformers that remind me a bit of Mappy mixed with Bubble Bobble, a top down racer, an old school RPG, vertically scrolling shooter, and the finale was a game mix of Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden. Not only did the games capture the feel of retro gaming, the whole outside experience did, too. In the game, you played as a friend watched you, which is how I always played games on the NES. And you got codes and tips from fictional magazines, not the Internet, just how we did back then, too.

I liked the game so much, that I imported the sequel, even though I don’t know a lick of Japanese. It’s too bad that XSEED didn’t bring the sequel over, but I can kind of understand since the first one didn’t sell too well (if you didn’t buy it, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT). Plus, one of the games was a text adventure, which wouldn’t translate too well for US audiences I’m sure. But the rest of the games in the sequel were great. You had a Pac-Man clone, a Super Mario Bros. rip-off with elements of Adventure Island and Ghosts N Goblins in it, another shooter, a karate game, a sequel to the RPG from the first one, a Tetris wannabe, and the finale was a Super Nintendo-like version of the 2-D platformer on this collection.

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

This was an entry level RPG for young players. It had surprisingly good graphics for the DS, too. When this was released, I had a friend at work at the time who loved games and was a big Oz fan. So when I told her about this game, she went out and bought it that very night! Hey, I wonder if XSEED should give me commission for that. Ha ha! Just joking!

Half-Minute Hero

It quickly became one of my top favorite PSP games. It’s really an action game cleverly disguised as an 8-bit RPG. I love the retro style, too. Very creative as you must complete each quest in 30 seconds! There’s a version of this on Xbox LIVE, but it lacked the charming visuals of the PSP game, so I never got into it. There’s a sequel to this game in Japan, I wonder if XSEED has taken a look at it yet?

Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

This was a Wii game based on a recent anime movie, and it was made by the same team who did Ace Combat. So if you ever wanted to play an Ace Combat game on your Wii, this is as close as you’ll get. The game is actually better than the anime, too. The game came out right about the time we first got Netflix, so the anime was one of the first things I rented. And the anime was SOOOOO BORING!

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony

I’m glad XSEED released this PSP remake as I never played the original Lunar before. I never had a Sega CD and when it came out for PSOne, I never got it as I was a poor college student then. But it’s certainly a nice RPG.

Ragnarok DS

I don’t think this one sold too well for XSEED. But then, why would anyone want to play a non-online version of an online game on their DS, especially one that was already kind of old when this game was released. But I kind of liked it as it reminded me of Secret of Mana, and the character designs were neat.


With my musical background of seven years in school band and even more of piano lessons, I thought I could review this game. Turns out it was way more complicated than I thought! I hear it’s kind of a rare game now, though.

Fragile Dreams

Probably one of the weirdest Wii games I’ve ever played. It’s best described as a Japanese version of Fallout 3. I didn’t like how they handled item management, though. And your weapons could break, so if you were in a tough section when that happened, you were screwed. Plus, the merchant with the giant chicken head was creepy. It did have a lot of ghosts, though, and I do like ghosts.

Samurai Shodown Sen

Not the best 3-D fighter in the world, but I liked the Okami art style and the characters. And I found it on sale for ten bucks. Like the other Samurai Shodown games, it was a little more violent. Kind of disturbing to see cute little characters like Rimururu get sliced in half. Blech! I’m glad niche companies like XSEED and Altus are bringing SNK’s stuff over here, too, as I’m also a pretty big SNK fan, too.

Ys Seven

Quickly becoming one of my top five favorites on the PSP, Ys Seven is like a fast paced version of Secret of Mana. And it has one of the best RPG soundtracks since, well, Tales of Legendia and FF6. If it weren’t for WarioWare D.I.Y., Ys Seven probably would’ve been my Game of the Year in 2010. XSEED also released two other Ys games last year on PSP: Oath in Felghana and Ys Books 1 and 2. But strangely I didn’t get into them as much as Ys Seven. Which is weird because I really got into the version of Ys Books 1 and 2 that came out on DS a while earlier. And you know who published the DS version? Atlus.  I hope someone publishes the next Ys game in the US.  It was announced to be on the PS Vita, and is the first Vita game that sounds interesting to me.

Ivy the Kiwi?

It’s an action puzzler on Wii and DS that’s a little bit like Lemmings or Kirby Canvas Curse. It was all right, but kind of hard, but I did like the earthy storybook graphics. It was also made by a team led by the creator of Sonic, but that really doesn’t make this game any better.

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls

Even though I didn’t really get into RPGs until the 16-bit days, I do know about Wizardry’s legacy and history a bit. I questioned why XSEED would even release this PS3 download in the US, but after getting tons of comments from fans, I realized then why they did that. I even let one of the commenters review some Wizardry DLC a little later.

Grand Knights History

Before I talk about XSEED’s most recent release, I thought I’d mention they announced their next upcoming title for PSP. It’s made by VanilliaWare, who also did Odin Sphere (published by Atlus) and Muramasa. So I’ll be keeping my eye on this one since I really liked those others. I wonder if XSEED will publish another VanillaWare game coming out next year called Dragon’s Crown. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


This is XSEED’s most recent release, and probably one of the last great DS games. It’s a sequel to Tail Concerto, a 3-D platformer on the PSOne that I just adored. Tail Concerto came out in 1999, and it was such a rare game that I think it was one of my first online purchases when I was in college. In Tail Concerto, you play as Waffle, a dog person who lives in a world of cat and dog people. Waffle is a policeman who must stop the likable Black Cats Gang from stealing crystals that can awaken a giant beast. Waffle drives around a mech and mostly shoots bubbles to catch little kittens. Most would say it’s similar to Mega Man Legends, but to me, Tail Concerto reminded me of Mappy and Klonoa for some strange reason. The 3-D areas and great anime cutscenes really brought Tail Concerto’s world and characters to life. And you know who published the original game in the US? Atlus. So if it weren’t for them, XSEED might not have published Solatorobo at all.

I’ve been waiting almost 15 years for a Tail Concerto sequel, and now we have one. It’s now on the DS, and you play as Red, a dog who drives around a mech looking for odd jobs, and saving the world in the process. Even though the action is more about picking things up and throwing them, you can still tell this is a sequel to Tail Concerto. And characters from the first game show up every now and then, too. New characters are also fun. I like the fact that on XSEED’s Web site, they show what breed of cat or dog each character is based on, even though they don’t look anything like that breed. One of the characters is based on the Russian Blue cat, which is cool because I had a Russian Blue as a kid named Chekov and I taught him how to play fetch, open doors, and use the toilet instead of a litter box (really). I wonder if the character in the game will be as cool as my old cat was.

I guess my only complaint about Solatorobo so far is that I wish it was for the bigger consoles, as the small screen just doesn’t do it justice. I probably won’t do a full review of Solatorobo, because sometimes I just like to play a game for fun and not have to worry about writing a review, and I think I’ll be doing that with this one. But I am enjoying it so far! I had a hard time finding it in a store, though, so if you see it, I’d snag it right then and there!

And that’s all I feel like talking about XSEED’s games right now. There is one tiny thing about XSEED that has disappointed me slightly recently, but it’s such a minor thing I’m not even going to complain about it. But I’m glad niche companies like XSEED are around. I bet it’s hard for them now since a lot of game companies are cutting back, thanks to the lousy economy. So in the comments section, tell me your favorite XSEED games, and your favorite game companies. That’s all for now! Later! –Cary

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