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RPGs Go Handheld

Thursday, May 11, 2006, 12:24PM EST

Handhelds are going to get a lot of role-playing action this year.

For sheer quirkiness, Natsume's Harvest Moon DS deserves special note. The Nintendo DS title mixes farming with dating simulation elements. Here, players can milk cows, build their own farm, and then attempt to woo women—some of whom are witches, mermaids, or goddesses. Atlus' Contact for the Nintendo DS is similarly goofy, featuring a plot involving a videogame character known as You; real-time combat and lots of minigames revolving around cooking, fishing, monster hunting, and romance make up the bulk of play. "Contact is the rare breed of quirky RPG that attracts a rabid fan base with its whacked-out story, setting, and characters," Tomm Hulett, the game's project lead, says.

Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony, a 2K Games title for PSP, promises more standard RPG action. An all-new adventure based on the PC game series Dungeon Siege, Agony contains four playable character classes, and its multiplayer action allows for two players to combine forces—with each hero able to travel with one of 16-plus pets or companions. Deep Labyrinth, yet another Atlus title, promises to be the first three-dimensional RPG with real-time first-person combat for the Nintendo DS. In Labyrinth, players explore a series of mazes, and will confront monstrous enemies that take up both of the Nintendo DS' video screens.

Finally, die-hard RPG fans will no doubt rejoice that Square Enix is continuing to remake some of its Final Fantasy games for handheld consoles. Final Fantasy III will see release in North America for the first time on the Nintendo DS. Final Fantasies V and VI are slated for release on Nintendo's Game Boy Advance.

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