story.jpgAsmik Ace has announced that the latest in their series of forward-pushing SRPG series will be released this winter for the PS2. Entitled Tensho Gakuen: Chronicles of Moonlight (Japanese link, click on the white sidebar for a very cute announcement animation!) is a sequel to the spin-off from the main series, Majin Gakuen. (The difference between the two splinters is that Tensho Gakuen takes place in modern day, while Majin Gakuen takes place in the Edo period.)

Both series revolve around people in Japan interacting with spirits and gods, Majin with warriors who communicate with the gods, and Tensho with schools that train practitioners to maintain the balance of a spirit world. Thus, while the whole series feels a little reminiscent of Shin Megami Tensei, Tensho Gakuen titles have a feel similar to Atlus' Persona series, and this latest will take place five years after the first Tensho game, and will apparently interact with save data from the first game. Since its appearance in the late PSOne age, the Gakuen titles have earned a considerable amount of support and praise from hardcore fans.

These games are noted for one feature in particular -- when talking to people, the usual dialogue selection choices are given, but there's also a different dialogue system in place. Two circles with four emotions or approaches, each represented by an icon appear to have you respond to the character, things like worry, comradery, friendship, love, anger, coldness and so on. In later games, as you tend toward certain responses, the icons change to reflect your personality -- coldness may change to cruelty or heartlessnes for instance.

Previous titles have worked in a lot of gameplay changes and storyline branches into this system and there's no reason to expect Tensho Gakuen will be any different-- the details we have for a start reveal that the series' habit of splitting up gameplay into the usual dialogue scenes ---> battle are still there, with the third mode being a Valkyrie Profile-esque map of the school of with limited time blocks consumed by different activities and conversations with different people, that once eroded, move you onto the next chapter.

Tensho Gakuen will most likely have refinements in its considerable SRPG engine as well--already the graphics look heavily improved over earlier titles and are more isometric a la Tactics Ogre than the series' standard Fire Emblem style--but these, as yet, have not been revealed.