Eternal Sonata (Namco Bandai / tri-Crescendo - 360)
Release Date: September 17, 2007
Same Time As: Blue Dragon (360), Mass Effect (360), Lost Odyssey (360)
Why it should succeed: Something about Eternal Sonata captures the imagination like no other RPG on the 360. Perhaps it's the game's visuals - crisp, vibrant and lush with detail. The screen seems to explode with color if viewed after the usual dark and dreary Xbox fare. Or maybe it's the deep combat system, which can transform based on unusual factors like time and shadow.
The strangely wonderful story, which pulls you into the dreams of a dying man, could also be why. We're not sure whether the experience will be beautiful, surreal or bittersweet, but we're betting it's memorable. And since the man is a youthful version of the composer Chopin, the music will be as well.
Why it probably won't: For nearly two years, Microsoft's console has been absolutely starved for RPGs - or at least good RPGs. During that drought, a gorgeous Japanese-style epic like Eternal Sonata would have been embraced and celebrated.
This fall, though, it'll have to join the queue. If Blue Dragon steals the traditional JRPG fans in August and Mass Effect takes everyone else in November, what audience will be left for Eternal Sonata in September? With each promising huge, hours-long quests, playing all three before the end of 2007 isn't an option. And early 2008 offers no respite, either; that's when Lost Odyssey arrives.
Who knew a day would come when there would be too many RPGs to play on the Xbox 360?