Square Enix announce new JRPG: Project Prelude Rune

Square Enix have announced a new RPG, currently known as Project Prelude Rune [official site], and a new Japanese studio to make it called Studio Istolia. The studio is being led by Hideo Baba, who previously worked at Namco Bandai on the Tales series. There are only a few details so far and a few pieces of concept art, which you can see below.

Here’s the concept art, which confirms: yes, it’s a JRPG.

I do like that second image, though. If the world turns out to be as vertical as that suggests and offers interesting ways to traverse a world of giant flowers, then I’d be pretty excited. Unfortunately the news release offers no further specific information, saying only that the story is set “across a vast land teeming with life” and that, “Nurtured by the earth, the many peoples of this land dare to dream, fighting for what is just—and this is their tale.” To which I say: we get it, it’s a JRPG.

There’s no mention of platforms yet, but Square Enix have recently been bringing most of their games to PC. For example, last year they released I Am Setsuna, another JRPG created by another newly founded Tokyo-based game studio. Let’s hope they repeat the pattern here.

The latest entry in the Hideo Baba’s Tales series, Tales of Berseria, also came out just a few weeks ago and was released on PC. You can read our review here, in which we praise its characters and combat but lament the costume design and the hours of what feels like padding.

Of course, all I hear when I hear Hideo Baba is…

Ta to Gamer for spread this concept art.


  1. int says:

    I didn’t know Queen were in Metropolis. Maria doesn’t look quite as good with a mustache.

  2. sonofsanta says:

    Heels and an easily-stained white dress seem very inappropriate for travelling any sort of distance at all.

  3. Seafoam says:

    Hmmm, the thing about concept art is that the actual game never lives up to it. Like look at Skyrim or Fallout concept arts, they all show so much promise, yet the actual environments are quite bland in retrospective.
    Sometimes the concept art doesnt even get used. One day I want to see a game that truly lives up to it’s concept art, one day.

    • Seafoam says:

      After thinking about it, by concept art I mean stuff like this that gets released to the public to generate hype. Not the piles and piles of designs that never see the light of day. Important distinction.

      • Rizlar says:

        I think it all serves the same purpose though, it’s all just stuff that is meant to inform the final game design. Something to be inspired by and to copy lots of details from rather than translate directly into a game level.

        That said, I’m sure there are games that do feel like they live up to the concept art. Something with a huge budget maybe.

        Kind of unrelated but I’ve been playing GW2 again recently and it has some eye-boggling spectacles and incredible area design that feels very keyed in to the style and tone of concept art/loading screens while being very obviously different. The fight scene drawing in this article is really nice, it’s got that loose expressive feel of traditional media being done really well and seems reminiscent of the original Final Fantasy concept art.

  4. fray_bentos says:

    I’m holding out for the inevitable Project Prelude: Rune XVIII-2 Remake

  5. warkwark says:

    I have a question only tangentially related to this game. Maybe someone can answer it.

    This is by far not the worst or oddest Japanese game name, but it does have a little bit of that patented Japanese random-word-generator quality to it. This makes me wonder why Japanese titles are so consistently bizarrely named.

    Bravely Default. Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together. Guilty Gear. Kingdom Hearts. You’ve probably got used to some of the more popular ones, so you no longer see how nonsensical they are. But they are nonsensical . And I could write paragraphs of these.

    So my question is this: In this age of video games as a multi billion dollar industry, where there are dozens of dedicated localization shops that do nothing but translate and dub games, and edit the bits that would be considered offensive or confusing, how does this keep happening? Part of localization is picking words that make sense. You don’t just use the literal translation of each and every word. Obviously that is not happening in the main body of games. If it was, we’d never understand a thing; we’d be completely lost in a sea of regional Japanese references. So what is it about the titles that apparently *demands* total absurdity?

    • EMI says:

      Just to briefly pick on one of the examples, but Tactics Ogre and all it’s related titles are all Queen song names. The original title was an… rtsish game called Ogre Battle (which is a Queen song). The sequel ended up taking the same setting and making a tactics game out of it (as in final fantasy tactics), so it was named tactics ogre: let us cling together (the subtitle being another queen song)

      But you’re perfectly right about the other names. And that’s because these are the actual names of these games in Japan. So Kingdom Hearts is Kingudamu Hātsu, and Bravely Default is similar. The short explanation of this is that a lot of devs just think English sounding hodgepodges sound cool, not too dissimilar to how we like using latin to sound cool, despite not taking into account how those things would sound to a native latin speaker (which doesn’t really exist anymore).

      I’m actually having a hard time thinking of a JRPG that isn’t just a Japanese rendering of English words. I guess the Persona parent series, is a weird one, in that it actually comes here as Shin Megami Tensei, fully untranslated. Disgaea? That’s a nonsense rendering in both languages. The only time I can think of a translation is secret of mana, which in Japanese is Legend of the Sacred Sword. Or Earthbound, which is Mother in Japan.

    • MikhailG says:

      Another thing you should remember is branding. If a game goes big in japan and we hear about it here with a name like for example Final Fantasy, a lot of regular joes will be confused when it gets released here as “Last Adventure”. I can already imagine them in the store going “No I don’t want this adventure game my daughter wanted final fantasy.” Also branding is a big deal to companies.
      Its titles anyway I don’t see a big deal. Honestly I am more miffed when they try to hodgepodge erase any trace of the games legacy like how the numbering never makes sense between the two countries (I am looking at you The Legend of Heroes)

    • warkwark says:

      Thanks to both of you, those were interesting replies.

      I actually didn’t know about the Queen song. Funny how many ’70s rock bands totally geeked it up with Tolkien (and in this case, general fantasy) references. I knew about Zeppelin’s “darkest depths of Mordor”, etc., but not this one.

      And yeah, I had forgotten about the (to me, bizarre) tendency of the Japanese to use English words with an “ooo” sound tacked on the end. (Ya didn’t have a native word for “pink”? So it had to be “pinku”? Really??)

      (And BTW I’m not angry about this! I’m just genuinely baffled sometimes, and wonder about the dynamics that lead to these names.)

      • EMI says:

        It isn’t a tendency, it’s literally a restriction on the way Japanese phonotactics work. Most acceptable syllables in Japanese dialects work in a few possible combinations: V, Vn, CV, CVn. (C consonant, V vowel, n a nasal). So pink, cannot be rendered as pink, because it doesn’t fall into one of the acceptable templates (it being CVnC). To fix it, most Japanese speakers would add a vowel at the end so that it becomes a combination of a CVn+CV templates.

        This gets more interesting when you look at how consonant clusters get re-interpreted. So strike in English (which is CCCVC) gets rendered as sutoraiko (or CV+CV+CV+V+CV). Why is this the case? That’s a historical question beyond my knowledge, but Japanese is not special in this way, and many languages have even stronger restrictions on what their syllables look like.

        Source: Is PhD student in East Asian linguistics.

        • warkwark says:

          I’ve learned a few things here. Thanks for that.

          I did assume “ooo” sounds were in accordance with some such rule, though I didn’t know the details. The part that stood out to me, actually, was the sheer number of English words that seem to have been adapted in this way. One expects a language to adopt a certain number of words from other languages, but often these are restricted to things like new technology (for which the language doesn’t have its own traditional words, as the technology didn’t exist when the language was developed), or concepts that are lifted whole-cloth from another culture, and which have no real equivalent, at least traditionally, in the native language’s culture. But things like “pinku” surprise me. As in: you have cherry blossoms, yes? So presumably the color pink isn’t a new concept?

          I realize that part of it is the “coolness” effect mentioned above. Sort of like westerners with tattoos of cool-looking Asian characters, which presumably say things like “Awesome volcano bravery” and “Dragon fate devotion”. Or, if the tattoo artist is particularly mean, something much, much worse.

          • EMI says:

            The color pink can be a new concept, in fact. There’s a bit of shit linguistics called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. It states that language determines how you think or conceptualize things. This has been largely rejected, but what does exist is weaker form, that says that language can affect conceptualization. The classic example of this is that Russians are slightly able to determine shades of blue than English speakers are, since they have hardline categorization for different types of blue. Of course, if an English speaker is given sufficient training with distinguishing a sky blue from a baby blue, they’ll achieve the same rates.

            Now in Japanese, as it turns out, there are some cases where colors are conceptualized differently. For example, green is considered a shade of blue, and usage of green as a separate distinguishing color wasn’t really common for a long time (and it’s not like they weren’t surrounding by tons of greenery for millennia).

            Now Japanese do have a color word for pink, but it’s usually described by the object. Like momoiro is a type of pink that is close to peaches, and sakurairo is a type of color that cherry blossoms are. And so pink is adopted because there’s no real close shade to that.

            Now modern (especially tokyo dialect) does have a tendency to take English words all over the place, because it’s cool. It makes sense to describe things that are the product of the west (calling a computer a ‘pasokom’ for personal computer, or dorama to describe a tv drama), but this is extended to all kinds of things that predate western intervention in a big way. So toilet is toire, hips is hippu, and revenge is ribengi.

            This actually seems to be directly related to US’s influence in a given place. And you can see this contrast with Taiwan vs Mainland China, the latter goes through all kinds of hoops to come up with unique chinese names for things, whereas Taiwan is content to borrow a lot of the words directly.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            EMI You’ve produced the best posts I’ve seen on the internet for yonks. Thanks!

  6. Skandranon says:

    Oh hey, a new desktop background.