Yggdra Union is so hardcore that it's full genre description is six words long. We can't wait.
Yggdra Union. You're more than welcome to pronounce 'Yggdra' however you please, but I thought it would be important to explain, for the uninitiated in classic geekery, what exactly it is. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the "world tree," or a giant tree that all the planes of existence find themselves on. So, what exactly is Yggdrasil today? It's a word that the Japanese (or the whole of the localization community) just adore. Hence, Yggdrasil can be found in basically one out of every ten games sprouting from Japan. Well ... maybe not that many, but it has made an appearance in countless RPG tales, and Yggdra Union is yet another, although as you can obviously see, it's been slightly truncated.
Now, to even further confuse those who aren't comfortable with the slightly awkward title, get ready: Yggdra Union is a strategy card-battle role-playing game. What you say? That's too much for you to even comprehend? Fear not ladies and gentlemen, we'll break it down slowly. Yggdra Union seeks to merge the strategy RPG and card-battle genres together, in an effort that screams niche. It should go without saying that the only company daring enough to import this beast of a mish-mash is Atlus, and even that is most likely because of the positive opinion surrounding developer Sting's previous effort, Riviera: The Promised Land.
Expect something mostly different in Yggdra Union, considering not only will the game retool some aspects of gaming that many players are used to, but it will undoubtedly deliver those experiences in an anime inspired world reminiscent of Riviera, therefore at least leaving some semblance of familiarity for those versed in the genre. The battles within the game are also somewhat similar to those of other strategy titles like Advance Wars.
Only somewhat similar, because while the trend of most SRPG's has lately been to expand the map and fit as many characters in their grid based setting as possible, Yggdra Union decided somewhere along the line to flip that script, and instead limit the playing field to an outrageously small number of positions. We're talking something in the range of 12x12.
Within that small setting players will also not be able to move their characters, at least in a traditional sense. At the onset of battle, a selection of cards will be drawn that will represent the possible number of spaces characters can move. Each of these cards also has a number for an attack rating, and they can benefit characters in that manner as well. The rest of the mechanics within battle are just as unique, particularly a 'morale' gauge which for the most part replaces character death altogether.
The main character is a young boy name Milano who leads a group of bandits that eventually cross paths with Princess Yggdra, the character that the story revolves around. Not to mention, the outlet for which Yggdrasil could be snuck into this release. Expect the other similar RPG storyline elements to make their appearances within Yggdra Union as well. We're betting on Kingdom (insert fantasy name), a magic sword, and some invading force. Actually, we're not betting at all, those are all included within the game, but don't fret, just think of them as your favorite dish being served one more time.
There are a bounty of details about Yggdra Union that still haven't made themselves known, yet as far as we've seen, we can say undoubtedly that there is promise in this release. Promise lies specifically in the entire battle system: maps, menus, cutscenes and all, are just outrageously cluttered. Wait, isn't that a bad thing? No! That is just proof that Yggdra Union is made for a particular fanbase, the hardcore. This game is probably going to be one of the last unique titles the GBA sees in America, and players should keep this one on their Holiday wishlist if they're pining to send the GBA off right and proper.
Also, just as an aside, note the Wikipedia entry for Yggdra appearences in videogames.. We weren't lying.