NIS America is well known for producing niche titles that may not be financial blockbusters, but still cater to the small crowd of RPG loyalists. Well, this is great and all, but as the approach doesn't rake in big bucks, NIS announced last month they'd be shifting their focus. They're looking to approach a more casual audience in the future, which is probably good news for the rest of the gaming world. However, this doesn't mean they'll stop making those niche titles entirely…

Case in point- NIS has announced Mana Khemia ( Alchemists of Al-Revis ) for the PS2, which most certainly qualifies as "niche." It is scheduled to arrive here on March 18, and NIS describes it as a "spiritual sequel" to the Atelier Iris series. They also call it a "campus sim RPG," where players will control both students and teachers in a university environment, working to complete "academic quests." This reminds us of a few recent RPG titles on the PS2, including GrimGrimoire and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 . The latter actually had you attend class and interact with your peers; the effects of which would have a direct impact on your battle capabilities. Could we be looking at something similar with Alchemists of Al-Revis ?

Well, we won't have too long to wait, and we're glad to see NIS hasn't abandoned its roots just yet. We also wonder what "casual" titles the developers are currently working on…whenever we find out, we'll be sure to let everyone know.

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