NIS America threw us a curve ball last month when it announced its intentions to make a name for itself as a gentler, more casual publisher, a stark contrast to the studio's decidedly niche role-playing roots. Thankfully, like a distant relative returning home for the holidays, the company has not forgotten where it comes from, as NIS has announced plans to bring yet another Japanese-style RPG to the PS2 early next year with Mana Khemia ~Alchemists of Al-Revis~.
Set for release on March 18, NIS describes the game as a "spiritual sequel" to the Gust-developed Atelier Iris series of strategy RPGs -- something of an unknown quantity here in the US despite it having garnered a considerable following in Japan since the late-90s. NIS also calls Mana Khemia a "campus sim style RPG" in which players play as both teachers and students in order to complete "academic quests." Reading this, we can't help but be reminded of last June's GrimGrimoire, also published by NIS and one of the best titles this year that nobody played, though honestly we're just thrilled knowing that we'll still having something new to look forward to playing on the never-say-die console well into the first quarter of 2008.