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For the Birds: The CoNcast Episode 26


Podcast
Man, it's been a long time since we did a CoNcast. It can be hard to get folks together when there's so much going - work, gaming, laziness...

Well, anyway, here's a new one. We went the weird angle again, and Tiddles and I decided to blow a day and a CoNcast on Twitch-streaming a big chunk of the preeminent dating sim video game featuring birds, Hatoful Boyfriend.

Not familiar with this gem of a game? What, are you nuts? Bird-brained?! Well, here: learn more about why this is so appealing.

Also, check out this collection of weirdo stuff and try to trace all the ways we're able to struggle to connect other games and media to this incredibly odd experience. And, if not being able to see it yourself doesn't do the job for you, watch the extended experience on Twitch. Or, well, watch it when we figure out how to resurrect the thing since I forgot to store it.

We are on a roll around here.


Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes, This Episode
Posted in: CoNcasts

FFXV News Review: A Tale of Two Directors


Final Fantasy XV
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... actually, that's about right. There's been a lot of FFXV news about in the last week or so, and some of it quite big;now that the dust has cleared, here's where we stand.

The biggest change is that Tetsuya Nomura has been replaced by Hajime Tabata as head director. This came as a surprise to just about everyone, even the folks over at Famitsu. The two had been co-directors since 2012, but the project had been Nomura's baby since the beginning; Tabata was only added to begin with in order to keep the company's PS4 projects (he was and continues to lead work on Type-0) on the same page.

Depending on which source you believe, this change varies greatly in significance. For Kotaku, Tabata is 'the man who saved FFXV,' but though the change was indeed sudden and unexpected, the real story is probably less drastic (but also thereby less click-bait-y). Nomura has always been more on the design and outline side of things (we are told he will now be able to focus primarily on Kingdom Hearts III, as well as a couple projects in early development), so his replacement may just be a case of playing to personal strengths. All the same, Nomura has been silent on the change, and it would be very difficult to not see a Hand of Judgment in his reassignment.

Tabata assured Famitsu that, while the product that will ultimately emerge as FFXV is different from the project conceived of as FF Versus XIII even as recently as 2012, there is a continuity of vision between Nomura's work and his own. While character design and combat type are prominent examples, another key continuity is that of overall plot vision. The earliest trailers for FF Versus XIII quoted Shakespeare and promised a 'fantasy based on reality'; Tabata told Siliconera that he has become interested in engineering a historical feel in his work with Type-0 and FFXV, something which he hopes to approach more explicitly in future projects.

A demo for FFXV, featuring the subtitle Episode Duscae, will be included in the release of Type-0 HD, which will be available next year on March 17th in the US and March 20th in Europe. The specifics are still vague, but the demo is reported to contain about four hours of exploration, and Tabata has made it clear that he is working hard to ensure that it will please. There has been no hint regarding the release of the full title.

The game, Tabata said in an interview with 4Gamer, is around 55% completed. This is admittedly a disappointment: yes, development had to be restarted from scratch when the decision was made to switch to PS4, but that was some three years ago. He is acutely aware, as several interviews show, of the high stakes - not only for producing a flagship, console Final Fantasy title but for one that has already had so much time and money invested in it.

Part of the new direction that Tabata's director-ship has indicated is that he wants this game to feel 'casual.' This will be evident both in the party dynamic - the protagonist's car will be a mainstay and he hopes to create the feel of a 'road movie' - as well as the combat engine, which Tabata hopes to streamline. These aspects, he believes, will make the game approachable despite its size, as well as appealing to the aging demographic (THAT'S YOU JOSH) that originally played Final Fantasy games.

There's a bit of heat, as one might expect, coming from the Kotaku Justice Pulpit and directed at the fact that the main playable characters will all be male. While this fits with what we've seen in trailers from the very beginning, it is a bit unusual given the series' strong history of female protagonists (and with mostly realistic clothing / breast sizes, at that). It is the hope of this writer that, unless informed of some malign intent on the part of Square Enix, we can just infer that the team is looking to create a specific vibe in this game rather than initiating a project to finally rid the world of all women.

But hey, if you disagree, let the world know thine fury via comment!

Source: Siliconera, Kotaku, Siliconera
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square Enix Go Mad for Steam


Steam
A while back, a wise newsposter said that the Final Fantasy III PC release could be a precursor to Final Fantasy IV. That handsome fellow was right, as the game showed up on Steam yesterday at the same $16 price point of FF3.

Not only that, there was another surprise today, when Final Fantasy XIII showed up as well at the same price point but on sale for 10% off as of this writing. Say what you will about Final Fantasy XIII (and so will I - I got sucked in after about ten hours and absolutely adore it), but the Steam version is as of right now the top selling game on Steam, and it doesn't even release for another two and a half weeks.

2014 could be the start of a very good run for Final Fantasy fans who are also PC gamers, as the two XIII sequels are also confirmed to arrive by early next year. Type-0 HD is even coming to Steam next March!

The timing of these releases and announcements is clearly tied to Tokyo Game Show, and there is a lot more news from Squenix this week. These two games are on sale right now and that puts them to the top of the queue, though, so keep an eye out for another recap in this space soon.

Source: Kotaku

Distant Worlds Updates for Fall 2014


Distant Worlds
Active readers of CoN news (and of course, Distant Worlds fans) will already know that there's one more show coming in North America in 2014: Toronto, December 6. That show will be conducted by Arnie Roth, and will feature regular contributor Susan Calloway as a vocalist. Uematsu will be in attendance as well.

With the upcoming list getting thin, it's about time for some new shows to get announced for 2015, and that list is here! On January 31, the team will do two shows in New Jersey, at the Performing Arts Center in Newark. There will be a matinee and an evening show on the same day, and VIP tickets are available that include meet and greet packages. Not only will these shows include Roth, Uematsu and Calloway, they will also feature the first North American performances by Rikki, the original vocalist for Suteki Da Ne from Final Fantasy X. Tickets are on sale now.

In May of 2015, the series returns to St. Louis, Missouri for shows on the 15th and 16th. Uematsu won't be there, but Roth and Calloway will be performing and the composer for Final Fantasy XI, Naoshi Mizuta will be in attendance for the first time. The program will be changed up somewhat, bringing back the Final Fantasy VI character medley first performed for the 20th Anniversary show and two new arrangements from Lightning Returns and Final Fantasy VII. In addition, each show will have two other new additions to the program; the first will add in new Final Fantasy X and XIV music, and the second will add in Eyes on Me and Melodies of Life. These tickets are also on sale now.

The spinoff series from Distant Worlds, covered in our last post, has wrapped up its live performances in America for now, and has just two more upcoming - one in London on Halloween, and one in Paris on November 30th (tickets available now). However, a recording from a previous London performance is coming soon for purchase. It's described as "over sixty minutes of music and a virtually all-new repertoire" performed by a much smaller chamber orchestra. It seems like a digital performance is already available to buy from Bandcamp for a minimum $9.99 purchase, but there's no indication as to what will be different about the new release or whether it will be available only digitally or also on physical media.

Source: Distant Worlds, A New World

Assorted Newses: Type-0, Bravely 2, Dragon Quest


Square Enix
Square Enix has been active lately, which is surprising given how close we are to the Tokyo Game Show, at which the company traditionally has a pretty strong showing. Here are the highlights of the past few days, pertaining to several titles.

Type-0 HD was announced for PS4 and Xbox One back at E3, but now we've gotten a bit more context thanks to an interview with the title's director, Hajime Tabata. The title, originally for PSP and as-yet unreleased in the west, has apparently been in development on these systems since 2012, before the consoles were yet detailed to the public. As such, the process of HD-ifying Type-0 has been treated as a sort of trial run for the company on the new systems for later projects, with many of the developers moving from work on Type-0 over to Final Fantasy XV. Tabata further insists that since the game will be an all-out refurbishment of the original, he wanted to make use of the best systems available.

We learned from a trailer about a week ago that the upcoming Theatrythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call would have at least one tune from Type-0. That's what we call buildup.

There's a tiny bit more Bravely Second news courtesy of the recent Square Enix Presents Japan episode. The game will feature new jobs as well as returning ones from Bravely Default. Re-iterating what has been heard before, the folks in the episode promised that this sequel will focus on story over exploration, but that through plot the world of Luxendarc will be expanded in terms of both lore and geography. Bravely Second should get a fair bit of showing at TGS, including a playable demo with combat. We have also learned that the title is set for a winter release in Japan.

Finally, as part of the whole batch of Sony news , Square Enix announced Dragon Quest Heroes, to be developed by Omega Force, the studio behind the Dynasty Warriors and, recently, Hyrule Warrriors titles. Accordingly, this will not be a main series title; instead, it'll be in the hack-'n-slash the studio's other products. The game has an original cast of characters, but in the announcement trailer you can see a couple classic attacks from the series as well as several characters from earlier titles DQ4 and DQ6. How these series cameos feature has yet to be announced.

Source: Siliconera, Siliconera, IGN
Posted in: Square-Enix News

A Big Week in Final Fantasy Explorers News


General Final Fantasy
We haven't talked about Final Fantasy Explorers since it was first introduced in June, and with a big batch of recently released interviews and clips we now know much more about what the game will be.

In case you've forgotten, Final Fantasy Explorers is an MMO monster hunting game (yes, think Monster Hunter) that features gameplay elements characteristic of the Final Fantasy series.

These include a recently-announced Trance system somewhat akin to that of Final Fantasy IX, a swath of famous weapons and armors from throughout the series (in fact, the game is reported to have over 500 pieces of equipment, which are created with raw materials obtained from battle), and major enemies and summons from the series who will serve as the marks players will hunt (Shiva and Ifrit have been featured in trailers, unsurprisingly, but less recent series mainstays have been confirmed as well, like Fenrir and Ramuh). Crystals are involved as well, as the things players are trying to obtain by defeating marks.

The most notable traditionally-FF element of the game is a combat system structured around jobs. Those announced so far include the Ranger, Paladin, Freelancer, Black Mage, Time Mage, Ninja, Knight, White Mage, and Monk. While developers have promised that the job structure and acquisition of abilities from other jobs won't be as rigid as in previous games, a recently announced aspect of combat, Resonance, will encourage players to use their job's abilities to work together in order to boost damage output, healing effectiveness, and other stats.

The biggest question right now is: will we see Final Fantasy Explorers in the west? A Japanese release date on the 3DS has been scheduled for December 18, but nothing has been said officially for other markets. While the name "Final Fantasy Explorers" has been trademarked in the US, Square Enix has been hesitant with exporting multiplayer titles designed for handheld devices, leaving it as yet uncertain whether European and North American audiences will get a chance to play it.

Source: Siliconera, Kotaku
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square Enix Update: Prepare for Updation


Square Enix
First off, Square Enix is bringing the MMO Dragon Quest X to the 3DS in Japan in September, adding this incarnation to PC and Wii versions. As yet unreleased outside Japan, Nintendo has in the past said that the series is unmarketable to the West... sorry, DQ fans (if you're out there).

More relevantly, Square Enix has also recently announced partnering up with Dontnod Entertainment (who did Remember Me) on a new IP called Life is Strange, to be released digitally as episodic content. While set in the generally non-fantastic environment of an Oregon community, it involves a protagonist who has a new-found, distinctly fantastic ability to rewind time. Finding an old friend missing after her own period of absence, protagonist Max (female) teams up with Chloe (...also female) to get to the root of things. The official blog announcement says that one's actions in one episode will have far-reaching effects over those to follow, saying that sometimes-surprising consequences of actions will comprise a major part of the experience. It also promises that the title will be a completely new direction for the company.

In company news, Square Enix has announced a new press... system, Square Enix Presents Japan. I use 'system' instead of conference because it isn't exactly clear yet how it will function; with its first "episode" on August 25th, its second on August 28th, and additional episodes expected sometime after, it seems more like a semi-regular company update. Each program will involve staff from the title(s) in question and feature inside looks into their concept, development process, etc. According to the Square Enix blog announcement, the focus will be mostly on providing in-depth information rather than new announcements, but that both can be expected. The original post seems to suggest that coverage will also be made available to American audiences as well, though how is unclear.

The first of these will focus on Bravely Second, and is expected to reveal new information about that title as well as a sense of the Bravely series as a whole. The second will focus on Square Enix's Extreme Edges team, which publishes Western/violent games in Japan (like Kane & Lynch or Modern Warfare). Final Fantasy Explorers will be the subject of the third scheduled program - as well as our next newspost sometime tomorrow!
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Redefining Retro: The CoNcast Episode 25


Podcast
I looked, once upon a time, and discovered that it had been weeks since we'd done a CoNcast. Then, I forgot about it. Later, I looked again to discover it had been three freaking months since we'd done a CoNcast, and that was just not acceptable.

So, here's episode twenty-five of the CoN podcast for you. This time around, our panel is reviewing the subjectivity of "retro" gaming, particularly as it relates to Final Fantasy. The idea of what makes a Final Fantasy game "retro" is something that can change based on your own experience or lack thereof with the series, and to address that, we talk not only about what makes particular games in the series retro to our minds, but also what we as gamers can do to communicate effectively about the series to those who have a different perspective.

Do you agree with our thoughts on what makes a Final Fantasy a retro game, or which games fall into that bucket? What other games give you the feel of a classic, retro FF? Draw your own conclusions by listening to the newest CoNcast now!

Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes, This Episode
Posted in: CoNcasts

Dragon Quest IV Released for Mobile


Dragon Quest
Dragon Quest IV was the final game of the series to be released for the Famicom, back in 1990. Since then, it's been released in Japan on the Playstation, and in all territories again for the Nintendo DS, receiving the typical graphical and other enhancements along the way. The game's humble origins but number of remakes and ports would seem to make it a prime candidate for a new mobile release, and that's just what has just happened.

The game tracks closely to the most recent remake, and becomes the second Dragon Quest game released for mobile devices, after VIII. The game is listing in the States at $14.99 for both iOS and Android platforms.

Also, check out that website. So many images.

Source: Dragon Quest IV Official Site

Theatrythm Contest and FFXIV Free Trial


General Final Fantasy
As part of their larger Legacy of Music Campaign and as promotion for Theatrythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, which will be available for the 3DS starting September 16th (September 19th in Europe), Square Enix will be hosting a Legacy of Music Contest. The object of this contest is to produce an arrangement / performance of the series Main Theme (yes, this 'main' theme) using whichever musical instruments or not-instruments you so choose. The winner will receive a trip for two to a Distant Worlds concert, "AND MORE!" Check out the submission guidelines if you're interested, and if you win, don't forget who wrote the newspost that inspired you :D

In addition, Square Enix has announced a free 14-day trial for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. There are some limitations involved of course (you cannot exceed level 20, for instance), but for anyone who has wanted the chance to poke around A Realm Reborn, here's your chance. The only eligibility requirement is that you have not purchased the game before (or participated in Beta), but you can transfer a character created during the free trial to the full version of the game, should you decide to upgrade.

Source: http://na.square-enix.com/us/blog/theatrhythm-final-fantasy-curtain-call-legacy-music-campaign-contest-final-fantasy-vii-vignette, http://www.ffxiv-freetrial.com/us/
Posted in: Square-Enix News

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All fanfiction and fanart (including original artwork in forum avatars) is property of the original authors. Some graphics property of Square Enix.