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Microsoft at E3 2012: Bro-gaming and No-gaming

E3 Expo
You're here at the Caves of Narshe. You're reading this hoping for some RPG news. You're not getting it. Microsoft came out and just like last year, they had very little to offer other than games for the "core" and the opportunity to shove Kinect down our throats.

Now, don't get me wrong. Obviously there is a huge market for both of these things, or else they wouldn't keep showing up over and over again at E3. However, virtually every game that Microsoft showed was a sequel to a juggernaut franchise - Call of Duty, Gears of War, Forza. Of course, too, Halo. The Kinect offerings included the typical casual games and some content elaborating on how this year's EA Sports offerings will be more Kinect-enabled.

The big push beyond that this year has nothing to do with gaming at all. It was all about media, and all of the new video and audio that Xbox will be able to send to you, working towards meeting Microsoft's stated goal of becoming more than a gaming console. There was also an extensive demo of Microsoft's Smart Glass technology, intended to make your mobile and console devices interact with each other quickly on the fly to enhance the consumption of a variety of different content, be it games, TV, or movies, and also to potentially emulate the tablet interaction of the WiiU controller. All of these things have been expected, but it just seems to this author more and more like unless you're into console FPS or over-the-shoulder shooters, Microsoft really just doesn't care if you want their console.

That said, this has to be considered a pretty successful E3 keynote for Microsoft. Their talking points are all going to be very, very good for business. What doesn't appeal to me or (I assume) a lot of our readers here still appeals to a ton of folks. I just wish there were a little more to be really excited about.

Oh, and for Square Enix fans? There was one thing to look at, from Eidos: a new gameplay trailer of the Tomb Raider reboot. It looked pretty much just like last year, just with new scenery in which Lara gets beaten up thoroughly.

Am I being too hard on Microsoft, who announced that they were the biggest console company in the world as of this year? You tell me.

Plans Detailed for Tokyo Game Show 2012

Tokyo Game Show
The Tokyo Game Show will be back yet again this year, with the dates recently set to be 20-23 September, 2012 in the Chiba prefecture. This year, the show will be adding two new "corners," sections of the show set off for specific platforms - in this case, for PC and Smartphone/Tablet gaming.

Additionally this year, the show's organizers, CESA, will be producing video of the show for online viewing. No other details are available at this time, but it's likely that these will include booth tours and possibly game demo video. It's also likely that these will be produced only in Japanese, so brush up now.

The show expects nearly two hundred thousand visitors over the four days, split between industry professionals and the general public.

Source: andriasang

The Hironobu Sakaguchi Digest: Winter 2012

Sakaguchi, busy as always, made the news twice recently with regards to his work with Mistwalker. The biggest news is that, now that it's been out for over a year in Japan and is coming out in Europe this week, is that The Last Story is getting a North American release this summer. The localization for North America is being done by XSeed, known for localization of other RPGs; no other details are known at this time. Now that both Xenoblade and The Last Story will be available worldwide, perhaps the Wii can - too late - become a go-to destination for RPG players?

Of course, to partner with that interesting news, Sakaguchi is also working on three non-RPG games for iOS. These will be his, and Mistwalker's, first foray into Apple's world, and it's clear that none of the games are necessarily meant to appeal to his core audience. The first game will be somehow surfing related, and he gave no details on the other two games at all other than to say that they were small and "palate cleansers" for him after the development of The Last Story. All that said, it seems like there's not much there to keep our attention, but if he surprises us with something interesting for iOS, we'll make sure to keep you updated.

Source: Kotaku, TUAW

Final Fantasy X Coming to PS3 and PS Vita in HD

Tokyo Game Show
OK, maybe it's not the remake fans were waiting for, but it's something, right? Square-Enix's 2001 megahit will receive a high-definition makeover and be available as a PS3 game and a PS Vita download. Final Fantasy X follows hot on the heels of several other PS2 games receiving HD remakes on the PS3, including God of War I and II, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and the entire Sly Cooper Series.

This continues a trend of PS Vita games and PS3 games receiving near-identical ports. Multiplayer Vita games can play online against PS3 players and include many other connectivity features. Presumably, Final Fantasy X HD will have trophy support and scale up to 1080p, just like the other HD remakes mentioned above.

There is no release date yet for Final Fantasy X on the PS3 or PS Vita, but you can bet your memory card Caves of Narshe will report it as soon as it's made public.

Source: Kotaku

3DS Gets a Price Cut - With a Twist

Nintendo 3DS
Okay, so we're all aware that the Nintendo 3DS isn't doing as well as Nintendo would have liked. Even the die-hard fanboys have to reluctantly admit that the 3DS is not the badass system that anyone had hoped for. It's still definitely got potential, but that won't be enough. So, on August 12th, The 3DS will drop from $250 to $170. That's $80. Down to two-thirds of its orginial price-tag. That's pretty hefty, and what some might call "desparate". Your turn. But there's a PLOT TWIST.

For those who bought a Nintendo 3DS at original retail price at any time before the 12th, Nintendo are giving away some games on the virtual console. And by "some", I mean "twenty". For free. And I know what you're thinking, that all the games on the Virtual Console right now are for the Game Boy (and ONE Game Boy Colour game). And you'd be correct, at the current moment in time. But, the games being offered to the "Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors" are from the NES and GBA eras. 10 from each. The NES titles will be available starting from September 1st, before they are available to new 3DS owners. They will feature such titles as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and The Legend of Zelda.

As for the GBA titles, all we have for them are "before the end of 2011". However, the games offered here are Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. You may have noticed that I only listed five games for each. These are the only titles that have been announced so far - and as of yet it is unclear whether we will have a choice of what games we download, or if its a set 10 that Nintendo will release. Oh, but there's ANOTHER plot twist. It's like Final Fantasy VIII in here, jeez. Wait, better not. Anyway, for those who plan on buying a cheaper 3DS later and buying the individual Virtual Console games: consider this. Nintendo have no plans to bring the GBA titles to the new 3DS users - only the "Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors".

As someone who's owned a 3DS pretty much since launch, this is only good news to me. Mario, Zelda, Metroid... Although I sincerely doubt how soon some of the release dates will be. I'd be willing to bet that they'll release one title a week, or something along those lines. One thing that Nintendo DID say, however:
"Once the paid versions of the games are released in Nintendo eShop later in the year, the updated versions will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost."
It's pretty much a win-win for current 3DS owners.

Source: Nintendo

Square Enix News Tidbits: Maybe Tokyo Game Show

E3 Expo
I know you're here at the Caves of Narshe because you play RPGs, specifically Square Enix RPGs, specifically Final Fantasy games. Well, if you've not been following E3 this week, I've got news for you: there's precious little of that to be had here today. With E3 wrapped, here's what Square Enix hit heavy.

The biggest coverage to come out of the conference had everything to do with Eidos. The Tomb Raider reboot, which really did look very nice, got a lot of press (including a long-form controlled demo early in Microsoft's keynote). That game is still scheduled to come out next year, but the progress so far looked pretty impressive for a game that far out. Later in E3, the Hitman series took center stage, with a big crowd for the debut trailer. Absolution, the new title, is also due out in 2012. Deus Ex was also everywhere - a third title that a couple years ago would have been part of Eidos' booth, but fortuitously has fallen under Square Enix' umbrella due to smart corporate buyouts.

For the core RPG/Final Fantasy output of E3 2011, you really can't look much further than Final Fantasy XIII-2. We reported earlier in the week that a new, longer trailer debuted during E3, and while I admit that I haven't watched it (as I'm afraid of spoilers, since I still have yet to beat the first one!), it seems to have at least generated buzz, though of course it's not universally positive. One thing that surprised me, though, is that the game was actually playable at E3, as evidenced by these videos posted by Kotaku earlier in the week. RPGSite managed to get an interview with the director and producer of the game, as well, during the tumult of E3.

There was no news about Type-0 or the new Kingdom Hearts that I've seen come from E3, which is very disappointing. I can't speak for whether they simply had no presence at E3, or if the presence they did have was merely news old enough that it wasn't worth reporting, but there was almost certainly nothing new at all to appear. However, the official Type-0 site updated as E3 was closing, with some new screenshots and character reveals, so all is not lost there.

In other happy news emerging from E3, Square Enix announced a big, round number from the Final Fantasy series, and you have to admit it's impressive: the Final Fantasy series as a whole has now shipped over one hundred million copies worldwide. That's more than four million copies of the games every single year - maybe that's not a huge feat given the many remakes over the years, but you have to think back to the eighties and early nineties, when there just weren't that many from which to choose. The company, wisely, didn't talk about whether that includes just the core numbered series or also sideline series like Tactics, the Final Fantasy VII Compilation, or games that were called "Final Fantasy" in some regions but not others.

Even knowing that milestone, you'd be forgiven for being generally disappointed in Square Enix at E3 this year. I would have expected a stronger showing myself, if I'm perfectly honest. But, if you're unhappy with the company's performance, you're not the only one. Even at least one Square Enix executive shares concern over the company's core game franchises, going so far as to call the lack of Japanese output from the company at E3 "humiliating." Is there a way to bounce back from this? Koji Taguchi, the aforementioned executive, is clearly worried about it. Got any advice for him that doesn't start and end with "remake Final Fantasy VII?"

That does it for E3 this year, as far as CoN is concerned. Hope you enjoyed our recaps and editorials, and we'll be back with more of the same when it's time for the Tokyo Game Show in a couple months, where one hopes Squenix will be back with more gusto. If I missed anything good, make sure to respond and set me straight!

Caves of Narshe Version 6
©1997–2016 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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