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News from Japan
In a recent interview with Eurogamer, series producer Yoshinori Kitase has expressed interest in returning the core Final Fantasy series to the Windows platform. Beyond the MMOs, XI and XIV, a new game in the series has not been published to the Windows desktop OS since Final Fantasy VIII. It's clear, though, that the company maintains some interest in the platform with releases from other series like Deus Ex and Tomb Raider, not to mention the recent re-releases of Final Fantasy VII and VIII to Windows last year.
While no games from the Final Fantasy XIII series were released for the platform, Kitase reminds Eurogamer that the original XIII development took place in a Windows environment, so the notion of a release was not restricted by the development itself but instead Squenix' own market analysis and concerns about DRM. Kitase stops well short of promising a release of Final Fantasy XV via Steam, but it's clear from his words that the interest is there and that a release could easily be in the cards if the numbers look to work in the company's favor.
Square Enix has registered "Shinra Company" as a trademark specifically for use with video games. After all this time, and with no remake on the horizon, could we be looking at another spin off here? Could the trademark be used somehow for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3? Today's news correspondent, fatman, puts his weight (ha!) behind the former, as Square has seen some success with releasing Final Fantasy VII on Steam and PlayStation Network, and no doubt all the recent sales have been lucrative. The time might be right for another continuation of the universe to reach the new and revived players recently brought into the fold.
Source: CVG, siliconera
Square Enix must have really wanted me to post some Tidbits this week. Some of the emails that went out to their mailing lists came to me five times! So, to oblige their largesse, most of our news will be coming straight outta the mouths of the company this week.
The next big Final Fantasy release is Lightning Returns, coming to the West in just about two weeks (or less!). With that, the demo became available this week for both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360; remember that a version of the game has not been announced for any new-gen platform as yet. The demo has a boss monster which, if defeated and shared to social media, will get the user a new costume, namely Siegfried.
My favorite Final Fantasy and Lightning Returns news of the week, though, is the proof that Square Enix can still put out an awesome-looking 16-bit experience. To get folks up to speed who may not have finished (or even experienced!) Fabula Nova Crystallis, they marketing brains at Squenix put out a fantastic video recapping the first two games of the trilogy. It's clever and it's adorable and if you have any love for Lightning's saga it's worth the time.
Additionally, if you're willing to make a trip to southern California in March, you've got a chance to visit Alhambra and see a Final Fantasy X and X-2 exhibit in an art gallery from the 15th to the 26th. If you can get there for the opening, you might even get an early copy of the games and get it signed by members of the original production team!
Finally, in non-Final Fantasy news, there're updates on the Tomb Raider and Bravely Default fronts. For Lara Croft, the "Definitive" version of the game came out for new Sony and Microsoft consoles. For Bravely Default, though, check out this nice long piece from Kotaku about the origins and the future of this new IP. There are two really interesting takeaways, in my opinion. First, the parallels between Bravely and the old-school Final Fantasies that so many gamers love, and how Bravely could become what Final Fantasy once was, but for handhelds. The other is producer Tomoya Asano's now-stated goal of making Bravely a yearly series. Obviously that won't ever happen, but how many of you would either pick up or dust off a 3DS for something like that?
Source: Square Enix, Kotaku
Welcome to the last tidbits of 2013! I say this because I know that I'll be far too lazy to write any next week, even though there's probably plenty of time to do so.
Jumping right in, it's the time of the year when digital distribution games go on sale. For instance, Square Enix are putting dozens of their iOS games on sale, including almost all of the Final Fantasy series, Secret of Mana, the World Ends with You, Chaos Rings, and others. Unfortunately, there are apparently no sales on DLC, so if you were looking for a reason to pump money into Theathrythm, you're out of luck. Also, the Steam version of Final Fantasy VII remains on sale for about forty-six hours past the time I post this. There are also tons of games for sale on the official Squenix store, both downloadable and physical, for almost all platforms.
In more specific gaming news, it was announced this week that despite being unmentioned before, the Playstation Vita versions of the Final Fantasy X and X-2 remasters will be released at the same time as the console versions, as confirmed by trailers on the official Square Enix Members YouTube channel. In addition, for PS3 players, there will be a collector's edition. No shock there, but as usual the CE looks pretty tempting. If you'll be in Japan with a loved one, you can even get a special couples' photo taken with a Final Fantasy X theme to have a melancholy poster keepsake. If you can't get enough of Final Fantasy X-2, your girl-power team will even appear in the Theatrhythm sequel for Nintendo 3DS, giving you versions of Yuna and Rikku from both X and X-2 from which to choose.
Close out the year with a bit more Lightning Returns, how about? There's a new, nearly-six-minute English-language trailer for the game out now, which is a weird cut of gameplay, dialogue, and voiceover describing the game itself. There are also more legendary Final Fantasy costumes on the way, including Aeris, Cloud, and X-2 Yuna. It looks like Lightning's shaping up pretty well for the West, though!
Happy holidays, CoN friends. We'll see you again in the new year.
Source: siliconera, TouchArcade, Square Enix Members Blog
For tidbits this time around, there are a bevy of updates for games old and new, so many that they can't even be listed off conveniently! Perhaps it's the holiday spirit taking over - anyway, let's start with the old.
The venerable Final Fantasy XI turned eleven years old last month (in Japan - the game didn't debut in North America for another eleven months after that). To celebrate, the folks still running that game for the die hard players put together some promotions for the "11th Vana'versary," including free re-activation until December 23rd for players that let their accounts lapse and some new features like a 25% increase in movement speed across the world and better teleportation. While I'm sure a lot of fans have moved on to XIV by now, it seems like it might be a fun bit of nostalgia to go back, at least for a little while.
Of course, for Square Enix, everything old is eventually new again, as evidenced by the glut of remakes and ports we've seen over the years. The latest, at least in Japan, is a smartphone remake of the original Dragon Quest game. To promote it, Squenix gave away a million copies in two days. Additionally, for the folks who have complained about Squenix' pricing models on smartphones, check this out - even the folks who are having to pay are only having to pony up about five bucks, far better than the Final Fantasy games that have appeared on iOS and Android. Of course, that awesomeness is offset pretty quickly by the fact that Dragon Quest VIII was also just released at $27.
In terms of recent releases, the recent remake of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years seems to be missing a bit of content; the challenge dungeons that made up a part of each episode's content were not included in the new release. Those dungeons are not part of the storyline of the game at all, so new players might not notice their absence. For another somewhat recent release, Final Fantasy XIV, Squenix announced that the game for Playstation 4 will release at the same time as it does in Japan, specifically for the PS4 Japan launch date.
A third recent/upcoming release, Lightning Returns, is out in Japan now (but not yet here, we're still waiting for next year). Now, while it might be assumed that CoN hates Final Fantasy XIII because only old games can ever be good, rest assured that I'd love to see this game succeed. However, early indications are that the game simply isn't selling as well as its predecessor in Japan. It's still possible that sales will pick up later, but the launch numbers don't compare favorably. That said, if you are looking to get this game when it comes out in the West, you'll want to watch this: on their official blog, Squenix released a "trailer" to show all the cool stuff in the collector's edition. A trailer for a special game package? I suppose at least it's different than a countdown, and more informative, too.
Finally, some new games! Jump Festa, the Japanese anime/manga/games expo, runs next weekend, and Square Enix have announced their lineup. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix and the Theatrhythm sequel will both be playable, as well as Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster and Dragon Quest VIII mobile. Final Fantasy VI mobile will have a trailer, as will the Bravely Default sequel, which follows hot on the heels of that game (which CoN readers already knew about) being officially announced.
To wrap up, it recently came out that Akihiko Yoshida, a designer for Square Enix for almost twenty years, had left the company. In some places, there was much gnashing of teeth - "Look at all the long-time talent Squenix are losing! That company is useless and will soon be gone forever!" To the naysayers, though, Yoshida spoke with Famitsu this week to discuss the change, saying that the choice to leave was not because of the state of the company, but just that his career track within the company wasn't allowing him to design as much as he wanted. He's now a freelancer, and who's his first client? Well, it's Square Enix. I guess he's not hating their current direction.
There we go, there's another couple weeks of tidbits! Will there be more before I go on Christmas break? Who knows?! Just enjoy Father Christmog in the meantime.
Source: siliconera, PlayOnline, Square Enix Members Blog
A shorter tidbits this week since we kept up better this week! First up, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII released in Japan this week. It's out, and that means that in at least one locale, the Final Fantasy XIII generation has come to an end. My guess is that more people will probably be pleased with that news than upset, but I'm not here to judge or even venture my own opinion. Just because it's out doesn't mean the tidbits stop, though. The first neat announcement is that folks who hate English voice acting in their Japanese RPGs will get an option to have the game in their native language but also still have the original voice acting in Japanese; for the first two weeks after the Western release of Lightning Returns, the Japanese audio will be available as free DLC. After that initial window, though, the language option will be put behind a paywall, ostensibly to cover the costs of incorporating the rigging to lipsync in both languages into the game. The way I figure it, this makes it more like a pre-order bonus than anything else, and this is the first time the company's done this for a Final Fantasy game, which makes it okay in my book.
Lightning Returns also has dozens of costumes for Lightning; siliconera reports that the number is north of 80. For that reason, I don't think I've reported on any of them for a while, but the most recent reveal caught my eye as a member of the Caves of Narshe: Locke's garb will be one of the costumes you can garb... um, grab. The costume is based off of the original character design done by Yoshitaka Amano twenty years ago, and it's replicated quite faithfully. And, of course, since that costume is now being put on a female form, it looks almost identical to the original sketch! The link above includes a lot of interesting data about the costume design of the game. It's probably worth avoiding if you think the entire concept is stupid, but otherwise, it's an interesting deep-dive into the thought processes.
Since I can't resist any mention of Dragon Quest merch, for reasons I don't understand, here's a smartphone. Yep, a smartphone. It's loaded with two Dragon Quest games, too - one is a port of Dragon Quest VIII, and the other is a dice game that is DQ-themed. As you no doubt expect, it's Japan-only. However, because I know that half of Square Enix Japan reads CoN daily, I'd like to throw this out there: make a case for an iPhone 5S and a Galaxy S4 that looks like that. People will buy it.
Wrapping up, an interview was published this week from Ichiro Hazama, a Square Enix producer behind some more recent hits like The World Ends With You, Dissidia, and the Kingdom Hearts games. That interview brings forth the notion that some games like Dissidia and Theatrhythm were designed not simply to appeal to the existing fans of the series, like one might assume, but instead were conceived specifically to bring new, younger fans into the fold. Some of this sounds like it could well be some "in hindsight this sounds good!" thought. However, even if, I'm not sure if they should really consider it a success in that regard. perhaps I'm sheltered, but it seems to me like those games appealed as much or more to long-time fans as folks new to Squenix. Anyway, Hazama also talks about wanting to produce a new game with some of the Chrono Trigger Dream Team in honor of CT's pending 20th anniversary. Anyone see that happening?
Source: siliconera, Gaming Union
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