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News from Japan
In this week's news out of left field, Square Enix announced over the weekend that Final Fantasy XII is getting a full remaster for Playstation 4, to be released next year. In the vein of Final Fantasy X, this new remaster, subtitled "The Zodiac Age," will be based on the previous Japan re-release "International Zodiac Job System," which changed the original License Board system into one divided by the signs of the zodiac. As befitting a remaster, the game contains a large number of improvements, including:
- High-resolution upgrades for the world, characters, and UI
- High-resolution upgrades for movie cutscenes
- 7.1 channel surround sound
- Voiceovers in English and Japanese
- Remastered soundtrack
- Decreased load times
- Autosave settings
In somewhat unsurprising news, the smartphone Square Enix RPG Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius was announced yesterday for a global release. The game has been downloaded six million times already in Japan since its release last October. Brave Exvius is a story-driven, turn-based title that follows two knights, Rain and Lasswell, and their young companion Fina on a very-Final-Fantasy quest to bring light back to the crystals of their world. The game supports parties of up to six, with slots available to guest characters pulled from other Final Fantasy games, such as Vivi and Terra.
The game is sprite-based for battle and exploration, while cutscenes and summon animations appear to be pre-rendered. The battles appear to be fast-paced, but not to the chaotic and frankly pointless level of All the Bravest, which alleviates some of my previous concern for the title.
There's no release date set for the worldwide release, but a playable version of the game in English will be at E3 next month. Six languages will be available at launch. Players can pre-register now to get bonuses and in-game items, with registration available at the game's official worldwide site.
Here's some non-Square Enix news that you folks are likely to appreciate: Nippon Ichi Software, sires of the well-regarded Disgaea series of tactical isometric RPGs (among other games), announced today that Phantom Brave about to be ported to Steam for Windows. Phantom Brave is a more under-the-radar title from NIS, though it's generally very well-regarded, with reviews of 8.6/10 and 9/10 from IGN and Eurogamer respectively. It's been released in the West before, first for PlayStation 2, then later for the original Wii, and finally for the PSP, with enhanced and expanded content each time. The Windows version will roll up all of the content into a new package to be released in July, specifically on the 25th.
It's worth noting while this post is going, by the way, that Phantom Brave will be the second PC port released here by NIS. It looks as if the first Disgaea (Afternoon of Darkness) is already here, which is something I completely missed. The version of Disgaea released to PC included upgraded graphics and Steamworks integration and is currently selling for $19.99, so one can expect the same from Phantom Brave this summer.
Source: Gematsu, Steam
After the many years of success enjoyed by the Distant Worlds concert tour, playing orchestral arrangements of Final Fantasy music worldwide, Square Enix has paired with concert promoter La Fee Sauvage to offer a similar show with the music of Kingdom Hearts.
The general setup is that of Distant Worlds, featuring a 70-plus piece orchestra that is local to the venue performing songs from the game series. One might assume that there won't be as much variety available as for Distant Worlds, but the Kingdom Hearts series does itself span eight distinct games now, not including remixes, remakes, and re-imaginings. I've never played a KH game myself, but I did do some sampling of the soundtracks for this post and I think it's safe to say that fans will no doubt find some very lovely music performed on stage. As a note, the Kingdom Hearts series features music composed by Yoko Shimomura, one of gaming's most prolific composers and the composer for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV.
The World Tour won't begin until next year, and is currently scheduled to appear in seven cities worldwide: Tokyo, Paris, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and New York. The European shows all take place in March of 2017; the American shows are in June.
The latest Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report was yesterday at an insanely-early hour, so I (and likely all of you) missed it. It looks like we didn't miss that much, really, as there were no new earth-shattering pieces of news around the game, but mainly updates on things that we had seen before. For instance, the team expressed how the sideline video content in the anime or movie isn't strictly necessary to understand the game; the Justice Monsters V app will be out for Android next week, iOS in June, and Windows 10 sometime in the summer; the game will have a New Game + mode; and the next ATR will take place at E3. Also, if you wanted the very expensive ultimate edition, it sounds like Squenix are aiming to put together another ten thousand copies worldwide.
Valkyrie Anatomia is getting some more press as its release nears. The game got a new trailer last week and this week both. The first one is very much a teaser, with nothing more than extremely dramatic narration and music. The newer one actually shows some art and even the briefest glimpse at a battle scene.
Somehow I missed that there's a Theatrhythm game in the works for arcades in Japan, a second game to follow the handheld-to-arcade flow of Dissidia. The game is far enough along to be location-tested in a half-dozen locations, and to prepare users the company produced a tutorial video. This is a niche game if there ever was one: rhythm, Square Enix, arcade, arcade with intense custom controllers to emulate touch, multi-console co-op, yeah, we're probably never going to see this over here. Looks pretty, though, and the co-op scene at 2:50 in the video is intense.
Speaking of Dissidia in arcades, the next update to that game brings Garland in as the first villain to this big-screen version. If you ever thought he didn't look malicious enough in any of the iterations of Final Fantasy I, you can put that thought to rest; he's a heavy-type character here and is a seriously hulking brute. And since I missed it a while back, Ramza's in there now too. He's in his squire gear and carries a light fencing sword. And he has a nose.
Back to mobile games, where last week Square teased "Project: Rising" for Android and iOS. Turns out that the game is called "Samurai Rising," and is an action RPG; it looks to be a mashup of a lot of different things from the Squenix canon, with art style in-game reminiscent of the 3DS Final Fantasies, character artwork that could have come from Bravely Default, and an overhead action combat model that could be from a Mana game.
Let's wrap up these tidbits with "I am Setsuna". I mentioned before that the game would be playable at PAX East, which starts today (and, by the way, appears to be an utter mess; my friends were reporting lines of fifteen minutes just to cross the street to get to the convention hall earlier today). Today's news details the basic plot and a release date of July 19th for both PlayStation 4 and Windows/Steam. This game looks to be gorgeous and the fact that it's now coming for Windows makes me quite happy.
Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Polygon
Since my last news post, I've been largely ignoring news and instead working on CoN itself - more on that probably later today or tomorrow. During that time, there's been a lot of smallish news coming out of Squenix' press division, so let's touch on that now.
Hajime Tabata has been continuing to make the Final Fantasy XV rounds since the Uncovered event; an interview with Game Informer shows some more gameplay from the beginning of the game and an interview with Famitsu goes into the decade of development on XV and how they're striving to take the brand out of the "crisis" mode that some fans seem to feel. And, tomorrow, there's going to be another stream, this time with Tabata and Hironobu Sakaguchi. Looks like it's starting at 8pm local time, which would put it at 7am Eastern.
Yesterday, the American SE Twitch channel ran a livestream of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, called Star Log 2. It mentioned the release date (June 28) and the contents of the collector's edition, but it focused on new gameplay and combat footage. Just after, they released three other new videos with a more focused look at combat and introductory spotlight videos for two more characters.
PAX East is just around the corner again, and unfortunately I'll be unable to go this year. For those folks who are able to go, though, or those who just want to see what is coming up, Squenix published their lineup for the show floor. Star Ocean 5 will be playable, as will I Am Setsuna. Additionally, there will be a playable VR game for Oculus and Gear called Hitman GO - it's a turn-based strategy game, for those of you who might be hoping for virtual reality assassinations in real-time. A new challenge for Final Fantasy XIV, Kingdom Hearts: Unchained χ and a few other non-RPG titles fill out the roster.
Death Penalty will enjoy the fact that Nier: Automata hasn't completely ceased to be. In fact, there's a live event coming up this weekend that will be a concert of Nier series music as well as a presentation of new information for the upcoming title. Folks who might like a sample can get one from the official Japanese site.
On the topic of DP, there's a new Valkyrie game coming, even. There's not much information about Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin, but it has a release window of Spring 2016 in Japan, a timeline short enough that essentially locks it in as a smartphone title for one or more platforms.
Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Game Informer
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