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News from Japan

Square Enix News Tidbits: Recordkeeping and Heroes


Square Enix
Time to do a proper weekly Square Enix News Tidbits! Mostly for the same reason that we always do - because we run out of time to keep up during the week.

This week, we've got two new announcements for game releases coming West from Japan. First up is a mobile app called Final Fantasy Record Keeper that you might have noticed in the Final Fantasy magazine. Record Keeper appears to be a retelling of critical events from the Final Fantasy canon as evoked by a boy tasked with keeping the memories of those adventures alive, presumably in some sort of alternate universe. Characters from the series are rendered in SNES-era sprites and the player will control them in battle. The battles look similar to All the Bravest... so all we can do is hope that this app isn't quite so much a joke! Pre-registration for the app is available now from the official site.

The second announcement is from the Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest Heroes for PlayStation 3 and 4 has just come out in Japan, and Squenix commemorated the release in a way by announcing it also for release in the West. DQ Heroes is a "Warriors" style game - think Hyrule or Dynasty - and is the first entry of the series on a Sony console in quite a while. Simultaneously, a load of free DLC was announced for the Japanese release, and one can safely assume that it will also make it over here. One of the DLC packs looks to include Zoma, from Dragon Quest III; I note that specifically because I always thought his giant eye-helmet was pretty creepy. At the moment, it appears that there will be no PS3 version of the game outside of Japan, merely PS4.

Finally, let's turn back to last week's biggest news, Final Fantasy XV. With the demo livestream done, the XV team has turned back to handing out small bits of news for the full game. In an interview this week, Hajime Tabata noted that the demo coming out next month will be roughly 5GB in total disk size; of course, that doesn't do much for explaining how much real content there will be, but it's worth noting that is only about a tenth of a double-layer Bluray's capacity. In the same interview, Tabata implied that there would be some shocking moments in the plot and some brutal scenes, and it's worth noting that Tabata also worked on Crisis Core, so he's probably not bluffing.

In another, separate interview, Tabata discussed some of the other differences between the demo and the full game. The equipment selections, for weapons, armor and accessories alike, will be a small subset of the full game's functionality in terms of equipping and customization. While the (famous) cars and the (heretofore unknown) trains will not be in the demo, both methods of transport will be available in the full game in different contexts. Chocobos will also appear, of course. Additionally, the new content came with a video with some new scenes, notably exploration and battle inside a claustrophobic cave. A second new video emulates the feel of a nature documentary and shows more landscapes and creatures. Tabata also noted that the team is still refining the demo and will be continuing to do so.

More random news is cropping up today, though, so we might be able to throw some more good stuff at you in the near future. Or we might get lazy. It's Friday.

Source: Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Square Enix Europe, Siliconera
Posted in: News from Japan

Full Details on the Final Fantasy XV Livestream


Final Fantasy XV
The Final Fantasy XV stream that we mentioned in news earlier this week went off without hitch early Friday morning. We've got the entire stream if you're up for it, or just read on for the highlights and my own takeaways from the event, which are fairly extensive and exclusive to this post.The recording went on for an hour and forty minutes, and while it was fully in Japanese, the gameplay took center stage for the majority of the time, and even with a language barrier it was a pretty illuminating experience.

The demo is expected to take gamers about three hours to complete, but it won't be done in the now-famous car; the plot of the demo is centered aroudn the car breaking down and the party digging up money to have it repaired. If the gameplay shown is anything to go by, it appears that the demo will earn that money largely by beating down on the large number of creatures in the environment. As in the final game, the time will move from day to night. The cycle of days will take 45 minutes in the demo - it's not clear yet whether that same time structure will continue to the full game.

One of the creatures in the stream drops meat when defeated, which is part of a big new part of the game, camping and cooking. Camping will be vital to the game, as it appears to be the way by which XP are aggregated and turned into levels. Cooking will provide benefits to the party, of course, though the full extent isn't yet known. The camping scenes also create an opportunity for party banter and possibly also the chance to hear about or see activity that is happening elsewhere, perhaps like Final Fantasy IX's Active Time Events.

Finally, at least in Japan, you can get the demo not just via the Type-0 Collector's Edition, but also by purchasing the game digitally for two months after release.

Here are one watcher's thoughts upon checking out the gameplay demo of Episode Duscae. I don't know Japanese, though most of the big points have been translated already anyway, so these are just thoughts from what I could see and hear:
  • Even at this stage of development, things look lovely. The text design throughout is more delicate than the Eurostile-heavy display of the XIII series. The title screen itself has more graphical elements than most in the series, but it's done with a light touch and looks very elegant.
  • Similarly, I find the UI very appealing. Like in XIII, there's a lot to look at, but individual elements drop a lot of the visual flourish from XIII and tend to be less obtrusive and treated more like lightweight overlays than heavy menus; they feel like they could be part of an augmented reality app, and I mean that as praise. Specifically, I think the weapon selection menu, which was shown in detail, is really attractive in the way that it's used and the way that it shows silhouettes of the weapons from which you're picking, which is a nice detail since you'll most often be seeing them on the battlefield and will know the silhouettes from sight before long.
  • Navigational waypoints are now treated a bit more like what you would see in an open-world game like Saints Row, with distance measurements and larger, more visible beacons. They, too, look like they could be from an augmented reality app.
  • Sticking to that theme a bit longer, it looks like the quest update messaging has been improved from XIII as well; it appears to show more information on the fly now relative to how XIII essentially used it as a prompt to go into the menus to read more. With the new design, all that information shows up without being obtrusive - it might be tricky to make that work in English, though.
  • This isn't new news, but the transition from field to battle is almost seamless now; I barely noticed the transition until I started to look harder. Again, this looks like an upgrade from how XIII did things, likely made possible by the enhanced hardware. The battles remind me a lot of Lightning Returns in a lot of ways, specifically.
  • Also in terms of battles, I saw some interesting stuff I'd never noticed before. Creatures apparently can be targeted before instigating battle, and it looks like that can be used with cover and stealth to possibly trigger this game's version of a Preemptive Strike. Physical weapons are only in sight when the character is preparing to use or is using them, which is a neat visual effect but I'm not sure if it serves much purpose. It looks also like Noctis can swap weapons from a set of ready weapons, the same set shown in the menu. Battles are graded on time, damage that Noctis inflicted, and attacks that he successfully parried.
  • It looks like water has depth this time around; at one point, Noctis starts ankle-deep but ends up knee-deep. Not sure if this is indicative of anything larger, but it could imply that water could have a bearing on puzzles, obstacles, or other travel.
  • The handling of the nighttime scene is pretty cool. The moon and clouds are gorgeous, and the moon's dim light is augmented by each character's worn-on-the-shirt flashlights. The light sources can combine and diverge very realistically, and the overall effect is very cool. It looks like monsters can be nocturnal or diurnal, too, which is something that's been touched upon previously in Final Fantasy games but could have more impact here.
  • At one point, a big troop dropship flies in from nowhere. Maybe it had context if I knew what was being said, but either way, that looks like it could be a really cool set piece in the final game, and potentially a mode of transport for the party that isn't a massive lowrider convertible.
  • Finally, one random thought: Noctis looks like a huge bro when he's healing his buddies. He wraps his arm around them and looks like he's giving them a fist-pumping pep talk, and then poof! Cure magic.
To me, this looks more and more like it's the kind of game that you'll really enjoy playing if you liked Crisis Core or Final Fantasy XIII, specifically Lightning Returns. My early impression is that it takes the best parts of the Action RPG elements from those games and tunes them and polishes them for the current generation of hardware. It's hard to tell where the story might go yet, but the gameplay basis seems like it will be solid for people who liked those predecessor games.

There's a lot going on in the stream and in the links in this news post, so I suggest checking them all out.

Source: Gematsu, Siliconera
Posted in: News from Japan

Episode Duscae to Debut on Stream; Final Type-0 Trailer Released


Final Fantasy XV
Later this week, Square Enix Japan will be running a live stream to present real, live gameplay from the Final Fantasy XV demo, which will be released next month with Type-0. Game director Hajime Tabata will host the stream, which is said to show both gameplay and the "systems" comprising XV, which likely means the combat style and user interfaces both inside and outside of combat.

The demo will begin at 6am Eastern time on Friday, February 20, and will be shown on the streaming services NicoNico and YouTube Live. There's no indication as to whether the stream will be geoblocked, so if you're an early riser or a night owl, it'll be worth seeking out in a few days.

On a similar note, Square Enix also released the "release trailer" for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD last night. The trailer remains in Japanese, but the company is quick to point out that the release version will allow the gamer to switch between languages. I would presume this trailer to be the last we'll see, as the game now releases in exactly one month and counting in the United States - the Japanese and European releases come a few days later.

Source: Siliconera, Square Enix Youtube
Posted in: News from Japan

Dissidia Branches out to Arcades


Dissida: Final Fantasy
The popular-for-a-Sony-handheld franchise Dissidia: Final Fantasy is now taking a new turn in Japan, the announcement of a new arcade game. As is customary for the company nowadays, the announcement came in the form of a video trailer debuting several characters and a battle scene set in what appears to be a backdrop emulating the Warriors of Light leaving Cornelia in Final Fantasy I. Siliconera reports that unlike prior games, battles in this game will be 3v3; whether that will take the form of a Marvel vs. Capcom-style tag-team setup, or player-plus-AI battles is yet unclear.

Characters revealed in the trailer include:
  • Warrior of Light (I)
  • Onion Knight (III)
  • Terra (VI)
  • Cloud (VII)
  • Lightning (XIII, specifically the original of the sub-series)
  • Y'shtola (XIV)

More information is expected April 10th, in a planned presentation. Naturally, there is no indication yet of a Western release, but given the state of arcades here, it would seem more prudent to hope for a console/Windows port worldwide.

One must admit, though, between this and the new Star Wars game... well, it would be pretty cool if arcades were still a real thing.


Source: Siliconera
Posted in: News from Japan

Square Enix Trots Out the New Guy


General Final Fantasy
The new king (aka director) of the core Final Fantasy franchise, Hajime Tabata, is showing up everywhere right now. As the face of the series going forward, including being the director of the next two big releases, Tabata is now the man as far as such things are concerned, and as such he's making some media rounds.

Last week, Tabata spoke to Kotaku's Jason Schreier about Type-0 HD; among the tidbits of information uncovered is the implication that the game is progressing well towards release, with the bulk of the current work being dedicated towards refining parts of the original game to be more playable and in refining the content seen previously. Even more interesting, it appears that with the help of automatic and human translators, Tabata might actually be reading what the English-language gamers are saying about is games on the internet. Does that mean he's found us? No. Probably not. Just in case, though: hi!

Schreier also pushed to get a little bit of Final Fantasy XV information on the table; while cagey, Tabata was willing to speak to trying to maintain the March date of the XV demo, and also the timeline of the switch from the Versus to the XV name. There's even a little more detail that is new - the demo for XV, when it lands, is not likely to be part of the actual game's storyline, or might be a remix of a couple disconnected sections of the final game.

That's a lot of information, of course, and it's only a snippet of the full interview. But, if it's still not enough, and you're a Redditor, you're in luck; Tabata also has planned for Friday an "Ask Me Anything" about Type-0 HD on the IamA subreddit. It kicks off at 1pm Eastern time on Friday, but Tabata's people have warned that there will be no questions about Final Fantasy XV involved.

Let us know if you're going to participate in the AMA so we can keep an eye out, otherwise watch this space for future Type-0 and XV news coming up very soon in what is certain to be a busy few months for those two properties!

Source: GameInformer, Kotaku
Posted in: News from Japan

Mobile Announcements, Mobile Releases


We last had a big update of Square Enix mobile games last month, and true to form, there's more information coming out now - in one case a new game and in the other a new release.

First with the new game, there's new info in Famitsu this week detailing the new mobile title "Mevius Final Fantasy." It's billed as being related to Final Fantasy games, but not a remake. This game has a bit more firepower behind it than many mobile games, though, with Yoshinori Kitase at the helm and several staff members who have worked on older games in the series. It'll be out in Spring for iOS and Android, at least in Japan.

Already out as of last week is a remake, but it's not from the Final Fantasy series. It's a release of Dragon Quest III, with a polished-up graphics and interface similar to that of the first two Dragon Quest mobile remakes. This leaves only Dragon Quest IV of the Famicom originals not to show up on iOS and Android, so one might think we'll see that crop up in the next year.


Source: Siliconera, Official Dragon Quest III
Posted in: News from Japan

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