It's been a while since I did a Distant Worlds update - I suspect it's because I'm still a little bitter for not pulling the trigger and going myself last October! The concert series well known by Final Fantasy fans worldwide has some new information to share this month, though, and some of the news is sure to be particularly interesting to CoN readers.
There are three Distant Worlds concerts on the books for this year at the moment; for our South American readers, two dates in Chile are scheduled for May 31 and June 1 in Rancagua and Santiago respectively.
On August 24, a special performance will take place in Chicago, a favorite destination for the Distant Worlds crowd - not only will Arnie Roth and Nobuo Uematsu be in attendance, they will also be performing solos during the set, and the setlist will focus on Final Fantasy VI in honor of its 20th anniversary. Dancing Mad, the Opera, and a never-heard arrangement of character themes are confirmed to be part of the new setlist.
The final date for 2014 at the moment returns to Toronto, with a performance at the Sony Centre. Roth and Uematsu will attend this show as well, though they won't perform and the setlist apparently will be more typical than the FF6-centric one in Chicago a few months earlier.
The new spinoff of Distant Worlds will debut this weekend, though, also in Chicagoland. It's called A New World, and it will be performed in smaller venues and conventions with a thirteen-member ensemble. In all the performances scheduled so far, both Arnie Roth and Nobuo Uematsu will be in attendance and will perform as well, with Roth on violin and Uematsu on keyboard. The series starts this Friday at Anime Central in Rosemont, IL, with a 4pm show on the 16th and a 1pm matinee on the 17th. After that, the show moves to Omaha for two shows on this Sunday, the 18th of May, and a pair of Montreal shows in August. All arrangements will be new to suit the new ensemble, so even folks who have seen Distant Worlds will get to experience something new.
If you line up a visit to any of these shows, make sure to give us a report after!
Source: Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds, Final Fantasy: A New World
As of now, there's a listing on Steam for Final Fantasy III. One might cock his or her eyebrow a bit at this news, but it's kind of a big deal. Kotaku reports that the game appears to be a port of the PSP version, and the screenshots look as if they've done some up-res work to polish the visuals. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the screenshots look absolutely lovely and that this bodes well for the care they plan to take with this port overall.
Being on Steam, the game will also get an achievement system laid into the gameplay, and will have Steam Cloud support for cloud storage of saved games and user settings for portability. The listing also advertises controller support, which seems like a no-brainer but will certainly improve the game's playability.
There's no release date and no price point yet, but it seems reasonable to think that a realm of $20.00 or so could be the target, with the less-advanced ports of Final Fantasy VII and VIII listing at $13.00 right now. This game's release could even be a precursor to a release of Final Fantasy IV 3D, given that the DS version was developed by the same team as III; additionally, both games have had similar iOS and Android releases that would likely make a port to Windows easier. Like I said, this could be pretty big news for fans of classic and less-exposed Final Fantasy games!
Source: Kotaku, Steam
Leading off, Final Fantasy XIV beta phase 2 is now live for PlayStation 4 gamers. Folks who participate in the beta can carry over their characters when the official release happens this week - I would have given you more notice but I just now realized that I never actually posted this news I drafted five days ago!
If you preorder the game via the Square Enix store, and despite my delay in posting, there's still time, you'll get a screenprinted fabric poster, early access to the post-beta launch, and two items: a Cait Sith Doll minion, and a Moogle cap for your character (complete with head-pom!).
Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD Remasters were released last week in the West. Check out this huge wall-o-art that the company displayed in Gallery Nucleus and put up for auction for charity for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan; all told, the auction raised well over fifteen thousand dollars.
Here are some pre-packaged tidbits to wrap up this midweek edition, too, courtesy of Famitsu via siliconera. Fairly interesting stuff, as well; for one, Squenix took pains to deny that there was a third game in the Final Fantasy X universe in the works. This is the first I'd even heard of that rumor - anyone else? It seems odd that such a rumor could remain under the radar that well but still solicit a denial from the company. A third Dissidia game is on the wishlist of that series' director, Mitsunori Takahashi, and producer Shinji Hashimoto explained that the upcoming releases of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix were moving along as desired. Apparently there are more nuggets coming that Famitsu are not making public until the new issue hits the newsstands, so there could be more updates and details soon.
Source: Twitter, 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