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Square Enix News Tidbits: The Mailbag Cometh

Square Enix
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
Posted in: North America

End 2013 Buying Games: Square Enix News Tidbits

Square Enix
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
Posted in: North America

Square Enix News Tidbits: Old and New Together!

Square Enix
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
Posted in: North America

The After Years 3D Released Globally for Mobile

Final Fantasy IV
As we mentioned last month, Square Enix announced a remake of the episodic Final Fantasy IV sequel, The After Years, for mobile. Last weekend, it arrived in 3D, for both iOS and Android, and it's available for $15.99 American. This 3D version marks the first time that the game has been released its entirety using the 3D engine developed for the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy IV.

The reviews on both the iOS and Android app stores are pretty positive, nudging just past four of five stars on each, but Kotaku savaged it. New engine and all, seems like maybe sixteen bucks could be a bit much for this. Anyone out there pick it up?

Source: Square Enix Members Blog, Kotaku
Posted in: North America

Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster Release Dates

Final Fantasy X
With surprisingly little pomp and circumstance today, Square Enix announced the release dates for the Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD remasters. In a blog post earlier today, the company announced the standard Tuesday/Friday launch window of March 18 and 21, 2014, for the game in the US and Europe respectively. Also, "participating retailers" are willing to, for a limited time, upgrade all pre-orders of the Playstation 3 version of the game to the Limited Edition, which includes an artbook built into the packaging.

Some users are questioning why there will be no Playstation 4 release, since the original plan was to release these games in 2013. The company has not spoken to this question, though one would think that the PS4's version of Playstation Network would make a digital distribution possible sometime in the future.

Source: Square Enix Members Blog
Posted in: North America

Square Enix News Tidbits: E3 2013 Wrapup

E3 Expo
E3's all done now for 2013, and this was a pretty big one for Square Enix. Well, at least the Square side of things. We reported earlier in the week the biggest news from the company, both that Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 were coming for the PlayStation 4, and then just a few hours later that the same games were also meant for Xbox One.

Final Fantasy XIV was also announced for PlayStation 4, with an upgrade system for users who want to start on PlayStation 3 and then move on up. New screenshots and trailers emerged for the Final Fantasy X and X-2 updates, and there was not just a debut trailer for Final Fantasy XV, but also a followup video showing the first elements of high-fiving, male-centric battle first appeared in the private "Future of Final Fantasy" event but was later released to YouTube.

Obviously, all that made for the biggest news of the conference. However, it's worth noting that Squenix put together a blog post to cover all the little things they did, and it has other videos such as new videos from Lightning Returns, the official announcement trailer for Murdered: Soul Suspect, and the kinda-creepy iOS action RPG Bloodmasque, in which your hack and slash master shares your face.

All in all, this was probably one of the better years the company's had at E3 in a while. They were definitely showstealers at least twice, and the release schedule coming up in the next year is looking pretty solid. And we're not even to the Tokyo Game Show yet.

Source: Square Enix Members Blog
Posted in: North America

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