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
We've been waiting for it for a few months, and Final Fantasy IX appeared on Steam earlier this morning. It's already the top seller for the day so far, and it's currently listed at $16.79, a 20% markdown from the list price of $20.99. The sale price extends only until April 20, so if you've been looking forward to the release, you might want to snap it up now.
Similarly, the game also appeared this week for both iOS and Android. It requires 4GB of space for install, and a shade over 3 after, so this is definitely a game that I'll never have on my phone, which is constantly just about full. In the US, the same list price of $20.99 is what you'll pay for either platform. OS requirements are iOS7 and Android 4.1.
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
I just found out that there's going to be a Twitch stream put on by Square Enix America later today covering the Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo released last week. No idea if it will cover the whole demo, how long it will run, or anything like that, but they do say that they will be giving out prizes and playing the demo live.
The stream starts at 5pm Eastern time, or 10pm for our friends in England. It will be streamed on the Square Enix Twitch channel.
One might think that yesterday's leaks might have slowed the roll of Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV, with what might be considered the most important piece of information, the release date, to be out and about already. Square Enix wasn't playing that game, though. There are a few minor spoilers here, so be warned.
The official show lasted just about an hour and a half last night, and by design contained fifteen "uncoverings," and a lot of new stuff teased. Not all of the announcements were specific to the game, so not all of them will necessarily be interesting to everyone. But here they are, bolded to show which were the company's official announcements. They tried to sell everyone on the fact that there were only fourteen to begin with, but who didn't see through that? The game is fifteen!
To lead off, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the originator of the series, took the stage to explain that he's been talking with Hajime Tabata and he believes that Tabata is going the right direction to make XV a real live Final Fantasy game in the spirit of what Sakaguchi created. You can take that information with any grain of salt you like, but Sakaguchi is certainly no longer obligated to say such things on a stage, so he either really believes it or he got paid a big chunk of money to be in Los Angeles last night.
After that, the first new trailer of the night rolled. It had a lot of information that would be shown again later, so it really was a teaser for the rest of the show. It had a lot of new footage, with cuts showing the party playing cards, playing what looked like a pinball game, Cindy unloading the party's broken-down car, the party riding chocobos, and even a new song, an orchestral and vocal version of the classic Ben E. King song "Stand By Me." Again, more details on that stuff later.
Yoshitaka Amano, sitting near the front of the auditiorium, got a shoutout just after, along with a secondary shoutout for Yoko Shimamura, composer for Final Fantasy XV. Amano greeted the auditorium, while Ms. Shimamura seemed a bit unprepared for the attention. Amano's introduction led into a video, the 2D/3D digital art project shown in the Chinese advert yesterday. Nobuo Uematsu popped up on video soon after to greet the crowd as well.
Continuing the music tip, the event turned back to the cover of "Stand By Me." It wasn't clear how important the song was to the game until they turned back to it; for me, the song sounded really familiar, and it was clear why at this point - the song is a new arrangement specific for Final Fantasy XV by Florence + the Machine.
The event then turned back to the game itself, with an extended video of new gameplay footage that showed the first footage of riding (and even drifting!) chocobos. There was also new footage of car travel, as well as the first announcement that Noctis' car has Final Fantasy Radio built right in, playing a selection of songs from previous games in the series. The video featured the world map theme from Final Fantasy I, as well as "Sunleth Waterscape" from Final Fantasy XIII. The final big reveal in this video was Titan, who was truly titanic, standing easily forty times taller than Noctis and is encountered in battle.
Following immediately was a failure of sound mixing, in which what appears to be the French translator stepping all over the main English soundtrack. Then, another new video, this time of environmental footage. This video cuts through a lot of environments: modern cities, rural outposts, ancient castles, caves, and so on. In each, some visual effect is displayed, like water motion in fountains or rivers, or cloud motion, or shadows and light levels changing from afternoon to sunset. Very, very pretty stuff.
Next up, they hit the main party, called (unfortunately) "the bros" by the event hosts. There wasn't much new information about the characters themselves, but at the end, all four changed from their well-known CGI forms to manga-style illustrations, which served as the lead-in for the next uncovering: a five-episode prologue anime, called "Brotherhood," the first episode of which was released simultaneously. I've never been much of an anime watcher, but I've seen the first episode and it seems decent enough and true to what else we've seen in the games. All five episodes will be released before the game.The anime doesn't include all the characters, so the next scene showed King Regis and Luna Freya on screen to explain why. The reason was the next uncover, a feature-length CGI movie called "Kingsglaive." The movie is a sidestory to the plot of Final Fantasy XV, taking place roughly during the timeline of the game. The movie is not for cinematic release, and is largely intended for streaming, though through which platforms it's not yet known. A downloadable version will be available as well.
In the video is a special car, which I personally as a car design nerd immediately identified as an Audi R8 - well, okay, I thought it was an RS8 to start, but I was tricked because of the special design. That special design was created by Square Enix and will be created as a one-off, not-for-sale real car, not just in the movie. Square Enix are going all in on the movie, as the very next uncovering was for the voice talent in the movie: Lena Headey and Sean Bean of "Game of Thrones," and Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" are all acting in the film, as Luna, Regis, and a new character named Nyx respectively. It was not announced if any of those roles would carry over to the same characters in-game for the English dub.
Moving on from that, which took a while because clearly Squenix are very proud of the new movie, the event cut back to the pinball-esque game shown in the first trailer. The game is called Justice Monsters Five, which on top of being a hilarious name, looks to be some sort of pinball/pachinko/action arcade hybrid game. Not only can you play it in-game, you'll also be able to play it on mobile even before Final Fantasy XV is released, for Android, iOS and even Windows Phone. I assume that means it will also be available on Windows 10 at some point, but that was not made at all clear.
The new demo took the stage next. Called Platinum Demo, it is, as rumored, a demo featuring a younger Noctis in some sort of dream or fantasy world. It has no real connection to the main plot, but uses the same combat system so that users can try out what has changed since the first demo. Carbuncle appears and is adorable, and will be available in the main game for people who finish Platinum Demo. It also serves as a tech demo for things like creatures and environment effects. The demo is available now for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
At this point, the hosts uncovered the two worldwide special editions and announced that preorders were starting soon (by now, they've begun, of course!). They showed two editions. First was the Deluxe Edition, which will come in a steelbook case with codes for bonus DLC (a new costume for Noctis, a new Masamune weapon, and a paint job for the party's Leviathan car) and a hard copy of Kingsglaive on Bluray. Also announced was the Ultimate Collector's Edition, which comes with even more DLC (in this case, all of the Deluxe DLC plus four "in game item packs" of some sort). Also in addition to the DLC, the Ultimate also includes everything from Deluxe plus a 192-page artbook, a second steelbook with a Bluray of the "Brotherhood" anime, a selection of music from the XV universe on CD, and a Play Arts Kai statue of Noctis. The Ultimate edition is limited to only thirty thousand copies worldwide for some insane reason, and both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions are already listed as being waitlisted, meaning that all copies have been claimed. If you want to get in on these, the Deluxe is $90 and the Ultimate (if you can survive the waitlist) is $270.
The pseudo-final uncovering was that of the release date. Tabata took the stage himself for this piece, and the screen briefly tried to trick the audience into thinking that the release was November 30 of this year. However, when the on-screen slot machine finally stopped, September 30 it was, as we all already knew.
Tabata stayed around for the mystery fifteenth uncovering, a second brand-new trailer. This one had English subtitles, and more brand-new footage. The big reveal here was hidden at the very end, and it was the long-rumored airship: it was part of the car all along! The Leviathan is a transformer, with wings and jet engines that pop out of the trunk, and then the whole thing takes off straight from the road. So... where do the guys keep their luggage and camping gear? Do they have a Bag of Holding?!
Bottom line, if you are open to this game or already hate it, you have to admit one thing: Squenix are going absolutely all-in on this thing. Of course, after ten years, do they have a choice? Watch the entire presentation below, or skip to the hour mark to see just what has been covered in this post.
Source: Uncovered |Final Fantasy XV