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
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
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
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
Final Fantasy VII Remake for PlayStation 4!
No, just kidding, I couldn't resist. While the "Future of Final Fantasy" event was invite only with no stream or public video released (at least, not yet), you can't stop the liveblog freight train. Now that the event has been over for a bit, here's what came from it:
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will be released for both PS3 and PS4. If you buy on PS3, you can port your data to PS4 later. No word on whether you have to buy the software twice, though.
- XIV also got a pretty serious new trailer.
- New Final Fantasy X HD remake screenshots were bouncing around.
- And, hey, a new trailer for that too!
- New gameplay work-in-progress from Final Fantasy Versus XV 13 was shown for the first time.
- Oh, yeah. And XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 are not Sony exclusives. They're also coming to Xbox One. Goodness. It's currently unknown if those games will have simultaneous releases on all platforms, though, or if some limited exclusivity will apply.
Source: RPG Site Twitter, DualShockers
Well, that was both expected and unexpected. I had been saying all day that it didn't make sense for Square Enix to make any big announcements at Sony's pre-E3 press conference because Squenix had their "Future of Final Fantasy" private event coming up tomorrow (today, now).
I don't know whether Squenix wanted to make sure their big news was immediately available to everyone, or Sony coughed up some hard cash to be allowed to host the debut, or something else; regardless, there it was about an hour into Sony's show: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3.
I think that the notion that Versus XIII would become Final Fantasy XV was a common one; in fact, I think that I mentioned it myself in a CoNcast at some point. As it turns out, that is exactly what happened; the title that started as Versus XIII explodes in the trailer and becomes XV. However, the game looks very much like what we were told to expect years ago, so it's anyone's guess right now how they are altering the setting and plot to make sure that this is no longer a XIII-universe game. Perhaps there will be more of that soon.
Kingdom Hearts 3 was also a little bit of a revelation. That the game would at one point exist was well known, but in the past, Squenix had said in the past that the game wouldn't begin development in earnest until after Versus XIII had been released. It must have been reassuring for KH fans, then, when that game's trailer showed up too.
The exclusivity of both games was not addressed. At Sony's conference? Color me shocked. No matter what the platform, this is a pretty big breakthrough moment for Square Enix. Both of these games have been hidden from sight for quite a while, and suddenly the company has something real to talk about for two of their biggest IPs again. While, based on those trailers, neither is particularly interesting to me personally yet, this is the very definition of a huge deal when it comes to Square.
It also begs the question, what could be left to talk about in today's private event? It seems like since we know the next two numbered Final Fantasy games, "the future" will have to revolve around them for a bit. Maybe it's more detail on the new engine we've seen a couple times. Since my ticket never made it to me, I guess we'll have to wait for some leaks!
Source: Siliconera, Engadget