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News from July 2011

3DS Gets a Price Cut - With a Twist


Nintendo 3DS
Okay, so we're all aware that the Nintendo 3DS isn't doing as well as Nintendo would have liked. Even the die-hard fanboys have to reluctantly admit that the 3DS is not the badass system that anyone had hoped for. It's still definitely got potential, but that won't be enough. So, on August 12th, The 3DS will drop from $250 to $170. That's $80. Down to two-thirds of its orginial price-tag. That's pretty hefty, and what some might call "desparate". Your turn. But there's a PLOT TWIST.

For those who bought a Nintendo 3DS at original retail price at any time before the 12th, Nintendo are giving away some games on the virtual console. And by "some", I mean "twenty". For free. And I know what you're thinking, that all the games on the Virtual Console right now are for the Game Boy (and ONE Game Boy Colour game). And you'd be correct, at the current moment in time. But, the games being offered to the "Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors" are from the NES and GBA eras. 10 from each. The NES titles will be available starting from September 1st, before they are available to new 3DS owners. They will feature such titles as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and The Legend of Zelda.

As for the GBA titles, all we have for them are "before the end of 2011". However, the games offered here are Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. You may have noticed that I only listed five games for each. These are the only titles that have been announced so far - and as of yet it is unclear whether we will have a choice of what games we download, or if its a set 10 that Nintendo will release. Oh, but there's ANOTHER plot twist. It's like Final Fantasy VIII in here, jeez. Wait, better not. Anyway, for those who plan on buying a cheaper 3DS later and buying the individual Virtual Console games: consider this. Nintendo have no plans to bring the GBA titles to the new 3DS users - only the "Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors".

As someone who's owned a 3DS pretty much since launch, this is only good news to me. Mario, Zelda, Metroid... Although I sincerely doubt how soon some of the release dates will be. I'd be willing to bet that they'll release one title a week, or something along those lines. One thing that Nintendo DID say, however:
"Once the paid versions of the games are released in Nintendo eShop later in the year, the updated versions will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost."
It's pretty much a win-win for current 3DS owners.

Source: Nintendo

And Yea, the Dead Threads Shall Rise


Caves of Narshe Site News
With this year's CoNniversary just a week away, we've decided that now's a great time to have a Necromancy Week - while our guidelines about reviving old threads has always revolved around the concept of adding something new and good to the old mix, we're going to use this week to try to get everyone involved. Over the next week, you'll see some CoN staffers going back into the significant forum archives and plucking out the best - and possibly the worst, at least of the threads not buried at sea - for a resurrection to the land of the living.

You don't have to wait for us to do it, though. We're looking for you guys to voice your opinions on ancient things too. Just go to the forum of your choice, filter posts to show all posts from "the beginning," and start digging. Post in as many as you like, and post in the threads that others have conjured from the abyss; all we ask is that you pick the threads that are still potentially relevant so that there's something worth saying there. laszlow has already gotten started!

For my part, I plan to focus on threads that make long-time members look like they were morons when they were younger, as well as threads that fawn all over CoN. It's the only way to fly. Hope you all find something that grabs your fancy too!
Posted in: CoN Site News

Final Fantasy Type-0: Size Matters


General Final Fantasy
Square Enix has provided us with a set of new information regarding Final Fantasy Type-0 (which you may better remember as FFXIII Agito).

First of all, the game has a set Japanese release date of October 13. It will sell for an unusually-steep 7700 Yen, or $98 US. This likely reflects another detail provided by the company; that FF Type-0 (it's getting hard to resist calling it FF Typo over here) will be played on two discs.

There's also a new trailer up. Combat scenes are found sprinkled throughout the video, revealing a gameplay system that appears fast-paced and action-packed. It also treats viewers to a lot of character-introducing, including the presumed faculty members (Provost, Cadetmaster, Commissar, Commandant) of the military academy at which the protagonists (Ace, Deuce, Trey, right on up to Jack, Queen and King) reside. A large amount of background and character information is known, though FF Type-0 does not currently have an English language official site.

This recent burst of information makes it clear that the folks over at Square Enix are going for something different with this upcoming title. What with the relatively-short period between now and the game's Japanese release, it shouldn't be long before we can see how their efforts pay off.

Source: Kotaku
Posted in: Square-Enix News

FF Versus XIII: All About the Graphics, Baby


General Final Fantasy
Tetsuya Nomura had a little chat with Famitsu recently in which he discussed several elements of Final Fantasy Versus XIII's graphics.

The title's movie director, Takeshi Nozue, has apparently been working to improve the game-generated cutscene graphics, and with great success. Tweaks to character hair and conversation behavior (they've been working on this with the voice actors as well, recording certain lines in groups so as to achieve a more natural result) appear to constitute a large percentage of these improvements. The main area of attention, though, is lighting effects. Nozue and his team have put in seemingly obsessive amounts of work on this element of the game, an effort which resulted in images that astounded the Famitsu staff members present (I would imagine generating that response is no easy task).

Aside from the fact that the team is working to make game-generated cutscenes as close in quality to pre-rendered cutscene graphics as possible, they have taken on the challenge of changing the very nature of cutscenes within the game. Nomura says that in Versus, the player will have control of his/her character during all game-generated cutscenes. Nomura said that the new engine is difficult to explain and that he hasn't seen anything like it previously, so that's helpful. He mentioned that he often finds himself skipping cutscenes, and that the goal here is to create a more natural, immersive atmosphere that allows the player to remain involved.

Nomura also hinted further at Versus XIII's gameplay, stating that, while it will employ gameplay elements from the Kingdom Hearts series, it will not be quite as action-oriented as the later and that Versus XIII will have more variety.

Nomura ended by apologizing for making fans wait so long. I'll decide whether or not to forgive him if once this ever finally comes out.

Source: IGN
Posted in: Square-Enix News

New Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Details Emerge


Nintendo 3DS
Despite the game just coming to light last week, details have already started to appear for the new Final Fantasy beat-tapping game for the Nintendo 3DS. First off, for those who feel that Square stretches themselves too thin, note that the game isn't being developed by Square at all; indieszero, the team behind the well-reviewed Electroplankton, will be at the helm of the actual game development.

It looks like the game will be split into worlds dedicated to some, most, or all of the main numbered series (that part's not quite clear, yet), and that some, most, or all of the games represented will also contribute a character to your roster, from which you will choose four for your party. Each game has three phases, "Field," "Battle," and "Event," and each of those phases will have a different gameplay type. There are, of course, some RPG aspects too around character building, but the details around just what that means remain murky too. What Square has said is that the game takes place in a world in between Chaos and Cosmos, so it seems that there may be some effort to append this game to the side universe that also contains Dissidia.

Of course, the main thing that seems to get people fired up about this game is the potential for awesome music. We know these songs are in, with announcements of more surely on the way soon:
  • Clash on the Big Bridge
  • One-Winged Angel
  • To Zanarkand
  • The Sunleth Waterscape
  • Final Fantasy Main Theme

The tracks are indeed remixes from the originals, so they may or may not be to your liking.

For my money, it seems like this game might be a no-brainer. The art style is super-cute, the music is consistently one of the things the fans like best about the games, and Squenix have had very good success with portable games recently, more so than their big AAA console titles. I even like the official Japanese site, and that pains me to say since it's all in Flash.

Source: Kotaku, andriasang, THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY

Square Enix News Tidbits: Random Theme


Square Enix
Small and middle-size news items abound for the tidbits this week, around a wide variety of games. It all seems a bit haphazard, but, then, chaos does seem to be the new modus operandi of the sprawling Square Enix Eidos McDonald's Reebok empire these days, at least to us outsiders. Let's kick it off with the upcoming flagship releases.

This week, Famitsu spoke to Nomura and Hajime Tabata about Final Fantasy Type-0, and the biggest takeaway was more confirmation that the release date is slipping. Originally targeted for this summer in Japan, the Squenix bigwigs toed around the issue and implied that the release would be delayed from "short-sleeve" weather to "red leaves" weather. How poetic and not informative, yes? The implied reason is tied to the PSN outage and its impact on development of multiplayer play, which stings a bit since I don't think most western gamers have any interest in the multiplayer. If you do care, though, check out the recap of the interview, which goes into a little bit of detail regarding how the host/client mechanic works. Possibly coming next week in Famitsu, while we're on the topic, is more Final Fantasy Versus XIII information, of which there's been a significant drought for several months. This, too, comes from Nomura, so, one would hope that Famitsu will be playing ball and the update will be interesting and full of things that we didn't yet know.

If you read the forums, you might have already seen the thread about the Final Fantasy-themed rhythm game. Even if you read the forum thread, though, you probably didn't pick up that much. Part of that is that we simply don't know all that much about it, yet; it's got a TBA release date for the Nintendo 3DS, and there are some appearances from characters in Final Fantasy history, like Lightning, Cloud and the Onion Knight , and they're super-chibi-cute. Also, it's called Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. That's a lot of name. Sadly, we don't know what the music will be yet: classic Final Fantasy tunes? New work? A mix of new, old, and remixes? We'll find out someday.

In Japan, the Mobage network is a free-to-play-plus-microtransaction mobile phone gaming platform. That's a mouthful, but you should get the point. Square Enix released this week a social RPG on the platform called "Gleipnora," which from its screenshots looks to be a text-heavy RPG with some level of static graphics to dress up the package. Depending on the level of the social interactivity required, I wouldn't expect to ever see this in the west.

In the PSN Game Archives series in Japan, the list of releases is ramping up again now that PSN is back even in that territory. Wednesday was the first new-release day since the outage, and as one would expect, a great number of titles were released that were probably ready to go a while back. Several of these are RPGs, such as Breath of Fire IV and Ys IV; one, though, is a polarizing Square Enix title - Chrono Cross. Might that make it as downloadable content for Europe and North America? I'd say it's not at all unlikely!

To finish up today, here's something completely random: eight minutes of stop-motion animation using Final Fantasy VII action figures. It's crazy good, especially when you consider that it's one guy doing it in his house.

Source: andriasang, Kotaku
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Final Fantasy XIII-2 News Roundup


General Final Fantasy
As promised, here is the metric ton of FFXIII-2 news that has come up between now and E3!

First off, we have some new insights into event scenes. The player will be able to control the camera during plot event scenes. In addition, it appears that there will be cinematic action sequences during key battles.

A bit more character knowledge is available as well. We know that two of the central characters will be Serah, Lightning's sister, and Noel/Noal, whom we know essentially nothing about. There will also be a moogle named Mog. In keeping with the transformers theme of FFXIII, he will be capable of changing into Serah's swordbow. The characters from the original game will make appearances as well, though we cannot tell yet how significant their presence will be.

The battle system appears to be the same as its predecessor's at heart, but with a few tweaks. When approaching enemies, a small on-screen clock will appear. Depending on how quickly you attack (reflected by the color of the clock), you may either enter the battle with an advantage, an even playing field or a disadvantage. While the standard three-character limit in battles will once again be observed, FFXIII-2 will mix up the cards a bit; characters can more or less capture enemies and harness them to fight alongside the party in battle. Though there are still many unanswered questions relating to this new feature, it has been stated that over 100 enemies will be available for use by the game's heroes and that up to two monsters can be employed in battle at once.

Apparently, there will be considerably less story linearity, if not location linearity. Players will be able to choose their own tactics in certain situations which will alter how the events that follow play out. Furthermore, Square Enix has confirmed that there will be multiple endings, and that these endings hinge on certain choices available to the player throughout the game.

A few plot elements have been revealed as well, though these are characteristically vague. Isamu Kamikokuryo, art director for FFXIII-2, gave a recent interview in which he shared that the sequel will take a much darker direction. "[t]he civilization of Cocoon has met its end, and we're depicting the recovery process that follows. It's not a bright future, it's a time of hardship." Kamikokuryo said that the game's art style will reflect this mood. He also emphasized the importance of an afterlife-world in the entire Fabula Nova Crystallis universe. In FFXIII-2, this afterlife-world will be especially important to the plot, and the player will even be able to visit it. Lightning is somehow connected to this world in an important way (this is where her armor comes from as well). Perhaps this piece of information will help explain the dialogue at the end of the E3 trailer: "Get ahold of yourself! Lightning is dead!"

Kamikokuryo also alluded to some type of gate that players could use to travel to new locations that were not seen in the previous title. Location seems to be one thing the team is interested in doing well this time around; old locations will be given new depth, and many new ones will be added. The main setting of the game will be Gran Pulse, according to Kamikokuryo, but there will also be high-tech cities, and the team is striving to make all areas complex and detailed both in layout and scenery. He mentioned that his greatest regret from FFXIII was that many locations had to be rushed through by the player; in this new title, one of the team's goals is to allow the player to "explore that reality, the lives of the people living there... the feeling of being able to touch another world."

The final bit of news concerning FFXIII-2 is that the release date, originally projected to fall during late 2011, has now been pushed back to early 2012. It's worth checking out the FFXIII-2 E3 trailer on the official webpage, where several of these new developments can be seen in action.

Source: IGN, IGN, Andriasang
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square Enix Tids and Bits


Square Enix
There's a whole bunch of fun little news snippets for this past week-ish, so let's get at it!

First off, there's the fact that FFVI has been released on the virtual console, as already posted by Blitzsage in the forums (no such thing as a fanboy acting too quickly :D).

To celebrate the series' 25th anniversary, Dragon Quests I, II and III will be released as a package for the Wii. The set will also include Dragon Quest X bonus footage and will see a September 15th release date in Japan. Not sure yet for the North American or European audiences.

This year will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Mana series, meaning that, unsurprisingly, Square Enix will be celebrating once again with some type of promotion. In this case, it is a gigantic soundtrack that will be doing the honors: a 19-disc, 21,000-yen (that's about $260), spiffy lookin' soundtrack set that will be available for sale in Japan on September 14.

There's some notable staffer news as well; Square Enix's Yasumi Matsuno, the man behind Final Fantasy XII, Tactics Ogre and Vagrant Story (one of my personal favorites) has jumped ship in favor of Level-5. The move was made in order to achieve more creative freedom; he wants to be able to make whatever he wants. Matsuno has already begun work on a new project, one he hopes will be played by children.

In addition to these, there is quite a lot of new or recently-reviewed FFXIII-2 news to report, but I'll hold off on that until tomorrow. Toodle-oo!

Source: Andriasang, Andriasang, Kotaku
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Caves of Narshe Version 6
©1997–2014 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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