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For the Birds: The CoNcast Episode 26

Man, it's been a long time since we did a CoNcast. It can be hard to get folks together when there's so much going - work, gaming, laziness...

Well, anyway, here's a new one. We went the weird angle again, and Tiddles and I decided to blow a day and a CoNcast on Twitch-streaming a big chunk of the preeminent dating sim video game featuring birds, Hatoful Boyfriend.

Not familiar with this gem of a game? What, are you nuts? Bird-brained?! Well, here: learn more about why this is so appealing.

Also, check out this collection of weirdo stuff and try to trace all the ways we're able to struggle to connect other games and media to this incredibly odd experience. And, if not being able to see it yourself doesn't do the job for you, watch the extended experience on Twitch. Or, well, watch it when we figure out how to resurrect the thing since I forgot to store it.

We are on a roll around here.

Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes, This Episode
Posted in: CoNcasts

FFXV News Review: A Tale of Two Directors

Final Fantasy XV
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... actually, that's about right. There's been a lot of FFXV news about in the last week or so, and some of it quite big;now that the dust has cleared, here's where we stand.

The biggest change is that Tetsuya Nomura has been replaced by Hajime Tabata as head director. This came as a surprise to just about everyone, even the folks over at Famitsu. The two had been co-directors since 2012, but the project had been Nomura's baby since the beginning; Tabata was only added to begin with in order to keep the company's PS4 projects (he was and continues to lead work on Type-0) on the same page.

Depending on which source you believe, this change varies greatly in significance. For Kotaku, Tabata is 'the man who saved FFXV,' but though the change was indeed sudden and unexpected, the real story is probably less drastic (but also thereby less click-bait-y). Nomura has always been more on the design and outline side of things (we are told he will now be able to focus primarily on Kingdom Hearts III, as well as a couple projects in early development), so his replacement may just be a case of playing to personal strengths. All the same, Nomura has been silent on the change, and it would be very difficult to not see a Hand of Judgment in his reassignment.

Tabata assured Famitsu that, while the product that will ultimately emerge as FFXV is different from the project conceived of as FF Versus XIII even as recently as 2012, there is a continuity of vision between Nomura's work and his own. While character design and combat type are prominent examples, another key continuity is that of overall plot vision. The earliest trailers for FF Versus XIII quoted Shakespeare and promised a 'fantasy based on reality'; Tabata told Siliconera that he has become interested in engineering a historical feel in his work with Type-0 and FFXV, something which he hopes to approach more explicitly in future projects.

A demo for FFXV, featuring the subtitle Episode Duscae, will be included in the release of Type-0 HD, which will be available next year on March 17th in the US and March 20th in Europe. The specifics are still vague, but the demo is reported to contain about four hours of exploration, and Tabata has made it clear that he is working hard to ensure that it will please. There has been no hint regarding the release of the full title.

The game, Tabata said in an interview with 4Gamer, is around 55% completed. This is admittedly a disappointment: yes, development had to be restarted from scratch when the decision was made to switch to PS4, but that was some three years ago. He is acutely aware, as several interviews show, of the high stakes - not only for producing a flagship, console Final Fantasy title but for one that has already had so much time and money invested in it.

Part of the new direction that Tabata's director-ship has indicated is that he wants this game to feel 'casual.' This will be evident both in the party dynamic - the protagonist's car will be a mainstay and he hopes to create the feel of a 'road movie' - as well as the combat engine, which Tabata hopes to streamline. These aspects, he believes, will make the game approachable despite its size, as well as appealing to the aging demographic (THAT'S YOU JOSH) that originally played Final Fantasy games.

There's a bit of heat, as one might expect, coming from the Kotaku Justice Pulpit and directed at the fact that the main playable characters will all be male. While this fits with what we've seen in trailers from the very beginning, it is a bit unusual given the series' strong history of female protagonists (and with mostly realistic clothing / breast sizes, at that). It is the hope of this writer that, unless informed of some malign intent on the part of Square Enix, we can just infer that the team is looking to create a specific vibe in this game rather than initiating a project to finally rid the world of all women.

But hey, if you disagree, let the world know thine fury via comment!

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

Square Enix Go Mad for Steam

A while back, a wise newsposter said that the Final Fantasy III PC release could be a precursor to Final Fantasy IV. That handsome fellow was right, as the game showed up on Steam yesterday at the same $16 price point of FF3.

Not only that, there was another surprise today, when Final Fantasy XIII showed up as well at the same price point but on sale for 10% off as of this writing. Say what you will about Final Fantasy XIII (and so will I - I got sucked in after about ten hours and absolutely adore it), but the Steam version is as of right now the top selling game on Steam, and it doesn't even release for another two and a half weeks.

2014 could be the start of a very good run for Final Fantasy fans who are also PC gamers, as the two XIII sequels are also confirmed to arrive by early next year. Type-0 HD is even coming to Steam next March!

The timing of these releases and announcements is clearly tied to Tokyo Game Show, and there is a lot more news from Squenix this week. These two games are on sale right now and that puts them to the top of the queue, though, so keep an eye out for another recap in this space soon.

Source: Kotaku

Distant Worlds Updates for Fall 2014

Distant Worlds
Active readers of CoN news (and of course, Distant Worlds fans) will already know that there's one more show coming in North America in 2014: Toronto, December 6. That show will be conducted by Arnie Roth, and will feature regular contributor Susan Calloway as a vocalist. Uematsu will be in attendance as well.

With the upcoming list getting thin, it's about time for some new shows to get announced for 2015, and that list is here! On January 31, the team will do two shows in New Jersey, at the Performing Arts Center in Newark. There will be a matinee and an evening show on the same day, and VIP tickets are available that include meet and greet packages. Not only will these shows include Roth, Uematsu and Calloway, they will also feature the first North American performances by Rikki, the original vocalist for Suteki Da Ne from Final Fantasy X. Tickets are on sale now.

In May of 2015, the series returns to St. Louis, Missouri for shows on the 15th and 16th. Uematsu won't be there, but Roth and Calloway will be performing and the composer for Final Fantasy XI, Naoshi Mizuta will be in attendance for the first time. The program will be changed up somewhat, bringing back the Final Fantasy VI character medley first performed for the 20th Anniversary show and two new arrangements from Lightning Returns and Final Fantasy VII. In addition, each show will have two other new additions to the program; the first will add in new Final Fantasy X and XIV music, and the second will add in Eyes on Me and Melodies of Life. These tickets are also on sale now.

The spinoff series from Distant Worlds, covered in our last post, has wrapped up its live performances in America for now, and has just two more upcoming - one in London on Halloween, and one in Paris on November 30th (tickets available now). However, a recording from a previous London performance is coming soon for purchase. It's described as "over sixty minutes of music and a virtually all-new repertoire" performed by a much smaller chamber orchestra. It seems like a digital performance is already available to buy from Bandcamp for a minimum $9.99 purchase, but there's no indication as to what will be different about the new release or whether it will be available only digitally or also on physical media.

Source: Distant Worlds, A New World

Assorted Newses: Type-0, Bravely 2, Dragon Quest

Square Enix
Square Enix has been active lately, which is surprising given how close we are to the Tokyo Game Show, at which the company traditionally has a pretty strong showing. Here are the highlights of the past few days, pertaining to several titles.

Type-0 HD was announced for PS4 and Xbox One back at E3, but now we've gotten a bit more context thanks to an interview with the title's director, Hajime Tabata. The title, originally for PSP and as-yet unreleased in the west, has apparently been in development on these systems since 2012, before the consoles were yet detailed to the public. As such, the process of HD-ifying Type-0 has been treated as a sort of trial run for the company on the new systems for later projects, with many of the developers moving from work on Type-0 over to Final Fantasy XV. Tabata further insists that since the game will be an all-out refurbishment of the original, he wanted to make use of the best systems available.

We learned from a trailer about a week ago that the upcoming Theatrythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call would have at least one tune from Type-0. That's what we call buildup.

There's a tiny bit more Bravely Second news courtesy of the recent Square Enix Presents Japan episode. The game will feature new jobs as well as returning ones from Bravely Default. Re-iterating what has been heard before, the folks in the episode promised that this sequel will focus on story over exploration, but that through plot the world of Luxendarc will be expanded in terms of both lore and geography. Bravely Second should get a fair bit of showing at TGS, including a playable demo with combat. We have also learned that the title is set for a winter release in Japan.

Finally, as part of the whole batch of Sony news , Square Enix announced Dragon Quest Heroes, to be developed by Omega Force, the studio behind the Dynasty Warriors and, recently, Hyrule Warrriors titles. Accordingly, this will not be a main series title; instead, it'll be in the hack-'n-slash the studio's other products. The game has an original cast of characters, but in the announcement trailer you can see a couple classic attacks from the series as well as several characters from earlier titles DQ4 and DQ6. How these series cameos feature has yet to be announced.

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

A Big Week in Final Fantasy Explorers News

General Final Fantasy
We haven't talked about Final Fantasy Explorers since it was first introduced in June, and with a big batch of recently released interviews and clips we now know much more about what the game will be.

In case you've forgotten, Final Fantasy Explorers is an MMO monster hunting game (yes, think Monster Hunter) that features gameplay elements characteristic of the Final Fantasy series.

These include a recently-announced Trance system somewhat akin to that of Final Fantasy IX, a swath of famous weapons and armors from throughout the series (in fact, the game is reported to have over 500 pieces of equipment, which are created with raw materials obtained from battle), and major enemies and summons from the series who will serve as the marks players will hunt (Shiva and Ifrit have been featured in trailers, unsurprisingly, but less recent series mainstays have been confirmed as well, like Fenrir and Ramuh). Crystals are involved as well, as the things players are trying to obtain by defeating marks.

The most notable traditionally-FF element of the game is a combat system structured around jobs. Those announced so far include the Ranger, Paladin, Freelancer, Black Mage, Time Mage, Ninja, Knight, White Mage, and Monk. While developers have promised that the job structure and acquisition of abilities from other jobs won't be as rigid as in previous games, a recently announced aspect of combat, Resonance, will encourage players to use their job's abilities to work together in order to boost damage output, healing effectiveness, and other stats.

The biggest question right now is: will we see Final Fantasy Explorers in the west? A Japanese release date on the 3DS has been scheduled for December 18, but nothing has been said officially for other markets. While the name "Final Fantasy Explorers" has been trademarked in the US, Square Enix has been hesitant with exporting multiplayer titles designed for handheld devices, leaving it as yet uncertain whether European and North American audiences will get a chance to play it.

Source: Siliconera, 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.