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News from Japan

Square Enix Sweet on Switch and Other Financial News


Square Enix
Square Enix had a financial reporting briefing today, and the core of it was absolutely Nintendo's new console and mobile titles. As reported by the Wall Street Journal's Tokyo tech reporter, the company plans to "aggressively make games for Switch," ruling out no IPs in the company's stable. They did not go into any detail as to any specific IPs, of course, but they did reference new IP, active IP, or even resurrected IP. You can let your mind run absolutely wild with those possibilities, of course, but we've already seen the concept in action with games like I Am Setsuna or the possibility of Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition.

The company went on to say that the Switch is a great place for mid-level games, and due to the similarities in system architecture with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it's very possible that more games could be made cross-platform in the future and include the Switch. I think in reading between the lines, this implies that the games can be ported but might need to be toned down, particularly in the case of games made with the PS4 Pro or One X in mind.

Additionally, as per Gematsu, the company mentioned the existence of unannounced mobile titles to be released in the second half of this fiscal year, as well as "sharp," "powerful," and "well-made" titles to be seen at next year's E3. There's no information currently as to whether these sharp titles are ones we already know are coming, like Kingdom Hearts 3, or whether they're currently under wraps.

Finally, the company dropped a few ongoing sales numbers to show its strength, with Dragon Quest XI having sold more than three million copies, NieR: Automata booking more than two million, and Final Fantasy XV at over six and a half million worldwide.

Source: Siliconera, Gematsu
Posted in: News from Japan

The 2017 Tokyo Game Show Wrap-Up


Tokyo Game Show
A wrap-up, at least in terms of Square Enix. That's plenty, because they did a lot this TGS (and in the times leading up to and coming out of it, too).

As Final Fantasy XV is still the biggest game in the Squenix stable, even as it nears a year from its release, there was plenty of XV news. First, of course, is the announcement of a Halloween release date for "Comrades," the multiplayer XV expansion set. Since I failed to mention it when it was first announced, Comrades will fill in some timeline that is not part of the main XV story by allowing players to play the role of a Kingsglaive soldier to undertake quests in the XV world; it's not yet clear as to whether the expansion will actually create any new canonical story elements, though there will also be some single-player content that might factor in. Nobuo Uematsu has even penned a new vocal theme for the expansion, his first work for the game. Note that reading more about this expansion is likely to spoil some XV for you if you've not finished it!

Still on the topic of XV, new for TGS was a new (and VERY spoilery!) trailer to announce the next phase of single-player XV universe content. Episode Ignis will be out in December, completing the DLC for the main party. A King's Knight mobile game, based on the game to which the guys often refer, is out now in Japan (which I personally hadn't heard about coming). A new update to allow more active hunts is coming very soon - and thank goodness for that - and a number of smash cuts advertising free updates to extend the story promise to fill in some more blanks as well. I've seen rumors that the first of this story expansion might center on Gentiana, but I can't seem to find confirmation of that at this very moment.

Tabata also mentioned just before TGS that while he was previously joking about bringing XV to Switch, he's not really joking any more. They have not figured out how to do it yet in a way that would please them, but they are in discussions about how to possibly make it happen. That could mean that only the Pocket Edition makes it, or they might figure out some magic way to get it to play on the somewhat-less-robust platform. Don't get your hopes up just yet.

Oh, yeah, and Noctis is coming to Dissidia NT. No big shock there, but at least we now have a character where the flying-dash move to get across the battle arena makes sense! If you played the beta of NT, by the way, you will probably be pleased to know that Squenix are revamping the UI before retail release. I personally thought the battle UI was awful in the beta; redoing it won't make it a game I particularly want to buy, but I do think it will improve it quite a bit. You can see the changes in the Noctis video linked above.

For those who have been tracking Lost Sphear, there's a demo out now in Japan for both PlayStation 4 and Switch. Siliconera has video of both so you can compare and contrast - you can even watch both at once at the link should you desire! It looks nice on both platforms, but that shouldn't be a shock because Tokyo RPG Factory games seem to be built not to max out systems' capabilities. The demo will contain a work-in-progress portion of the start of the game, and will allow players to continue with their progress once the full game is out. No information yet about the demo or full game outside of Japan.

The Secret of Mana remake has gone a bit quiet since its original reveal; while some people might be waiting and hoping for news that they might remaster it to be a bit higher-fidelity from the trailer that was announced before, but what you get for now is some new concept art and announcements of the Japanese voice cast.

In the mobile realm, the company debuted a four-versus-four arena battle game called Battle of Blades; the branding reminds me a little bit of a Bravely Default/Final Fantasy Tactics hybrid, but the art style in-game doesn't resemble either all that much. It's got a single player story mode, and also a multiplayer mode in which players can join eight-player matches and compete in the 4v4 battle mode to control various nodes on the arena map. It's due to come out in Japan for both iOS and Android before 2017 is out, but for some reason this one doesn't strike me as something that they're planning for worldwide release.

Outside of RPG-style games, the big reveal from TGS this year was a new IP called "Left Alive." This is a pretty interesting looking game from first blush; Gematsu reports that it will be a third-person shooter set in the world of Front Mission. It's not like this is new ground in gaming, but in this case the character design will be coming from the character designer of Metal Gear Solid, and the game's direction will come from a director of the Armored Core series. The trailer even starts with a look at a Christmas tree in an apartment building, which made me briefly and wistfully think of Parasite Eve. Left Alive has a 2018 release window for PS4 and PC right now, with no other information available.

Source: Siliconera, Gematsu
Posted in: News from Japan

Final Fantasy IX Released for PlayStation 4


Final Fantasy IX
Last night, a European rating for Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 4 appeared on the PEGI site, stoking rumors of the game getting a worldwide re-release. Today, at the pre-Tokyo Game Show PlayStation conference, those rumors were quickly confirmed, with the game being released worldwide today.

This release of the game is based upon the Windows/Steam version released last year, which is itself based on the earlier mobile port. That means you can expect higher-resolution FMV and models, as well as all the other upgrades in those previous releases. It also appears that you can expect to be locked into the game's original 4:3 aspect ratio.

Until the 26th, the game will be listed at $16.79, after which it will rise to its standard price of $20.99. Packaged with the download will be a Final Fantasy IX dashboard theme and eight themed PSN avatars. Possibly worth it if you're not a PC gamer, as it remains a great game; for me, I just kind of want the theme without buying the game again.

Source: Gematsu
Posted in: News from Japan

Final Fantasy XV Art Book Announced


Final Fantasy XV
Obviously Final Fantasy XV wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but by and large it has been a pretty significant success. Likewise, the style of the game might not have been for everyone, particularly those wishing for a return to medieval or early-industrial fantasy, but you can't really argue that it wasn't a pretty game.

With that in mind, Square Enix have announced a special art book filled with concept art and design progression from the game, for which you can get a preview over at Siliconera. The book will have 220 pages of art, and will come in two editions - a standard edition for $49, and a limited edition for $169 that is printed in a larger format and includes two glicee prints. There was also an even-more-limited run of 500 in which the prints would be signed by members of the Final Fantasy XV art team, but it looks like that one's already sold through.

The books are set to ship in December of this year.
Posted in: News from Japan

Secret of Mana Remade for Sony and Steam


Here's one out of left field: Secret of Mana, also known as Seiken Densetsu 2, is suddenly getting a PlayStation 4, Vita, and Steam remake. It's going to redo the original game using rendered 3D objects, add in voiceover in (at least) Japanese and English, a re-arranged new recording of the musical score, and more. The game will be released worldwide this coming February 15.

As usual, Square Enix are doing some unique preorder bonuses; preorders on the PlayStation store will include two sets of skins for Randi, Primm, and Popoi as well as a set of PSN avatars. On Steam, orders made between now and the end of the first week of release will get the costumes and a desktop wallpaper image. In Japan, a collector's edition will be available that will include the game, a pop-up art book, a music CD, and figurines of the main characters; orders from Amazon Japan will include a copy of the original 1993 instruction manual. No word yet on whether either of those two options will be available in the West.

At the time of writing, the English website appears to be down, but you can see more at the Japanese site now.

See below for a minute-long trailer showing some of the 3D modeling and a snippet of the English voice work!


Source: Gematsu
Posted in: News from Japan

The Remaining Final Fantasy XV Gamescom News


Final Fantasy XV
More Final Fantasy XV stuff from Gamescom, not just the announcement of a Windows/Steam version! First off, it must be noted that Hajime Tabata confirmed, with no ambiguity, that he would not be working on a Final Fantasy XV sequel. As we've already seen, the XV universe has been set up to expand using smaller pieces rather than a standalone game. The episodic DLC for the non-Noctics members of the party reflect that perspective, with the Ignis episode coming at the end of the year. The new multiplayer mode that is coming soon, called "Comrades," does the same thing by filling in a storyline gap without needing to use the main players. I'm not sure that this tack will appease fans whose main complaint seems to be the way the final third of the game played out vis-a-vis the storyline, but I think it's more likely to work than a standalone sequel would.

The other two pieces of XV news from Gamescom don't actually expand the universe in large ways, though they are standalone titles in-universe. The first is the already-announced VR fishing game; titled Monsters of the Deep; while there's no new information about the game as yet, pre-orders have begun and Tabata did bring it up at Gamescom, so it's clear that the game is in fact on the way. Additionally, a new Pocket Edition of the game was announced for release on mobile devices and as a Windows 10 app; it's coming this fall and will be a sort of episodic "de-make" of the core game. From the trailer and screenshots released, it does appear to be a weird little chibi retelling of the game's plot, and the game's mechanics seem to be intact but quite simplified. The first episode will be a free download, with the remaining nine available to purchase on an as-yet-unnanounced schedule. I suspect that the overall purchase price will be too high to justify not simply waiting to get it on Steam, but who knows?

Finally, in the main game, we're getting a bestiary and chapter select option in the near future as a free update, which will be handy for new players and people looking to re-play alike (of course, both of those should have been available from launch, but such is life).

Source: Siliconera, Polygon
Posted in: News from Japan

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