The World at Large
Contrary to what we (and many others) proposed yesterday, the new iOS release isn't Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, or a bundle release of both; it is, as laszlow mentioned after the original post, "All the Bravest."
What does that mean, "All the Bravest?" Well, it pretty much does what it says on the tin. This game is all-combat, all-the-time, with you controlling ten or more characters - I think I count twenty in one of the screenshots - at once by tapping them when their ATB gauge is full. The combat will progress through "stages" in which you battle various monsters followed by a boss. It looks to be pretty low-strategy, as well. There's no indication that you pick attacks per character (which, admittedly, would get pretty frustrating, pretty fast with that many folks in the battle party), merely that you tap them when they're ready and tap multiple characters in succession to create attack chains. The base set of characters appear to be generics, with jobs culled from the history of the Final Fantasy series. There are twenty of these, some of which are unlockable through play.
I think this game has a few things against it, personally. First, with most of the sprites being recycled from other games, odds are there's going to be no coherent art direction in the battles, and it's going to look like a third-grader's collage project - I mean, just look at the title screen. Second, and this won't surprise anyone, but much of the content, including 35 premium characters, are available via in-app purchase, and not for the initial buy, which is expected to be about three US dollars. Finally, if there's really not much more to it than "tap things when you're prompted," it seems like this is a mashup of Theatrhythm and Airborne Brigade, two other recent iOS offerings from Squenix, which doesn't seem terribly innovative when you think about it.
The game's out in New Zealand now, given the magic of world time. Since New Zealand has about nine people, none of whom I know to be CoN members, we might have to wait a little bit to see if my first impressions are indeed accurate.
Sources: Kotaku, Official All the Bravest Site
The festivities surrounding the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy didn't stop just with the official Squenix push. Along with the tributes and news posted at sites like ours, and the thousands of tweets and Facebook posts congratulating the company, one consortium came together to go a little further. The fansites Nova Crystallis, RPGSite, and UFF got together to create a massive fanzine with retrospectives, interviews, and lots of imagery to celebrate the event, and the results came out very nicely indeed.
Beyond retrospectives of the games and some of the ancillary Final Fantasy materials, there are profiles of many of the biggest Square names over the years, feature articles, opinion pieces, and even a few interviews. The magazine came out to nearly 130 pages, and is available in a variety of formats so that everyone can enjoy it. It's a really impressive piece of work and everyone involved should be commended for it. Hey, I'm not even going to be (too) bitter about the fact that we didn't get invited to be a part of it - it's really worth it that these folks stepped forward to do something so cool.
The full PDF is a shade over 40MB - there's no reason not to check it out.
Source: Nova Crystallis
I know you're here at the Caves of Narshe because you play RPGs, specifically Square Enix RPGs, specifically Final Fantasy games. Well, if you've not been following E3 this week, I've got news for you: there's precious little of that to be had here today. With E3 wrapped, here's what Square Enix hit heavy.
The biggest coverage to come out of the conference had everything to do with Eidos. The Tomb Raider reboot, which really did look very nice, got a lot of press (including a long-form controlled demo early in Microsoft's keynote). That game is still scheduled to come out next year, but the progress so far looked pretty impressive for a game that far out. Later in E3, the Hitman series took center stage, with a big crowd for the debut trailer. Absolution, the new title, is also due out in 2012. Deus Ex was also everywhere - a third title that a couple years ago would have been part of Eidos' booth, but fortuitously has fallen under Square Enix' umbrella due to smart corporate buyouts.
For the core RPG/Final Fantasy output of E3 2011, you really can't look much further than Final Fantasy XIII-2. We reported earlier in the week that a new, longer trailer debuted during E3, and while I admit that I haven't watched it (as I'm afraid of spoilers, since I still have yet to beat the first one!), it seems to have at least generated buzz, though of course it's not universally positive. One thing that surprised me, though, is that the game was actually playable at E3, as evidenced by these videos posted by Kotaku earlier in the week. RPGSite managed to get an interview with the director and producer of the game, as well, during the tumult of E3.
There was no news about Type-0 or the new Kingdom Hearts that I've seen come from E3, which is very disappointing. I can't speak for whether they simply had no presence at E3, or if the presence they did have was merely news old enough that it wasn't worth reporting, but there was almost certainly nothing new at all to appear. However, the official Type-0 site updated as E3 was closing, with some new screenshots and character reveals, so all is not lost there.
In other happy news emerging from E3, Square Enix announced a big, round number from the Final Fantasy series, and you have to admit it's impressive: the Final Fantasy series as a whole has now shipped over one hundred million copies worldwide. That's more than four million copies of the games every single year - maybe that's not a huge feat given the many remakes over the years, but you have to think back to the eighties and early nineties, when there just weren't that many from which to choose. The company, wisely, didn't talk about whether that includes just the core numbered series or also sideline series like Tactics, the Final Fantasy VII Compilation, or games that were called "Final Fantasy" in some regions but not others.
Even knowing that milestone, you'd be forgiven for being generally disappointed in Square Enix at E3 this year. I would have expected a stronger showing myself, if I'm perfectly honest. But, if you're unhappy with the company's performance, you're not the only one. Even at least one Square Enix executive shares concern over the company's core game franchises, going so far as to call the lack of Japanese output from the company at E3 "humiliating." Is there a way to bounce back from this? Koji Taguchi, the aforementioned executive, is clearly worried about it. Got any advice for him that doesn't start and end with "remake Final Fantasy VII?"
That does it for E3 this year, as far as CoN is concerned. Hope you enjoyed our recaps and editorials, and we'll be back with more of the same when it's time for the Tokyo Game Show in a couple months, where one hopes Squenix will be back with more gusto. If I missed anything good, make sure to respond and set me straight!
Why would one stay after hours to watch Sony's E3 2011 presser? Probably to either a) try to get a look at Kevin Butler or b) see if Sony apologizes for losing control of their security. You didn't get a), and you got b) out of the way just as fast as they possibly could do it. Blink and it's gone.
For me, I just sat through it and I'm not quite sure if there is a c), myself. I thought the overall presentation was pretty bland, though Sony will clearly score a lot of points with some gamers for not marrying their information to the Move the way Microsoft did Kinect. However, they might well lose points with a variety of other gamers for sticking so close to the handheld.
Some of Sony's games looked pretty great. I've never played an Uncharted, but Uncharted 3 does look solid in a crowded third-person, over-the-shoulder adventure genre. Resistance 3 looks like a perfectly adequate FPS. Everything is starting to look the same, though, and that wasn't helped by following Microsoft. You can show lots of adventure games and lots of FPSes, but after a while the brief time that each game has to show its uniqueness just fails, and I really didn't see anything during the PlayStation 3 portion of the presentation that really lept out as surprising or groundbreaking.
Once the Vita emerged, though, it got pretty interesting as long as you like handhelds. The tech behind the Vita looked pretty great in the live demos, though I for one have never been fully convinced by backside touchpads (fnar). The new handheld looks very much like a PSP, with the crosspad, four buttons, and two shoulders of the current PSP. After that, they added a second analog stick and made both sticks look more like DualShock sticks, made the screen multitouch-capable, and even added a back multitouch panel without a screen and front and back cameras.
The games shown live looked fanastic, nearly like PlayStation 3 games, and it seems like the time the devs have had with the development devices and SDK has paid off. I think the AT&T offering will not help the device; I would guess that the data plans will not be reasonably priced, and with no 4G availability, there will almost surely be a new version in just a couple years. PlayStation Suite, also on the mobile front, seems like a neat idea, but how many Android phones will really have the ability to control games that originated on PlayStation platforms?
Two things to point out here: one, there was pretty much no Square Enix here at all. That's two out of three down and barely any mention of Squenix - not a great sign, in my opinion. Two, please, please, don't let devs give presentations. God bless them, they make good games. They're not public speakers.
Short version: Come play at the CoN World Cup App.
Most of you have probably heard me blathering about the World Cup application in the forums, chat, or on Facebook for weeks. It's finally done and finally ready to start taking predictions, so it's time to get started!
I know the majority of readers out there are Americans, and therefore, you probably think that the only correct response is to hate soccer and anyone who calls it "football." This is why the rest of the world hates us. The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and you're going to see a lot of us going crazy for it in the next month, starting next Friday, June 11 (but especially June 12; be there). That said, it's worth playing our game here at CoN so you can experience soccer, even a little bit, and it's easy.
Here's how it works, in a nutshell: you sign up, choose who you think will win the whole tournament, and then for every game played in the Cup (there are 64 total), you pick the scores of both teams, who wins, and who will score first. You get points based on how many of your picks you get right. "But I don't know these teams, and I definitely don't know the players," you say, in a whiny voice. "That's okay," I reply, "because we're willing to help you!" For this tournament, we're providing a random pick generator, so even if you know nothing but still want to play, you can click a button and the system will make a guess for you. I'm not going to guarantee that it will be a great guess, but you can play without knowing the first thing about soccer if you want.
To play, all you have to do is come to the CoN World Cup App, pick the overall champion, and then start making picks for individual matches. You can pick all of the first 48 right now, if you want, or pick them all individually. The remaining sixteen will become available as the teams are determined. Once you do that, you can sit back and watch each match to see how you did.
There is at least one prize in the offing, to be determined, and the top three players at the end all get forum awards to show off too. There will also be a thread to discuss the matches and brag about correct predictions, so you can remember to get your predictions in on time. And if you're still not convinced, here are a bunch of links to help you make your picks!
The FIFA Homepage
BBC Sport's World Cup Homepage
Wikipedia's World Cup 2010 Page
ESPN's World Cup Homepage
The last FIFA World Rankings before the WC
In 2050, I'll be seventy years old. At the rate I'm going, far too arthritic to even pick up a gamepad, let alone play Final Fantasy VII with it. Certainly too old to use PlayStation Move, I'm sure. However, that's the latest on the ongoing not-really-news saga of a FF7 remake; Wada-san claimed that it would take at least ten times longer in development as Final Fantasy XIII. That's probably a joke. But it certainly is another indicator that it just isn't going to happen.
Not-news aside, it's another fairly quiet week leading up to E3, and, more importantly, the World Cup. (Seriously, the WC is only every four years. You get E3 every summer.) The biggest news is probably that a large number of Final Fantasy XI accounts were compromised recently. Not a good time, either, since Squenix will no doubt be looking to convert a great many of their current user base to Final Fantasy XIV later this year.
For those looking for Final Fantasy XIII Versus, SiliconEra reports that it's in the queue behind new localizations (like the just-released Korean version) of Final Fantasy XIII and the release of Final Fantasy XIV. It appears that since Final Fantasy XIV is due out in 2010, Versus will be sometime in 2011 now. Does anyone else find it odd that the spinoff will come out after the sequel?
The DLC news of the week is around the new WiiWare game, "Kumanage," dropping in Japan next week. It's two games in one, a puzzle game and a active-battle game, both using the Wiimote for core gameplay mechanics. It is also filed under the category "cute," which I know will shock the readership, with it being a WiiWare game and all. No word yet on exactly when it might come across the ocean, but it has been rated already by both the US and the European ratings commissions, so something later this summer is not entirely unlikely.
Finally, the unneeded accessory of the week award goes to this external speaker and DS stand, shaped like a Slime. I'm all for big Slimes - let's be honest, the Slime is probably the most iconic monster design in RPGs. This just seems like a huge, useless pain in the butt, though, does it not?
Source: Kotaku, SiliconEra, AndriaSang