News from October 2009
They're not actually spooky at all, sorry. With another quiet week behind us, about all I have for you today are updates on releases, thanks to Squenix sending me a nice email outlining all of the North American ones. You'll no doubt wonder, as I am, how they're deploying so many remakes of ancient games.
Here's the brief list of what's coming up, according to Square Enix:
- A Shantotto Ascension, the next Final Fantasy XI pack, released this week;
- Space Invaders Extreme 2 for the Nintendo DS has also dropped (seriously? Is there a market for Space Invaders?);
- Arkanoid Plus has become available on WiiWare (again, seriously?);
- An update to the mid-80's shooter Thexder has come online for PSP downloads—and if you remember anything about the original, kudos to you.
Enjoy your halloween! Post your costumes and pumpkins in General Topics!
Source: Square Enix
Less than twenty-four hours since our last post, Nintendo has put rumors to rest and officially announced the DSi LL (or, if you're down with the flow, the DS ILL?). It's considerably larger than the DSi—obviously, of course, to account for the much larger screen— and will come in three new colors, a chocolate brown, wine red, and "natural" white, which in product-speak usually means some ivory tint that may or may not match the photos shown today.
Yesterday's rumor of the new screens having a larger maximum resolution has proven to be untrue, which is both a good and a bad thing. Of course, people like higher resolution, so it's sad to not have the chance at it; however, it also means that Nintendo can't possibly produce games that would be playable only on the DSi LL, as it is functionally the same machine as the DSi.
Nintendo appears to be presenting the DSi LL as a more robust personal media player than the current DSi; the theory is that applications like web browsing and media play should be easier with the larger screens. Beyond that "feature," they're sweetening the deal by including styli in two sizes, and putting three DSiWare games on the unit at the factory.
All in all, it's a big honkin' unit for a handheld, around two centimeters larger in length and width than the current DSi, and an even hundred grams heavier. If the thought of Final Fantasy IV or The World Ends With You on a screen with nearly double the real estate intrigues you, though, you can pick one up from Japan on 21 November for about $220, or in Europe sometime in Q1 2010. The North American release has not yet been announced, but it's still early here in the states and I expect that info to come out in just a few short hours, so keep an eye out here.
UPDATE: Nintendo has finally confirmed that it will arrive in North America at roughly the same time it does Europe.
The rumor from Japan today is that Nintendo is applying new planned obsolescence to their handhelds. With the DSi barely a year old, it appears that the big N is planning to drop a new version in Japan by year's end, with a screen more than 20% larger in diagonal.
It appears that this new 4" screen model will completely replace the current 3.25" model, with the intention of simply making the images larger for folks. The original news report from Japan rumors that the resolution of the screens might also increase, which could possibly make higher-res games possible on the system (but, of course, less workable for the older DSi and DS); however, this is not yet clear from the known information, so don't count on being forced into an upgrade in the near future.
Updates for some prior news posts this week, primarily. Commence! Birth by Sleep, as discussed last week, now has a Japanese release date: 9 January 2010. KH Insider reports that it's going to cost over $65 in JappoDollars (6,090 Yen); let me remind you that this is sixty-five dollars… for a PlayStation Portable game. Doesn't that seem a bit nutty? One hopes the price comes down a bit as it comes to the West. In Final Fantasy XIII news, Kotaku brings us yet more screenshots this week; they come from some pretty poor photos taken of the latest Famitsu magazine, so don't get your hopes up too much. Oh well, more media coming in for the next flagship release from Square Enix can't be a terrible thing. Finally, if you're into the Final Fantasy branded libations that have been released in the past, you might be interested to see the product mockups for Final Fantasy XIII Elixir. There appear to be two different designs planned. The first has sixteen different designs featuring character renders that you probably have seen in one form or another, with Snow, Lightning and Serah being featured on multiple can designs; the other has a boxed package with a more landscapey scene printed on the can and one of six mini-figures included in the box as well. If you want to import the drinks, more power to you—they should be available on 8 December and 22 December, respectively.
Source: KH Insider, Kotaku
It's true. See the screenshots for yourself:
Arc Rise Hearts / Kingdom Fantasia
Not that bearing a resemblance to Kingdom Hearts is a bad thing. (Or is it? I've never played the series) The main character DOES look a lot like Sora, though. Maybe it's his long lost brother. Maybe I should stop wondering before the developers take my idea and make it into a crossover game. Just like Kingdom He-OH MY GOD.
Seriously, though. Battle gameplay seems similar to The Last Remnant, at least from what I can gather in one sentence. "The characters in your party share an AP meter, allowing you to strategically queue up your attacks to suit every encounter." Graphics seem nicer in the cutscenes than in-game, but that might be due to the compression. Character artwork looks nice until one of the voice actors tries to draw their own character.
It seems like a cool game, and it's on the Wii! RPG fans and owners of Wiis rejoice! Oh, but since it's on Nintendo, large amounts of cleavage have been censored. Poor you. :(
Posted in: RPG News
Among the new downloadable PlayStation Network games released recently, Natsume slipped in a couple of moderately-recent entries from the venerable Harvest Moon series. The two specific titles were originally, of course, released for Sony systems; Innocent Life was originally released for PSP in the Spring of 2007 and PlayStation 2 last year, while Boy & Girl was also released for PSP in July of 2007.
Both games are available now via PSN for $14.99 apiece, likely a reasonable cost if you are a fan of the series but missed out on these games, as many folks might have given the relatively small user base for PSP and slowly dwindling user base for the PS2.
We're most certainly in the lull this week, as the folks who produce the news (Square Enix Japan, of course) seem to be in full swing trying to get Final Fantasy XIII out the door. So, another short update this week, with some news tidbits for Birth by Sleep and Thirteen.
I don't know about you guys, but I'd kind of forgotten about Birth by Sleep, the next Kingdom Hearts game (now that 358/2 Days is out). If you've forgotten, too, Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts, and is meant to be released soon after the first of the year in Japan. The tidbits for this week include a new mode within the game, called "Command Mode." This mode appears to be some sort of board-game based take on a license board system, earning buffing items by outplaying an opponent on the game board. The concept, as it's understood for now, seems unique in the Square Enix collection and probably a good fit for the Kingdom Hearts series, I suppose. Also in Birth by Sleep, it's been discovered in Famitsu that one of the characters has a master/trainer by the name of "Master Eraqsu." In English, this is an anigram for "Square," of course, and it seems to be the same in Japan. Given the look of the character, as well, it appears that this character is an homage to the original Master of Square, Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi.
The lone bit of Final Fantasy XIII news this week is the naming of another new character. Surely you've seen the trailer by now, either the Japanese, the Japanese with fansub, or the English; now you can know that the girl with the sports-bra-and-blue-dress outfit and large, skull-like tattoo is named Oerba Yun Fang, and she can summon forth Bahamut.
Finally, have I mentioned lately CoN's Facebook page? Become a fan now, if you haven't; I try to use it to talk a little more about stuff going on at the site and leave the news posting for bigger announcements about CoN these days.
Source: Kotaku, Kingdom Hearts Insider
A slightly abbreviated tidbits today, both because the good news is a bit thin this week and also because I'm not working today. Funny that I have more time to post the news when I'm at my office, right?
Let's start with the news that is my favorite for the week but has the least overall impact on the gaming world: the original Final Fantasy is now available for the Nintendo Virtual Console. For 500 points, you can play the true original version, with all of its (by today's standards, anyway) slow gameplay and clunky mechanics intact. Will users have any use for this release beyond nostalgia, with revised ports already available for no fewer than three platforms in North America? Probably not, but feel free to prove me wrong here, Wii owners. We... do have Wii owners who read the site, right?
Next up is a followup to last week's tidbits with the subbed Final Fantasy XIII trailer. This week you can get the real deal - an authentic English voice-acted trailer straight from Square Enix. Since the rest of the trailer is the same as you've no doubt seen by now, what do you think of the English dub? As usual for voice acting in Squenix games, it seems to be pretty polarizingâ€”I personally didn't really expect too much, but it does seem like the syncing from voice to character action is a little worse in this video than I would have expected.
Finally, Square Enix released some early monster renders for Final Fantasy XIV this week. This is a nice small news item, and from what I hear several of these renders are pretty much just updates of existing designs from Final Fantasy XI, but they're pretty cool nonetheless. I am a particular fan of the crazy zebra-dragon-velociraptor hybrid and the cactuar's pimp strut. And that marlboro? That thing is legitimately terrifying.
Oh, and just to see if anyone actually reads these posts, I want to point out that you need to start taking quizzes during October if you want to be qualified to win the prize at the New Year. You have to have at least ten quizzes in your name by then to qualify, and if you miss the ones that are open right now, there's no way to catch up!
Source: Nintendo, Kotaku, GameTrailers
Not many tidbits to be had currently, now that the Tokyo Game Show has ended, so we won't strain you terribly this week. First, note that Square Enix has set a target of six million copies sold of Final Fantasy XIII in order to consider the game a success. In Japan. Apparently, Final Fantasy XII only managed to sell that many copies globally, and Dragon Quest IX has shipped only about four million in Japanâ€”good numbers, but not quite to the scope of this new number. Note that this goal doesn't appear to include Versus, either, only the core game.
Why is this contradictory? Well, while the company aims for blockbuster numbers, they're also laying off a bunch of folks in Japanoville. The rumor is that between two and three hundred folks will be out of work soon; however, this has yet to be verified and it also could be people under the Square Enix banner who were only brought in via Squenix' recent spate of acquisitions and mergers. In any event, it's interesting that they plan to sell massive amounts of their next flagship game but yet are cutting back inside their own offices.
Finally in terms of Square, a kind soul has subbed the Tokyo Game Show trailer for Final Fantasy XIII. As you might expect, the translation isn't the best English you're ever going to see, but if you're in the strong majority here at CoN who does not have a conversational command of the Japanese language, it's probably all you're gonna get until the game's localized and out in the West next year.
I also note that the next set of quizzes are now up. If you haven't taken any quizzes yet, why not? There is still a prize to be won! And maybe a surprise after you take one, hm?
Source: Kotaku, GameTrailers