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News from January 2010

A Mixed Bag of Square Enix News

Square Enix
Dragon Quest VI, the 1995 SNES RPG, was released in Japan yesterday on the Nintendo DS. Accompanying it is an excellent trailer filled with cosplay goodness. Does that make me want to buy the game? Probably not. What MIGHT make me interested is the Dragon Quest restaurant Josh mentioned a few weeks ago. It opened yesterday. Will it succeed? No idea.

Final Fantasy news has some more substance, fortunately. We're given a look at Final Fantasy XIII's PAL Collector's Edition. For £60, European consumers will receive, in addition to the game, a hardback FFXIII artbook, collector's cards and a "sample" CD of the game's soundtrack. Now, I'm all for collector's editions, and I understand why there's a sample instead of the full thing with this edition, but I'd still like to see a full edition that comes with the game, full soundtrack, artwork and a nice box to keep it all in. And hey, maybe give a pass for the beta of Final Fantasy XIV? That'd be pricier, obviously, but I'd seriously consider it.

Final Fantasy has had many spinoffs and sequels and sub-serieseses. Tactics (and, I guess, Ivalice), VII Collection, Crystal Chronicles, etc. The first has always been popular, what with re-releases and the Advance series. The second...well, does much need to be said? The Crystal Chronicles series, however, is one that has been declining since it's start. The Gamecube title in 2004 was largely successful, and with sequels on the Wii and Nintendo DS, Square-Enix has been frequently pursuing the series. However, it would seem that sales figures for the most recent game, Crystal Bearers, fall far shy of the sales of the original. Will the series keep going forward, or will Square quit while they're...less behind?

Remember all that talk of a Final Fantasy VII remake? You know, for like, the last 8 years? Once again, the rumours and talks have quietened thanks to Tetsuya Nomura, who does not believe one is in the works. He did, however, mention that the characters might make cameos in other games in the series. Hopefully more than just a reference, a la Final Fantasy IX. What's interesting is what Hironobu Sakaguchi is now working on. A new RPG for the Nintendo Wii entitled "The Last Story". The logo design is very Final Fantasy-esque, and, hey, so is the name. What do we know of it so far? About thiiiiis much. Good song. It's somewhat reminiscent of Final Fantasy X's orchestral version of Suteki Da Ne, if you ask me - which you totally did. And that's a good thing for the musical side.

Keep your eyes out for another news post tomorrow with lots of information regarding another upcoming Square-Enix title. That is, providing Mass Effect 2 doesn't distract me from it. In the meantime, go check out your shiny new awards! Maybe!

Source: Kotaku, Final Fantasy Union

You've Got Awards! Maybe!

Caves of Narshe Site News
You might have noticed over the last few hours that some new content has appeared in the posts made by many of your fellow CoN members. It's all part of the new awards system we've added to the forums today, in which we're giving awards, much like gaming achievements, to all of our members who have been a part of making CoN great.

The awards right now fall into a few major categories:
  • Winners of CoNtests and competitions on the site;
  • Winners of CoN competitions, such as our yearly sporting competitions;
  • People who have contributed significantly to the content of the site, either from working on a game section, or posting lots of fanart or news;
  • Or just people who have been around forever...
You've probably seen systems like these before at other sites. The difference? Well, ours are much prettier! (And we're willing to take suggestions on new awards all the time.) So, if you got one or more awards and want to show them off, talk about the award system right here, right now. And if you don't have any awards yet, well, don't worry - we'll be giving more out all the time.
Posted in: CoN Site News

FF VII's Love Triangle No Longer Debatable

For years, Final Fantasy VII fans have come to verbal blows over a simple question: was Cloud in love with Aeris or with Tifa? Well, nearly thirteen years after the release of Final Fantasy VII, this debate could be over, shot to hell by canon-fire.

Found in the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania Scenario, a picture of Cloud and Tifa sitting together under the Highwind with the following caption, translated by The Lifestream translator Tres Dias:

For the one I love
Through the long journeys, the love of the protagonists develop. Occasionally they become separated, but the two's value to one another gives them the great strength to overcome whatever crisis may come.

If that doesn't sound like Cloud x Tifa, I don't know what does. Although this will probably do little to quiet the legion of Aerith fans that insist that she was Cloud's one true love, this is probably the first truly conclusive item of evidence for either party.

Caves of Narshe is officially taking a neutral position on the validity of this information as well as the debate itself. Personally, I don't really have a horse in this proverbial race, but I have been annoyed and frustrated by Tifa vs. Aeri(th/s) debates for many years. This translated caption could very well be one localizer's opinion, but it's pretty compelling.

Source: The Lifestream, photo evidence

Square Enix News Tidbits: Rated M for Mature?

Square Enix
The answer is: yes, but only if you are really reaching. This week, you can find some updates to last week's Square Enix news, as well as yet another release for the oldest games in the Final Fantasy series. Beyond that, we've got some Square Enix business and employment news, a bit more Final Fantasy XIII hype, and even some potentially M-rated weirdness. And now we roll on, with our heads held high.

As reported last week, Birth by Sleep was the top selling game in Japan for the first time. Now, this week, it's the second time around. It's still beating New Super Mario Bros. Wii in week-to-week sales, but by a vastly smaller margin than before, largely because now it's the game's week two, not launch week. Given the install base for PSPs versus Wiis, I don't imagine this trend will continue all that much further before something, whether it's NSMB or some other newer release, will knock Kingdom Hearts off the top rung.

In case you haven't had enough of Final Fantasy I and II yet (note that you can play Final Fantasy I on no fewer than five American systems already), you will soon be able to take them with you on your iPhone or iPod Touch, you trendy fool, you. (Yes, I have both, but I don't use them for games. Also, it's well-known that I'm a massive hypocrite.) Not very many details yet, but it seems like the games will be based more or less on the PSP releases, but with a redesigned interface due to the necessity of using touch to navigate the games.

Squenix announced this week that they're looking to take on some debt. While the company has billions of yen in liquid assets already, but they also owe billions in debt, too (though not as much as they have on hand). When they sell their bond issues worth ¥35 billion, the additional cash can help to pay off the original debt, or it could also be used to go on another game-company-gobbling purchasing spree, or some of both. In another part of the company, composer Masashi Hamauzu has left the sound team of Square Enix. He composed music for a variety of games produced by the company, notably a couple releases in the SaGa family, Final Fantasy X, and most recently Final Fantasy XIII.

And, hey, have some promised weirdness. Apparently one of Vanille's models within Final Fantasy XIII is nude. Not entirely surprising, given that this is common practice as the modelers can then be able to more closely map clothing and equipment to the base model; allegedly, though, Vanille's model in this case includes detail in her upper half that isn't often seen in such things. Let's just leave it at that, shall we? And no link, you'll just have to go looking on your own (which, of course, I know you're already doing, and that will no doubt tide you over until the next tidbits).

Source: Kotaku, Square Enix DLG (on Facebook), Square Enix Music
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Final Fantasy XII Sequel Possibly in the Works

General Final Fantasy
Various news surfaced last year of a new Final Fantasy, codenamed Final Fantasy Fortress. Speculation was in the air and I did my usual act of hoping it was a follow-up to Final Fantasy XII with absolutely no conviction. Well sirs and madames, it turns out that hoping for something with enough effort does indeed bear some reward. A tech demo of project Fortress, leaked on YouTube and now removed by Square Enix for breach of a 2009 copyright violation, reveals that the sequel was being created by Sweden's Grin development house and to be published on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 by Square Enix. See it here. The original source of the video maintains that this project has been moved to a different studio amid a concern for 'quality issues', which, supposed, in turn lead to Grin's demise. If true, here's hoping that it's in with Deus Ex 3 and Thief 4 at Eidos Montreal. Let's just spare a thought for old Grin. They worked six or so months on this and literally had the rug pulled from under their feet by Square Enix, who removed the project from their hands and subsequently forced them to close.

The video appears much more like a western RPG, with a main character who looks like he'd be more at home swinging a giant axe at Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5. Many childhood fantasies of watching Barret race the chocobo at the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy VII are also realised when we see the man riding through a forest, reminding us that this is a Final Fantasy. We also see a large-scale battle still reminiscent of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings, reminding us that this is a western fantasy game. There is no HUD of any sort, but it appears to show that his sword and bow attacks are at the press of a button rather than preset instructions. It's shaky, it's stubby, it's unfinished, it's nasty, it is a tech demo after all, but it's absolutely compelling. There are also some screenshots and concept art available here from different parts of the game if you're interested, mostly landscapes.

Source: Voodoo Extreme, Break, Kotaku (yay)
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square Enix News Tidbits and Green Slimetinis

Square Enix
Last week was another pretty quiet one, so I've lumped everything into another two week span. Plus, last Friday I was working madly on some other CoN development that I'll roll out eventually. Every tidbits, I start with the excuses. It's fun.

Let's kick it off with the best reason ever to go to Japan: a Dragon Quest-themed bar in Tokyo, opening next week. I would love to see if they have Slime-themed adult beverages. Please tell me there will be Slime-themed adult beverages. Perhaps a Green Slimetini.

From a different perspective in Square Enix corporate life, it's recently come to light that Yoichi Wada isn't pleased with the Japanese game retail industry and its xenophobia. Of course, some level of xenophobia in Japan is hardly anything new, so why should Square Enix care? Well, it's because now they're in charge of publishing games like Modern Warfare 2 in Japan. Now it all makes sense.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that Kingdom Hearts is massive in Japan, speaking of the gaming motherland. It's Disney! It's Square Enix! The buying queue will be massive! And, it was for Birth by Sleep; the newest edition of the Kingdom Hearts series, for PSP, came out last week in Japan and promptly sold almost half a million discs, blowing every other game out of the water in terms of that week's sales. Will it have lifetime sales better than the game it replaced at the top of the charts, New Super Mario Bros. Wii? Probably not, but it's still pretty impressive.

So, with all that non-Final Fantasy stuff out of the way, I'm sure you guys who aren't already miserable from thinking about Final Fantasy XIII want to hear more, right? Bam: here it is. First, here's the first new trailer with the Leona Lewis track and English voice acting, first linked to us by BlitzSage in the delicious knot of rage that is our thread discussing Leona Lewis' involvement in the Western game. Still want more after that? Well, Square Enix this week (for some reason) put some PlayStation 3s and Xbox 360s on a bus in California and drove it around so players could get an early look at parts of the North American game. No word yet when or if the content on the bus will be distributed over Xbox Live or PlayStation Home for other users, but the bus tour ends tomorrow. 1up says the game seems to run just as nicely on the lowly 360 as it does the PS3, though this isn't exactly a side-by-side comparison. Honestly, though, did anyone think that Square Enix would botch the cross-platform nature of this game? It's been a lightning rod (yay puns!) ever since it was announced, and the experience on 360 is simply something that Squenix can't afford to screw up. Also, according to Kotaku by way of Japanese Final Fantasy site FF Reunion, Final Fantasy XIII could have been a lot longer. They cut so much out, in fact, that the scraps on the floor could have been reassembled to create another full game, according to art director Isamu Kamikokuryou. I've wondered aloud already: maybe that's how they plan on creating the seemingly-off-the-radar FFXIII Versus, eh?

If you're still up for this game, though, don't forget that it comes out in about seven and a half weeks. And we know this is true, because now we know it's gone Gold - for those not familiar with shipping software, that's just the industry term for "the game is done, yo." This even includes the lip-syncing as seen in the aforementioned trailer, which, as you no doubt all know, has sometimes been a bit wonky for Square Enix games. So, whether you're still excited or not, this is still looking like a big deal, and it's getting ever closer. Enjoy, whatever your perspective.

Source: Kotaku, GamePro, 1up

CoN Quiz Winner Announced

Caves of Narshe Site News
As I mentioned last night, the contest that was running for CoN Quizzes closed on New Year's Eve. If you can't remember all the way back to August to think of the terms, allow me to recap:

"And, hey, since we like giving away AmaCoN money, here's the new CoNtest for the rest of this year: whoever ends this calendar year (as of 23:59:59 GMT on 31 December 2009) on top of the Top Scorers page for all quizzes (with at least ten quizzes taken) will take home $25 in AmaCoN dollars or their local equivalent."

I checked the records on New Year's Day, and we had eleven people who took enough quizzes to qualify, from members among our very first to folks who have even yet to post at the forums. It's one of the latter who takes home the prize—congratulations to Tiael, who will soon have a PM in his inbox with information on how to collect. For everyone else, please talk Tiael into posting and becoming more of a part of the CoN community by congratulating him here!

The new quizzes for January/February 2010 are available now, so just because you can't win money now doesn't mean you should allow Tiael to remain at the top of the heap. Go now and take the new quizzes!
Posted in: CoN Site News

Holiday Hangover Square Enix News Tidbits

Final Fantasy XIII
Missed a couple weeks of the tidbits again; I'm sure you have all been pretty busy yourselves, and then there's the part where you don't really read these anyway, so it's all good. If you haven't been looking, though, you probably missed some good Square Enix information that's come out over the holidays, so let's catch you up.

The release of Final Fantasy XIII in Japan doesn't mean the media blitz is over; the release was predictably huge, and Square Enix are laboring hard to continue to push the merch, with a long-format commercial airing to promote the soundtrack, available in a few weeks. Here in the States, the Square Enix Members Blog is offering a sweepstakes to win jewelry and accessories as designed for Final Fantasy XIII characters.

For the Wii gamers, Crystal Chronicles came out on the day after Christmas. It's, probably unsurprisingly, getting mixed reviews so far, though there are obviously a wide array of folks out there who have enjoyed the Crystal Chronicles games so far. If you're one of them, perhaps you should take a visit to the General Squenix forum here at CoN and talk about your experience a bit.

Final Fantasy XIV is in the ascendancy now that Thirteen is out the door; while it still doesn't have a more specific release date than "2010," there's a lot of new media coming out to show a bit more about what you'll be looking at as you play. Kotaku brought us some new scenery-style shots just before Christmas, and on Christmas Eve published some from the character creator that, probably in a manner that won't shock the cynics, seems to focus on thin, attractive human females.

To wrap up the news you might have missed, check out Slime Curling as a minigame in the remake of Dragon Quest VI. I might be the only person outside of Canada who likes curling, so maybe I'm biased, but this sounds like a great idea to me. Also, Nomura has gotten his name on a new patent application that has detailed flowcharts and illustrations describing a new kind of RPG combat system. The application is platform-agnostic, but one of the illustrations has a system that looks a lot like a PSP... Finally, the free Chocobo pet on which we previously reported has finally come around, at least for some of us. I got the code for mine emailed to me on the 30th, and let me tell you, it's adorable.

Do any of you remember the CoNtest I announced a few months back when we re-released CoN quizzes? Hey, that ended on New Year's Eve - I'll announce our winner in just a tick.

Caves of Narshe Version 6
©1997–2018 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.