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News from April 2012

Square Enix News Tidbits: Release Us, XIII-2

Square Enix
Okay, yes, there's even more Final Fantasy XIII-2 DLC coming. You want to know part of the reason why it's so hard for me to write tidbits these days? Even as much as I like Final Fantasy XIII (and have -2 sitting on my desk, waiting to be played), when most of the news coming out is about DLC, it starts to be a bit soul-deadening. My scarred essence notwithstanding, there's a lot coming down the chute in the near future: Snow and Valfodr are coming to the Colosseum next month, to be followed closely thereafter by a massive update including Lightning's "Requiem of the Goddess," White Mage and Black Mage costumes for Serah and Noel respectively, and a pack of sixteen different costumes for your Moogle. Oh, yeah, and Snow got put in Prada too, and they forgot to tell us before. Almost missed out on that one!

Now that we have that out of the way, check out the new Square Enix streaming music site, which is almost like a Pandora for Squenix tracks. Once you fight your way around the interface a bit, you can listen to tracks streamed through your browser from a variety of Squenix properties. The selection appears to be a bit small at the moment, but it's still a potentially interesting new branding push for the gaming juggernaut, as the music produced by Square Enix remains well-received even as the games it produces sometimes are less so. Were the company to add more tracks and improve the interface, this could be a big winner down the line.

For those waiting to try Dragon Quest X, the first MMO to be put in the hands of Enix' biggest property, you'll still be waiting a while. However, a release date has been announced for Japan, which naturally brings us in the West one hypothetical step closer to playing. The game will be out on 2 August in Japan for Wii; again, no information on whether it will appear as a WiiU launch title in any market. The game will cost 1000 yen per thirty days of play, with small discounts offered for paying instead in 60- or 90-day chunks. You'll be able to register 100 friends within the game, as well, and be able to see what servers they're on and potentially what they're up to. Additionally, the Japanese release will feature free play for children from time to time. There's no age limit, though - not that they'd be able to enforce it, really - and that makes it seem to me more like a creepy trap than anything else. The beta's going well, too, with it looking to expand to up to fifty thousand players in the near future, and 24-hour server uptime coming soon as well.

Source: Final Fantasy XIII Net, andriasang

Square Enix News Tidbits: Every Game but Versus

Square Enix
People have been waiting for Versus XIII for a very long time, which certainly grated on those fans when they instead got Final Fantasy XIII-2 first. Personally, I find that a bit odd, given that it's hard for me to look down on a game in favor of a game that we've barely ever even seen, but to each their own and I digress anyway. The news here is that Squenix are now just flat-out trolling gamers by releasing some Versus XIII content not as a trailer video, or as a demo, but as a DLC track for Theatrhythm. The released track is nice enough, at least in its thirty-second snippet, a quiet piano track with a Japanese vocal. And, I'm sure that instead of actually being a troll, it's more of a "this is a way to show them that we're still going to release this game" sort of thing. Still hilarious if you think back to the fact that it's been over five years since news of the game started coming forth.

Speaking of Theatrhythm, that game was released on 4 April in Japan, and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance released the week before in the same locale. Why is that again relevant? Because this week, both games got their North American release dates officially confirmed by Squenix. The launch order will be different over here; the music rhythm game will be out on 3 July and KH3D will drop on the last day of the month. Apparently there's a fairly critical bug in KH3D that can stop some players from continuing the game - I, unfortunately, have no idea what that is because it's only written up in Japanese. One would assume it would be fixed before the pending Western release.

If you thought the last bunch of Final Fantasy XIII-2 DLC was nuts, there's more this week, coming out in Japan on 10 April. This time, Noel can dress up as Ezio from Assassin's Creed, while Serah's new outfit is called "Exposure and Defense" and is based on one worn by a member of Japanese girlpop group AKB48. Also available at the same time will be Gilgamesh, who can be fought and added to your party as a Commando, and Final Fantasy VIII's PuPu (known as Koyo-Koyo in Japan), who can become a Medic. Only Serah's outfit will be free DLC, it seems. The costumes don't stop there, though; while they're not DLC, Final Fantasy XIII universe characters are going to appear in men's fashion magazine Arena Homme+ in the next issue. It appears that this magazine is British, though I've never seen one and therefore can't confirm firsthand; wherever it's published, it features new fashions for men from Prada draped on well-posed Final Fantasy characters, including Lightning. Sazh, in particular, is looking pretty suave.

We'll wrap this week with a bit of MMO news. First, Squenix have decided to do some public demos of Dragon Quest X this spring in Japan, starting at shopping malls in three cities. There won't be any new information coming from these, they're just a chance to get the game out in front of more people than the closed beta allows on its own.

Source: Kotaku, andriasang

Square-Enix to Revive Mana Series w/ Song of Mana

Square Enix
Square-Enix's Seiken Densetsu or "Mana" series has hit hard times recently, with the unsuccessful dungeon crawler Children of Mana, real-time strategy RPG Heroes of Mana, and Havok physics-running Dawn of Mana. Yesterday evening series creator Koichi Ishii announced two upcoming titles in the storied series: Song of Mana for mobile devices and Shepherd of Mana for the PS3.

Song of Mana is a multiplayer rhythm game in which characters from earlier Mana games must save the Mana tree by occupying Mana Fields surrounding the Mana Tree in a circle, always numbering one fewer than the number of players; the players stand in a circle just outside of that. Tunes from throughout the Mana series are played - while the music is playing, the players in the circle walk in unison around the fields. When the music suddenly stops, everyone must race to enter one of the Mana Fields. The player who is left without a Field is eliminated from the game, and one Field is also removed to ensure that there will always be one fewer Field than there are players. The music resumes and the cycle repeats until there is only one player left in the game, who is the winner. The winner saves the world - winning a game of Song of Mana sends in-game currency and experience points to the characters in Shepherd of Mana.

Shepherd of Mana looks to be a big-budget extravaganza. Players design their own hero or heroine ("the Savior") and choose from a selection of job classes (Fighter and Mage are the only two revealed thus far) to determine their available weapons, skills, and spells. The player-character encounters a colorful cast of potential teammates throughout the adventure, and the characters he or she recruits and the decisions the Savior makes shapes Shepherd of Mana's plot, including endgame villains and the ending. All we know of the plot thus far is that the Mana spirits are being captured by a mysterious force known as The Sleepers and indoctrinated into performing acts of evil. The Savior and his or her allies must track down the spirits running amok and purify them with a Cane of Mana fashioned from a branch of the Mana Tree in order to harness their power and defeat the Sleepers.

Song of Mana and Shepherd of Mana will be released for iOS devices and the PS3 respectively in autumn of 2013. For heaven's sake, let's hope these turn out better than Dawn of Mana, which we all know was awful, bordering on sacrilege.

Source: Press release
Posted in: Square-Enix News

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