News from January 2013
Do you like CoN's fanart galleries? Of course you do. Do you follow CoN on Twitter? Of course you... okay, you probably don't, yet. I'm not judging.
If you said yes to the former but no to the latter, you should rectify that situation now, because we now update our followers each time we add a new fanart to the galleries. Similar to how we've done with news for the last couple years, the CoN twitter account will publish to its feed the artist's name, the title of the work, and a handy link to let you get directly to it for your commenting and rating pleasure. And, if you're an artist who has added Twitter information into your CoN profile, you'll even get your Twitter handle mentioned in our tweet so you can easily favorite and retweet it to your own followers.
Of course, this is only really big news if we start getting more art submitted from more artists. So, don't wait! It's a good time to contribute!
Death Penalty asked me to make a note about Final Fantasy VI here, too, while I have a post going. You probably noticed our thread looking for help, which is still going - it might look like we've gotten a lot of help, but there is certainly more work than free time among the folks who have responded. For all that, though, we're making good progress. I'm hoping that by the summer we can have something new and fun to show you and all Final Fantasy VI players, but don't hesitate to offer to lend a hand in pursuit of that goal. We've made fantastic progress so far this winter, and we're looking forward to keeping up the pace!
Posted in: CoN Site News
To celebrate their Indonesian, Korean, and Thai language releases, Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy II are each only $3.99 on iOS devices - for this week only, so get 'em while they're hot!
If you've always been wanting to try one - or both - these historic titles, or even just a new game to tinker around with on your Apple device, this is probably as good an opportunity as you'll ever get. And don't forget to make use of CoN's FF1 guide while you're playing it!
Posted in: Final Fantasy I
To start things off, an incredible boxed set of Amano art, "The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy," has been made available once more for the price of $89.99, printed by publisher Dark Horse. The set consists of three volumes of art encompassing the Final Fantasies I through X, and they're pretty darn slick.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is now available for iOS devices, but it's got a couple new features up its sleeve. The first is Edit Mode, where players around the world can create their own tunes and access those created by others. The second is Quest Medley, which enables players to select and play through a playlist of songs at a time. The iOS version also has a few additional songs available from series spin-offs Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. When asked about these inclusions, the mobile development team responded that, should such a move had sufficient popular backing, they hope to add songs from other Square Enix series, potentially from the Chrono or Mana games.
Final Fantasy Type-O has been in a purgatory of sorts. Released in Japan back in late 2011 for the PSP, it sorta fell off the radar as far as us in the West are concerned. In November of last year, a company official said that, while they had no current plans regarding release, they felt the game would be well received in North American and European markets, and that they hoped . Thanks to a bit of looking, some fellow over at operation-suzaku.com got in touch with one of the voice actors hired for the English localization. The source revealed that, while he knew no more of the game's future than anyone else on this continent, most if not all of the English localization had already been finished. So... still shelved for now, but at least we know a bit more about its fate.
A lot of the information hitting the web this past week from Square Enix surrounds Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Perhaps the biggest Lightning Returns news has been the introduction of a major character, Lumina. Lumina looks like she could be Lightning's second sister: pink hair, etc. Her role in the game looks like it'll be a bit complex, however, as Lumina will support Lightning at some times but deter her at others.
Citizens too seem to be divided on how to treat Lightning and her role as Liberator. As previously reported, NPC interaction is intended to be a large part of the game. In a recent Famitsu interview, developers explained that, just as many characters are willing to wait calmly for the promised end of the world, many others seek to prevent it - in part by interfering with Lightning's mission.
On the topic of annoying friends/helpful enemies, Lightning is shown actually duking it out with FFXIII-2 protagonist Noel in a trailer released yesterday. Not sure what that means, but perhaps any of you who have played FFXIII-2 to its conclusion could have a guess?
Seems like everyone's changing these days, so why shouldn't Lightning? Change clothes, that is. It has been announced that players will be able to select from one of a few different outfits for Lightning. It is unclear yet whether clothing options will be provided in the original release or whether they'll be available for additional cost afterwards, but the way the company seems to be doing things these days, I can venture a guess.
There's quite a lot of buzz surrounding the decision to make Lightning Returns a pseudo-Action RPG. It has been confirmed for some time now that players will only be able to control one character during the game, Lightning, and that, while still an ATB battle system, things will be more fast-paced. Amongst its more action-oriented elements, it appears that there will be a system for evading and blocking in combat. Regarding how the single-character party will impact the player's investment in the game's cast as compared to most previous FF titles, which featured many characters, Toriyama responded that they wanted to create a game focusing directly on Lightning. He added, however, that characters from both previous FFXIII titles will fill major NPC roles throughout the story.
It also appears that Lightning Returns will feature some variety of quest/hunt/mark board, as did the original FFXIII. I wasn't sure what topic to put that in, so I just saved it for the end. Enjoy!
Source: Siliconera, Operation-Suzaku, Siliconera
Posted in: Square-Enix News
It took more than a little while, but the action RPG Pandora's Tower, first mentioned here almost two years ago, has been given a new lease on life with an announced North American release. Announced just yesterday, the North American release will fill the final major gap in the game's worldwide coverage, as Australia and Europe both got the game in 2012.
The game will be published by Xseed, famous for bringing The Last Story here as well. It's assumed that there will be no new localization given that an English-language version of the game already exists, as described above. It's assumed further that the driving force behind getting the game published here was Operation Rainfall, a grass roots gaming group famous also for their campaign to get The Last Story.
Xseed says that the game will be released this spring.
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
In Square Enix' illustrious history of countdown clocks and teaser sites, few things might be more interesting than one potentially offering new releases of Final Fantasy V and VI, even if those releases are for iOS. We talked about that possibility a few weeks back, and the internet in general seemed to take it as a foregone conclusion. Some folks even were leaning towards the notion that these releases might be brand-new, never-before-seen 3D treatments of those two games in the vein of the Final Fantasy IV just released.
The liklihood of new iOS re-releases now seems to be much more likely, as Siliconera noticed a new teaser page on the Japanese Square Enix site today with sprites silhouetted in the classic red gradient linked to Final Fantasy VI and the numbers "1.17." The larger sprites are quite clearly Final Fantasy VI Behemoths, while on the right, the smaller sprites are a bit more ambiguous, though it seems like they are probably Final Fantasy VI sprites (even though they don't look like a perfect match to anything that I can see). They could also be Final Fantasy V sprites, as the top one looks quite a bit like Bartz. Additionally, it seems like this page might reference the "All the Bravest" mark that Squenix trademarked last year, but it's still unclear why. (Thanks, laszlow, for that reminder!)
It should also be noted, though it's obvious, that these are in fact sprites. Would Square Enix use sprite art for a game they're about to release in 3D? Well, I wouldn't, if it were me. But we all know that sometimes Squenix have... interesting ways of going about their marketing. Either way, it looks like we only have about a day from the time of this posting to wait and see, as 17 January is only about thirty-six hours away in Akihabara.
Source: Siliconera, Square Enix Japan Teaser Site
The original Final Fantasy XIV crashed and burned, and was shut down a couple months back. Even before that, though, the reboot of the Final Fantasy XIV universe, subtitled "A Realm Reborn," was announced and put into alpha. The buzz around the new version is pretty positive so far, with the proposed changes and media released to the public all being met with reactions that I would categorize as "generally pleased."
That uptick in user opinion hit its first peak yesterday, as the XIV team at Squenix released an extended Realm Reborn trailer. This trailer is not completely new, but it must be said, it is one of the most visually impressive CG scenes I've seen Squenix ever do. I spent a lot of time watching it and wishing that it was actually a scene from a Final Fantasy Tactics sequel, given the varied job classes and armored chocobos on display throughout. Having that sort of FFT feel even makes me want to try it out a bit, and I've never had any interest in an MMO at all.
Perhaps I could try it out a bit, in fact - as part of this information release yesterday, applications for the Western beta phase were also opened. As mentioned before, there will be four beta phases in all, with the first phase starting in Japan only sometime around the middle of February. The current deployment schedule allows for between seven and eighteen weeks across all four phases; the short end of that window seems really aggressive and pretty unrealistic to me, while eighteen weeks seems more managable and would result in an early-summer release. Only the final two phases will include gamers outside of Japan, and only the final phase will include PlayStation 3 gamers. The final phase will also allow characters created to be imported into the released game.
If you're interested in having a go at this, there are signup pages for both North America and Europe. Good luck to all those who apply!
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
First off, some sentimental news: the Playstation 2 has finally come to the end of its sales lifespan in Japan. The system will still be available in many regions worldwide, however. If you're reading this in Brazil, for instance, the PS2 was only first made available to you in 2009. Desculpa.
Speaking of the PS2, Square Enix's long-running MMO native to that system, Final Fantasy XI, will be getting yet another expansion on March 26th to the tune of $29.99. The expansion, however, will only be available to westerners on PC and Xbox. If you're interested in taking this opportunity to first start playing Square Enix's MMO that worked the first time, a bundle edition of the original game and the other four expansions will be made available as well.
Next up, super important news from FFXIV: A Realm Reborn: THERE ARE BABY BEHEMOTHS. If you're wondering why this is such fantastic news, it's only because you haven't yet clicked on the first source below. Seriously. Cutest things ever.
In more serious news concerning FFXIV: A Realm Reborn, Square Enix has released a timetable for beta testing and debugging. Beta will begin in February with the PC version only, with PS3 beta being added in later. The plan is divided into four phases, each of which involves an increased number of available worlds and accessible features. Each phase will last somewhere around three weeks, followed by a 1-2 week session of debugging. Take my word for it, it's a rather detailed plan.
Square Enix is preparing to introduce a new bonus for those in the Japanese Square Enix Members program: a browser-based game in which Members avatars fight against various enemies from the Final Fantasy series. As said, it appears to be Japan-only, but there's always the chance that we'll see it over here if it's successful.
Finally, some Lightning Returns: FFXIII news. Lightning has been and fought for a lot of things over the course of her trilogy. In a recent Famitsu interview, Lightning's final role was revealed: liberator. If that sounds a bit odd, given that she spent her first title overthrowing a couple gods and rejecting 'divine' missions, you aren't alone. Now, though, she's working for a good god, Bhunivelze, and her goal is not to destroy the world as a sacrifice but to save as many as possible from the impending destruction of the world (the thirteen days thing we've reported on previously), liberating them to a new world.
Source: Siliconera, Siliconera, Siliconera