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News from June 2013

E3 2013 Recapping: CoNCast Episode Eight

This week's title sounds a bit like "kneecapping." However, this week's crew was really, legitimately excited about a lot of E3 2013 and as such we mostly didn't turn the snark up to crippling levels. We had some miscommunications around episode eight that ended up nixing our original plans for the episode theme - was lucky for us, then, that we had E3 the week before recording and we had a lot to say about it. Lucky even moreso because the very time we recorded was the time that Microsoft were making their epic turnaround on their always-online, Kinect-watches-you-sleep plan.

Because of all that, we had good times! We talked quite a bit about the E3 that Square Enix had (spoilers: general consensus was that it was quite good), and we also hit all of the other big names in gaming briefly. There are plenty of references to 80's pop culture, and even, I do believe, a nice callout to Fisherman's Horizon - at least, if it didn't get cut. I can never remember what I leave on the cutting room floor. Anyway, join me, Tiddles, lasz and Jav for episode eight, available right now for streaming or in the source links for subscription time.

Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes

Theatrhythm OST Set Announced

The coolest thing about Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (well, okay, certainly one of the coolest things) is the soundtrack, which bridges the width and breadth of the main-line Final Fantasy catalogue and then some. Not only that, some of the songs are remixes and new arrangements that haven't been heard anywhere else, which is certainly a formula made to stir interest in a packaged OST set.

After a year on the shelves, this demand will now be met, at least in Japan. On the last day of July, a five-disc OST will be released for 3990 yen; that set will be split by the nature of the music contained therein. One disc will be for Event Stage music, another for Field Stage, and so on. The final disc will contain those specific new arrangements and remixes, but just like in the game itself, every track has been remastered from its original incarnations.

Odds are that this will be a set you have to import, but if you've enjoyed Theatrhythm or even just want a Final Fantasy soundtrack set that is more of a series greatest hits collection, this one will be worth checking out despite it being pricey. Hit the sources links below to preorder from Play-Asia.

Source: SGCafe, Play Asia

TheSpeedGamers Plan Final Fantasy Charity Marathon

Caves of Narshe Site News
Next week, game speedrunning collective TheSpeedGamers are kicking off a week-long marathon of speeding through tons of games bearing the Final Fantasy name, from Final Fantasy I all the way through XIII-2, and some sideline games as well. For this event, the group are collecting donations for ACT Today!, an autism treatment and support charity. Thanks to their most excellent choice of choosing to run games of which we cover many, we here at CoN are all on board to help them reach their fundraising goal.

Starting on 24 June, the group will begin running through the Final Fantasy games, and the runs will continue day and night through 1 July. During that time, you can watch the stream and even send in donations direct from the CoN homepage as we work with them to hit their $15,000 fundraising goal. In fact, we've already gotten the ball rolling by sending in a pre-marathon donation from the CoN staff!

The schedule will be coming soon, so you can look out for your favorite game in the series to crop up. It appears that the very first game to be played will be Final Fantasy VIII starting at 6pm American Central time, with other games filling in after based on gamer availability. In the meantime, start thinking about what sorts of donations you might be able to chip in, because every little bit helps and TSG have been great to work with (and because hey, it's never a bad idea to show what a great, if small, community CoN is!).

Square Enix News Tidbits: E3 2013 Wrapup

E3 Expo
E3's all done now for 2013, and this was a pretty big one for Square Enix. Well, at least the Square side of things. We reported earlier in the week the biggest news from the company, both that Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 were coming for the PlayStation 4, and then just a few hours later that the same games were also meant for Xbox One.

Final Fantasy XIV was also announced for PlayStation 4, with an upgrade system for users who want to start on PlayStation 3 and then move on up. New screenshots and trailers emerged for the Final Fantasy X and X-2 updates, and there was not just a debut trailer for Final Fantasy XV, but also a followup video showing the first elements of high-fiving, male-centric battle first appeared in the private "Future of Final Fantasy" event but was later released to YouTube.

Obviously, all that made for the biggest news of the conference. However, it's worth noting that Squenix put together a blog post to cover all the little things they did, and it has other videos such as new videos from Lightning Returns, the official announcement trailer for Murdered: Soul Suspect, and the kinda-creepy iOS action RPG Bloodmasque, in which your hack and slash master shares your face.

All in all, this was probably one of the better years the company's had at E3 in a while. They were definitely showstealers at least twice, and the release schedule coming up in the next year is looking pretty solid. And we're not even to the Tokyo Game Show yet.

Source: Square Enix Members Blog

Square Enix Make MORE Waves at E3

E3 Expo
Final Fantasy VII Remake for PlayStation 4!

No, just kidding, I couldn't resist. While the "Future of Final Fantasy" event was invite only with no stream or public video released (at least, not yet), you can't stop the liveblog freight train. Now that the event has been over for a bit, here's what came from it:
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will be released for both PS3 and PS4. If you buy on PS3, you can port your data to PS4 later. No word on whether you have to buy the software twice, though.
  • XIV also got a pretty serious new trailer.
  • New Final Fantasy X HD remake screenshots were bouncing around.
  • And, hey, a new trailer for that too!
  • New gameplay work-in-progress from Final Fantasy Versus XV 13 was shown for the first time.
  • Oh, yeah. And XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 are not Sony exclusives. They're also coming to Xbox One. Goodness. It's currently unknown if those games will have simultaneous releases on all platforms, though, or if some limited exclusivity will apply.
So, yes. That's some news, right there. I believe the Xbox fankids might feel like they have a bit more fight left in them now than they did late last night. Thoughts?

Source: RPG Site Twitter, DualShockers

Square Enix Make Waves at E3

E3 Expo
Well, that was both expected and unexpected. I had been saying all day that it didn't make sense for Square Enix to make any big announcements at Sony's pre-E3 press conference because Squenix had their "Future of Final Fantasy" private event coming up tomorrow (today, now).

I don't know whether Squenix wanted to make sure their big news was immediately available to everyone, or Sony coughed up some hard cash to be allowed to host the debut, or something else; regardless, there it was about an hour into Sony's show: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3.

I think that the notion that Versus XIII would become Final Fantasy XV was a common one; in fact, I think that I mentioned it myself in a CoNcast at some point. As it turns out, that is exactly what happened; the title that started as Versus XIII explodes in the trailer and becomes XV. However, the game looks very much like what we were told to expect years ago, so it's anyone's guess right now how they are altering the setting and plot to make sure that this is no longer a XIII-universe game. Perhaps there will be more of that soon.

Kingdom Hearts 3 was also a little bit of a revelation. That the game would at one point exist was well known, but in the past, Squenix had said in the past that the game wouldn't begin development in earnest until after Versus XIII had been released. It must have been reassuring for KH fans, then, when that game's trailer showed up too.

The exclusivity of both games was not addressed. At Sony's conference? Color me shocked. No matter what the platform, this is a pretty big breakthrough moment for Square Enix. Both of these games have been hidden from sight for quite a while, and suddenly the company has something real to talk about for two of their biggest IPs again. While, based on those trailers, neither is particularly interesting to me personally yet, this is the very definition of a huge deal when it comes to Square.

It also begs the question, what could be left to talk about in today's private event? It seems like since we know the next two numbered Final Fantasy games, "the future" will have to revolve around them for a bit. Maybe it's more detail on the new engine we've seen a couple times. Since my ticket never made it to me, I guess we'll have to wait for some leaks!

Source: Siliconera, Engadget

Crowdfunding and Pre-E3: CoNcast Episode Seven

For this edition of the CoNcast, the group takes EvilEye under our guidance to talk about the newest big thing in the production side of video games: Crowdfunding. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are making the early stages of game development more social, direct, and to an extent, even democratized. For some games, it's great, and for for others it's just another buzzword, and we're talking about it on the CoNcast right now - we even hypothesize what might happen if Square Enix decided to give crowdfunding a try; spoiler alert, the answer is generally "a gaming apocalypse."

Since E3 is more or less underway right now, we also take a few minutes to talk about to what we're looking forward out of the show this year. Another spoiler - the cynics that make up your favorite podcasting crew are a bit "meh" on the whole thing.

Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes

Square Enix News Tidbits: Early E3 Glut

Square Enix
With E3 next week, it seems that all the major players in the industry are working to get some news out in front of that crowded gaming news cycle. Of course, shoving all the news out now merely means that the crowded cycle begins earlier, but hey - I'm not in gaming PR. What do I know? Squenix is in on it, of course; say what you will about their games over the last few years, but they definitely still count as a major player, so there's no surprise to it. Also, we fell a bit behind on our tidbits recently, so we're going to play catch-up and make the list even bigger.

The news from last week that ties right into E3, as you would see from my post earlier today, pertains to Famitsu's publishing of development status for Final Fantasy games. The company told the Japanese magazine that the remaster of Final Fantasy X is now 80% done, with X-2 lagging behind at 65%. The new release of Final Fantasy VIII for Windows is up to 80% now, leapfrogging Lightning Returns, which is currently at 70% done. One would think that maybe that low 70% number is what caused the final chapter of Final Fantasy XIII (for now) to get its Western release date pushed back to 2014.

Speaking of dear Lightning, Squenix are throwing the kitchen sink out there in support of what is assumed to be her final adventure before presumably settling down and installing a small chocobo in her hair. We learned this week, for instance, that Noel and Snow will appear in Lightning Returns in some sort of adversarial sense. From that new trailer came a bunch of new screenshots, too; I particularly like that one with the Cactuar statue. There need to be more Cactuar statues in Final Fantasy games. Being a flagship title, of course, means special editions and accouterments. For Lightning Returns, there will be a big "all Final Fantasy XIII games" collection in Japan that will include the games, an action figure, an art book and some music CDs. It will also include some very strange branding - while the serif, somewhat-condensed font treatment on the collector's box is cool, it has nothing at all to do with any of the branding used for any of the three games thus far. Also special is this Playstation 3 Controller, in shiny red and, for some reason, equipped with turbo buttons. Because the first thing you want for a Final Fantasy game is turbo (unless you're playing the original NES Final Fantasy. That thing needed it).

Oh, yeah, and Final Fantasy IV came out for Android. I mean, I guess Android is a thing, still, right? No, seriously, this is a good thing. It's the same game as released for iOS a while back, and it's still $15.99. It seems like it might not run on rooted Android devices, though. Be wary of that before dropping your cash, you filthy phone hackers.

Finally, going back a couple weeks, new company president Yosuke Matsuda mentioned when discussing the company's latest financial results that "it is difficult to move forward on the assumption that many products can cover the tastes of the entire world." The implications of this statement (and you can read more quotes from the source article) are yet to be seen, but the doomsday prophets are already concluding that this could mean more games like Type-0 that face uphill battles for global release. It could also mean, of course, that those sorts of games will face an easier road to localization because not every game will be expected to sell millions of units in every region. At the moment there's just no way to know!

We'll be back next week for coverage of E3 like usual. Square Enix' "Future of Final Fantasy" event is Tuesday, but will be media-only. When we're able to compile information as it leaks out, it will be here. It seems as if since this isn't public, it could be really good news. However, given that the global fanbase seems to somehow manage to hate everything the company does... I won't hold my breath for something breathtaking?

Source: Siliconera, Kotaku, Engadget
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square Enix at E3 2013: No Alarms and No Surprises

E3 Expo
Well, no surprises yet, anyway. Square Enix announced their official E3 lineup late last night, and, quite frankly, the most shocking aspect is that there's no talk about the confirmed localization of Bravely Default. I really rather thought that there would be a playable English version around for E3 this year.

The full announced list contains A Realm Reborn, Lightning Returns, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD, and the X/X-2 remaster project; Eidos will show Thief and the Human Revolution Director's Cut, as well as the mobile-based action RPG Deus Ex: The Fall. Murdered: Soul Suspect and a mobile game called Mini Ninjas round out the headline games in the press release.

It's not clear from the release which games will be playable. Even the games marked as having "theater presentations" do not explicitly say that they won't also be playable, so it might be a wait and see. The company also says that there will be a "first look" at the next generation of Final Fantasy - while this could be big news, it's yet again something that I think we all expected to happen either at E3 or TGS or both. There's still hope it could be something genuinely interesting!

Source: Square Enix Members Blog

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