News from November 2013
As we mentioned last month, Square Enix announced a remake of the episodic Final Fantasy IV sequel, The After Years, for mobile. Last weekend, it arrived in 3D, for both iOS and Android, and it's available for $15.99 American. This 3D version marks the first time that the game has been released its entirety using the 3D engine developed for the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy IV.
The reviews on both the iOS and Android app stores are pretty positive, nudging just past four of five stars on each, but Kotaku savaged it. New engine and all, seems like maybe sixteen bucks could be a bit much for this. Anyone out there pick it up?
Source: Square Enix Members Blog, Kotaku
This week is Thanksgiving, here in America, so what better time to talk about all the things that make us thankful for the year in gaming? To make it all the better, we invited three people who don't celebrate Thanksgiving in November (because Jav is a Canadian, and Tiddles and new-boy Stiltzkin are two thankless Englishmen) to give their own in-depth feelings about being forced to be thankful for an American holiday.
We cover some big name titles, as you might expect, from Bioshock Infinite to The Last of Us and even the latest Phoenix Wright. Of course, we've got a smidgen of time for Square Enix, too, because we can't give up on them fully. We're in the holiday spirit!
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Posted in: CoNcasts
A shorter tidbits this week since we kept up better this week! First up, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII released in Japan this week. It's out, and that means that in at least one locale, the Final Fantasy XIII generation has come to an end. My guess is that more people will probably be pleased with that news than upset, but I'm not here to judge or even venture my own opinion. Just because it's out doesn't mean the tidbits stop, though. The first neat announcement is that folks who hate English voice acting in their Japanese RPGs will get an option to have the game in their native language but also still have the original voice acting in Japanese; for the first two weeks after the Western release of Lightning Returns, the Japanese audio will be available as free DLC. After that initial window, though, the language option will be put behind a paywall, ostensibly to cover the costs of incorporating the rigging to lipsync in both languages into the game. The way I figure it, this makes it more like a pre-order bonus than anything else, and this is the first time the company's done this for a Final Fantasy game, which makes it okay in my book.
Lightning Returns also has dozens of costumes for Lightning; siliconera reports that the number is north of 80. For that reason, I don't think I've reported on any of them for a while, but the most recent reveal caught my eye as a member of the Caves of Narshe: Locke's garb will be one of the costumes you can garb... um, grab. The costume is based off of the original character design done by Yoshitaka Amano twenty years ago, and it's replicated quite faithfully. And, of course, since that costume is now being put on a female form, it looks almost identical to the original sketch! The link above includes a lot of interesting data about the costume design of the game. It's probably worth avoiding if you think the entire concept is stupid, but otherwise, it's an interesting deep-dive into the thought processes.
Since I can't resist any mention of Dragon Quest merch, for reasons I don't understand, here's a smartphone. Yep, a smartphone. It's loaded with two Dragon Quest games, too - one is a port of Dragon Quest VIII, and the other is a dice game that is DQ-themed. As you no doubt expect, it's Japan-only. However, because I know that half of Square Enix Japan reads CoN daily, I'd like to throw this out there: make a case for an iPhone 5S and a Galaxy S4 that looks like that. People will buy it.
Wrapping up, an interview was published this week from Ichiro Hazama, a Square Enix producer behind some more recent hits like The World Ends With You, Dissidia, and the Kingdom Hearts games. That interview brings forth the notion that some games like Dissidia and Theatrhythm were designed not simply to appeal to the existing fans of the series, like one might assume, but instead were conceived specifically to bring new, younger fans into the fold. Some of this sounds like it could well be some "in hindsight this sounds good!" thought. However, even if, I'm not sure if they should really consider it a success in that regard. perhaps I'm sheltered, but it seems to me like those games appealed as much or more to long-time fans as folks new to Squenix. Anyway, Hazama also talks about wanting to produce a new game with some of the Chrono Trigger Dream Team in honor of CT's pending 20th anniversary. Anyone see that happening?
Source: siliconera, Gaming Union
With surprisingly little pomp and circumstance today, Square Enix announced the release dates for the Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD remasters. In a blog post earlier today, the company announced the standard Tuesday/Friday launch window of March 18 and 21, 2014, for the game in the US and Europe respectively. Also, "participating retailers" are willing to, for a limited time, upgrade all pre-orders of the Playstation 3 version of the game to the Limited Edition, which includes an artbook built into the packaging.
Some users are questioning why there will be no Playstation 4 release, since the original plan was to release these games in 2013. The company has not spoken to this question, though one would think that the PS4's version of Playstation Network would make a digital distribution possible sometime in the future.
Source: Square Enix Members Blog
Been a while since we did the tidbits (sigh, again), but we at least had a Square Enix news post this week already! Since it was about a Western release for Bravely Default, let's start with some more Bravely Default news: with the sequel on the way, producer Tomoya Asano showed Famitsu some DLC crossover bosses from Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light. All three of them look pretty cool, and if nothing else they make me want to finally track down 4HoL and play it. They won't be superbosses, but instead optional monsters that can "infect" your game via online connectivity or StreetPass, which sounds like a neat idea.
Staying with handhelds for a bit, the previously-announced 3D release of The After Years for mobile devices looks now to be locked in for the end of this month. The price point and the exact date are not yet known, and are not guaranteed to be the same for iOS and Android both, but all those questions will be resolved in a couple weeks' time or even less.
There's good news for Final Fantasy XIV players in these tidbits, as well. A special event, for instance, is happening as we speak in which players can interact with Lightning in the MMO during a four-chapter FATE event. The quests will unlock over the next few days, and they will all remain open until December 9th. Rewards for participants will include Lightning and Snow-themed armor, and a selection of weapons for various classes themed after Final Fantasy XIII equipment.
What might be even better for players, or even prospective players, is that the game has been a fantastic windfall so far for Squenix. Not only has the company shipped almost a million and a half units, the peak paying-player number has been over 600,000, which is even better than Final Fantasy XI was at its own peak. Even in a world dominated by other MMOs, Final Fantasy XI was always considered to be a great success, so it's clear that the company will be thrilled by the progress in XIV (even though it took them two tries to get there, right?).
For those wanting some news on the Enix tip, it looks like the first Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre game, The March of the Black Queen, is due for a DLC release in Japan on November 20. The last re-release in the series, a remake of Let Us Cling Together for PSP, was released in the West, but no clue yet as to whether this one will be. Either way, I've buried the lede; this is only coming out in Japan for the Wii U Virtual Console, so it's not like most gamers in the West will be able to play it even if it does come out.
Let's close out with the business news. Now that there have been some changes at the top this year, the company is going to try to shift focus in a few ways to move forward. The studios owned by Square Enix in the West will begin focusing more on online titles; Japan will focus on phone and tablet games. On top of that, they plan to use Final Fantasy XIV and title licensing to get a hold in mainland Asia, especially China.
That probably sounds terrifying. It did to me. And apparently it did for a lot of gamers, actually, because only a few days later, the CEO of Square Enix America and Europe was talking to gamesindustry.biz about how AAA games like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and, one would have to assume, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, are not going anywhere. One simply has to hope that "focus" doesn't mean "sole focus."
Source: siliconera, GamesIndustry, Crunchyroll
According to the Nintendo Direct streamed conference a few hours ago, Square-Enix's 3DS RPG Bravely Default is hitting North American shores on February 7th, 2014. Both a standard and a special edition of the game will be released. Europe and Australia were confirmed to received Bravely Default a few weeks ago, and that version is landing in early December.
The European, Australian, and North American releases will simply be called Bravely Default, without a subtitle. Bravely Default: Flying Fairy was first released in Japan in October 2012, and it's receiving an expanded re-released titled Bravely Default: For the Sequel in December 2013. All of the English-language versions of Bravely Default are localized editions of For the Sequel.
So that's good news. Other than Final Fantasy Type-0, Bravely Default probably had the loudest calls for English localization of any recent Square-Enix game. Now we know when we can try out the vaguely Final Fantasy-esque turn-based combat and job system of Bravely Default. Either December or February.
Posted in: Square-Enix News
Today's CoNcast addresses one of the questions about Square Enix that has been burning for the better part of a decade. That question has probably already leapt to some of your minds: when will there be a Final Fantasy VII remake added to the sea of other Squenix reduxes? We talk about the history of false starts towards this game, the opinions expressed by Squenix employees over time, what it would take to make the fanbase happy, the impact of the 2013 re-release to PC on future work, and even whether we actually care ourselves. But, really, who doesn't care? Is it you? Let's talk about this a little bit - the CoNcast is not meant to be a one-way street.
Don't forget that you can also talk to us about the CoNcast in all the usual means, whether that's at the forums, via email, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. We could be looking for people to suggest topics, tell us how wrong we are, or even possibly participate in a recording (especially for episodes where we'd be looking for a more female point of view). We need to hear from folks to know that we're on the right track!
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