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News from December 2013

Merry(ocrat) Christmas: The CoNcast Episode 18

It's Christmas day, folks! The holiday season is so hectic that it took me two weeks to record and get this CoNcast ready for publication. Also because of the holidays, there weren't many folks around to talk, so Tiddles and I just decided to blow a couple hours playing mairocrat and chatting about the holidays. It's funny, in the end we didn't really talk too much about the goings-on on our respective Wiis, or at least we left that all on the cutting-room floor. What we did talk about a lot is the holiday season, be it this one or good memories of the past. And, of course, with it being CoN, there are a number of semi-entertaining digressions and a fair bit of oversentimentality about the site itself.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. Hope you enjoy the CoNcast and we'll see you again in the new year!

Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes
Posted in: CoNcasts

End 2013 Buying Games: Square Enix News Tidbits

Square Enix
Welcome to the last tidbits of 2013! I say this because I know that I'll be far too lazy to write any next week, even though there's probably plenty of time to do so.

Jumping right in, it's the time of the year when digital distribution games go on sale. For instance, Square Enix are putting dozens of their iOS games on sale, including almost all of the Final Fantasy series, Secret of Mana, the World Ends with You, Chaos Rings, and others. Unfortunately, there are apparently no sales on DLC, so if you were looking for a reason to pump money into Theathrythm, you're out of luck. Also, the Steam version of Final Fantasy VII remains on sale for about forty-six hours past the time I post this. There are also tons of games for sale on the official Squenix store, both downloadable and physical, for almost all platforms.

In more specific gaming news, it was announced this week that despite being unmentioned before, the Playstation Vita versions of the Final Fantasy X and X-2 remasters will be released at the same time as the console versions, as confirmed by trailers on the official Square Enix Members YouTube channel. In addition, for PS3 players, there will be a collector's edition. No shock there, but as usual the CE looks pretty tempting. If you'll be in Japan with a loved one, you can even get a special couples' photo taken with a Final Fantasy X theme to have a melancholy poster keepsake. If you can't get enough of Final Fantasy X-2, your girl-power team will even appear in the Theatrhythm sequel for Nintendo 3DS, giving you versions of Yuna and Rikku from both X and X-2 from which to choose.

Close out the year with a bit more Lightning Returns, how about? There's a new, nearly-six-minute English-language trailer for the game out now, which is a weird cut of gameplay, dialogue, and voiceover describing the game itself. There are also more legendary Final Fantasy costumes on the way, including Aeris, Cloud, and X-2 Yuna. It looks like Lightning's shaping up pretty well for the West, though!

Happy holidays, CoN friends. We'll see you again in the new year.

Source: siliconera, TouchArcade, Square Enix Members Blog

Square Enix News Tidbits: Old and New Together!

Square Enix
For tidbits this time around, there are a bevy of updates for games old and new, so many that they can't even be listed off conveniently! Perhaps it's the holiday spirit taking over - anyway, let's start with the old.

The venerable Final Fantasy XI turned eleven years old last month (in Japan - the game didn't debut in North America for another eleven months after that). To celebrate, the folks still running that game for the die hard players put together some promotions for the "11th Vana'versary," including free re-activation until December 23rd for players that let their accounts lapse and some new features like a 25% increase in movement speed across the world and better teleportation. While I'm sure a lot of fans have moved on to XIV by now, it seems like it might be a fun bit of nostalgia to go back, at least for a little while.

Of course, for Square Enix, everything old is eventually new again, as evidenced by the glut of remakes and ports we've seen over the years. The latest, at least in Japan, is a smartphone remake of the original Dragon Quest game. To promote it, Squenix gave away a million copies in two days. Additionally, for the folks who have complained about Squenix' pricing models on smartphones, check this out - even the folks who are having to pay are only having to pony up about five bucks, far better than the Final Fantasy games that have appeared on iOS and Android. Of course, that awesomeness is offset pretty quickly by the fact that Dragon Quest VIII was also just released at $27.

In terms of recent releases, the recent remake of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years seems to be missing a bit of content; the challenge dungeons that made up a part of each episode's content were not included in the new release. Those dungeons are not part of the storyline of the game at all, so new players might not notice their absence. For another somewhat recent release, Final Fantasy XIV, Squenix announced that the game for Playstation 4 will release at the same time as it does in Japan, specifically for the PS4 Japan launch date.

A third recent/upcoming release, Lightning Returns, is out in Japan now (but not yet here, we're still waiting for next year). Now, while it might be assumed that CoN hates Final Fantasy XIII because only old games can ever be good, rest assured that I'd love to see this game succeed. However, early indications are that the game simply isn't selling as well as its predecessor in Japan. It's still possible that sales will pick up later, but the launch numbers don't compare favorably. That said, if you are looking to get this game when it comes out in the West, you'll want to watch this: on their official blog, Squenix released a "trailer" to show all the cool stuff in the collector's edition. A trailer for a special game package? I suppose at least it's different than a countdown, and more informative, too.

Finally, some new games! Jump Festa, the Japanese anime/manga/games expo, runs next weekend, and Square Enix have announced their lineup. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix and the Theatrhythm sequel will both be playable, as well as Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster and Dragon Quest VIII mobile. Final Fantasy VI mobile will have a trailer, as will the Bravely Default sequel, which follows hot on the heels of that game (which CoN readers already knew about) being officially announced.

To wrap up, it recently came out that Akihiko Yoshida, a designer for Square Enix for almost twenty years, had left the company. In some places, there was much gnashing of teeth - "Look at all the long-time talent Squenix are losing! That company is useless and will soon be gone forever!" To the naysayers, though, Yoshida spoke with Famitsu this week to discuss the change, saying that the choice to leave was not because of the state of the company, but just that his career track within the company wasn't allowing him to design as much as he wanted. He's now a freelancer, and who's his first client? Well, it's Square Enix. I guess he's not hating their current direction.

There we go, there's another couple weeks of tidbits! Will there be more before I go on Christmas break? Who knows?! Just enjoy Father Christmog in the meantime.

Source: siliconera, PlayOnline, Square Enix Members Blog

Square-Enix Releases Final Fantasy VIII on Steam

To go along with Square Enix's recent release of Final Fantasy VII on Steam, they've now released the eighth game of the series onto the digital distribution platform.

There are a couple of key features in the Steam version; Magic Booster and Chocobo World. When Magic Booster is used, the player's inventory of certain spells is increased by 100. The booster only works on low-to-mid level magic, so it doesn't seem to be too much of a game breaker. Chocobo World is the mini game that was originally only available with the Japan exclusive miniature game console Pocketstation until it was released with the original PC version of Final Fantasy VIII as a separate application. You can now launch the mini game from the game launcher after booting up the game.

The game is priced at 9.99 in the UK, 11.99 in the US and 12.99 in Europe and, just like with VII, it's got its own achievements to earn.

Source: Final Fantasy VIII on Steam, Kotaku
Posted in: Square-Enix News

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