News from April 2016
After the many years of success enjoyed by the Distant Worlds concert tour, playing orchestral arrangements of Final Fantasy music worldwide, Square Enix has paired with concert promoter La Fee Sauvage to offer a similar show with the music of Kingdom Hearts.
The general setup is that of Distant Worlds, featuring a 70-plus piece orchestra that is local to the venue performing songs from the game series. One might assume that there won't be as much variety available as for Distant Worlds, but the Kingdom Hearts series does itself span eight distinct games now, not including remixes, remakes, and re-imaginings. I've never played a KH game myself, but I did do some sampling of the soundtracks for this post and I think it's safe to say that fans will no doubt find some very lovely music performed on stage. As a note, the Kingdom Hearts series features music composed by Yoko Shimomura, one of gaming's most prolific composers and the composer for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV.
The World Tour won't begin until next year, and is currently scheduled to appear in seven cities worldwide: Tokyo, Paris, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and New York. The European shows all take place in March of 2017; the American shows are in June.
The latest Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report was yesterday at an insanely-early hour, so I (and likely all of you) missed it. It looks like we didn't miss that much, really, as there were no new earth-shattering pieces of news around the game, but mainly updates on things that we had seen before. For instance, the team expressed how the sideline video content in the anime or movie isn't strictly necessary to understand the game; the Justice Monsters V app will be out for Android next week, iOS in June, and Windows 10 sometime in the summer; the game will have a New Game + mode; and the next ATR will take place at E3. Also, if you wanted the very expensive ultimate edition, it sounds like Squenix are aiming to put together another ten thousand copies worldwide.
Valkyrie Anatomia is getting some more press as its release nears. The game got a new trailer last week and this week both. The first one is very much a teaser, with nothing more than extremely dramatic narration and music. The newer one actually shows some art and even the briefest glimpse at a battle scene.
Somehow I missed that there's a Theatrhythm game in the works for arcades in Japan, a second game to follow the handheld-to-arcade flow of Dissidia. The game is far enough along to be location-tested in a half-dozen locations, and to prepare users the company produced a tutorial video. This is a niche game if there ever was one: rhythm, Square Enix, arcade, arcade with intense custom controllers to emulate touch, multi-console co-op, yeah, we're probably never going to see this over here. Looks pretty, though, and the co-op scene at 2:50 in the video is intense.
Speaking of Dissidia in arcades, the next update to that game brings Garland in as the first villain to this big-screen version. If you ever thought he didn't look malicious enough in any of the iterations of Final Fantasy I, you can put that thought to rest; he's a heavy-type character here and is a seriously hulking brute. And since I missed it a while back, Ramza's in there now too. He's in his squire gear and carries a light fencing sword. And he has a nose.
Back to mobile games, where last week Square teased "Project: Rising" for Android and iOS. Turns out that the game is called "Samurai Rising," and is an action RPG; it looks to be a mashup of a lot of different things from the Squenix canon, with art style in-game reminiscent of the 3DS Final Fantasies, character artwork that could have come from Bravely Default, and an overhead action combat model that could be from a Mana game.
Let's wrap up these tidbits with "I am Setsuna". I mentioned before that the game would be playable at PAX East, which starts today (and, by the way, appears to be an utter mess; my friends were reporting lines of fifteen minutes just to cross the street to get to the convention hall earlier today). Today's news details the basic plot and a release date of July 19th for both PlayStation 4 and Windows/Steam. This game looks to be gorgeous and the fact that it's now coming for Windows makes me quite happy.
Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Polygon
Word. I access CoN on my phone as much or more than anyone. It's pretty shoddy. Or, well, it was, because by the time you read this, it will have gotten a whole lot better. If you visit CoN from your phone now, you're going to see a version of Skyglade that has been polished significantly for your enjoyment on your handheld device. We've reduced the number of images that you'll have to download, which your data plan will appreciate. We've also reorganized the navigation behind the popular "hamburger" button so that you can have more screen real estate for the content you're reading front-and-center. And, for everyone, we've implemented "lazy loading" on image-heavy pages so that you won't be forced to download pictures until you are ready for them. Your CoN browsing on any device will be quicker and lighter than before.
We're considering this to be beta. It's not like us to release content to you that we ourselves call beta, but in this case we feel confident in the quality of what we have already done and want you to be able to use it even though it doesn't cover every case. You might notice that some pages will require scrolling from left to right on phones in portrait mode, so rotating your phone to landscape might be beneficial. This is especially true of the forums. Some pages will remain generally difficult to use on mobile, but we will do our best in the future to continue to update them. If you come across any problems that you simply can't accept, we welcome your feedback in the forums, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
If you like what we've done here, please add CoN to your home screen so you can have quick access to our guides and community no matter where you're playing!
We've been waiting for it for a few months, and Final Fantasy IX appeared on Steam earlier this morning. It's already the top seller for the day so far, and it's currently listed at $16.79, a 20% markdown from the list price of $20.99. The sale price extends only until April 20, so if you've been looking forward to the release, you might want to snap it up now.
Similarly, the game also appeared this week for both iOS and Android. It requires 4GB of space for install, and a shade over 3 after, so this is definitely a game that I'll never have on my phone, which is constantly just about full. In the US, the same list price of $20.99 is what you'll pay for either platform. OS requirements are iOS7 and Android 4.1.
Since my last news post, I've been largely ignoring news and instead working on CoN itself - more on that probably later today or tomorrow. During that time, there's been a lot of smallish news coming out of Squenix' press division, so let's touch on that now.
Hajime Tabata has been continuing to make the Final Fantasy XV rounds since the Uncovered event; an interview with Game Informer shows some more gameplay from the beginning of the game and an interview with Famitsu goes into the decade of development on XV and how they're striving to take the brand out of the "crisis" mode that some fans seem to feel. And, tomorrow, there's going to be another stream, this time with Tabata and Hironobu Sakaguchi. Looks like it's starting at 8pm local time, which would put it at 7am Eastern.
Yesterday, the American SE Twitch channel ran a livestream of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, called Star Log 2. It mentioned the release date (June 28) and the contents of the collector's edition, but it focused on new gameplay and combat footage. Just after, they released three other new videos with a more focused look at combat and introductory spotlight videos for two more characters.
PAX East is just around the corner again, and unfortunately I'll be unable to go this year. For those folks who are able to go, though, or those who just want to see what is coming up, Squenix published their lineup for the show floor. Star Ocean 5 will be playable, as will I Am Setsuna. Additionally, there will be a playable VR game for Oculus and Gear called Hitman GO - it's a turn-based strategy game, for those of you who might be hoping for virtual reality assassinations in real-time. A new challenge for Final Fantasy XIV, Kingdom Hearts: Unchained χ and a few other non-RPG titles fill out the roster.
Death Penalty will enjoy the fact that Nier: Automata hasn't completely ceased to be. In fact, there's a live event coming up this weekend that will be a concert of Nier series music as well as a presentation of new information for the upcoming title. Folks who might like a sample can get one from the official Japanese site.
On the topic of DP, there's a new Valkyrie game coming, even. There's not much information about Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin, but it has a release window of Spring 2016 in Japan, a timeline short enough that essentially locks it in as a smartphone title for one or more platforms.
Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Game Informer
I just found out that there's going to be a Twitch stream put on by Square Enix America later today covering the Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo released last week. No idea if it will cover the whole demo, how long it will run, or anything like that, but they do say that they will be giving out prizes and playing the demo live.
The stream starts at 5pm Eastern time, or 10pm for our friends in England. It will be streamed on the Square Enix Twitch channel.
In an interview with GameInformer debuting their May 2015 cover feature on Final Fantasy XV, Yoshinori Kitase spoke also about the methodology of releasing Final Fantasy VII Remake as an episodic game.
Naturally, some fans are not pleased about the news of the game being episodic, assuming that it will make the game less playable, or cost more, or something else. Those concerns could still be valid, of course; we won't know for quite a long time. What we do know now thanks to Kitase's interview is that the game will be split into an unknown number of parts, but that each will be "full-scale." He also compared the methodology of splitting the story to what was done with Final Fantasy XIII, in which each chapter told a part of the story from a different angle, and that each episode of VII Remake "should be on par with the scale of one Final Fantasy XIII game."
Of course, that does raise some questions, as in my opinion, all three games in the XIII series have fairly different lengths. Personally, I have a hundred hours in XIII, but I have 100% of achievements in 13-2 in under 60. I did about 45 in my first playthrough of Lightning Returns. If I were to look back far enough, I'd guess I topped out at about 90 for all of Final Fantasy VII nearly 20 years ago. What does this mean for Final Fantasy VII Remake? Well, about as much concretely as anything Kitase said thus far!
Posted in: Final Fantasy VII
As you might have known, our IRC provider pulled the rug out from under us a while back, and our ability to get our users into CoNchat directly from the site has been broken since while I took turns looking for a new option and forgetting about the project entirely. No longer! I've just deployed the fix - it's not quite as nice as the old way but it will work well for most users and will allow you to chat directly from the site without visiting another page should you so desire.
Of course, as before, if you're a logged-in user, your username will be pre-populated in our chat form so that everyone knows who you are as soon as you join. I look forward to seeing some of you visit again or for the first time now that everything's up and going again!
If you're reading this, you've probably already seen the new CoN feature that we timed for the big Final Fantasy XV news of the week. We know that navigating our content can sometimes be daunting as a player, as there is so much of it, so we spent some time looking at how to best improve the user experience of our guides and forums.
The result, as you've no doubt guessed by now, is Boco Buddy! We've analyzed the usage patterns of the site so that Boco can provide to you on the fly (if you'll pardon the pun!) tips on how to find what you're looking for on CoN, as well as helpful suggestions for content you might have missed. He even works in the forums!
So, please, give him a try and let us know what you think. He's here to help!