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Old November 7 2012, 03:20 AM   #1
Mr Silver
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Location: UK
Square Enix - Final Fantasy

I've been thinking a lot about SE's business model, in regards to the Final Fantasy series. It's painfully obvious that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, was always meant to be a trilogy, which means that SE's focus has shifted from one-off individual instalments, to compilations and sequels.

On paper, the Fabula Nova Crystallis, as the massive project, which features such games as the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and Final Fantasy Type 0 is titled, sounds like a great idea. You have variety in gameplay, using the JRPG style of play as a base, and combining it with Western RPG influences. Then you have continuity, with Type 0 and the elusive Versus XIII both share similar mythos and gameplay elements with the XIII trilogy, despite each game being set in different worlds with different characters, an "expanded universe" if you like. The trouble is, it hasn't really taken off with the hardcore fanbase, particularly outside of Japan.

All energy has been seemingly poured into this project (Square Enix even created a new, cutting-edge games engine known as "Crystal Tools", specifically for the project), which could explain why Final Fantasy XIV (the latest attempt to break into the MMORPG market) was so terrible at launch.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII, (XIII-2 was OK, but seemed to borrow many of the dreadful, lighthearted, and forced humour aspects from X-2) but I don't feel it was significantly "epic" enough to be a main game in the series. I don't think any game since X (and that's at a push), has been epic enough when it comes to storytelling, characters, and gameplay elements. Furthermore, XI and XIV should NEVER have been part of the main series, since both severely deviate from the essence of Final Fantasy (being MMORPG's).

I can see from a marketing perspective why they were given titles as per the main series, (spin-offs generally receive much less attention) I can certainly see this being justified as an experiment for Final Fantasy XI, but it should never have extended to XIV, particularly a game that was unfinished, messy and a terrible effort, so much so, that SE had no choice, but to acknowledge the lacklustre quality of the game.

So where do things go from here? Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (as the final part of the XIII trilogy is titled) should be enjoyable, but it delays SE from focusing on the next title in the main series, given that LR is being built from scratch, unlike it's predecessor, which re-used pretty much everything from XIII, with new models, renders and tweaks, added as needed. It seems that Versus XIII has gone the way of Duke Nukem Forever, although it wouldn't put it past SE, to drop everything and finally develop the game, following the completion of LR. SE should view the FNC project as an experiment, and get back to doing what they do well, from a quality and innovation perspective (not economic, since they will make money, regardless), the FNC concept has already alienated international gamers, given that Type 0 will probably never be released outside of Japan, which means that international fans of the series (who cannot speak/read Japanese and/or don't have access to the software and hardware necessary to play the game) are not going to benefit from any expanded universe, that may or may not have been the idea behind the series.

Arguably, the most successful spin-off (from a critical perspective) is Final Fantasy Tactics. It's shares the name of the series, similar gameplay elements, and much of the same staff, but the game is so far removed from one would expect from a Final Fantasy game, since it's a Tactical RPG. It was never considered to be a part of the main series (apart from being set in the same world as XII, which was later), and never introduced to gamers as such. This wasn't the case with XI and XIV, and even though XI has been recieved as a solid MMORPG, it has recieved tons of backlash for being such a departure from the Final Fantasy series, likely because it was intended as a main entry in the series.

Anyway, getting back to where they go from here. Presumably, FFXV is already at the conception and storyboard stages, if not already being developed (Final Fantasy XIII was in development as far back as 2005). It would appear that Microsoft and Sony plan to announce their 8th generation consoles in 2013/14, with a possible 2014/2015 release, which means that Final Fantasy XV will probably be an 8th generation release. SE have recently said that they probably won't consider a FFVII remake (which almost every fan of the franchise, including myself, really want to happen) unless/until a new release surpasses the quality and acclaim of VII. Despite that, they could very well be working on such an idea, to take advantage of the 20th anniversary in 2017. Again, if such an idea goes ahead, it will be an 8th generation release. So with all that in mind, is the FNC series to be considered "complete" following the release of LR?

There are many ways they can go, but these seem most likely from a business aspect:

- Final Fantasy XV, wherein an entirely new universe is created, along with returning to a "Final Fantasy" familiarity, whilst also being innovative

- Neo-Final Fantasy VII, a complete remake, with new and expanded story elements, major improvements, with the battle and materia system elements from the original game, enhanced and brought up to date. In effect, an entirely new game with the same characters and plot.

- Fabula Nova Crystallis Part 5, which could be the elusive Versus XIII, or an entirely new entry designed to be more "Final Fantasy" than the other games in the FNC series.

- Final Fantasy MMORPG 3.0, the MMORPG market is still profitable and people will still buy such a game, but it's still a risk that would receive a number of groans from the fanbase. It would also mean having 3 active MMORPG's.

Thoughts?
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Old November 7 2012, 04:15 AM   #2
RyuRoots
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Re: Square Enix - Final Fantasy

I really, really don't want a remake of FF7, and I hope Squenix sticks to not making one. I liked FF7 once, and then all the sequels and spinoffs came out, and I really started to let my hate for the stupidity and inanity of most of them bleed over into the old game itself until I played it again with a fresh mind about a year ago and really had a lot of fun. I don't love it to bits like a lot of fans, but it was a very good experience overall, and I'd rather not see it pissed on by the inevitable retcons of all the compilation BS that would come with a remake.

If I trusted Squenix to do a remake like Capcom did for RE1 on the gamecube, I'd say go for it. It turned a bad joke of a game into something I could actually play, and the Lisa Trevor stuff was actually a good addition, I thought. But fact of the matter is that I don't. Not that Capcom is really in my good books now either (for other reasons) but you get the idea.

I just want them to try to create something new with a sense of wonder and the feel of a real journey with characters I can feel invested in. I haven't felt that way since Final Fantasy X, and the best in the series at that remain IV, VI, and Tactics. YMMV obviously. Honestly though, I don't think they're capable of THAT, either. FFXIII could've been that, but I just felt so...uninvested, uninspired by the whole experience, and I felt like the characters talked like characters instead of people. The one glowing exception was Snow, who I absolutely loved, but he wasn't enough to make the game not ultimately feel rather bland at the end of the day despite all the pretty graphics and dynamic battle poses.

tl;dr:
I want a game with the HEART of what they used to do but with new technology to enhance it and expand it. But with Sakaguchi, Matsuno, and so many other talented people gone, I'm not sure this series is for me anymore.
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Old November 7 2012, 03:44 PM   #3
Kelthaz
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Re: Square Enix - Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy VI: The After Years. Make it happen, Square!
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Old November 7 2012, 05:48 PM   #4
Amasov
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Re: Square Enix - Final Fantasy

The only thing I can contribute to this conversation is my experience playing the Final Fantasy MMOs. I never knew too much about the Final Fantasy lore to say whether XI or XIV were close or a departure from the series. My friends who play those MMOs with me are HUGE Final Fantasy fans and one pointed out in the case of XI was if you replaced the airships, chocobos, and the job names all with something else, it could just be an MMO unrelated to the Final Fantasy series.

I started XI during the US launch in 2003. It was my very first MMO, but I enjoyed it a lot. I only recently put the game down for the last time and closed out my account, but I was very active right up until the end. XIV, I also started at launch and continue to play to this day -- though only for a few more days until it goes down for the up and coming relaunch. It was my understanding that XIV was a little closer to the FF lore than XI was and given the upcoming 2.0, or A Realm Reborn, players have been saying it's looking to be more FF-like.

I can't really say that bothers me too much, because as MMOs, I enjoyed them a lot. But like you said, I was always aware there was tons of backlash towards Final Fantasy jumping into the MMO arena.
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Old November 7 2012, 09:10 PM   #5
Mr Silver
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Re: Square Enix - Final Fantasy

Kelthaz wrote: View Post
Final Fantasy VI: The After Years. Make it happen, Square!
I'd welcome this, but it would only become a realistic prospect if there was sufficient interest. IIRC, FFIV was given two sequels (Interlude and TAY) because there was significant renewed interest in the game in Japan.

My perception is that FFVI is more popular internationally than it is domestically in Japan. Even though it's still rated highly in Japan and has broken sales records, it seemingly made more of an impact on Western audiences, perhaps due to the Nintendo boom.

It all depends on how many copes of the PSP/PS3 port of the game are selling along with how much interest SE is receiving from both domestic and international audiences.

If I had to put the FF series games in order, by which are most suitable for a sequel treatment (including those which have already recieved a sequel) it would look like this:

Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy
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Old November 14 2012, 10:29 PM   #6
Mr Silver
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Re: Square Enix - Final Fantasy

I'm also currently re-playing Final Fantasy VII, I'm thinking about maybe detailing ideas for a sequel based on what I encounter in the game.
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