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Only Squeenix could piss me off about a release to a sequel to one of the greatest RPGs of all time.

See, I consider four games as the "greatest" RPGs of all time. Of those four, only one doesn't belong to Squeenix: Suikoden II. The others are all Square's: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and Final Fantasy IV. IV was so great, I bought the DS remake of a game that I'd beaten when I was twelve. It's truly an amazing game.

A sequel with full continuity should be a great game. For all I know, it might be. It might not be.

I'll likely know in almost a fucking year. After I've spent $40. Because Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is episodic, which accomplishes two things: 1) drags out the release cycle of the game, and 2) pulls the wool over fans' eyes.

The game itself, from what I've seen, is what we'd expect: it's a sequel to Final Fantasy IV, using Cecil's son as the protagonist. From what I've seen, the first chapter basically acts like a tutorial, but also is going to be enough to make fans cream themselves. It starts very similarly to the original; same airship, same music, different situation but a very similar feel overall (and a nod not only to other FF games, but past FFIV canon with Vicks and Wedge). The overworld music is the same, the music in the dungeon is the same, if you're a nostalgic then you will spend your time playing the chapters sexually aroused; I had a hard-on that could have chiselled stone.

The one new thing I can see is the moon phase mechanic; whenever you rest, the moon shifts, and makes certain things stronger or weaker for both friends and foes. For example, at full moon, your regular attacks are weakened, but (I think) black magic is strengthened all around. What it really does is add a whole new level of strategy to the game; not only for how to handle the moon phases, but whether you want to use a tent, knowing it's going to make the moons shift. It's overall a nice addition.

I'll arguably say that the game looks worse than the original did; they're a bit blurred and smudged, and though that could be on my end - I have A/V cables going into a 42" HDTV - it looks bad. Then again, no one playing this is going to give a shit, nor do I.

Here's where I have issues: it's all episodic. I can buy the main chapter at $8, most of which I seem to spend in one dungeon (you have to go through it both ways, which is annoying considering the encounter rate is actually INCREASED in this game), and there's also Rydia's chapter, which is $3. There are nine releases, with the first and last being $8; the others are $3.

Let's do the math:

$8 X $2 = $16
$7 X $3 = $21
$21 + $16 = $37

That's an expensive fucking game, but it seems like it's split up like this basically to get gamers hooked. "C'mon, what's $8 for a FFIV sequel? You'll like it! Oh, to get another hit, it's $3... and you have to wait a month". This is unbelievable, considering the fact that this is an older cell phone game; it's unnecessary to sell this as bits.

The director of this game stated that he set it up this way because he wanted to set it up like a manga or anime; he wanted us to be excited for the new chapters as if we were waiting for a new episode of a manga. He also stated that he didn't want gamers to get "tired" of the game; play a bit, rest up a bit, play the next part. I'll take him at his word, and as that's the case, these are laudable goals. However, I think he's not taking into account the general lack of patience of too many gamers. I'm hooked into the first chapter of this game, and barring a catastrophe, I'll be hooked into Rydia's chapter. I don't WANT to wait another month for the third release, I want to continue! It's going to take me nine months just to get all the chapters together, when I could theoretically finish this game - considering work, games I review, etc. - in a month, likely two. Generally speaking, when I get into something, I don't like being made to wait for more of it; with me, you want to strike while the iron's hot, lest I find another shiny object to play with. For example, there's only seven chapters of Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden available in America, translated. I forget what they're up to in Japan, but it's many, many more. I don't want to wait for more chapters to be brought to America with their pitiful translation schedule; I've already moved onto the fansubs, which is notable because the fansubs (on MangaFox) have, so far, really shitty translation. I obviously don't have that option with this game, but that doesn't make me excited; it makes me annoyed.

Plus, there's Squeenix's business instinct to deal with, which can best be described as "malicious". Let's take a look at Chrono Trigger, and how Squeenix have treated their fans in relation to this franchise. After CT was released to universal praise in the mid-90s, they released Chrono Cross, which was not as well loved, mainly because Squeenix's fans, to be fair, tend to be morons who miss the forest AND the trees for the brick wall. After that... nothing. Silence, for over a decade... with the exception of Squeenix sending a cease-and-desist on a 3D remake of the game. Then they ported over Chrono Trigger, a game I reviewed well, but basically was not only a port of a fourteen year old game, but a full priced, $40 port (every Squeenix release gets the full price treatment). While this was going on, a group of fans were screwing around with an SNES ROM image and making a project called Crimson Echoes, which they stated would tie together CT and CC. My feeling on this is that fan-led projects like this tend to mostly suck, but they were able to put years into what was, among enthusiasts, a well-known project, and got to the point where they were 98% done... which is when Squeenix sent their C&D. It was the dickest of dick moves; they didn't just want to protect their intellectual property, they wanted to break the spirits of this team, and send a Vlad Dracul-like warning to anyone else thinking of fucking around with their intellectual property.

Maybe a month later, IGN (via RPGsite.com) has this beauty from Shinji Hashimoto, where he says to people that want a CT sequel "If people want a sequel, they should buy more!". The audacity of this statement is enough to make the hair stand up on my head, considering Chrono Trigger was released at $40 for a 14 year old game, and even more audacious considering that Squeenix had made such pains to get the timing right in killing the fan sequel. They acted like teenagers taking their ball and going home, and consistently antagonize their fans.

Considering all of this with just one franchise, how can I expect them not to wait a few months until after I've purchased the WiiWare version of their latest Final Fantasy game to "remake" it for another system like the DS - at full price, of course - and add in one or two things to make everyone buy it again? I don't have faith they're not going to pull a dick move on us, then act as if we should be thankful.

In retrospect, the game is a mixed bag; if you can ignore the fact that it's Squeenix and that their business model has involved them urinating on their fans an awful lot lately, then by all means, get these; Samantha, if you own a Wii, you should be all over this.

This could have been beautiful, but playing the game and buying the monthly chapters makes me feel dirty, since, as shown with the Chrono Trigger sequel, if sales aren't to their liking, Square will withhold our toys as blackmail until we beat enough people into following suit.

EDIT: Let me clarify one thing: if Squeenix releases this game tomorrow as either a DS or WiiWare game, complete, for $40, I'm buying it. It's expensive, but the IP and work involved would be worth that price.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
recession
Jun. 11th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
So does Squeenix use the George Lucas business model, or is it the other way around?
burning_phoneix
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Are you gonna make this a "blogging on the bus" entry?
superbus
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure. It feels like I'd be beating a dead horse a bit. I've been critical of Squeenix so much that no one gives a shit anymore.
dmajohnson
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
I've been critical of Squeenix so much that no one gives a shit anymore.

I can vouch for this.

*shot*
burning_phoneix
Jun. 11th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...maybe that's true and since I loathe square enix as much as you do I don't notice the repetitiveness.
samuraiter
Jun. 12th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
I've been critical of Squeenix so much that no one gives a shit anymore.

Don't worry, brother. You're in good company here. I'm getting so tired of Square Enix that, outside of the remakes, I can't find anything to like in that company's releases as of late.

Except for the stuff they're doing for Taito. You and I both know that rocks out.
dmajohnson
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
That's an expensive fucking game...

It's three dollars less than if they sold it on the DS as a "complete game".
superbus
Jun. 11th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, and if I wanted to beat it within a month, I'd be able to. Furthermore, it'd be out in the open ("This game is $40") than potentially fooling someone that doesn't know what they're getting into ("Only $8! Oh, the other eight chapters? Fuck it, you're hooked, right? :D"). They did the same shit with My Life as a King, giving us half a game for $15, and all but mandating that we spend another $15 on DLC to get anything out of our purchase (granted, I did not buy My Life as a King).
dmajohnson
Jun. 12th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
It's a matter of opinion, when you get down to it. Honestly, I don't mind episodic content when handled well. If done properly, a single episode has the chance to focus on a single design goal more holistically, and can provide a decent amount of replay value (as in Half-Life 2's episodes for the most part). Granted, you must take into account that I'm the kind of person who likes his gaming in small chunks. I like to be able to get the kind of gaming experience that more casual games aren't meant to provide, yet still be able to back out quickly and go back to work or whatever it is I need to do elsewhere.
superbus
Jun. 12th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
Ah, see if they did this like Half Life, I wouldn't mind so much; HL2 itself is a full game. If the crux of the game itself was the episodes, I'd not be saying that because Valve has really spit the bit on that front.

That's one issue I have with this: it's really hard to keep that release schedule; too many things can get in the way. Another thing that bothers me is that the game is already complete; it's been complete for years. It's like, if we use FFIV as the example, you had to buy the first part of the game, but it only took you to the point where you blew up Mist and Rydia came along and wrecked your shit, and to advance, you had to pay more money. I expect that out of arcade games; RPGs that are already complete, I don't like it.

If they tried this with another game that wasn't structured like this one (and wasn't already finished, as shown on the Japanese cell phones), I would at least have a more open mind.
dmajohnson
Jun. 12th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
Ah, see if they did this like Half Life, I wouldn't mind so much; HL2 itself is a full game.

At best Half-Life 2 is half a game. It's like they ran out of ideas and just ended it where they did because they got tired of working on it for eight hundred years through a bajillion different script revisions.

That's one issue I have with this: it's really hard to keep that release schedule; too many things can get in the way.

Supposing you can't keep up, then you simply delay the next part. It's the same as a full game except that you get to play part of it while you wait.

It's like, if we use FFIV as the example, you had to buy the first part of the game, but it only took you to the point where you blew up Mist and Rydia came along and wrecked your shit, and to advance, you had to pay more money.

Actually, I wouldn't have minded that. Then I could have stopped paying after the first three or four parts when I realized "Hey! I just realized that I hate this game!" and bought something else with the money I saved.

If they tried this with another game that wasn't structured like this one (and wasn't already finished, as shown on the Japanese cell phones), I would at least have a more open mind.

I still think you're making a mountain out of a molehill just because it's Square Enix. You don't want to wait for parts seperately? Then wait for them all to get released and buy them all at once. Problem solved. Then the people who don't want to wait don't have to just because it makes a given group grumpy.
kyuusei
Jun. 11th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
See why I was very meh about Square Enix at E3 this year. I just couldn't care... Other than the FFIV game, and even then I'm iffy.

The only good I could see about buying FFIV: After Years by chapters is that if you don't like the first one or two, you don't have to buy the rest. But the hardcores will anyway, and that's what Squeenix is depending on. The fact that it's taking so long for the entire game to come out makes me think they're still putting together the later chapters.

I'm still unsure as to buying even the first part yet though.
dmajohnson
Jun. 12th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
The fact that it's taking so long for the entire game to come out makes me think they're still putting together the later chapters.

The game originated as a cell phone game in Japan where it completed its run well before its NA release on the Wii.
kyuusei
Jun. 12th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
Ah damnit. I'm way out of the Japanese loop.

Unless the game takes a while to convert/port or something. But I doubt it.
mel_makoro
Jun. 11th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
Personally, I would've been happy if they just didn't bother with a sequel. :/ This isn't to say that FFIV's sequel is good or bad (I mean, how would I really know, right?), but more like... they had a good thing already with FFIV; do they really want to risk bloating/ruining it with a sequel? Or contradicting or forgetting what you've already established in the original? It's been so long since the original's release that those points hold a lot of water, I feel, especially after seeing glimpses of what they've done in their Compilation of FFVII: stuff looks pretty and that's about it. In general... the original may have great characters that drive a great plot, but sequels like to dive into a plot thick enough to drown out the characters.

Pessimistic a view as this may be, though, I find I ultimately go with a policy similar to "guilty until proven innocent" approach (that's how I approached Spider-Man 2 and didn't regret it; wasn't too interested in seeing the third, though).
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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