Posted by: The Lazy Admin | May 19, 2008

Gaming Franchise Frustration

If you know me personally, you’ll know I’m a huge video gamer. Moreover, I’m a big fan of the Final Fantasy game series.

Gaming was nice when I was younger, because quite frankly every game worth playing came out for a Nintendo system since Sega was the only “real” competitor and most of the other consoles died off rather quickly. It did take Sega to raise the white flag though, and I’ll give them some credit in that they had a company like Working Designs to create some awesomely fun games for Sega CD and Saturn.

Nowadays, there is no clear winner in the console wars. You have the 800 pound gorilla named Microsoft who’ll dump as much capital into the market to come out the clear winner as is necessary. Then you have Sony who was the previous title-holder when they released the Playstation and then Playstation 2, which was far above every other gaming system out there. Then of course there’s Nintendo, who since their release of the N64 and their choice to stick with limited, expensive, cartridge-based media has been playing catch-up but still held onto dominance in the handheld gaming market, choosing to stick with that and play towards gaming innovation instead of jumping on the “prettier, crisper, more violent” gaming bandwagon. Kudos to them, seriously.

The problem with this balance is that now, for some strange reason, instead of seeing ports of games for certain systems, or complete exclusivity for certain systems, we’re now being taunted with some series of games being spread across all possible hardware choices and some of those choices not even being what, in my sagely gaming experience, would be considered a wise choice. The latest slap in the face of this long time, die-hard gamer is Final Fantasy.

This one started out on the Nintendo bandwagon, as it was obviously the market leader and the games would reach the biggest audience which equals more money for Squaresoft (now Square Enix). When Nintendo decided that cartridges were the way to go and CD based games were not, Square began producing its games for the Playstation. We’ve seen three great Final Fantasy games for it: Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 9, as well as a slew of remade games that were released for it. Once the Playstation 2 was released, we got to see several more great titles: Final Fantasy X, X-2, and Final Fantasy 12. What happened to 11 you ask? This was released for PC as a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG).

Ever since, Square Enix can’t seem to decide where its loyalties lie. One of my most beloved games, Final Fantasy 4 (Final Fantasy 2 here in the US) has been long considered a gaming masterpiece. I was excited to hear it was going to get a facelift and a remake released on a next-generation console. Imagine my horror to find out it was coming out for a handheld system… the Nintendo DS! Sure, it has updated graphics, but they’re about 10 years outdated and very Playstation 1 in appearance. How can this even be justified to fans like myself? I’ve read forum after forum of people just gushing over this remake. How is this even possible? Why not create something of quality by releasing it for Xbox 360, or even Playstation 2 or 3? I feel like the fans have been cheated by the decision to release this for DS. Additionally, that means anyone wanting to try this remake will have to shell out the cash for a DS that for many will be ultimately worthless and underused. It gets even better.

In Japan, they have released a sequel to Final Fantasy 4, which means basically it’s a continuation of the storyline since all the Final Fantasy games have different stories and characters. It is Final Fantasy 4 – The After This game has classic graphics and characters as a throwback to the original game, but will only be released for a specific brand of mobile phone, and possibly only in Japan!

Besides this, there have been other games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles that have come out for Nintendo Gamecube, one of which you need to buy a Gameboy Advance to make the most of the game, and spinoff games based on Final Fantasy 7’s story released for Playstation Portable (PSP).

Why is a huge, profitable company like Square Enix doing this? How is this doing any of their fans a service by either forcing them to shell out the cash for an expensive game system, or skip playing the games they love entirely? I’m not poor, but I certainly can’t afford to shell out $500+ for the hardware and then $50+ for the games, after which the hardware is completely useless to me.

Sadly, I may end up buying a DS to play the Final Fantasy 4 remake, because I freaking love the game *that much*. Possibly I will buy FF12: Revenant Wings for it too (which is another spinoff for Final Fantasy 12, which was released on the Playstation2). Basically it feels rather unfair to taunt loyal fans by releasing sequels or additional storylines on different systems. One of these days I’ll simply speak with my dollar and quit buying any of their games until their corporate officials get back on their Ritalin and can focus on one damn system for a few years again.

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Responses

  1. First of all, I think that if you are the least bit interested in console RPGs then the Nintendo DS is a must. Final Fantasy 3 for DS is one of the greatest remakes in gaming history, and I am sure the Final Fantasy 4 will not disappoint. This year alone we have the Dragon Quest 4 remake, Dragon Quest 9, and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 coming out for DS. There are also games available right now such as the Front Mission, Luminous Arc, and Contact that are all stunning. Add to that the massive RPG back catalogue of the Gameboy Advance, and your statement of the DS becoming “useless” after playing through a single RPG is not only grossly misinformed, but also quite ignorant. The DS has been home a large number of quality RPGs over the last couple years, certainly more that Wii, XBox 360 and the PS3 combined, and will continue to be in the preferred platform for RPG developers in the future.

    I also take issue with your gripe about Square making games for several different platforms. The reason they developed for more than one platform now is because back in the NES/SNES days, they had no other choice. The Genesis’ inferior color palette made porting the SNES Final Fantasy games impossible, and besides that, back then Nintendo had really strict rules about developers releasing games for other consoles, so if you wanted to develop for Nintendo, you had to do it almost exclusively. With the PlayStation, Square had no other choice. There was just no other CD based alternitive with a wide Japanese install base to justify porting to any of Sony’s competitors. Except, that is, for the PC, and Square did release Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 9 on PC, which would classify those games as multi-platform.

    The reason why none of the PS2 Final Fantasy games made it over to the XBox is because the Xbox is very unpopular in Japan, and that is where RPGs are the have the most audience. Nowadays, we are seeing alot of different systems that offer a lot of different types of experiences, something that has never happened before in the history of gaming. Square is merely releasing their games as widely as possible to reach a wider audience. A game like Final Fantasy 4 would never work on PS2 or 3 because the development time for next gen is measured in years, and I doubt that any game company is willing to put 3+ years and $100 million into a remake when they can put that money and man-power into new, fresh games that are liable to sell more.

    That being said, I like the blog a lot. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the comment! It’s true that the DS *does* have a large library of RPGs, and I’d like to rescind the comment about it becoming “useless” as I did decide there were quite a few GBA titles that I’d probably end up buying for it. All in all, it throws back to my comment about not agreeing on the best Final Fantasy game… and mine was Final Fantasy 4 😉 The rant comes partially because of the potential of Final Fantasy 7 being remade (which has already been hinted at but not confirmed) I feel very strongly about seeing a beautifully done remake of my favorite game. Moreover, I think a well done remake of Final Fantasy 4 would be more fitting to those who became fans of the series even after Final Fantasy 7 was released, because then the gamers looking for more eye candy will be enticed to try out this “classic” game because it more suits their tastes. I know quite a few gamers who won’t play even some older Playstation games because they claim the graphics are just “horrible”.

    Ah well, as I said I’ve been finding more reasons to invest in yet another gaming system (which I loathe, unfortunately) but as my gaming selection tends to be more heavily focused on RPGs, yeah I will probably buy a DS.

    I appreciate the comments and insight. I’m obviously not a professional writer but I am a passionate gamer 😀 I like your blog, and I’ll be checking it out in the future!


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