Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Square Fantasies Makes the World Go Round
What a day. Final Fantasy III, the long rumoured but never shown Nintendo DS game was finally shown to the public today and it will in fact be a complete remake. The tiny press photos published by Famitsu reveal a colourful pre-rendered world with what appears to be 3-D characters. As if that wasn’t enough, Final Fantasy V and VI were announced for the GameBoy Advance/Micro.
The announcements come in the heels of a weak Square-Enix showing at the Tokyo Game Show last month, where its presence was noticeably scaled back with no major announcements, leading some to speculate it may have been planning to hold an announcement of its own. Few people expected the announcement to happen inside a Nintendo DS event.
For weeks prior today’s major revelation the company had been dropping hints of its renewed partnership with its old business partner. Children of Mana, the spiritual remake of the popular Seiken Densetsu 2 (aka Secret of Mana) was announced for the Nintendo DS. At around the same time, Nintendo of America announced Final Fantasy IV by confirming that it would publish the game for GameBoy Advance in North America this December. Mere days ago, Square-Enix launched Final Fantasy IV’s official website. In it, it was revealed Square-Enix will be heavily supporting the GameBoy Micro with a game exclusive faceplate with art by Yoshitaka Amano, the graphic artist who designed the characters for all the Nintendo generation Final Fantasies and the logos for every Final Fantasy game. The tagline Final Fantasy IV Advance on the teaser website also spawned speculations from fans that more games would be on the way for GameBoy. Today’s announcement had proven them right.
Square-Enix’s slow creep back to Nintendo and more importantly, its handheld line-up is one of the most interesting industry developments in the past year. These gestures come at a critical point for Nintendo itself as the NDS and the PSP continue to battle for dominance on the market. It also comes at a time when Sony’s image of invincibility seems to have been shattered by a tarnished brand in its consumer electronics, years of pent up consumer frustration over poor game hardware design and the lucklustre performance of the PSP in living up to consumer expectations.
The historical irony in all this is that just a mere decade ago, at the twilight of the Super Nintendo era, Squaresoft was secretly preparing its Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation ending its exclusivity with Nintendo and spending the next seven years making games for everyone but Nintendo. That fateful announcement was made in February of 1996. Nearly ten years later, all the hard feelings seem to have been forgotten and the business and reciprocal partnership that had lasted with such vigour during the 80s and 90s seem positively revived in a renewed push by both Nintendo and Square-Enix to tap a goldmine of good memories and make a ton of money.