I used to enjoy Square games immensely, and got way hyped about every new series and offshoot of a series they would announce.In the Square heyday of Final Fantasy VI through IX, alongside other amazing efforts out of Square during that span I was all in on that company. They were on the status of Nintendo to me. They could do no wrong. I could write thousands of words on some their forgotten efforts like Einhander and Brave Fencer Musashi. There were piles of original and innovative content being produced by them in the PSX days. Along with all that inovation, you could always rest your hat on the quality production of Final Fantasy as the cornerstone of console RPGs.
I never particularly felt betrayed by Square. I can’t pinpoint a moment when I thought, alright Squaresoft, you’ve gone too far, drop the gunsword before someone doesn’t get shot.
It was actually a very gradual process. There was a time when I would drool and ogle images of upcoming Square games in the latest issue of EGM, the way I do now for Nintendo or WayForward produced titles.
Eventually some mediocre games began to trickle out, so I stopped following this or that series. The next thing I know, Square has merged with Enix and I don’t want a single game from either company.
That’s not to say that Square has been terrible ever since I stopped caring. They still have great games, but their percentages of quality product have dropped off.
Shout outs specifically to The World Ends With You for the great world/music/battle system that made me remember how incredible you can still be. Although I do expect great work from Jupiter, the guys who created the classic GBC Pokemon Pinball.
Also props to Theatrhythm, for knowing so deeply one of the reasons we pick up Final Fantasy games, the music. This game also gave me the energy and nostalgia to wade through the morass of thoughts I have about Square and Final Fantasy.
I think the works of Square will be a hot topic among overly opinionated gamers for some time. I haven’t even began to cover all my thoughts on the subject yet.
In the 16-bit era, shoot-em-ups were enjoying their new found technological freedom. As technology stepped up, so too did the amount of enemy ships trying to blast you out of the air. Levels lengthened, enemies took on a wide variety, and bullets split the sky in various patterns. I was in heaven.
In the 32-bit era things went decidedly differently. Perhaps this was due to the continued decline of arcades and the inherent arcade nature of shmups. Polygonal hit boxes and the commonly low budgets for shmup developers (things that are still true today) clearly had an impact as well. Most great shoot-em-ups of the 16-bit days either went dormant, or stuck with the tried and true gameplay of their past iterations. New shoot-em-up franchises you say? Maybe in Japan, but even with the PSX being the money maker it was, publishers rarely cared to put in the comparatively minimal effort needed to bring them stateside.
Then Square stepped up to the plate by releasing Einhander in the US in 1998. Perhaps feeling cocky by the release of FFVII they were translating and releasing everything they could develop searching for their next big hit. Even things that were not RPGs were getting developed by Square, practically unheard of today.
Not only did Sony bring shmups into the polygon era, they nailed it on the first swing. Large bosses, huge variety of guns and strategy to using them, great music, amazing graphics. Any criteria you could use to judge whether a shmup is good or not (meaning don’t judge it on the story whatsoever) was impressive. I still go back and play this game when I want to blast hundreds of generic enemy ships into oblivion.
I, as I am wont to assume, believed that this was the beginning of an incredible series, rather than a one off experiment. Evenually other companies dragged shoot-em-ups new and old into today, but Square was so far ahead of the curve it is truly surprising that they didn’t capitalize on it. Square never saw fit to develop a sequel, nor any other shmup game ever since. Even worse, they are too lazy to let me download the originalon PSN, even though it is available on the Japanese PSN!
Oh Square-Enix, finding the dumbest ways to try and take my money while simultaneously finding other ways to keep me from throwing money at them.
It has become tough to remember a time when I would have listed the Final Fantasy series at the top, alongside some of my favorite games.
I think it has more to do with me than anything Square-Enix did (and they did a lot) to drive me away as a die hard fan from the burgeoning polygonal heyday of Squaresoft.
I just don’t game at the efficiency I used to. I could skip homework to play FFVII for a dozens of dozens of hours, but I can’t skip actual work to drop the hundreds of hours necessary to completing the latest foray into mainline Final Fantasy (and its mainline spinoffs, damn Square-Enix for even making that a thing).
I like chunks of riveting, and dare I say, novel gameplay experiences. It has been a long time since “Over 70 hours of gameplay!” was a reason to buy a game for me.
As for what Final Fantasy did, how about got caught up in over-budget terrible-writing fests for a few years. Going Bankrupt. Needlessly pandering to fans while letting their in house artists fly into outerspace with ridiculous design choices and not letting someone competent handle those translations properly.
Wait a minute. This has happened over the entire history of Final Fantasy!
You know what Square, keep doing what you’re doing.
Maybe us generations of FF fans ain’t so different after all.
Well, a minute to write about it at least. In many hours with the game, I have earned 40K of Rhythmia, got six characters maxed out at level 99, and just listened to who knows how many Final Fantasy songs (especially Somnus). The game is definitely amazing.
Beyond that though, it has reminded me that, hey! I know I haven’t played an entry since FFIX, but wow, I used to really love Final Fantasy!
Not even a year ago I was sick and tired of hearing FF remixes, orchestrations, arrangements, or OSTs or anything. It felt so overdone. It must have been my general weariness with Final Fantasy itself that seeped into my disdain for the music. Either way, I have now listened to a ton of FF music, and am pining for the good old days when I truly, wholeheartedly anticipated a new Final Fantasy title.
Theatrhythm has perfectly captured me in a fit of nostalgia, and I want more. Theatrhythm: Chrono Trigger? A specific title like Theatrhythm: FFVII? THEATRHYTHM: MARIO RPG!?!? Or, how about forget the nostalgia, and make a completely brand new RPG based on the mechanics of Theatrhythm?
I’m not sure what Square-Enix should do next, now that they have re-entangled me in Final Fantasy, RPGs, and amazing RPG soundtracks once again, but my mind is now boiling over with ideas…