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E3 '12: Square, We Need to Talk

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Six, yes, six years ago Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced alongside last year's beyond terrible Final Fantasy XIII. I know early announcement and long dev cycles have become frustratingly common place in the modern gaming industry but still...six years later there isn't so much as a hint of a release date. It only just recently entered full production.

Let's also think about this: Final Fantasy XII was flawfree and better than your faves met with mixed, though generally positive, responses but flew under the radar outside of Japan. Final Fantasy XIII received such terrible criticism that Square-Enix made a sequel that underminded all of the original's gameplay mechanics. Final Fantasy XIV might as well have not been released at all, after underwhelming its core audience from Final Fantasy XI to the point that the entire game is being overhauled and every effort is being made to try and appease upset fans.

When you look at it like that the main Final Fantasy franchise hasn't had a certifiable hit in over a decade.

Add to all of this the fact that the next entry in Square-Enix's other big name franchise,Kingdom Hearts 3, won't even begin development until Versus XIII is finished (despite Tetsuya Nomura having time to develop numerous handheld spinoffs...) and one is left wondering 'what the heck has Square been doing all this time?'

This, apparently:

Okay, so not just this one tech demo, obviously. I'm not that much of a conspiracy theorist. But one can still see why this is so frustrating.

Via our friends at IGN:

Square Enix took a hurdling leap into the future with its unveiling of the Agni's Philosophy demo at E3 2012. Running on the next-generation Luminous Studio engine, this is the same cutting-edge game technology that will be found in PlayStation 4 and the next-generation Xbox. ... Demonstrated in realtime to E3 showgoers, Agni's Philosophy: Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo combines the technical skills of Square Enix' top studios, including its Japanese Visual Works development group and Crystal Dynamics in the UK, as well as INEI Inc., Art Spirits, and YEBIS (makes of high-quality effects middleware.) The demo was designed to showcase the magic and emotion of the Final Fantasy saga, and "was created through the lens of the FINAL FANTASY series, where ancient magic and advanced science coexist in a near-futuristic world. The video depicts a life-changing encounter for our heroine, the magic-wielding protagonist Agni."

Final Fantasy fans may recall Square-Enix's Final Fantasy VII tech demo for the PS3 that sparked incessant rumors of an HD remake. Before that Squaresoft rendered the Final Fantasy VIII ballroom scene to show off the PS2's capabilities. And way back in the day they recreated scenes from Final Fantasy VI for the N64, before ultimately developing Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation.

Basically this is nothing new; Square likes making tech demos for the next console cycle.

This wouldn't be frustrating if it weren't for the fact that so many of Square's triple-A titles are still MIA and their most recent efforts have all failed, rather publicly, to grab audiences.

One can only wonder where Versus XIII and maybe even Kingdom Hearts 3 might be at this point had the time and effort gone into making this rather snazzy tech demo gone into their development instead. And it truly is snazzy: The mix of real-world-esque environments with monsters, machine guns, and magic is very reminiscent of the PS1-era games which just so happen to be some of the most universally well loved in the franchise. Of course it also goes without saying but I will anyway: this is capital G GORGEOUS to look at. And all in real-time, no less. But then again, when has Square-Enix ever not had the pretty on their side?

More frustrating still is that, as of now, this tech demo is just that and nothing more. For now.

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It would appear that Square isn't abandoning Agni (the tech demo's protagonist) and her philosophies just yet. After taking a visit to www.agnisphilophy.com one can find a survey about the demo.

Curious...the other tech demos never got a survey. The plot thickens.

After answering some basic questions about one's country and gender (which includes a decline to state response, probably the closest to trans one can get with a major corporation like Square-Enix) gamers will get to answer some questions about the content of the demo; namely what they thought about the magical Agni.

Perhaps Square is laying the groundwork for Final Fantasy XV? Perhaps surveying their audience to see if this direction is worth their time at all?

Well I'd be all for it, personally. That four minute tech demo was exponentially more exciting than any of Final Fantasy XIII or XIV.

That being said, though, maybe Square-Enix should focus on finishing the games they've already started before they even think about starting another.

Just a thought.

9 Comments

MattMyx said:

Square really needs to just stop pretending it's a game studio and get into movies full time. They are so pre-occupied with making pretty pictures that they are seem to be completely oblivious to the game related complaints that their releases have garnered as of late. (FF XIII-2 non-withstanding.)

KeybladeMaster said:

I am really glad that this article was made. I am so angry that we do not have any news of FFvXIII and KHIII. Square Enix is really screwing up. It is by far one of the most agitating things to not be able to play FFvXIII after it was announced 6 years ago. It is also absolutely absurd that we have not had a main series KH game in 7 years. FU Square Enix, you are seriously getting as bad as Blizzard now.

Frank F said:

Loved this article. It's everything I was thinking when I saw the tech demo. While it was beautiful I am still waiting impatiently for a FF title that actually excites me. 11 I hated because it was online; 12 just wasn't good enough for me to finish; 13 was beautiful but again not good enough to make me want to finish it; 14 I could care less about; and if they make Versus 13 the next game I'm gonna scream because it's just not appealing to me. It looks like it's going to be Square Enix's Devil May Cry/FF mash up. I want a Final Fantasy title like the good old days. Give me FF6, 9 or 10 style gaming.

Shin Gallon said:

I haven't loved a Final Fantasy game since 10 (I don't do MMOs, and 12 was basically an offline MMO and I HATED the combat system with a maddening passion because of it, and the less said about 13 the better)). I'd really love them to do KH3, or anything besides what they've been doing. Seriously, anything would be an improvement. Here's a short list of games they could do that would be better than anything they've put out in the last 10 years:
Tobal 3
Kingdom Hearts 3
HD remakes of FF7, 8 and 9
Chrono Break
Final Fantasy Tactics 2 (a real sequel, not the Advance games. I liked them too but nothing tops the original FFT)

Seriously Square, make any of these happen and I'll become a believer again.

Rosa said:

Personally I think that this is definitely FF15 and they're just (rightfully) uncomfortable about announcing a new game while Versus is vapourware.

Idk, I still like squeenix. FF13 wasn't perfect but I still loved it. Same with 13-2. If they could meld the strong story and tight focus of 13 with the freedom and openness 13-2, I think their next game will be fantastic.

Personally? I think that FF is as good as ever, WE'RE just different. What people want from Square now isn't anything concrete, just some nebulous "magic" that isn't actually a real thing -- it's just you longing to be 14 again. FF12 was my all time favourite Final Fantasy by a long shot, and I played all the old ones as a teenager. It just seems like the dialogue about Final Fantasy is so coloured by rose coloured glasses and nostalgia. Sigh.

I think the demo was fantastic and Square actually spent its time building it for a game they're going to make and aren't ready to announce yet, instead of wasting their time doing a useless tech demo of a game they made years ago.

Whatever, I just get so tired of this dialogue. It really seems that what people want is just "something that they liked when they were kids and can't quite logically vocalize now."

ALSO I GET MAD AT THE WHOLE "FART FART SQUARE DOESN'T WANT TO MAKE GAMES ANYMORE THEY JUST WANT TO MAKE MOVIES." Look, I LEGITIMATELY loved the GAMEPLAY in the FF13 series. Yeah, they put a lot of effort into the pretty. But I LIKE the pretty, and I LIKE how the gameplay links into it. I LIKE having to walk from cutscene to cutscene. I LIKE cinematic games and I DON'T like movies, so fuck off. Some people legitimately love a style of game that is GOING AWAY. I like fight/cutscene/fight/cutscene. I do. I don't want to have to explain myself. Let me have my games that give me that, instead of EVERYTHING being either a long QTE or pop up shooting gallery.

Quistis said:

YES. This article has hit the nail on the head.

As a fan for the past decade, it's not being nostalgic to simply want a solid release out of SE. The Final Fantasy series used to mean quality games, experimental battle systems, engaging and memorable characters, beautiful and vibrant worlds and dramatic stories that stretched the imagination.

Now when I think of Final Fantasy, I think of an underbaked MMO, a 'pay $ for cute costumes for Noel and Serah DLCs to cross promote another game', seemingly pointless spinoffs like Dissidia and Theatrhythm that undermine the entire franchise all for the sake of cheap fanservice, and being led on for the past 6 years with pretty videos and clips from another convoluted FF13 title that we probably won't see for another few years.

savalis said:

square enix, i am upset untill i get ffv13

Keith said:

I agree with much of what Rosa said. FFXII was great. FFXIII was great. I didn't play XIII-2 but it looked pretty darn good (graphics and gameplay-wise) and a friend who played it said it was good. I never thought it was a good idea to make XI an MMO, and I felt the same about XIV. I never played them and I have no intention to, because I don't think it's the right style of game for FF. That said, so much of the SE and FF bashing that goes on seems to be motivated by nothing more than nostalgia and bitterness. Games are prettier and objectively more fun than they ever have been in the past. The only legitimate complaint that I read in this blog post is that it is taking SE a ridiculously long time to release games that they've been teasing at for years.

And again, the strikethrough and parenthetical comments in gogoedward's and others' posts are snide, juvenile, disrespectful of the reader and do seriously detract from the quality of the writing on this site.

J said:

It's not square, we need to talk. It's the enix that ruined it all. Square was fantastic.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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J on E3 '12: Square, We Need to Talk: It's not square, we need to talk. It's the enix that ruined it all. Square was fantastic....

Keith on E3 '12: Square, We Need to Talk: I agree with much of what Rosa said. FFXII was great. FFXIII was great. I didn't play XIII-2 but it...

savalis on E3 '12: Square, We Need to Talk: square enix, i am upset untill i get ffv13...

Quistis on E3 '12: Square, We Need to Talk: YES. This article has hit the nail on the head. As a fan for the past decade, it's not being...

Rosa on E3 '12: Square, We Need to Talk: Personally I think that this is definitely FF15 and they're just (rightfully) uncomfortable about announcing a new game while Versus...

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