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Dear Square-Enix: The Only Way Forward Is To Go Back

I don't claim to be an analyst, nor am I any sort of business genius. I know what I'd want them to do, but I honestly don't know how any of my suggestions would be received at a corporate board meeting.

But I think it's painfully obvious that Square-Enix has to do something. Granted, FFXIV was a failure many - including S-E themselves - didn't expect, and FFXIII was a huge blockbuster. And they still seem capable of producing plenty of great portable titles, and that includes the immensely popular Dragon Quest IX for the DS and the upcoming third Parasite Eve installment, The 3rd Birthday, for the PSP. But outside of the FF franchise, they just don't seem capable of producing a top-quality, hot-selling title. Bottom line? This obsession they have with changing their focus to cater to the Western gamer hasn't worked. How can anyone argue that it has worked? Changing Front Mission to a third-person shooter didn't work. Adopting new studios that produce Western-oriented productions (like Kane & Lynch) hasn't exactly resulted in a windfall of profit.

And you know, it's easy to sit here and reminisce and say S-E should return to its roots, but that's like refusing to acknowledge how the industry has changed. It has indeed changed and this is just another Japanese publisher that is desperately trying to adapt and assimilate. But I almost think that all of them overreacted when they first perceived the overseas shift. I think it was a knee-jerk reaction, and the Japanese game makers suddenly believed every last American gamer became robotic automatons overnight. I've said before that those who played and adored the old-school Squaresoft games still love such experiences, and would certainly buy updated versions. But I was always saying to myself, "but if the company is doing well, who are we to say?"

They're not doing well, though. They're in a tailspin. I know they think traditional RPGs won't sell here, and I know they think a FFVII remake wouldn't be worth the time or money. But at this point, what have they got to lose? Why not at least try to see if those old fans are still there? Why believe that your masses of accumulated fans have all jumped aboard the Call of Duty bandwagon? Peek over your shoulder...the fans are still there. And believe it or not, they want what they had before. At this point, maybe the answer is to retrace one's steps rather than blindly surging forward.

Tags: square enix, squaresoft, games industry

12/16/2010 9:20:42 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (110 posts)

SixSpeedKing
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 9:51:55 PM
Reply

Excellently said Ben. I personally have only played FFVII of theirs but I do hope that they come out of this tailspin they are in. They have made amazing games in the past (all my friends tell me and from things I've seen) and I would hate to see a good developer go bankrupt or some such thing as it means less quality games for us.

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Alienange
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 9:59:26 PM
Reply

You summarized that quite nicely. I don't think you're alone in thinking that SE is being led down the wrong path. They've messed up so much...

Let me say something about that "immensely popular Dragon Quest IX." I've been spending all of my portable gaming time playing DQIX. I've gotten rather far along and I've just gotta say, the game is boooooring. It starts off ok but then nothing's happening. It's BOOOring. I don't remember ANY DQ game being THIS boring. It's heartbreaking. It really is...

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NoSmokingBandit
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:03:27 PM

I liked DQIX. Its not great, but it was fun. Theres not a strong narrative and they try to cram the multiplayer aspect down your throat, but it was still enjoyable for me.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:17:43 PM

I seem to recall giving up on DQVIII because it was boring as hell. All grinding. But when it was good it was good, then boring for 6 straight hours.

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:03:51 PM

LOL! Your nuts World. DQVIII was awesome. DQIX is good too. Not as good but still fun.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:17:38 PM

Leveling up was just a pain. And if you wandered into am area you weren't read for, ouch. But playing with Jessica's outfits was fun.

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:49:12 PM

I didn't find leveling up any more tedious or boring than any other RPG I played.

::shrug::

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johnld
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:03:15 AM

i had he in the bunny outfit pretty much the whole time, hahaha. although when i got that black bustier i had to use it. got my dragon armor so that cool.

Last edited by johnld on 12/17/2010 2:03:35 AM

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Underdog15
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:24:04 PM

@World
I don't remember much grinding at all, until I was at endgame and wanted to be super strong.

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NoSmokingBandit
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:02:31 PM
Reply

The problem is that the market is flooded with repetitive western games. Some sell well, most are junk. A good JRPG or any kind of Japanese game would be a huge breath of fresh air. I'm tired of being bogged down with monochrome shooters. SE was the best, and i still believe they can make something new and fresh yet traditional and familiar at the same time. They dont have many chances left, they better get it right soon.

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cLoudou
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:16:25 PM
Reply

Get rid of Wada.

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:27:46 PM

I second that. He's the idiot who has sullied the reputation of Square-Enix.

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johnld
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:04:14 AM

but square enix is the one who dragged squaresoft's name down.

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Lenoxseer
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:16:37 PM
Reply

Couldn't have said it better myself, Ben. Great article. I was even better to read.

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Culoslap
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:19:36 PM
Reply

The last JRPG I played was Dragon Quest VIII like four years ago! I really do hope Square returns to it's roots.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:22:11 PM
Reply

Ya know I had a look at Sakaguchi's project "The Last Story" and I could still see that old spark. But I won't get a Wii for it, should have been multiplat.

As far as SE is concerned, they've put on blinders and abandoned their fans. They don't want us. Or our money. The only reason they make any cash at all is cuz anything with FF in the title sells. And yeah, I'll get Versus too.

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Arvis
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:55:09 AM

Ok, seriously with the Tifa pics....

-Arvis

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laxpro2001
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:30:57 PM
Reply

Don't listen to them SE... keep shoving those endless KH spinoffs down our throats which make piecing the main storyline for KH together that much more impossible.

O wait, SE is a business... doesn't that mean they want to succeed? If so then kindly disregard my comment.

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:42:40 PM

I like Birth by Sleep quite a bit. :)

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laxpro2001
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:07:56 AM

Actually I do as well. Only one aside from Chain of Memories I enjoyed, but thats because BBS felt like more than a hand-held game. BBS was extremely good, I would just really like to see Sora finally make a return and wrap up the trilogy.

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Pandacastro
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 6:38:19 PM

@laxpro2001
KH 3DS is the last one before KH3.The ending of 3DS is the opening of KH 3.

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STAY3R
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:47:38 PM
Reply

SE can return with 4 steps, and evry one knows it's a no brainer
1) PS3 exclusive Kingdom Hearts 3
2) PS3 exclusive Dragon Quest X
3) Final Fantasy VII Remake
4) Rerelease of Final Fantasy XII with HD Visuals

SE should have followed Mitsubishi's business techniques, they always do what they are best doing at, yeah lancer evo i'm looking at you.

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:02:21 PM

I read a long time ago Square was eying the Wii for DQX.

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TheCrazyMerc
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:14:08 PM

I don't know about but they should release FFXII, with FFX/-2 with it so it can be like the GoW I and II HD remastered bundle.IMO.

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:30:01 PM

I would like to see that as well but I'm sure Square wouldn't do it unless they could make it multiplatform.

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shadowscorpio
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:14:27 AM

You've just identified a business term in which EVERY business is supposed to follow: Comparitive Advantage. It means keep to doing what you have been good at and let others that are better in areas that you are not good at do them.

SE is not good at making westernized games or westernizing their Japanese franchises. They are good at making solely JRPGs and they should for the love of God stick to that!

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Slycly
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:22:33 AM

A remake or sequel to Chrono Trigger wouldn't hurt either.

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johnld
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:08:22 AM

final fantasy XII is fine as it is graphically. why update a game that doesnt need much changes. i'd rather get HD upgrades of graphics from the ps1 era.

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johnld
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:08:40 AM

final fantasy XII is fine as it is graphically. why update a game that doesnt need much changes. i'd rather get HD upgrades of graphics from the ps1 era.

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Jawknee
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:15:56 AM

"A remake or sequel to Chrono Trigger wouldn't hurt either."

Indeed.

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Arvis
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:58:01 AM

"A remake or sequel to Chrono Trigger wouldn't hurt either."

Pretty sure they made a sequel to Chrono Trigger... It was one of the greatest video games of all time and has the best soundtrack of all time as well.

-Arvis

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Jawknee
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 4:38:24 PM

Chrono Cross was not a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger. It also isn't nearly as good as Chrono Trigger.

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Veitsknight
Monday, December 20, 2010 @ 12:04:58 AM

Chrono Cross has two sequels. Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross.

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eLLeJuss
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:20:56 PM
Reply

Yes square enix. Listen to Ben. The only way to move forward is by making FF7 remake. YOU TELL EM BEN

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:21:04 PM
Reply

Stop whining & support Square! Constantly the same rants over and over. "Wah wah, no rpgs. Mommy!" Looking at the arrival of my Game Informer today and the lovely Lara Croft cover astounded me! Eidos is working hard while Square pay the bill. I've been a big, big Tomb Raider fan & I cannot wait for this. With next year, bringing Dissidia 012 (PSP), Deus Ex (PS3/EXbot), Arkham City (PS3/EXbot), Agito XIII (PSP), Dragon Quest X (Wii), Dungeon Siege III (PS3/EXbot), to name a few, 2011 will be an excellent year for Square Enix!

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:32:33 PM

"Stop whining & support Square!"

No.

"2011 will be an excellent year for Square Enix!"

LOL! If great is the new Mediocrity, then yes. It's a great year.

By the way, Square didn't create any of those IP's(okay Agito XIII and Dissidia but I have given credit in the past for Squares PSP titles, and DragonQuest X has not been formally announced. It's rumor at this point unless you can provide a link?) I think you have missed the point by a long shot. No one cares about those games coming from Square. We want Square games. We want PS3 support. Not Western games published by Square.

Last edited by Jawknee on 12/16/2010 11:37:02 PM

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:45:54 PM

How are these not Square games? They are published by Square. Owned by Square. Payed by Square. I say billy, this is a Square game. I will admit, I will NOT be getting any of those games outside my Playstation family though I support Square regardless if they do not show up in MY CONSOLE of choice. I made it a priority to stick with Playstation till I die.. or they die.

& Billy, Ryutaro Ichimura, said Dragon Quest X is exclusive for the Wii

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:48:29 PM

Sorry, @JAWKNEE It's the last question http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/personal-tech/controller-freak/qa-square-enixs-ryutaro-ichimura-on-dragon-quest-ix/article1634938/singlepage/

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:54:33 PM

"How are these not Square games?"

Square didn't create the IP's or develop the games. It really isn't that hard.

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:55:24 PM

I say, the one where it says "Comment pending moderator approval' Damn, burned! Cause that is what smart people do

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:58:17 PM

Smart people also use proper grammar and punctuation.

Drrrrr, Burn...or something.

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:07:20 AM

I see what you did there. Not cool

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maxpontiac
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:06:41 AM

Indeed, Jawknee. Indeed.

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 9:06:50 AM

Now now kids, let's play nice. One of the main reasons I frequent this site is the (usually) polite nature of comment discussions. I'd hate to see that marred by one troll.

By the way, I feel obligated to point out that correct use of punctuation and grammar is not indicative of intelligence.

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Teddie9
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:34:35 AM

On that list in the first comment, I'm only looking foward to Deus Ex, which has now been DELAYED.

Last edited by Teddie9 on 12/17/2010 10:35:40 AM

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Underdog15
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:33:48 PM

uh... 2011 will NOT be an excellent year for SE. They have no more money anymore.

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Fane1024
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 3:24:59 PM

@ Jawknee

To be fair, you make plenty of errors yourself (or at least your iPhone does).

I don't think I've ever seen you get "its/it's" right. ;)

@ Hipster

Yes it is. Intelligent people take the time to correct their errors because they understand that clarity is an important aspect of communication.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/18/2010 3:28:04 PM

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:27:03 PM
Reply

BTW, @BEN, Square Enix publishes Call Of Duty games since the first Modern Warfare up till now with Black Ops also. Maybe that transition of seeing what succeeds or not inspired Enix to invest in western gaming. Is that so f&$%-ing bad?

Last edited by n/a on 12/16/2010 11:27:27 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:07:00 AM

WHO publishes Call of Duty...?

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kraygen
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:25:37 AM

Prime,

Really? Open the window, clear the haze, and think that one over again.

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:49:19 AM

Forgot to add that Square Enix publishes Call Of Duty "in Japan ONLY!"

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main_event05
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:35:26 PM
Reply

Ben, should I try to get you some face time with Wada?

**Serious Question**

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Scarecrow
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:43:33 PM
Reply

I've moved on.

0 Square-Enix games since Final Fantasy XII on ps2.

Yeah, White Knight Chronicles is my next-gen rpg now.

It's still sad to see Square go down like this.
And like World I'm really looking forward to The Last Story.

Overall I agree with this article Ben. They need to upon their eyes and see that if we want Western games we'll play the best the West can offer; Uncharted 3, Infamous, Mass effect, etc.

They should focus and do what the East does best, its amazingly beautiful story-filled and compelling rpgs.

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:49:49 PM

This is sad and racist. So you won't buy Arkham City. It's Batman but because Square Enix is a japanese company, they can't sell it? What about Tomb Raider? Or Deus Ex? Wow. So short minded.

Last edited by n/a on 12/16/2010 11:53:02 PM

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Jawknee
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:53:59 PM

Oh knock it off Prime. Crow isn't racist. Has nothing to do with race.

Rebut him. Don't attack. Only makes you look like a fool.

"So short minded."

By the way, It's "closed minded."

Last edited by Jawknee on 12/16/2010 11:55:38 PM

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Deleted User
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:57:25 PM

And I quote, "focus and do what the East does best" clearly implying the East is inferior at anything else.

@JAWKNEE Half full/Half empty and either way, people do say "short minded" so leave it alone

Last edited by n/a on 12/17/2010 12:03:52 AM

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carl0975
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:13:31 AM

I have to agree with Jawknee on this one, if anything, it was a compliment towards their ability to make such games.

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:42:14 AM

@Logamus,

You wrote : "And I quote, "focus and do what the East does best" clearly implying the East is inferior at anything else."

There is no implication of that nature in the original statement at all. You are the one making the assumption of an implication. It is your meaning and your agenda that you have implied with those words. The original poster said nothing of the sort.

In business we often talk of "focus and do what we do best", that doesn't imply that our business is crap at everything else, it simply implies that we will be more successful bu concentrating on the things that we do well and which set us apart from the others.

So when someone says, of Japanese game developers/producers, "focus and do what the East does best". They are referring to the genre and styles of game that Japanese artists and developers have previously excelled at. Suggesting that these developers/producers should focus on what they are good at is hardly calling them inferior. That was *your* meaning that *you* applied so *you* could attack the original poster.

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:13:41 AM

@HAMBURGER I respect your logic & point of view. I'm not bashing or trolling or whatever. I'm personally looking at it through this perspective and that is that it seems just cause Square Enix made some iconic & memorable games, doesn't define them as "insert category here." Even I stereotype Enix as well and I did the thinking, "What is wrong with being different? What is wrong with trying new things?" @TheHighlander, do you like blacks? Do you hate gays? Are you religious? Should I condemn you because I don't have a religion of choice? It is the same animosity this site, and users think. Just cause Enix decides to be aback about their product, it is sacrilege because it doesn't have a leveling-up system? The title of this article states "The Only Way Forward Is To Go Back." I disagree. Us fans need to move on. These attachments towards FF7-FF9, etc. needs to end. How can you knock off what Square is attempting and why is it so wrong that they are going in a different route? Why? They are not just "that-RPG" game company. And Square should be respected for atleast trying.

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Jawknee
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:21:03 AM

"@HAMBURGER"

Not trolling? Could have fooled me.

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 3:03:30 AM

@Logamus

You failed to reply to my post. Instead you throw in a few red herrings and opined on the original subject without addressing the point of my post. The point being that you mad a false assumption about another poster's remarks and attacked them over it. No more reactions from me.

Last edited by Highlander on 12/17/2010 3:10:01 AM

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 4:17:56 AM

@HAMBURGER So you ignorantly, ignored everything I stated? I explained full well how that user and psx were discriminating Square because you guys are so over your heads in wanting what Square isn't concentrating on right now. What is there to moan about it? It is not like they said, "Hey, we're a FPS company." Chill out. They are a business. They are expanding. Here's a short history lesson: During the 8-bit days, they were Nintendo exclusives. The PSone era was where Square truly shined. Come PS2 and they found new ways to implement their creativity (even a car game!) This generation started with them being 360 exclusives. To improvising on Wii, DS, PSP and PS3. Square's evolved. They have grown.

Last edited by n/a on 12/17/2010 4:20:40 AM

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STAY3R
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 5:37:28 AM

@Logamus_Prime: Dude, look at sushi foods, they are real good and we all know where it came from and we have been eating 'em for ages. Now my question is do we expect japan or other asian countries to make better sushi foods or better hamburgers and hotdogs?

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swapnilgyani
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 7:51:22 AM

@ PRIME

The point this article is making is very simple really. Square Enix has tried to "westernize" itself this generation in a weird way. And while every business has a right to do whatever they feel is sustainable, this move has clearly backfired. The numbers speak for themselves.

One way they could resolve this situation is to perhaps go back to doing what they were really, REALLY good at, and what used to be a profitable venture for them.

What's the harm in that?

Oh, and by the way, when we say that Square needs to go back to its roots, we're talking about Square's own IPs - the game they actuallycreate, not just pay the bills for.

Last edited by swapnilgyani on 12/17/2010 7:52:18 AM

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:59:53 AM

Well said.

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SirLoin of Beef
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 11:01:48 AM

"And I quote, 'focus and do what the East does best' clearly implying the East is inferior at anything else."

It doesn't even come close to implying that.

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Fane1024
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 3:36:42 PM

@ Logamus

People also say "could care less"; that doesn't make it right. Words have inherent meanings stretching back into pre-history. Sloppy usage doesn't change that fact.

Plus, I've never heard "short minded". I doubt anyone else has, either.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/18/2010 3:41:45 PM

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CHAOS THEORY X
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:10:52 AM
Reply

Im pretty sure if they remade FFVII, and did it right, everyone would be encouraging others to buy it... just to prove a point. The sales would be amazing.

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 4:19:39 AM

And what if it doesn't sell? What if it sucks? What then? More whining?

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Sogi_Otsa
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:57:49 AM

Logamus, what if you don't sell? What if you suck? What then? More whining? well your pimp will take care of you. dude quit trolling and just go you've stated your opinions, and some have been thumbed down say 10 times. just move on.

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Underdog15
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 3:43:04 PM

How many sales is debatable. Whether or not it will sell well.... it's probably a safe bet to say it would sell VERY well. Especially with a movie, prequel game, and sequel game to add to the story.

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shadowscorpio
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:23:08 AM
Reply

God, I've been saying this for some time along with many others here. SE needs to leave this "westernizing everything they do phase" alone and stick with what they did best in the past solid true jrpgs. Doesn't get much simpler than that. We understand this. The future will tell if Square-enix does. If any of the Japanese devs do for that matter.

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:37:20 AM

I personally find it a source of great sadness that Japanese game makers have stopped making the best games that they can and instead are more cynically targeting their games at this mythical Western gamer market. The western market for JRPGs and other games with a strong Japanese aesthetic was carved out by bringing Japanese games to western consumers. The very distinctiveness of the games was what set them apart and made them interesting. Now that is gone and Japanese devs/producers are trying to make games like western games, their products are no longer distinctive and get lost i the rush of games.

It's sad, this is a disaster of their own making, and rather than turn the ship around, these companies appear to be setting full-speed ahead right into the ice-field.

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Fane1024
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 4:00:03 PM

I know I'm in the minority here, but I felt that S-E and other JRPG makers (and Japanese developers in general) got stuck in a rut for a long time, making games that (aside from pretty graphics) were years or even generations behind the times. Eventually, they started to be criticized for this tendency in reviews.

So, they decided to try to evolve and, at first, things looked promising. FFXII took a great step forward in updating the formula without losing the JRPG feel (although the die-hard turn-based fans weren't happy).

Unfortunately, S-E seemed from that point to have gotten the wrong idea about what they needed to "westernize". Instead of updating the mechanics while still keeping the JRPG aesthetic, they seem to be chasing what they perceive as a western aesthetic (see Quantum Theory) and they just don't get it.

The exact same thing happened with Resident Evil. Clunky controls for years > partial updating of the controls in RE4 > complete cluster-f*** action game in RE5.

Many of you want the games to be exactly like they were ten or fifteen years ago, but I think the real way to make both old fans and gamers in general happy is to update the game mechanics without losing the JRPG feel.

Understand, I'm NOT advocating twitch gameplay or the sort of auto-pilot control in FFXIII. I want these games to be turn-based in terms of allowing the user to strategize and ponder their moves for as long as they want. I just find the presentation of the turn-based mechanic to be archaic, with the separate battle screen and the step-slash-step action. I think there are ways turn-based commands could be integrated into a real-time presentation that are better than what S-E has done.

I also would like to be able to do more things than fight/heal and talk to NPCs, like I can in a western RPG.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/18/2010 4:14:09 PM

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Highlander
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 5:44:10 PM

Fane,

Here's the problem, your own words here are an illustration of the reason these companies are failing to produce.

People deride turn base fans as 'die hards' as if its somehow old and backwards to be a fan of that gameplay style. Some talk about JRPGs being in a rut and having to change because of criticism. The whole attitude is that turn based JRPGs are somehow old fashioned and behind the times and therefore deficient in some way.

I don't see it that way at all, and in fact I think that mind-set is remarkably off target. It's like saying that books are behind the times because you have to run pages and they have no pictures. You don't play a JRPG primarily for the state of the art real time graphics, you play it for the characters, the story, the art and the game-system.

Removing the turn based mechanic tears the heart of the gameplay out of the game. A good turn based system takes a totally different mindset to any action/real time system. The heavy character and story elements in JRPGs have typically led to numerous and sometimes lengthy cut scenes. But as depth is removed from the games in favor of action, the overall pace of the game increases leaving less room for cut scenes that interrupt the flow. And so, yet another element key to the games goes away. When JRPG makers started abandoning the more anime like aesthetic and art style in favor of something a little more 'real' and western, it was the last in a series of stabs to the heart that the JRPG has taken.

It's like taking books and making them graphic novels with voice overs and animated graphics - oh, wait, it's like taking novels and turning them into Movies. It really is. Movies are easier to consume than books, yet they don't have the ability to go into the depth and nuance the way that a novel can. They are more exciting and visual, and can be enjoyed in a limited about of time, yet they lack the substance of the novel.

We don't critique books for being old and slow, nor did we stop making them. So why is it OK to do that to the JRPG?

Last edited by Highlander on 12/18/2010 5:45:47 PM

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Fane1024
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 8:57:08 PM

I don't think you caught the gist of what I was saying and that may be my fault.

You and I have different perspectives on this topic, but we are not on opposing sides.

1. I agree that less-than-die-hard fans of JRPGs like myself asking for evolution is the reason S-E et al. decided to change and I apologize for that, since it has gone so wrong.

2. I don't mean die-hard to be an insult; far from it. If I wanted to be dismissive, I would have said something like "dinosaurs". I just mean people like yourself and Ben who have played a ton of them and are happy with them as-is. I don't dislike them BTW; they just seem limited in the way retro games are.

3. I have no problem with turn-based games. I played table-top RPGs, so it's my preferred mechanic. I love SRPGs. I wish Oblivion was less dependant on button mashing.

I don't think the turn-based mechanic is archaic; I think the execution is archaic.

As you said below, "Innovation is about taking what you have and making it better." They stopped doing that. FFX plays almost exactly like FFVII and (from what I've seen) FFIII. Meanwhile, GTA went from a top-down beat-em-up to a game where you can get fat if you eat too much junk food.

4. The cut-scenes are the best part of JRPGs (especially Xenosaga). I'd skip the combat before I'd skip a cut-scene.

5. No one here likes slow, thoughtful gameplay more than I do. As much, maybe, but not more.

6. The anime aesthetic IS the heart of the JRPG and (while I'm sure I don't love it like you do) I am in no way in favor of its apparent demise. That is BY FAR the worst part of this "westernization" trend.

7. I don't think your book analogy is fair, though I get your point. I can't think of an analogy that fits perfectly, since I don't want to portray JRPGs as inherently archaic. Again, I just think they set on a formula and stopped improving that formula.

8. Old books usually had lots of pictures; the monks drew them in the margins while copying them. ; )

9. Most importantly, I never implied it was okay to stop making JRPGs. Or turn-based games, for that matter. My intent was to say that turn-based games CAN and should exist and that they can benefit from advanced technology without losing their JRPG-ness. I just wish S-E believed as much.

Imagine a game which plays and looks like a standard adventure game (not all that different from the non-combat aspect of most JRPGs, except you can interact with the world in more ways and in three dimensions) until you enter a combat situation. Then, instead of a dissolve which places three characters in a separate arena-like space, standing in a row and bouncing slightly, everything freezes (except the camera) and the player gets to select one character's action. Unpause (maybe to slo-mo) and characters begin to act. Pause for next turn and so on. Much like using VATS in Fallout 3, really.

Honest question: do you think that would ruin the feel of a JRPG? I think you would get a newer feeling game without losing what makes turn-based games great.

p.s. That took forever using a DS3 to type.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/18/2010 11:03:45 PM

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Highlander
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 9:26:33 PM

Probably so. It's a good day for a misunderstanding - unfortunately.

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Highlander
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 11:13:49 PM

Fane, I'm sorry for reacting earlier, I see where you are coming from. I used to play role playing games with characters sheets and dice and all the rest. I do think though that the JRPG is my favorite form of RPG.

All the things you say are true, when it comes to 'modern' JRPGs, my prescription for the perfect game is;

A game with third person exploration like in a game similar to Uncharted, perhaps not quite so dynamic, but somewhere between that and something like Xenosaga. When it comes to combat, I would love for there to be an option to select (game level option) between turn based and real time. Cut scenes are a must for telling the story and developing character. But, as well as that, bring some of the story out in general game play - again like Uncharted. The technology can handle that. Finally, give the player more open world to play in, while having the story (which is inherently linear) be there waiting to be picked up whenever the player is ready. How many times in a game like Xenosaga did you go back to a previous area and re-play to get extra XP or money or even get items you missed? How many times did you hand around one area doing the same thing because you knew that the up coming boss would kick your tail and you needed to level up? Then there are all the little extras that you can find by exploring the more open elements of these games worlds. All the while the story is effectively in limbo until the player picks it up again. Unrealistic perhaps, but still a key element of the genre.

The thing is, that the trend has been to streamline games, and make them more action oriented. I want to reverse that trend and return to games that have all sorts of side quests, large and small, even random. I want combat to return to the more strategic and less reactive. That's not to say I think game makers should ignore the gamers that like that more streamlined experience. But perhaps those gamers are a different market? Is it too much to ask for game developers and publishers to see that there are different markets and serve them all?

Last edited by Highlander on 12/18/2010 11:15:34 PM

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Fane1024
Sunday, December 19, 2010 @ 12:05:27 AM

I'm with you 100%.

If S-E had gotten to the game you described in small increments, I think we'd all be pretty happy, not the least S-E.

Careful storytelling can avoid most of the un-realism you mentioned. I've always thought JRPGs should have 5 acts: a linear introduction, an open section which you end when you feel ready, a linear middle, another open section, and a linear endgame. It would provide an excuse for engaging in side quests without "ignoring" the need to rescue the princess.

Example: FFXII (the one I know best)
1. Vaan (and Penelo) in Rabanastre with cameos by other characters
--ends with Vaan becoming a sky pirate
2. Balthier (and Fran and Vaan) flying around Ivalice, able to visit all above-ground areas
--ends when the player chooses to do something, which opens the rescue of Ashe
3. Ashe (and all the others) on a quest to get the treasures of Raithwell (multiple dungeons)
--ends with the destruction of the Leviathan and a temporary lull in the war
4. Balthier et al. flying around Ivalice marshalling allies & personal business
--ends when the player chooses to go to Mt. Burisace, which triggers the invasion
5. Ashe et al. on a quest to get the Sun-cryst. Giruvegan > Ridorana > Bahamut

p.s. I can't believe how much of this I had to check on Wiki


Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/19/2010 12:53:16 AM

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Fane1024
Sunday, December 19, 2010 @ 1:35:05 AM

Dammit.

I should have put a spoiler warning and now I can't edit.

My apologies if anyone reads the above before playing FFXII.

p.s. I won't be returning to this thread.


Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/19/2010 1:39:18 AM

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:25:12 AM
Reply

Hey Ben, while you're feeling all analytical, care to write a letter for Namco as well?

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 1:50:18 AM

Psht, wasn't much of a letter

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:09:13 AM

Psht, wasn't much of a retort.

You've quite the attitude there Logamus, better watch out in case that chip on your shoulder grows so large it crushes you under it's weight.

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:16:26 AM

To quote David Jaffe, "I can't have an opinion?"

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 3:00:35 AM

Opinion isn't attitude.

Last edited by Highlander on 12/17/2010 3:00:48 AM

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Deleted User
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 4:18:18 AM

It takes one to know one!

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maxpontiac
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:07:34 AM

I get the feeling that Prime here is a younger member of PSX.

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:56:17 AM

Remember, don't feed them, they'll just come back!

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:18:57 AM

@Hipster,

Indeed. I have been fighting and resisting the Eye of Moron for the best part of 15 years now, feeding it is not on the agenda.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:25:03 AM

Highlander: Eh...maybe. Don't care quite as much about Namco. ;)

Logamus: It seems you don't know enough about the subject at hand to insult my "letter."

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:47:51 AM

Ben...Ben... what about the 'Tales' games? Namco can be an excellent source of JRPGs when they want to be. Ever since this generation of console games began, it has seemed that Namco simply doesn't want to be a source of JRPGs outside of Japan. Certainly their current stance (no 'Tales' games localizations) is nearly as blind as that of SE.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 9:10:13 PM

Oh yes, Tales. I forgot about Tales. :)

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SuMtOnE
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:18:55 AM
Reply

SE needs to remake KH 1 and 2 HD for the ps3 den release KH 3 for the PS3. and HD remix some old classic like Vagrant Story, Secret Of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6, 7, 8,9,X, 12, Einhander, and so much more. i cant think right now.

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just2skillf00l
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 3:05:41 AM
Reply

@ Prime

Move on? That's pretty tough when things were once so great. I'm not sure about your gaming history but Square used to be flawless. Now they're releasing games like FF13 that aren't bad, innovative even but not what people want. Most likely it might be because we've all been programmed to love turn-based JRPGs so much; they've been ground into our subconscious as the only right way to make a JRPG. Now I accept the fact that my past sways my gaming desires. Wouldn't dare deny it. But when hundreds of thousands of other people like me, are thinking the same thing, that has all sorts of sway on what IS and what ISN'T desired in the industry. This directly affects the success of games relating to this case. Square needs to straighten themselves out. Innovation is nice and whatnot but don't up and change your biggest franchise without the necessary small steps to ensure the success of your vision. I'm rambling...dumb SE! Foolish Wadaaaaaa!

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maxpontiac
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:09:22 AM
Reply

SE - Give us a Parasite Eve on the PS3 (exclusive) and all will be forgiven.

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Sogi_Otsa
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:21:34 AM
Reply

I've been fallowing Square Enix for a long time, somehow it seems like voice acting had some how choked the genre to an extent. FFX was fun and good but didn't hold a candle to the VI, VII or VIII same with XII, but XIII didn't even feel like a part of the FF series till i got a chocobo on the field. so i have to say going back would be the best idea. While a FFVII remake would sell, i Think making a FF8 remake would be easier and therefore bring more cash flow for FFVII. they need to turn around and really look. i mean i'm not asking for 'FFXIII' quality remakes, how about Dirge of Cerberus but upgraded to HD, i'd play that in a second.

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Sogi_Otsa
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:32:59 AM

i should clarify, i mean Dirge of Cerberus graphics, not the game itself.

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Dustinwp
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:31:50 AM
Reply

I can't believe the share holders aren't screaming for Yƍichi Wada's head! If S-E would get rid of that idiot, they would be well on their way too profitability again.

Last edited by Dustinwp on 12/17/2010 8:32:09 AM

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Sogi_Otsa
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:33:31 AM

Wada is a fool.

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Mystearica
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:36:47 AM
Reply

Ben I so wish Wada had your mentality or wisdom

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Kevin5
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:58:23 AM
Reply

I hate the whole Western focus bs approach that is destroying big name devs & good franchises (Silent Hill's epic Japanese legacy got pissed on after Double Helix added their bs spin on it), it ruined Capcoms Resident Evil 5 when they shoved Gears of War mechanics down our throats, DmC is looking like the next victim now Ninja Theory are turning Dante from a silver headed cosplayer Tokyo youth into some gimp waeboo with a deadbeat fringe, & now it's ruining Square Enix as a company. Nice way to piss on your fanbase.

Best case scenario would be for them to go back to their old school ways which garnered them much praise & success. Just because they're big Western name games out reaping success (Gears of War, Mass Effect, Uncharted) doesn't mean Square Enix have to be gimps and lose their own identity.

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RebelJD
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 9:38:47 AM
Reply

Innovation. Stop living in the past and help a company grow.

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:43:52 AM

Innovation does not require us to abandon the past to embrace the future. Innovation is about taking what you have and making it better. Innovation renews and improves those things we already have rather than simply changing them for the sake of change. SE appears to believe that innovation must be change driven rather than a process of improvement.

When you say stop living in the past, you are coming perilously close to suggesting that we ignore the past and only look to the future. There is a great quote "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." In other words, while always looking and moving forward, do not ignore the past. SE ignores the past almost as if it doesn't exist.

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Fane1024
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 4:26:53 PM

I think you're both right.

Square failed to innovate for years and when they did decide to do so, they threw out the baby with the bathwater.

They SHOULD have been evolving all along.

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Fane1024
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 4:29:31 PM

I don't see how that will help.

Even if they don't screw the pooch, they still won't make anybody happy.

Either they will change nothing and the remake will be pointless or they will change too much and the fans of the original will go crazy.

Lose-lose.

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Snaaaake
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:38:26 AM
Reply

Square Enix is like a Japanese chef trying to sell sushi dipped with BBQ sauce in the US, YUCK!
And when they actually sell something the west would like ala Kane and Lynch, IT'S CRAP!
Calling them idiots would be an insult to all other idiots.

When you're doing something right, JUST KEEP DOING IT!
BUT NO!! They just had to change their way, and when their way of doing is wrong, they just blamed it on the consumers' taste instead of looking back at what went wrong.

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Scarecrow
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 10:56:11 AM

I still remember the "Americans don't understand FFXIII statement" by Squeeenix.

That was classic!!! ;D

Last edited by Scarecrow on 12/17/2010 10:56:29 AM

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A2K78
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 2:13:24 PM
Reply

"SE should have followed Mitsubishi's business techniques, they always do what they are best doing at, yeah lancer evo i'm looking at you."

Faat: Mitsubishi doesn't just make cars, but they also are in the aerospace business manufacturing satellites, missiles, heavy transport planes and fighter planes. In fact Mitsubishi might become the japanese manufacturer of the F/A-18E/F.

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Highlander
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 8:51:29 PM

Mitsubishi is in ship building, and make some awesome consumer electronics as well.

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KNG201
Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 4:42:22 PM
Reply

" How can you knock off what Square is attempting and why is it so wrong that they are going in a different route? Why?"

well when people spend hard earned money ($60) and get a psn download in the case it kind of means....they suck at what they are doing and nobody is taking it this gen anymore.

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