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31 Websites of Christmas
Square Enix
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 25, 2004   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  

   
No game developer has been able to define console role-playing games quite like Square has. In the nearly two decades of Final Fantasy games, Square has managed to set the high water mark, which always seeming to top themselves. Really their only competition was Enix, who had a number of popular franchises themselves. For years these two companies were locked in a bitter fight over the adventure genre, but recently they have come together to form one company, Square Enix, and attempt to take over the world.

Beyond the merger, Square Enix is poised to release a number of sequels to their biggest franchises, including Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts. The company has also found room to update several other franchises as well as port a few classics to a certain two-screened portable. With success breed complacency, could their website be a sign of things to come, or does it express everything this company wants to say?


Sure we love Nobuo Uematsu, but we're not going consider his site when reviewing Square Enix's home page!
Look and Design: Square's website is a simple one, a site that stresses the old theme that less is more. It doesn't try to hit you with a ton of information, but rather splits everything into sections that are easy on the eyes. One simple look at the front page will show you all the games they currently have scheduled for the upcoming months, some of the latest news, and little more. This is a site that doesn't pretend to be something it's not, it is a site dedicated to promoting the four or five games they currently have on the roster, and the web design passes the test.

Accessibility: The design is simple . perhaps too simple. Outside of the various game pages, there aren't that many places for you to look around and explore on the Square Enix website. The drop-down menus are helpful, but they seem to be lacking a lot of the information gamers are looking for. The real problem with Square Enix's site is that it looks a lot bigger than it actually is.

Another problem I had was that Square Enix has given the royal treatment to their recent games, but they seemed to have forgotten about their older titles. Although they may

Vagrant Story is one of the best Square games out there, but don't look for it on their website!
have areas devoted to games like Brave Fencer Musashi and Vagrant Story, I was unable to locate them. There is also no search available to standard visitors, which seems archaic in this day and age. But it's the lack of anything older than 2002 that seems the most troubling, why would a company as rich with history not want to show it off and promote it?

Insider Information: One of the on-running themes you will see in this holiday feature is the general lack of news. With all these websites promoting their games 24 hours a day, many companies find it hard to justify anything more than just your occasional press release. Square Enix is no different, with a new press release every week and a half or so, mostly dealing with game release dates. It's not the least interesting news, but you'd probably have a better time watching the now defunct CNN-fn.

Parting Thoughts: To say that Square has a long history of making memorable adventure games is like saying that Beethoven's compositions have withstood the test of time; even non-gamers can appreciate the years of work Square has done for this genre. But this site completely forgoes any desire to embrace this long history; it instead decides to focus on a bunch of new games. I look forward to seeing what this recently merged company can do, but if this website is any indication, we might be in for a lot of conventional games with no sense of history.

FINAL GRADE: C-


(Important Note: This review was written on November 25, 2004. As is the case with websites things tend to change and get moved around. We've decided to cover major companies who should have a presence on the web for many years to come, but the actual reviews of the layout may not be relevant for more than a month to a year. Having said that, we're hoping this article was still interesting, and if not, at least you go this extra little paragraph of explanation that you wouldn't normally get on the other websites.)
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