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The Square Enix Rehabilitation Tour
By Patrick O'Connor     |   Posted on March 21, 2011   |   Episode 177 (Show Archive)  

   

Hey fellas: Quit asking for a Final Fantasy VII remake!
To put it kindly: 2010 was a rough year for Square Enix. Despite having initial success with Final Fantasy XIII, the game was eventually damaged by underwhelming reviews and negative word of mouth. Final Fantasy XIV didn't fare any better. After releasing an unfinished product, the developers had to scramble just to reach the point where they could charge people a monthly fee. Between these two high profile busts, some have started to question if the Japanese role-playing game industry is still relevant.

After the year they had, it would have been understandable for Square Enix to take a few months off and come up with a winning formula. Apparently they didn't need those months. In

Is it too early to demand a Final Fantasy XIII remake?
2011, the biggest player in Japanese RPGs has come out swinging. Square Enix has picked up a crowbar and crushed any question of their relevancy. Don't believe me? Then you haven't been paying close attention.

By the end of this month, Square Enix will have released a dozen worthwhile games. None of these games are to the scope (or budget) of a Final Fantasy game, but they're compelling products that any gamer would be

It may have a puzzling name, but Dissidia 012 is the type of smaller game Square Enix should be focusing on!
happy to have in their collection. Best of all, they're a varied lot. Each of these twelve games represents one of the many styles of adventure games, from turn-based tactics to action/adventures to dungeon crawling puzzlers.

The reason you're scratching your head right now is because nearly every one of these releases has been for a portable game system. I'm not talking about multi-million dollar Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games, or even something for the Nintendo Wii. The Square Enix Rehabilitation Tour has been making all its stops on the Sony PSP, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Network.

This month alone the company will release three PSP games, including Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy, The Third Birthday and Final Fantasy IV: The Complete

It's going to be one of THOSE kind of days!
Collection. These are admittedly niche titles, aimed squarely at the PSP's largest market (role-playing gamers). None of these games will have the cache of a numbered Final Fantasy sequel, but each and every one will likely end up making money and satisfying the fans.

Even if they end up failing at the consumer level, it's hard to fault a company that continues to push both large-scale releases and small niche sequels. The 3rd Birthday is the long-awaited third

I love the idea of Square Enix going back and remaking games that never came out in the U.S.!
installment to Parasite Eve, a franchise left dormant for eleven years. And even if the Dissidia series isn't a decade old, it's still a lesser known franchise that won over critics and consumers alike two years ago.

Fans of old school Enix games will be quick to point out that there's more to 2011 than March. Last month the company published Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, one of the very best 32-bit strategy RPGs. While the masses demand more Final Fantasy remakes, this is the type of game that deserves it. It's great to see a new audience finally have a shot playing a cleaned up version of one of my favorite adventure games.

Speaking of much-needed remakes, Square Enix also managed to impress adventure gamers with the Nintendo DS port of Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation. Although I would argue that this is a middling sequel, it's a necessary remake of a game that never came to the United States.

Critics will contend that too many of these games are simply rehashes. It's true; much of the Square Enix Rehabilitation Tour consists of remakes and ports. Of the games I've already mentioned, three of them are remakes. On

Maybe if I mention it enough times they'll remake Tobal 2!
the other hand, one of the games is impossible to find, another was never released in the U.S. and the last is a 16-bit Final Fantasy game. I'll confess that the Final Fantasy IV remake is a bit gratuitous (though appreciated), but the rest are new to 99% of the gamers today.

The second phase of the Square Enix Rehabilitation Tour involves ports. Lots and lots of ports. I'm not talking about remakes like Tactics Ogre and Dragon Quest VI. I'm talking about straight-up ports of popular PlayStation 1 games. In the

I wasn't a big fan of Legend of Mana a decade ago, but I'm willing to give it another shot!
past three months the company has flooded the PSN's PSOne Classics store with Front Mission 3, Parasite Eve, Xenogears and Vagrant Story. And that's just the start; Square Enix has already announced their interests in porting Parasite Eve 2 and Legend of Mana.

These six ports are significant. If anything, they are bight-sized reminders of why we used to love Square. Xenogear shows us that the company was always thinking of new ways to make combat fun. While Vagrant Story throws out a lot of the traditional RPG trappings and focuses on puzzle solving. Parasite Eve mixes Resident Evil-style scares with the turn-based combat of Final Fantasy. These are great

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was just one of the must-own games Square released last year!
games. After replaying a few of these games, I was ready to forgive Square Enix for their 2010 line-up.

But then it hit me: Maybe Square Enix doesn't need to go on a stupid rehabilitation tour. I'll give you that Final Fantasy XIII wasn't the best game in the series, but I like that they are always trying new things. I know that the next single-player sequel (Final Fantasy XV, I presume) will be radically different from what came before it.

And while we're at it, Square Enix released more than a few must-own games in 2010. I certainly had a good time with Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Star Ocean: The Last Hope on the PlayStation 3. I'll even admit to enjoying to the unfairly maligned Final Fantasy XIII, a game that mostly worked on me.

Whether it's needed or not, the Square Enix Rehabilitation Tour has reminded at least one person why they continued to support this company. This inspired 2011 line-up gives me hope that we're seeing the company we used to know and love. The company that wasn't afraid to take chances on new ideas. I'm not sure what more you could possibly want from Square Enix.
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