Tag Archives: Square-Enix

Dragon Quest Review for iOS/Android

Dragon Quest (Available on Android and iOS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Square-Enix
Developer: Square-Enix
Release Date: September 11th, 2014

Parent Talk: Like the original NES version of Dragon Warrior, there is absolutely nothing damaging to children in this release. It’s fit for a five year old, or the ten year old at heart. There isn’t even direct action in the game, just static pictures that shake when your character ‘attacks’.

Plays Like: Dragon Quest is the game that laid the foundation for all other JRPGs to come, so you can expect lots of grinding, turn-based combat, and a simple magic and leveling system. Don’t expect anything robust or deep, this is the one that started it all, not a modern day RPGs with countless options and level trees.

Review Basis: Not only did I complete the original Dragon Warrior on the NES when it was originally released, but I took the time to play through the Super Famicom remake, and again on my iPhone 5. This is a fantastic port of a legendary game.

Wizardry and Ultima may have been the forefathers of RPGs on home computers, but it wasn’t until Enix’s Dragon Quest that RPGs literally exploded, especially in Japan. Sure it took a while before North Americans and Europeans warmed up to what we now call JRPGs, but in the East, Dragon Quest ushered in an entirely new way of playing videogames, and to this very day the series continues to dominate the Japanese sales charts. Sadly Dragon Quest has never been super popular outside of Japan, and because of that we have missed a truckload of fantastic remakes, side games, and even some of the coolest action figures and statues you could possibly imagine. Square-Enix has now decided to test the waters by releasing the series on mobile platforms running on Android and iOS, so let’s see how the very first console RPG stacks up several decades after its original release, being played on a touch screen no less.

DQ_iOS1The Great:

I cannot believe I am actually writing these words down, but the absolute best version of Dragon Quest ever released outside Japan is on iOS and Android. Did you honestly ever think that would happen?!?! The graphics and sound are fantastic, and have all been updated from the Super Famicom remaster. While I still prefer that version, it never officially saw the light of day outside Japan. Several years back Square-Enix released a mobile version of the Super Famicom port, albeit greatly tweaked for the cellphones and this version is based on that version that was only released in Japan. Boy what a mouthful. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter where the game comes from, this is absolutely the best way to experience the original Dragon Quest outside Japan. Simple as that. The graphics and audio are leagues better than the NES original or the Game Boy Color port. So if you’re curious about where the series started, play this one. Nuff said.

DQ_iOS2The Good:

  • The gameplay might be incredibly simple by today’s standards, but it holds up perfectly, and dare I say it, but feels completely natural on a mobile device. The interface has been completely streamlined for single hand use. To walk around you simply move your thumb anywhere on the screen, or on the visible track pad. Simply tap a command to execute an attack, or check your inventory, equip a weapon, etc. It can take some getting used to since there is no tactile feedback, but it works far better than I thought it would.
  • You play as a descendant of Erdrick out to stop the evil Dragonlord. That’s it, the story never gets deeper than that, and you know what, it doesn’t need to. You only have one party member for the duration of this six to seven hour game. Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that is so true here. What’s interesting though is that Square-Enix decided to stick closely to the original translation of the NES version, known as Dragon Warrior. That means Erdrick replaces Loto, and some of the original old English also makes a return, although it has been streamlined and isn’t featured in the battle screens thankfully.

  • Like the original game there is lots and lots of grinding to be had here, however I don’t look at it as a negative since the game is on your mobile device. Think about it, grinding while sitting in front of your TV gets old really quickly, but while you’re on the bus, train, or elsewhere it makes time fly for some reason. I found myself playing for five or ten minutes, and before I knew it I had gained a level. While on the bus I was grinding before tackling the Dragonlord and I almost missed my stop because I was so into what I was doing. That’s a great sign, and perhaps I was wrong to be so worried about the series going mobile-only outside Japan.

  • The price is right! Coming in at only $2.99, that is an absolute steal for the original Dragon Quest. Seriously, if you enjoy RPGs and own an Android or iOS compatible device, give this one a purchase. For $3 it’s a perfect impulse buy and I think you’ll be surprised.

DQ_iOS3The Bad:

  • I really would have liked to have the option to play the game with a landscape mode instead of being forced to play only in portrait. I suppose it’s not the end of the world, but it would have been good to at least have the option.

DQ_iOS4The Lowdown:

The original Dragon Quest might seem archaic by today’s standards, but it holds up well, and this port is the best one we’ve ever had in North America and Europe. I can’t stress this enough but if you’re a fan of the series, support it by purchasing this game. Yes the controls will take some time to adapt to, but damn is it pretty and it sounds fantastic too. The translation is perfect, and the gameplay remains fun, grinding including. I will be purchasing the entire series on my iPhone 5 because I adore this series and part of me hopes if we all show enough support that Square-Enix just might release the next numbered entry on a home console here too. Let’s make this happen Dragon Quest fans!

Final Score: 8/10

Hey Square-Enix, Where the Hell is Dragon Quest VII on the 3DS?!

It’s about time we ask Square-Enix straight up, where the hell is the localization of Dragon Quest VII for the 3DS. This is one remake we really want to play here, and yet it has been radio silence for months now. It sucks because it’s looking more and more likely that we won’t be getting this game outside Japan.

Bravely Default Impressions and Overview

Jarrod takes a quick look at the Bravely Default demo on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS. After playing for upwards of four hours now, he goes over the battle system, and more or less what players can expect from the retail version. This demo is an incredible thing though, as it features tons of awesome features, a killer combat system, and what could be over a dozen hours of gameplay. Be sure to give this free download a try!

The Sky: Art of Final Fantasy – Unboxing & Showcase

It had a very limited print run in the past, but now it’s back. Dark Horse recently republished this beautiful collection of artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, representing the Final Fantasy series from I to X. Allow me to unbox and showcase these art books for you, reminiscing the past as we flip through the pages.

Luida’s Bar – Taking Your Love of Games to a Whole Other Level

Ever wonder what it would be like to step into one of the inns from a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy game? You know, as in actually walk up to the place and lay down some cash and rest for the evening. Well three years ago this very idea was pitched and a collaboration between Square-Enix and Karaoke Pasela formed Luida’s Bar, a real-life establishment in Roppongi, one of Tokyo’s major nightlife spots. For those unfamiliar, Luida (also known as Patty in North America), is a character in several of the Dragon Quest games that helps players form a party. She’s been featured in DQ III, V, VI, and most recently in Dragon Quest IX.

Earlier this year Luida’s Bar celebrated its third year in business, and I thought it would be neat to introduce our North American and European readers to what this place is all about. Think of it like a small resto-bar (seats around 25 people) that serves dishes inspired by the videogame series its named after. You can order Slime meat-cakes, there are Drakee alcoholic beverages and so much more. The staff cosplays, which is excellent, and the menu has all its prices in gold (1G = 1 Yen). Here’s a brief look at some of the goods, and the restaurant itself.

DQ literally decorates the walls of the resto-bar.
DQ literally decorates the walls of the resto-bar.
Welcome to DQ heaven.
Welcome to DQ heaven.
Classy, and awesome all at once.
Classy, and awesome all at once.

space

Now that's a menu.
Now that’s a menu.
Time to reach level 5!
Time to reach level 5!
Yes even the directions have a DQ flare to them.
Yes even the directions have a DQ flare to them.

Pretty incredible, wouldn’t you say? I know more than a few COE members would be up for checking out Luida’s Bar if one existed on our side of the ocean. I know I would be all over this place if I was ever in the area. It just goes to show how popular Dragon Quest is in Japan. Over here we’d have to have Cid’s Bar or something because unfortunately Dragon Quest just wouldn’t cut it. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, and whether or not you’d be interested in seeing other establishments that were based on games come to life.

Isn’t it Time the Erdrick Trilogy Return to North America?

Dragon Quest fans have had it rough over the years. First we were never properly introduced to the Dragon Quest series because the trademark belonged to the makers of Dungeons and Dragons so the series had to be named Dragon Warrior. Next, it took far too long for the translations to hit North America and as such the games started to look extremely dated next to games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the like. Finally we missed out on Dragon Quest V for the Super NES, even after the translation work was all but finished (or extremely close to being finished), when Enix left North America back in November 1995 due to poor sales of the Dragon Warrior series. That’s what I call rough!

North Americans were SO close to seeing this back when it was new, but alas it wasn't meant to be.
North Americans were SO close to seeing this back when it was new, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Thankfully things turned around when Enix returned in 1999. Their first game was Dragon Warrior Monsters for the Game Boy Color. That was a great time for fans of the series because the company quickly announced that Dragon Warrior VII (PS1) would be making its way to North America shortly after the debut in Japan. In reality it took a year to arrive, but at least it was released. From 1999 to DW VII’s North American release in late 2001, fans were treated to Torneko: The Last Hope (PS1), Dragon Warrior I&II (GBC), Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (GBC), and Dragon Warrior III (GBC).

While it was awesome to have the Erdrick trilogy on the GBC, it was far from ideal. Sure these remakes had tons of improvements over the originals, from expanded and fleshed out storylines, to additional classes in DW III, the biggest improvements made were to the core gameplay. Now players could talk to people, open doors, and do other super simple actions with the press of a button instead of always going into the menu system. Another major improvement was made to the core combat system. In the original games if players had two people attack the same Slime, for example, and the first team-member killed the Slime, the second member lost his turn. These remakes adjusted that so the second member would automatically attack the next enemy on-screen. We take small improvements like this for-granted, but go back and play the original games and you’ll see how cumbersome and archaic they feel.

Very few people even knew what this was when it was released, let alone give it a chance to succeed.
Very few people even knew what this was when it was released, let alone give it a chance to succeed.

The biggest problem with the Game Boy Color remakes is that they look extremely dated today. Thanks to the small screen real-estate, Enix had to make everything super tiny in order to fit what they needed to. Enemies don’t look anywhere near as detailed and smooth as they should. Also playing Game Boy games isn’t as easy as it once was. You have to go and pickup a Game Boy Advance SP (best GB ever created!), or a Game Boy Player for the GameCube. Most people would likely just emulate the games and be done with it. Even the original NES games are extremely hard to find, and ultra expensive. They have yet to appear on the Virtual Console for either the Wii or the Wii U, making them true collector’s items.

So what’s the big deal you might say, only that Dragon Quest/Warrior III is widely regarded as the best game in the entire series. While I don’t agree with that statement myself, the game has sold over six million units in Japan since it was released. That number includes the two remakes. Two remakes you say?! That’s right, the purpose of this article is basically to enlighten those that may not know, but there is indeed another, far superior remake to the Game Boy Color version, the ones released on the Super Famicom. See, there’s a reason why I mentioned Enix leaving North America in 1995 ;)

Dragon Quest I.II was released in 1993 for the Super Famicom, with Dragon Quest III hitting in 1996. These are the ultimate remakes, and have never been released outside Japan. While there are fan-translations available for any DS emulator for PC, it would be absolutely awesome to have Square-Enix finally release them in an official capacity. Today, DQ fans can easily purchase DQ IV, V, VI, and IX on the DS, and with any luck we’ll be able to purchase the DQ VII remake on the 3DS sometime next year. DQ VIII is also readily available for the PlayStation 2, and odds are looking good that DQ X will be released at some point on the PC. So with all these games available for fans to play, it seems a little odd to be missing the original trilogy, wouldn’t you say?

The pic says it all really.  The Super Famicom game looks even better blown up.
The pic says it all really. The Super Famicom game looks even better blown up.

Over in Japan the situation isn’t anything like it is in the rest of the world. Dragon Quest is their series. There’s really no equivalent in North America except maybe Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, but even then it’s not exactly the same. The Dragon Quest series is part of their pop culture like you couldn’t even begin to imagine. As such they get remakes every single console generation. I won’t bother listing all the remakes they’ve had that we missed out on, but they’re numerous. The original trilogy remakes were just released as part of an ultra cool 25th anniversary collection for the Wii back in 2011, that the rest of the world completely missed out on. I never bothered importing it because it required an import Wii to play, or one that cracked the region blocking. Here’s a teaser of this incredible collection.

While I knew this collection would never make its way outside Japan, I’m now wondering if Square-Enix has plans to remake the original trilogy using the DQ IV, V, and VI engine, or the newly crafted DQ VII engine for the 3DS. I know each game would be a huge success in Japan, and would increase the odds of a worldwide release. The first two parts would likely be included together if only because of how very short the original Dragon Quest is in relation to all the others. I think it’s about time the rest of the world gets to experience these excellent games in a newly minted restoration, or at the very least via the incredible Super Famicom remakes. What do you think?

OC ReMix Strikes Again — Final Fantasy VI: Balance & Ruin Finally Released!

If you don’t know what OC ReMix is, get out from under that rock you’re rotting in. An organization set to celebrate videogame music, running strong for 13 years, have finally released their 40th album. Arguably their biggest work yet, what better than to tackle the best of the best? The original composer is Nobuo Uematsu. The game is Final Fantasy VI. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best entries in the series, which conveniently contains some of the best music in the series, too. Each character in its large cast had a diverse theme, each track tried to go for a certain feel and genre. From Shadow’s country/western-like composition to Emperor Gestahl’s sweeping march symphony that always sends chills down my spine — From the infamous Maria & Draco opera to the quirky and appropriately-named Spinach Rag; Mr. Uematsu’s masterpiece constantly surprises you with versatility and memorable melodies. It’s fitting then that OC ReMix tributes this track in the only way they know how; make it more versatile and memorable. While a soundscape update to the original 16-bit tunes is always a treat, that’s not OCR’s primary goal. Just like Uematsu, they’re here to make videogame music sweep through a lot of genres and expand on the composition on the original melodies in unique ways. One could argue that this style of remixing may cause the original sound to get lost in the shuffle and become undetectable, but OCR’s remixers mostly manage to balance nostalgia and newness excellently. Their previous Final Fantasy album, VII’s Voices of a Lifestream, is one such album in my opinion. It contains some of the best material I’ve heard from OCR, and judging by the preview trailer of FFVI, they’re looking to topple whatever they’ve made in the past.

Epic trailer indeed. I like how they highlight the actual remixers of the album because they truly deserve it. I hear hints of Dancing Mad in there, going for a Middle Eastern fusion sort of thing. Jillian Goldin is featured with her beautiful female vocals. Electric guitars, orchestra, a violin version of Spinach rag, a rock version of Maria & Draco, and the list goes on and on. I have not listened to the full album yet at this time of writing, but I’m looking forward to the ride as soon as I click that publish button. As usual, it’s free to download…but for those who have contributed to the Kickstarter will get their physical edition (with a bonus DVD) soon enough. For now, let’s enjoy some free remixed videogame music. I’m sure a lot of old-school FFVI fans will pick their top 10 favorite remixes off this album, including yours truly. Keep it locked for album impressions!

Level Up: Dragon Quest X Learns PC Ability! Let’s Discuss the Future of its Release Stateside!

Last year, hardcore DQ veteran Jarrod Nichol and I had a long discussion on Dragon Quest X’s Japanese Wii launch in the replies of my article, which resulted in me talking about an imminent port. Can’t say I told you so, but it’s finally here! Another successful prediction by yours truly! Scroll down the comments of previously-linked article for proof. I can’t believe it’s launching so soon though; September 26th.

Let’s backtrack and analyze the history bit by bit as this series of events make a lot of sense. Console-exclusive MMOs are relatively unheard of, so last year’s Japanese launch of DQX on the Wii was a wild card. For a DQ title, it sales were lacking. As an MMO, however, it has done exceptionally well, looking at the fact that it was released for a single console that dried up in popularity by 2012. In that year alone, DQX sold 660000 copies and has gained over 400000 subscribers. That’s what I a call a money-maker in the long term.

There are a couple of downsides to the whole story, however. It’s late Wii release and complex requirements for it to run on the console (mandatory USB and two discs) spelled immediate doom for an international release. Western Wii owners will most likely not jump through these hoops in order to play a single game. The Wii U port was the only hope for a bigger draw due to hassle-free gaming and a potential international audience. Sadly, however, that port was released in Japan on March with very little fanfare; just over 33000 units sold on launch week. Not even the power of the Dragon Quest could help spike Wii U hardware sales in its native country, and that says a lot. Again, these sales definitely makes a console release internationally out of the question. It would be a hassle for Nintendo of America & Europe to publish the game, localize its text, and maintain its servers…especially if the return isn’t going to be satisfying enough.

Here we are in late 2013…and for the first time in the franchise’s history, a PC port is heading our way fast as the result of aging Wii hardware and a poor Wii U showing. Some would say that hell has frozen over, but looking over the past paragraphs makes this evolution completely logical. First and foremost, MMOs will never hit strides with console exclusivity, as our good old friend Tim always says. Square-Enix is already bleeding money as it is, and desperate times require logical business moves. The structure of this genre fits PC like a glove as it requires the following: constant updates/patches, solid hardware, flexible OS software, and a constant internet connection with special account management and frequent logins. Consoles are relatively close platforms at the end of the day so managing MMOs and accounts through them will always prove difficult, but that looks to change with next-gen. Nonetheless, I think that the PC provides a significant advantage to Dragon Quest X and its rabid fanbase as it is arguably the biggest platform this franchise has ever been in. Additionally, the potential for localization and an international release is huge. Mark my words; it is bound to be released in English — but we’ll have to wait awhile for that to happen because Square-Enix already has an MMO planned for the end of the year: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It’s unfair for the international audience to have both competing franchises under the same company launch simultaneously, especially since Final Fantasy has always been a bigger name in the west.

As for the game’s future on console, it looks bleak to be blunt. I don’t think Square-Enix are stupid enough to suddenly pull the plug on Wii and Wii U owners because the current fanbase is already set and solid, especially on the Wii. Japanese gamers are safe for now, but international fans shouldn’t expect too much. It all depends on Wii U hardware sales. If Nintendo successfully jump-starts the system by 2013 and early 2014, we may see a simultaneous launch of DQX on the Wii U and PC in 2014. If not, then it will remain PC-only. A PS4 release is also possible, though I guess Square-Enix will monitor Final Fantasy XIV’s sales in that platform and act from there.

A penny for your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

Watch This Blacksmith Build and Wield the Buster Sword!

A blacksmith brings Cloud’s Buster Sword to life. For an FFVII fan, it’s a dream come true. For anyone looking for a sword to wield, sadly you won’t be able to carry it. Yet Cloud twirls it with one hand during his victory pose. Gotta love those Japanese. Gravity defying, yet absolutely awesome!

Jarrod’s Drool is Toxic! -50 HP! Hero’s Turn: Dragon Quest VII 3DS Remake Confirmed [Updated]!

It was bound to happen. Traditionally, Dragon Quest games in Japan alternate between a full fledged sequel and a remake of a past installment. We’re up to DQVI in terms of remakes, released on the DS just last year. Here’s arguably the biggest installment of all time, remade on the 3DS. Release date: February 2013 in Japan. That’s pretty close.

Unlike the trilogy of remakes on the DS, the image on the left shows that DQVII’s conversion is going 3D and polygonal. For your background information, the DS remakes use a pre-existing engine which powered up the original DQVII on the PS1. Ironically, DQVII’s remake breaks the tradition by using what seems to be a new engine…which will definitely enhance the visuals a lot. That’s long overdue considering the PS1 version was butt ugly in my opinion. I’m not a visual person and enjoy trying any game as long as it’s good, but when I first saw DQVII playing in stores, I detested the visuals so much…and that’s coming from someone who had just played and got to know Enix through Star Ocean: The Second Story and Valkyrie Profile. Apparently according to our head honcho and resident DQ buff Jarrod Nichol, I missed out on a classic.

Well no more! This game has a very high chance of hitting international waters considering Nintendo of America’s dedication to the series as of late. Here’s hoping there’s some sort of announcement early next year…with an English version of Dragon Quest X for the Wii U I might add!

For now, we’ll keep you occupied with Jarrod’s retrospective video of the PS1 classic. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Update 10/31/2012: More news trickles after the initial announcement. ArtePiazza is confirmed as the developer so you know it’s in good hands. They’ve been hands-on with DQ remakes since 1996’s DQIII for the SNES and they’ve been responsible for the last trilogy of remakes for the DS. My analysis is that the engine they’re using for DQVII’s remake is based on the one from DQV’s remake for the PS2, because the art-style looks so similar. Also, the soundtrack will be fully orchestrated! Gotta love me some DQ music. Finally, new content and StreetPass features will be integrated into the main backbone. As if DQVII doesn’t need any additional content. The PS1 original is already freakin’ huge as Jarrod has said so many times.

 

So How Successful Was Dragon Quest X’s Launch?

We’ve got the week one sales numbers for Dragon Quest X, and they’re pretty impressive considering this is an online-only MMORPG.  The latest game in the classic series moved 367,148 units during its debut week.  While that’s a very far cry from the 2.31 million that Dragon Quest IX sold during its first week, we need to keep in mind the genre again.  It makes more sense to compare sales of DQ X with those of something like Final Fantasy XIV, which sold only 190,000 units during its launch week in Japan.

Naturally the real story will be to see how many subscribers Square-Enix gets over the long haul.  There are many factors why the initial sales are the lowest the series has ever had.  If SE gets enough subscribers, even though the initial sales pale in comparison to the rest of the series, it could still end up being the most successful DQ in history.

We’ll be following this story closely over the coming weeks and months, as it’ll be very interesting to see how long the game remains on the charts.

Breaking: Final Fantasy VII for PC is a Go!

Square-Enix UK just released this trailer on YouTube, confirming the existence of the PC download of Final Fantasy VII…most probably the same version that Eidos published years ago except now it should work on current PCs and is bug-free. No mention of Steam and additional improvements as of yet, but don’t hold your breath for anything ground-breaking. The trailer mentions that the UK Square-Enix shop will offer the download. No price point or release date yet, but we’ll update you soon with more details.

If the codes and programming are practically identical to the Eidos port, then the mod community should be pleased as they’ve been active for years…modifying the game to a point that it can be considered a remake!

Edit: here are the new features in the PC version: Cloud Saving, Achievements, Character Booster, and current PC optimization. They all speak for themselves except the booster, which is basically a cheat mechanic for newbies who get stuck. Somehow, you can level up your characters without the need for grinding.

From the E3 2012 Booths – Square-Enix’s Next-Gen Luminous Engine Looks Incredible, But Will it Keep Them Afloat?

Smartly, Square-Enix chose to have an original IP concept for their next-gen “Luminous” engine. The would-be game is called “Agni’s Philosophy” and it has a much different feel from Square-Enix’s typical JRPG settings. It mixes fantasy with present-day influences as Dragons and AK-47s meet in the battlefield. Next to Star Wars: 1313, Watch Dogs, and Beyond…this tech demo looks very impressive. It has that crisp FMV look to it which doesn’t go beyond the uncanny valley. I thought I would never be impressed with graphics beyond this generation, but Square-Enix as usual proved me wrong. It’s smart for a Japanese developer to get an engine ready from now, because sadly Square-Enix realized that late in the game with this generation. They paid a lot on their Crystal Tools engine, but thus far only has two games developed for it: Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel. They’ve used nothing else for it this generation, which says a lot about their current internal development strategies. How come? It truly baffles me that some of the games they’ve published chose to go for Unreal and didn’t take advantage of their so-called Crystal Engine at all. Also, their Japanese portion has been an absolute no-show this year…their UK division (formally Eidos) are the ones who have been their saviors, showing off ventures like Hitman, Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs which is outside of their forte.

Surprisingly, Square-Enix also setup an online survey for feedback on Agni’s Philosophy. It looks like they want to turn it to a real game if enough people like it. You can write text for more feedback, and I advise you to advise them to revive their dead franchises with this engine.

E3 2012 – Welcome to the Next Generation (Trailer)

This is what will be possible on the next Xbox and PlayStation.

Square-Enix is demonstrating the Agni’s Philosophy: Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo At E3 and are officially saying this is what the next-gen consoles will be able to pull off in real-time.  The Luminous Studio engine itself will be a cross platform engine designed for PC, consoles and even mobile devices.  We expect to hear and see a lot more of the Luminous Studio engine in the coming months.