The Angry Gamer – The Future of RPGs

In a recent issue of Game Informer magazine (you get the mag for free if you have a GameStop discount card, which I do), there was an article all about the upcoming crop of RPGs and whatnot from Square Enix, the infamous company behind such titles as Final Fantasy. A whole bunch of projects were profiled within, and today, I’m going to take you through each one, in no particular order, offering my own brief personal spin on each. Bear in mind that many of these titles have no official US release planned…yet.

Dragon Quest VIII. This one tops my “must-have” list. Aside from the fact that every single Dragon Quest (known as Dragon Warrior in the US) has kicked some serious old-school ass, this marks the series’ first foray into the realm of full 3D. (The last entry, Dragon Quest VII, only had mediocre 3D backgrounds.) All the classic enemies are there, but in brand new cel-shaded glory. Let’s hope this one makes it to the US at some point!

Kingdom Hearts 2. One of those rare occasions where SE does something right, this is the sequel to 2002’s amazing Disney-esque action-RPG. The sequel promises more Disney characters, more Final Fantasy characters, and more big shoes.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. To tide gamers over until KH2 comes out, we’ve got Chain of Memories. This actually takes place between the two regular KH games, so fans would be wise to pick it up to get the full story. Unlike its counterparts, though, KH:CoM is coming out on the Game Boy Advance, rather than the PS2.

Radiata Stories. Oh, make love to me, Tri-Ace. This game’s right up there with Dragon Quest VIII on my “you’d better f*cking bring this to the US” list. Tri-Ace is the developer behind such amazing RPG heavyweights as the Star Ocean series and the #1 RPG of all time, Valkyrie Profile. Tri-Ace’s latest creation looks even more amazing than their past work, promising deep gameplay and an incredible story.

Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song. Remake #1. The SaGa games are a long-running RPG series that many US gamers are familiar with, but sometimes under different names. For example, remember the three Final Fantasy Legend games on the original Game Boy? Those actually aren’t FF games at all…they’re SaGa titles. For the US release, the name was changed to something familiar so it would sell more. Anyway, we’ve gotten other titles in the series, like SaGa Frontier and Unlimited SaGa, but Minstrel Song is a remake of a Super Famicom (SNES) SaGa title we never got in the US. The PS2 overhaul gives the game full 3D graphics, a new score, and new areas to explore. This would be nice to have, since we never got it originally…and it would make up for the lackluster Unlimited SaGa.

Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. Remake #2. The first two FF games were upgraded and ported to the Wonderswan Color (a Japanese-only handheld console), then later translated and dumped on the Playstation. Now we’ve got it for the GBA…which makes it a port of a port of a port. Granted, there’s some added stuff thrown in, but come on, guys…this is almost as bad as the constant milking of the FFVII trash. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that shortly.

Egg Monster Heroes. An odd title for the Nintendo DS. You get to raise monsters, and use the DS’ touchscreen to control them in battle by tapping exactly where you want to attack. A very interesting dynamic that could make planning battle strategies a lot more interesting.

Final Fantasy XII. Snooze. More cliches, more heroes that look like chicks, and more wet dreams for the yaoi crowd. C’mon, SE. Let the series die for a change…the first six were good, and they just went downhill from there. Work on something more productive!

Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. This one’s not even an RPG; it’s more of a third-person action game, starring the enigmatic Vincent Valentine from FFVII. This is also a sequel to that game, taking place a few years down the line. Regardless, it’s another shameless attempt by Square Enix to milk their most overrated game as much as possible until it dries up into a lifeless husk.

Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion. SE’s next MMORPG project. FFXI wasn’t enough, it seems, so here’s another! Same basic deal as 99% of the other MMORPGs, though…swords, sorcery, and servers.

Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special. We’ll never get this one. The Itadaki series is long-running in Japan, and plays much like a board game. This one obviously features characters from the DQ and FF franchises.

Front Mission Online. Fans of the mech strategy series can now stomp each others’ armies online. Why this wasn’t included a long time ago stumps me, but better late that never, I suppose.

There you have it, folks. A whole slew of stuff…and we’ll get a precious few stateside. Give me Dragon Quest VIII and Radiata Stories and I’ll be a very happy man.