Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week we’re looking at one of the most unique games that Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) ever produced. It’s technically a Final Fantasy spin-off as it takes place in the world of Ivalice, but its characters and out-of-the-box gameplay have only appeared once and then never been seen again. It sold extremely well, it still has a fan following and it’s been available on the Playstation Network as a PSX Classic since late 2009 in Europe, but has yet to show up on the North American PSN. Nearly ten years since the release of Vagrant Story, there have been rumours of both a remake and a sequel, but neither has come to pass. Does the brand name still have any life to it? This week, four of our staff at Diehard GameFAN give their opinions on what should happen to it.
Dave Olvera – Stay Dead
Vagrant Story was a departure from Squaresoft’s usual Final Fantasy mill and was probably the best Ivalice game out there (I liked it more than Final Fantasy Tactics). I would say they should spin-off the game but I would rather it stay dead.
I enjoyed the fact the game was a solo adventure but not in the mode of FROM’s King’s Field series. The puzzles, focus on single member, risk system, crafting system and consistent feel of Vagrant Story actually interested me from the start but didn’t captivate me enough to go through the game again… or even really remember much about the game (like Legend of the Dragoon). I have not played the game in almost nine years, though. So while Vagrant Story may have held my attention for a short period of time during its release, its age is showing. Overall the experience was better than most I’ve had with Square games but I really don’t care what they do. I cannot get excited for anything with the SE logo, not even Front Mission.
Square? I don’t care.
Mohamed Al-Saadoon – Stay Dead
When I first set eyes on Vagrant Story, it looked amazing. The graphics were jaw droppingly amazing (and they still look decent today as well!) and the gameplay look unique and interesting.
But it all fell apart after the intro scene. It almost felt like the developers wanted to make everything as complex as humanely possible: battle system, story, characters and anything else they could get their hands on. This created a game which rivaled the old late 80’s and early 90’s PC Simulator titles in complexity (Remember those games? the one you had to read a 300 page manual just to get the hang of the controls?).
Also, at this point in time I can’t trust Square-Enix with making a decent RPG never mind a good sequel to a game I don’t even like. Just let this one rest.
Sean Madson – Stay Dead
There was a lot of hype around this game when it first came out. It seemed like every magazine review I read praised it up and down, like it was the messiah of RPG’s. Needless to say, when I finally had access to a Playstation, this is one of the first ones I wanted to try.
Then I played it.
The game certainly looked cool on the surface. There wasn’t a whole lot of color to it, but it had a neat art style that reminded me of a comic book. Beyond that though, there weren’t many redeeming qualities. Cutscenes were spaced out so much between the dungeon crawling that I would forget what was happening in the plot before I got to them.
The weapon customization would’ve been a cool feature if it wasn’t so poorly executed. I’m okay with having to craft weapons in order to survive combat, but I had to keep and maintain multiple weapons in order to fight against enemies of various elements. The constant switching and rebuilding of weapons got really tedious, not to mention the combat wasn’t even all that good to begin with.
I find it interesting that this game takes place in the world of Ivalice, much like Final Fantasy XII and the Final Fantasy Tactics games. However, I’d rather see a spin-off to those than see another Vagrant Story game again.
Mark B. – Sequel
Vagrant Story was a fantastic RPG for the player willing to learn its mechanics. The game blended mechanics from dungeon hacks, Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy and Fallout into a game that was incredibly oppressive to players who weren’t ready for the sort of learning curve the game threw at them. It was mighty ambitious and a hell of a lot of fun if you could understand it. The game isn’t for everyone, certainly, but
1.) If you’re the sort of person who prefers to spend more time watching your games than playing them Final Fantasy is probably more your speed anyway, and
2.) It moved a whole lot of copies, so apparently there are a whole lot of people out there who said, “Hey, I think I’d like to spend some time with an action RPG that involves more than spamming the X button like a seal for twenty hours”.
Besides, Vagrant Story is arguably the best (alongside Final Fantasy Tactics) game based in the world of Ivalice, and since Square seems so intent upon doing something with that world, they should do something with one of the good games based in it. I mean, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance? Barf.
Square-Enix has shown that they can still put out quality games now and again, and a good sequel to Vagrant Story could be a positive boost for the company after the back-and-forth response to Final Fantasy XIII and the general lack of anything exciting from the company in years. Vagrant Story was a good seller when it came out, and it has a certain amount of respect behind it that would help it move units. Further, Vagrant Story hasn’t been beaten into the ground like many other Square- Enix properties and with some fine-tuning the gameplay could easily be redesigned into something both casual and diehard gamers could appreciate on different levels. Hey, we’re seeing another Parasite Eve sequel, so stranger things have happened.
Of course, there’s always the possibility it could turn out to be a, “Be careful what you wish for” scenario like Valkyrie Profile 2 ended up being, but what else can I do but hope, yeah?
End Result –
Stay Dead: 3
Start Over: 0
Wow. I wasn’t actually expecting that result. I personally haven’t played Vagrant Story , but I was expecting my staff to want a sequel but only Mark (who like myself, is generally is not the biggest fan of Square products) was for it. That’s the neat thing about these columns – you never know what the end result will be until everything in formatted and the votes are tallied. So it appears Diehard GameFAN gives a strong thumb’s down to the resurrection of Vagrant Story. I expect angry hate mail to this piece to come flooding in.
Join us next week as we look at a Midway survival horror franchise and whether or not that series should survive the death of that publisher. See you then!
Tags: Sequel Spin Off Start Over or Stay Dead?