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2012: The Year In Final Fantasy

January 1st, 2013 by Tony Garsow

Happy New Year from Final Fantasy Network! I hope you’re not too hungover this fine Tuesday morning, because we’re recappin’! 2012 was a pretty exciting year of Final Fantasy announcements, news, and releases, and so we’ve compiled some of the biggest news-makers that made our eyes widen, our heads shake, or bodies seize uncontrollably with one emotion and then another. …Ok, that last one was just me.

Just to be frank, I was going to write you all a nice long poem, but I couldn’t find a decent word to rhyme with Theatrhythm amidst my “New Years reverie”. You’re going to have to settle with a few sub-par limericks interspersed in the article. If you think you can do better (you can’t), leave a merry Final Fantasy limerick of your own in the comments section.

For those less inclined to poetic expression, let’s hear your thoughts on this year’s events and the year that’s to come. What are you most excited to see this year? What were some of your biggest disappointments of 2012? Feel free to check out the video playlist below featuring some of the video highlights of the year, too.

FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 RELEASES
On January 31st, Final Fantasy XIII-2 released in North America for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A sequel to the original Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2 featured Lightning’s younger sister Serah Farron and time-travelling behemoth hunter Noel Kreiss. The game itself was built on feedback and concerns from players not entirely smitten with the first outing, resulting in a game that had less corridor-esque level design and encouraged more exploration.

Despite this, Final Fantasy XIII-2 wasn’t without controversy, as when players finally reached the end credits, they were greeted with a “To Be Continued…” message. At first, fans speculated that post-release scenario DLC would be the ending to this tale, but over the year as more DLC released, a full-on threequel became plausible. Lo and behold, at the end of a long summer, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was announced as the finale in the Lighting Saga trilogy.

A duo named Serah and Noel,
throughout time and space on a stroll,
met a bad guy named Caius
and a Yeul very pious.
They messed up the world as a toll.

THEATRHYTHM: FINAL FANTASY RELEASES
On July 3rd, Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy landed on 3DS handhelds in North America, toting with it the vast repertoire of Final Fantasy music preserved as it originally appeared. The rhythm-based RPG let you select four heroes from the Final Fantasy franchse, designed by Monster Octopus, and level them up by completing various stages that put players back in classic Final Fantasy locales and cutscenes. Later this year, a mobile version of Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy released on iOS, with additional paid content.

10 YEARS OF FINAL FANTASY XI & SEEKERS OF ADOULIN ANNOUNCED
At the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Event in August, the 5th expansion for Final Fantasy XI was announced: Seekers of Adoulin. Launching in 2013, the expansion will send adventurers to the continent of Ulbuka where the great city of Adoulin awaits. In addition to brand new Player-vs-Environment content, two new jobs will join the roster — Geomancer and Rune Fencer. The expansion will be available for PC and Xbox 360 users, but if you are a PS2 subscriber, note that support will be limited to Japan. Final Fantasy XI director Akihiko Matsui unveiled some ambitious new projects for the MMO, including revisions to major gameplay systems based on player feedback as well as a hefty update to the game’s user interface.

Tetsuya Nomura’s rendition of Prishe, Shantotto, Kam’lanaut, and Eald’narche from Final Fantasy XI. (@bKvEBVAvUq)Tetsuya Nomura's rendition of Prishe, Shantotto, Kam'lanaut, and Eald'narche from Final Fantasy XI

15 YEARS OF FINAL FANTASY VII & PC VERSION RE-RELEASE
Previously published under Eidos back in the 90s, Final Fantasy VII is no stranger to the PC — well, if you’re not old and decrepit like most of us that remember it’s release. We first got a hint of the project back when Steam registry files uncovered a port of Final Fantasy VII and VIII’s original PC version, but things remained silent for upwards of a year. Square Enix updated the PC version with achievement support as well as cloud saving this year for release on it’s official e-Store.

Ten years have gone by for Eleven,
fifteen if you count our dear Seven.
Keep HD remakes at bay,
remember them this way.
Surely this is true F.F. heaven.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: THE END OF AN ERA & A REALM REBORN
It’s been a long, tough road for Final Fantasy XIV, and with Version 1.0 coming to an indefinite close, Square Enix decided to treat its remaining subscribers to an end-of-the-world party. While the final in-game event was mired with lag and disconnected players, it ultimately paid a fitting farewell to a game that had stumbled out of the gate and fell flat on its face. When all was said and done, Square Enix released the End of an Era trailer the night servers shut down, portraying the aftermath of the clash between the Eorzean Alliance and the forces of Garlemald as expertly as Square Enix Visual Works could muster.

Over the next several months, we learned more about Final Fantasy XIV’s encroaching rebirth under director Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida. With each system that brought Version 1.0 its failures being scrapped and built from the ground up, a new vision of the game has begun to emerge. Recently the alpha testing phase concluded, with beta scheduled to commence mid-February. According to the new road map, Final Fantasy XIV should release closer to summer — behind schedule, but director Yoshida assures fans that this time they want to take the time to deliver. They insist that this time they will provide an experience worthy of the franchise caliber.

Kazuya Takahashi illustrates the Wandering Minstrel (Yoshi-P) with his Final Fantasy XIV baby-monster friends.8263_2

Eorzea returns in Version Two,
where I’ll get back my slimy goobbue.
I miss my idlin’
In splendid Hydaelyn
But my desk chair will just have to do.

LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII ANNOUNCED
After Final Fantasy XIII-2’s cliffhanger ending and “To Be Continued…” message, many fans saw the writing on the wall — a third Final Fantasy XIII game was incoming. Officially announced as part of the Lightning Saga New Developments panel at the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Event, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will serve as the epilogue to the XIII trilogy with heroine Lightning at its forefront.

A markedly different approach than XIII-2, players will control only Lightning as she traverses the world of Novus Partus, a broken realm distorted by the flood of Chaos five hundred years prior. However, time is working against Lightning, as she has thirteen days before the end of the world to complete Bhunivelze’s mission: to guide the souls of humanity to a new world. Lightning’s journey will be a highly malleable one; with each play-through potentially yielding experience based on Lightning’s actions. Lightning herself is highly customizable through her equipment and abilities, and combat has been changed significantly — where timing abilities to break apart enemy weak spots will be your advantage.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is expected to release for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the latter half of 2013.

A woman returned named Lightning,
whose outfit was rather frightening.
Not a belt or a zipper,
now towels are hipper,
surely this game will be enlightening.

THE YEAR OF FINAL FANTASY MOBILE
This year saw a multitude of releases for iPhone and Android-powered smartphones, including Final Fantasy Dimensions (Final Fantasy Legends: Warriors of Light and Darkness). The game itself is a throwback to the SNES-era Final Fantasy games, but told in an episodic fashion, and a cast of two bands of warriors. Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade (Final Fantasy Brigade) also made the localization cut, a gachapon-style Final Fantasy game aimed at those who play games on their smartphone sparingly. Titles like these weren’t expected to make the jump, what with titles like Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII never making the cut, but many fans were surprised when these titles were announced for localization.

Final Fantasy IV recently made the jump to iOS, with more on the way. Accompanying the official iOS trailer for the game, Square Enix revealed Final Fantasy V (and more, presumably Final Fantasy VI) will make their way to smartphones in some form.

TO BE DETERMINED…
Of course, there are three titles that have yet to reach North American shores (one of which is still six years in limbo and still going). Final Fantasy Type-0 for PlayStation Portable has yet to release overseas, despite involved personnel citing the game’s localization as near complete. The reasoning behind Type-0’s stalled fate may be due to weakness in the portable handheld market (minus smartphones and tablets) with regard to PSP and its successor the PlayStation Vita. This may also be the reason behind Bravely Default: Flying Fairy’s lack of a localization after shallow sales of Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light on the DS and with 3DS on shaky ground outside Japan.

A small shoutout must be paid to Final Fantasy X HD, announced over a year ago at Tokyo Game Show 2011. In the time that has elapsed, not a single screenshot nor trailer has made it online, spurring many to believe the game had entered development hell or had been dealt a quiet death. Speculation over problems with the game’s pre-rendered backgrounds being an uphill battle to convert to HD often dominate the discussion amongst anxious fans, though no official announcement nor update regarding the PS3 and Vita-bound title has enlightened us with its development status.

Alas, we’re still without Type-0.
We’re in need of some sort of hero.
Those kids clad in red,
we hope they aren’t dead,
but waiting for our hard-earned DeNiro.

Luminous is something you’ll probably be seeing a lot of with regard to Square Enix games in the future, starting with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and next in Final Fantasy Versus XIII. When the engine itself was unveiled at this year’s E3 in the form of the Agni’s Philosophy tech demo, a lot of rumors swirled that this was the emerging face of a next-generation Final Fantasy XV. Square Enix themselves asked for fan feedback on the main character and world displayed in this tech demo, leading some to believe they were weighing their options — that Agni’s Philosophy could in fact become the next mainline Final Fantasy installment.

One other title we heard bits and pieces about this year was the never-ending saga of Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The current buzz has Versus delayed so that Square Enix can focus the bulk of its developer manpower on finishing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn — which is quite possible. Aside from all this, many cryptic hints were dropped by Square Enix staff, including Final Fantasy series executive producer Shinji Hashimoto and director Tetsuya Nomura himself. While the amalgamation of teasing and vague hints have yet to produce any scrapings of Versus’s ongoing development (other than CEO Yoichi Wada’s confirmation that the project is not dead) 2013 may be the year where we see Versus again.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII is still hidden in the sleep, after overdosing on a bottle of Ambien.noctis

There once was a game called Versus
that now causes fans to spit curses.
How long must we will wait,
for the new release date?
‘Fore the dev team are laid in their hearses?

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  • AnimaMagna

    A very nice summing-up of an interesting year for the franchise. Only one thing really left me dissatisfied; that was when I finally saw all the trailers for Versus XIII and saw how chronically low on good female characters it was. An all-boys cast in a wholly patriarchal society, found in a game for the 21st cenutry: Imagine! Still, I guess I will enjoy the story even though it may well be a game that does not win my heart (like the Lightning Saga, Type-0 and a few others have done).

  • My Intrest for FF this year will be that new FFXI ADD on,along with XIV ARR beta phase 1 and hopefully some news on Versus or if it changes to XV, looking forward to that. Love Tetsuya Art Shantotto and prishe. The rest of his art is to commen.

  • AgitoXIII

    Best thing last year was Agni’s Philosophy and FF Dimensions. And perhaps concrete info on XIV moving forward.

    This year I want Type – 0 downloadable on Vita and PSP. ARR to be good. and maybe Agni being from FFXV.

  • Jugg

    They need to get on localizing Bravely Default too.

  • hutch

    Finally moving beyond FF13 is what has me excited. yeesh. talk about beating the dead horse no-one wanted.

    (most) FF fans want: Kingdom Hearts 3, FF7 remake, FF13VS

    What FF fans get: FF13, FF13-2, FF13-3.

    Crikey!

    Bring on anything but FF13 😛 !

  • meep

    @hutch Ironic considering FFXIII-2 was only made because they surveyed fans who which majority said they want a sequel.
    LRFFXIII has no excuse though.

  • AnimaMagna

    @meep Just because XIII-2 ended the way it did does not mean there would automatically have been a sequel. Think of the Darksiders games. Not enough people bought those two games, even though a lot of people loved the story, so there will probably be no Darksiders 3, leaving the entire story on a never-ending cliffhanger like so many TV series that weren’t being profitable anymore and were just cancelled without any sort of ‘trying up the loose ends’ episodes(s). If the Lightning Saga was unprofitable, they would likely have made XIII-2 a happy ending, or not made it at all. And if that game had been unsuccessful, there would likely not have been a Lightning Returns at all: we would all have been left with the world ending around Sahz, Hope and Noel: Serah dead: Snow cursed with eternity in crystal or eternity as a monster: and Vanille, Fang and Lightning in their respective crystal prisons. So I think Lightning Returns has the best excuses in the world: enough people wanted it and it would likely be profitable. @hutch And they tried to get Type-0 over here, but the sales of the potential platforms were so poor they would have made a substantial loss. Let’s just hope that Operation Suzaku petition will encourage them to see a new avenue of inquiry.

  • @AnimaMagna No (valid) excuse from Toriyama yet, that’s what I mean.
    Not that I wouldn’t want (or not want) it.
    On a side note, I still think Type0 should be ported to Vita, but then there’s FFXHD to worry about.

  • Baby Kangaroo

    Lol the poems! You earn a jar of cookies!

  • hutch

    @MEEP
    yeah, well that’s what happens when you release an unsatisfying game that make no sense. You get asked to explain yourself. Square pandering fans was the beginning of the end for Final Fantasy. It gave us FF8 which was a generic rehash of the characters from FF7. FF8 & FF13 are nonsensical, boring rehashes. Having to have 3 FF titles to create a satisfying (or at least comprehensible) ending for a story is not FFlike at all.

  • hutch

    @MEEP and AnimaManga

    Exactly my point. They keep flubbing the titles we want to either force DLC or a sequel. People don’t want FF to suck, so they keep hoping the next will make up for the previous one. In my opinion, while I’m no fan of FF8, this FF13 “saga” is horrid. And I don’t say that lightly, nor am I the only one. FF shouldn’t be a chore to play, nor come with a garbage ending. FFX’s ending wasn’t happy but it was a nice one.

    I’m not buying the sales argument: FFX HD, Type 0, FF7 remake, KH 3 or, god forbid, another Chrono game would destroy any FF13 sales. The producers just won’t admit that FF13 isn’t good.

  • AnimaMagna

    @hutch
    I find FFVII rather boring, and it’s also slightly annoying that it’s tainted opinions about every game since then. People seem to think that every game after that should have been like FFVII. Wrong! Let’s hope Versus XIII really does impress and stop people thinking about VII when it reveals (very probably this year from info I’ve heard).