Square Enix is in a bit of a slump. Sure, they have been pumping out games on a steady basis, but they have almost all been forgettable flops. The release of Tomb Raider in March of 2013 was a decent success selling 3.5 million copies, but Square Enix expected to sell 5 million copies. Even their flagship series Final Fantasy has been disappointment out of disappointment. However, if Square Enix wants to get their sales back on track they do not exactly have to look far. All they have to do is take a peek at their back catalog for inspiration.
A New Ogre Battle Game
Ogre Battle is a game that only has a select group of fans and is often looked past as a Square Enix games. Of course, everyone knows Square Enix is a combination of two companies—SquareSoft and Enix. Everyone remembers SquareSoft because they made Final Fantasy, but everyone forgets Enix. Ogre Battle was an Enix game, and a great one at that.
Ogre Battle is a real time strategy game that has a similarity to Final Fantasy Tactics in a way. The RTS has always worked best on the PC, but Ogre battle is a rare occasion where it is just a perfect match on the console. The game was beautiful in its day and would just be an visual masterpiece on the modern console with the character and monster designs. This is also one of the few old games I have played that had a branching storylines with different endings. Ah, if only Bioware and Mass Effect 3 had taken a page out of Ogre battles book and made different endings based on the players decisions, alignment, and reputation.
A Final Fantasy from the Play Station One Remake
I just do not know what Square Enix is afraid of when it comes to Final Fantasy remakes that are more than just graphical HD upgrades for their PS2 games. I have discussed Square Enix and a Final Fantasy 7 remake before, and it is just something they do not want to do. However, 7 is not the only great Final Fantasy they could remake. They could even do Tactics and have it be great.
For the modern console, the Final Fantasy games have been all flash and no bang. Top of the line graphics with bottom of the barrel stories. Square Enix seems to think they should never look back and just push forward, but I believe even if they remade any of the Play Station One Final Fantasies, it would fly off the shelves. Their company is in financial trouble, but one big hit could easily fix that, surely they have to know how beloved their older games are by gamers.
A Game with Traditional Final Fantasy Roots
Of course, they do not have to remake a Final Fantasy game to make a hit. If Square Enix is so set on doing something new, why not at least focus on old game play. The developers seem to think that with every new Final Fantasy game, they need to try some new kind of combat and leveling system. To be fair, this worked for them in their past games. They always came out with something new, like materia. the sphere grid, the draw system, ect. However, it seems like all their designing talent left or they have just given up trying.
Developers seem to think that what we want is just blinding graphics, but that's not true. What we want is a fun game with a story that draws us in like they used to. Maybe it is time to just give up on new things and go back to the basics. Even if they will not make a Final Fantasy 7 remake, why not at least give fans some good old turn based combat and the materia system to make them drool. I know I personally lost hours levelling and hunting materia. It is a good way to get people to play your game incessantly, let them grind.
So, about that Kingdom Hearts III.
You know in 2006 when Kingdom Hearts II came out and they announced there would in fact be a Kingdom Hearts III. Well, it has been 7 years now and that game is shaping up to be the next Duke Nukem Forever or Diablo III. However, unlike Duke Nukem and Diablo, the Kingdom hearts franchise has been nothing but quiet. The games have been coded, re:coded, they have been birthed by sleep, and memories have been chained. All those weirdly named games for the handheld and none of it good.
Why the crappy side stories, but not give fans what they want? We want an ending for the characters. This is Square Enix's problem in the most basic form, they just do not care what we want. Honestly, I think I would prefer no Kingdom hearts games at all rather than getting excited when I hear about a new Kingdom Hearts game being developed only to realize it is just another handheld piece of junk.
A Well-Crafted RPG
Other than Final Fantasy, you remember all those great other RPGs that Square Enix or Squaresoft was responsible for? You Know, Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Valkyrie Profile, Vagrant Story, Radiata Stories, or Star Ocean. Not to mention probably more I don't even recall?
I miss RPGs like that. They seem to have died slow and lonely deaths to graphics and realistic game play. An overall theme that can be found from what I and others want to see from Square Enix in the future is story. They used to be the masters of a well crafted, involving, emotion evoking story. What killed that? Why did it die? Did reality television kill it in gaming like it did in television?
There are changes going on in the management of Square Enix after the terrible fiscal year of 2012, but honestly my capacity for hope is so very small. I am hoping they will abandon their pride and just get back to the basics of what has made them a great company in the past. Sometimes change is better and it works, but not this time. I sincerely hope they figure that out before my favorite gaming company dies.