What happened to my old pal Squaresoft?
This is a question I have asked myself many times over the last few years. For years I had been one of their biggest fans who played all their new releases with pride. I even went as far as to order their older less known games!
So looking at gaming activities now, I have to ask myself why I not the fan I used to be?
To give some context, it was back during the Christmas 1997 when it all began, the Christmas I received my first SquareRPG, Final Fantasy 7.
I did not know it at the time but I had embarked on something
magical then, something since playing my first game that I had never encountered before.
You see not only was this the day I played my first RPG, but it was also the day I played a Square JRPG. Their first RPG to be ported to the Play station console, many of Squaresoft’s big names in development and programming all came on board to help design FF7.
Although I did not know it then, this game would be a revelation to me, a revelation which started my long term love affair with RPG gaming.
As such, every Final Fantasy game released on the PlayStation 1 was to be mine. So impressed with Squaresoft was I, that I instantly purchased other titles they released.
And what made this love affair last was the simple fact they were just as good, even better than the last .
While hooked and blind to all criticism of Square games, it was two of these titles, Vagrant Story and Front Mission 3 that really caught my attention. So much so, these are two games which I actively play to this day.
You see, what impressed me about Squaresoft games was the level of story depth and unique RPG elements which Squaresoft had no qualms in experimenting with.
One key aspect of this was Squares insistence that each game had a unique story line with its own set of characters and background and providing a different playing experience with each title.
Around this time, a long time rival JRPG company called Enix (famous for their Dragon quest series) began talks with Square to merge into a single company, so as to compete with foreign developers.
About the same both companies finalized their merger, I had picked up a copy of Final Fantasy X, the first and last of the series to be made by Squaresoft as a single company.
It was after I had finished playing the game that I heard about the newly formed Square-Enix.
Excited I expected great things from their merger.
Hearing that the company had decided to break with the long standing series tradition and make a direct sequel FFX, that being Final Fantasy X-2, I was over the moon.
Looking back, it was after playing through FFX-2 that I began to have doubts about Square-Enix and their merger.
Now I could explain the very long list of reasons I did not like this game, but I do not wish to re-open old wounds.
Suffice to say, for a game which was a meant to be turning point in the series and very hard to get wrong, Square-Enix got it wrong.
Still, I as well as others were yet to see how far Squre-Enix would change from its Squaresoft roots.
Out was the focus on new unique titles and core game play, in came the focus on milking existing titles, marketing and brand promotion.
The age of Square-Enix RPGS had begun.
Next week Part 2: Love lost