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Hey Guys, been a while but I am back.

Have been playing many different games over the last few years since my last post but suffice to say that I have much to say.

Before I digress, I need to discuss something about my gaming and my steam profile.

I have over 100 games and I still cannot choose one to play. How is this even possible? I have over a 100 games, plenty of choice and yet I still cannot find a bloody game to play.

Well I honestly should just go paint some warhammer 40k models, I have three armies at this stage, one hlaf painted….


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Squaresoft, My Lost Friend: Part 2

Love Lost: The decline of my interest in Square-Enix games.

Recently I managed to get a copy of an old favourite, Vagrant Story.  Released several years before the Square – Enix merger, it was based on the PS1 and released after the financial success of the Final Fantasy series on the platform.

With its beautiful graphics, intriguing plot, and unique battle system, this game quickly stole my heart. Suffice it to say I was very happy to play it again after so many long years.

Seeing as one of my last articles was based on how I fell in love with what Square soft used to be, it was quite nostalgic to play Vagrant Story again after so many years. Sadly though, another odd thing happened.. I became a little depressed.

It became apparent to me that this game for all its quality, style and overall brilliance was a thing of the past. I knew then that, sadly, the golden age of the Square RPG had passed me by.

Several years later (and several spin offs and sequels/prequels/remakes), it has become quite apparent that Square-Enix is now a company more focused on “Brands” and “Target markets” than creativity and design.

So why is this a bad thing?  To explain, by tailoring and targeting a game at a specific group, you limit its design creativity. Complementing my point, a example of this would be the first person survival horror game “Nanashi No Game” .

Rather than releasing this title to western countries based on its involving plot, unique gameplay, or its success in Japan, Square put it to a single focus group….who rejected it. Thusly the game was never released in the west.

(The full depressing story can be found here : http://www.siliconera.com/2011/03/28/nanashi-no-game-was-considered-for-north-america-focus-groups-killed-it/.)

It is true that focus groups are useful in making sure that a product/service finds the right “target market”, and they can be a vital part of the marketing process in making sure said product is a commercial success.

But with a medium such as Gaming, that relies on gameplay experiences and design as a selling tool, this process is not really necessary.

Therefore it is safe to say that when a company like Square-Enix, which had previously built up a massive fan base from the success of its titles based on these aspects, abruptly changes its selling tactics to make sales or even publish a game…. something has gone very wrong.

You really have to ask yourself where is the business sense in alienating an established fan base/target market?  Squaresoft became famous from the idea of moving forward and not backward, that games should be innovative and unique to capture the hearts and minds of players and buyers alike.  So where is the sense in changing direction so suddenly?

Who really knows? What we have seen from this change is the release of many weak/generic titles and a deluge of mediocre spin-off games, each paling in comparison to what true Square fans had been used to.

It is no surprise then that, of the original fan base/market, there is now only the die-hard fans and JRPG fanatics who remain.

Still, even though it depresses me I do not mourn them anymore.

Back in their prime Square released many great games, games which no amount of sequels or spin-offs can tarnish. The old Squaresoft is gone, and it will never come back, others as well as myself have made their peace with this fact.

We have moved on.

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Squaresoft, My Lost Friend: Part 1

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?

What changed?

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

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