by Garnet Nagato
Well, I hope you’re happy.
At E3, a spectacle of new electronic things, it was the recruitment of the old that drew the most attention. After much fan harassment Square Enix has announced the remake of Final Fantasy VII, a seminal piece in the canon of video game history (Like Doom, which was also announced). Watch the trailer below:
About a minute in we hear the strings, a sustained note, not quite tremolo (but it should be), and we all know what’s coming. There are so many memories and it is all so brazenly self referential for the fans. Case in point:
It is big news to come out of E3 and Square Enix is taking us from the polygonal abstractions of the original to the polished Gackt like androgyny (I’m assuming here based on Advent Children) of the present incarnation of Cloud et al. There will probably be more belts, more zippers on outfits this time around. But in this announcement we have more questions. How long will casting Knights of the Round take now? Will there still be snowboarding in the Golden Saucer? And to inject some real puritanical pretense here: why not remake Bahamut Lagoon, which truth be told is the game that really needs a remake. Unfortunately there is no release date and it may be a long time before we see the final product.
We also saw a more brazen Square Enix, perhaps emboldened by the success of FFXIV: A Realm Reborn and the promised bromance of FFXV. If anything, they have somehow rekindled an interest in the JRPG with a beautifully post-apocalyptic preview of the NieR new project (not the actual title) with a rich pedigree of people behind it and Project Setsuna, which is an entirely new RPG made by Square Enix branch the Tokyo RPG Factory (images below).
Project Setsuna has resurrected the JRPG fanboy in my cold dead heart. And the release of FFXIV: Heavensward is imminent, which promises to be a real treat (not announced at E3). Aww yeah.
So yes, a nice showing from Square Enix. I don’t think I even mentioned Kingdom Hearts 3 yet, if button mashing is your thing.
But the announcement of FF7 is on top of other Sony announcements such as the Shenmue 3 kickstarter, another installment of COD: Black OPs and intriguingly, The Last Guardian, featuring a boy and a creature that is a taxonomic potpourri escaping unknown ruins.
As a puzzle game, it looks more subdued than the rest of Sony’s offerings. Long rumored, and growing at the speed of lichen, it is slated to finally be released in 2016.
While it’s felt that Sony won E3, give Microsoft credit for going beyond the flagship Halo 5, Tomb Raider, Gears of War and 360 backwards compatibility (presumably cowed into submission from what Sony did two years ago). Let’s give Microsoft credit for pushing along an idea that we really have been looking for, with the HoloLens demonstrated against the sedate backdrop of Minecraft:
And extended into a Halo 5 demo. I no longer have doubts this is the future. It is not quite virtual reality, and in truth the augmented reality probably has a better commercial future than total immersion. While it is not the only dog in the augmented/virtual reality ring fight (Sony was less vocal about Morpheus), the demo was the hot topic emerging from the Microsoft camp. It is another step in fulfilling the dream of a Dennou Coil like future. I am waiting for my glasses.
Finally, a word for the increasingly ignored third fiddle of the gaming industry: Nintendo. How did this happen? Maybe the news is not as bad as people think, and maybe not so bad that the CEO needed to issue a contrite but vague apology and a promise of better showings next year. Translated by Cheesemeister:
There is an Animal Crossing trailer and watching this brings out the anxieties of Mario Party, where events are arbitrary and frustratingly beyond your control at times:
And most interestingly, Mario Maker, which as the legendary creator Shigeru Miyamoto noted, allows the player the creative latitude in designing stages and uses an aesthetic from the 8 and 16 bit incarnations of the Mario games.
And then there is more of the familiar: Star Fox Zero, Hyrule Warriors Legends (on 3DS), Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which somehow has drawn the ire of the fanbase. These are offerings from a venerable institution, and I cheer for them, but it does feel like filler until the release of the NX, which has been promised for preview in 2016.