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Final Fantasy Tactics Director’s Kickstarted Game Shelved Indefinitely In Favor Of Other Projects

The dramatic development saga of Yasumi Matsuno, the director of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, and Playdeck's Kickstarted game continues. Nearly two years after Unsung Story was funded, the game has been delayed for an indefinite amount of time and the prospects of the final product emerging as anything close to resembling the game concept that was originally presented are uncertain.

Unsung Story was pitched to the public in 2014 as a "spiritual successor to a storied line of epic tactical RPGs designed by Yasumi Matsuno" via a Kickstarter campaign that made $ 660,126. The game was delayed, missing its original release window of July 2015, with backers not receiving an update on the project until two months later.

When that update did finally arrive, it was one filled with dreary news: Playdek CEO Joel Goodman revealed that the game was being delayed to 2016 and the focus had changed from being a single-player campaign to put priority on a multiplayer PVP component. Backers were understandably displeased.

Today Playdek sent out another grim update, telling backers that key staff members had left and that Unsung Story was being shelved to focus on products "in the near term" in order to continue to support Unsung Story's development. Here is the full text of the update, emphasis is ours:

Dear Unsung Backers,


There has been another delay in reporting to you since our last
development update, and we apologize for that. Our continued intention
is to make a great game, and get Unsung Story to development completion
and released to you and the gaming public. During the last few months we
have had some development setbacks that are affecting our timeline and
progress on the game, while also affecting what we need to do in the
immediate future as a company.
 



After we posted our latest development progress, we unfortunately
lost a few key staff members that were part of Unsung Story development,
and that has had an impact on any progress since then, as well as our
product focus. We now have one internal team capable of working on a
single project, and for the financial strength of the company we need to
focus on a few products in the near term that have the ability to get
to a retail release before Unsung Story is able to.
While this is a
difficult choice to make, it is one we need to do for the ongoing
financial health of the company. For Unsung Story, we will explore
options for outside development help, and will look to see if we are
able to bring on an outside team that can assist us in furthering
development. While we aren’t assured this will come to fruition, we do
want to make sure that we are exploring any options at hand that can
make progress on the game.    



While the development goals that were spelled out in the previous
update remain intact for now, the release window of those goals is
affected, and at this time we do not have an update as to what the new
release window for development rollout will be.
This will be affected by
the ability and timing of any outside support, as well as when the
single internal team is able to get back onto Unsung development, and
when we do know, we will update you all. As we pursue this direction, we
will refine the release timeline as soon as we are able to. With the
loss of that staff, and without having any new progress to share since
the last update, we felt we needed to sort through what options and
directions we had available before we updated you on the current status,
but again do apologize for the lack of recent updates. We will get back
to you as soon as we can with any progress and status update. Thanks.
 


Playdek

The majority of backers reacting to the news are doing so with disappointment and incredulity, a number of them demanding refunds and expressing anger at the lack of communication from Playdek, which last sent out an update in October 2015.

[Source: Kickstarter]


Our Take
It seems that Unsung Story is destined to become another big example of making people wary of crowdfunding and for good reason. The developer's lack of communication with its backers is inexcusable and anyone looking to participate in crowdfunding, either as a supporter or creator, would do well to learn from this situation.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Square Celebrates Portal App’s Birthday With Free Final Fantasy II Download

Square Enix has send out a note that fans of the classic Final Fantasy series might find interesting. The company's Final Fantasy Portal App has been around for a year now, and players can download Final Fantasy II (that's Japanese numbering, so don't to see expect Cecil or Rydia a la U.S. SNES numbering) from it on iOS or Android at no cost from now until Valentine's Day.

The app gives fans a central place to buy Final Fantasy games, books, music, and collectibles; check out trailers and dev commentary; and play Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad card game. And now, until February 14, it's a place where you can download a free game. Not bad.

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‘Square Bowl’ Is Final Fantasy Instead Of Football

If you always considered yourself more of an "indoor kid" and don't have much interest in the Super Bowl, you can still come together with like-minded fans to celebrate this weekend. 

Game developers Teddy Dief (Hyper Light Drifter) and Adriel Wallick (Train Jam) are hosting the second Square Bowl – a 48-hour event to benefit the Able Gamers charity. Dief and Wallick (and a parade of special game-developer guests) are streaming their playthrough of Final Fantasy VIII, Square's 1999 PlayStation RPG.

This year's stream starts at 7:00pm PST this Friday, 2/5 and ends on Sunday evening at 7:00.

If you're interested, tune into the stream here on Friday!

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Reminder: Today Is The Final Day For January PlayStation Plus Games

PlayStation Network has been having some trouble today, and you may not be able to connect right now. If you can though, you might want to take a moment to ensure you locked in your January PlayStation Plus games.

You’ve got until tomorrow when the store refreshes to nab the six January games. They are:

Playstation 4

  • Grim Fandango
  • Hardware: Rivals

Playstation 3

  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter

Vita

  • Grim Fandango
  • Nihilumbra
  • History: Legends of War Patton 

Tomorrow, the month begins anew. Not sure what's rotating onto the service? Check out our previous coverage for more info.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

More Final Fantasy XV Footage, Release Date Announcement Event Revealed

Square Enix's latest Active Time Report ran for over an an hour and
revealed key details about Final Fantasy XV, including gameplay footage
and an announcement for an event where the release date of the game will
be unveiled.

The event is called Final Fantasy Uncovered and will be taking place
in Los Angeles on March 30 at 7 p.m. Pacific. The event will be hosted
by KindaFunny Games' Greg Miller and Tim Getty and it will be open to
the public. Those who are interested in attending will need to access the promo site for Final Fantasy Uncovered to reserve tickets starting on February 5. Final Fantasy Uncovered will also be streamed on Square Enix's YouTube channel and Twitch.

The gameplay footage shown off during the report focused primarily on
stealth, with our heroes infiltrating a military base, warping around
the complex and taking out enemies with backstabs and takedowns.  The
action heats up shortly after, with the party becoming embroiled in a
frantic, all-out battle against troops and a robot. At one point,
protagonist Noctis grabs a gun turret and begins to mow down enemy
troops. Here's the segment if you want to watch it separate from the
Active Time Report:

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Beyond the new footage, Square also shed some light on the
antagonists of the game: the Niflheim empire, a kingdom with a
mechanized military force. The military base in the video belongs to
them. Key players in Niflheim's power structure were introduced,
including  Aldercapt, Niflheim's leader, and Aranea Highwind, who shows
up at the tail end of the gameplay demonstration ready to pick a bone
with Noctis.

The entire presentation is now available online and it touches on a
wide range of subjects like detailing the progress of individual sectors
of the game and discussing user interface enhancements. The video is in
Japanese but has English subtitles. You can watch it here:

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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The Best And The Worst Final Fantasy Spin-Offs

Big franchises often take advantage of their fame and appeal with a variety of spin-offs. The RPG juggernaut Final Fantasy is no different and throughout the years it has experimented with many different flavors. Some worked out much better than we ever expected; others were complete disasters. One thing is certain: Final Fantasy spin-offs aren’t going away.

Square Enix just launched Final Fantasy Explorers this week in North America and World of Final Fantasy is currently in development. But we didn’t want a list that just discussed ‘respectable’ games like Crisis Core or Revenant Wings or select average titles like Final Fantasy: Chocobo’s Dungeon and Final Fantasy Dimensions. What good does that do? We wanted to zoom in on the best creations, while also looking at the games that went horribly wrong.

The Best

Kingdom Hearts
When people heard of a Disney/Final Fantasy crossover, they were skeptical. These aren’t properties you’d expect to come together for an action/RPG, but it ended up being one of Square Enix’s best decisions. Kingdom Hearts is now one of its most popular franchises. Visiting Disney worlds is a blast, and while the Final Fantasy characters aren’t integral to the experience, it’s fun to see them in this new universe and weaved into the story. Furthermore, the action gameplay is challenging and thrilling, not handing you anything easy just because it’s a Disney collaboration. Kingdom Hearts also established its own identity by creating new characters, such as Sora, Rikku, and Kairi, in a fight against the Heartless. What starts out as a simple concept, soon spans into an ever-complex story with plenty of twists and new reveals for fans to piece together. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we recommend playing the mainline entries and Birth by Sleep.

Why It’s Among The Best: You get to enter awesome Disney worlds and battle their villains, need I say more? Beyond that, the action combat is complex and fun, and you’re also spending time interacting with cool characters whether they’re from Disney, Final Fantasy, or created for the franchise. The story may be convoluted, but it has enough ‘heart’ to keep fans playing every spin-off and entry just to figure it all out. 

Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics launched in 1998 in North America and quickly earned acclaim while growing a devoted fanbase. The strategy/RPG helped put the genre on the map, combining tense battles that required careful planning with the iconic Final Fantasy job system. Tactics also stood out for its mature and tense storyline following Ramza and his childhood friend, Delita. Both are from different social classes and their ideals and goals change as they grow up, forcing them to take different paths. It’s touching and relatable at the same time, but the most fun comes from building up your recruits and outsmarting the enemy. Final Fantasy Tactics’ legacy has lived on thanks to re-releases and enhanced ports. It even spawned its own spin-offs, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (available today on Wii U virtual console) and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. We recommend checking out the enhanced port of the original, War of the Lions, which you can download on your Vita, iPhone, or iPad. It still remains the best of the bunch. 

Why It’s Among The Best: Tactics hands down delivers some of the best strategy/RPG gameplay you can find, and it also has an intriguing political story with memorable plot twists. The progression loop makes it hard to put down and building characters using the class system never gets old. You can even recruit monsters into your party. This helped set a solid foundation for strategy/RPGs, making you feel the thrill of thinking your way through every battle.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy has earned a reputation for its fantastic music over the years, bringing waves of fans to auditoriums for concerts (Distant Worlds, Dear Friends) to celebrate it. In 2012, Square Enix decided to create a rhythm game to give fans just another place to revel in the series’ wonderful tunes. The music game celebrated the franchise’s RPG roots by having characters level up and battle, providing tunes from various situations, from field music to dramatic events. Theatrhythm is easy to grasp – notes hit from left to right and tap, swipe, or hold down the stylus depending on the note. If you want to give the franchise a try, you’re best to go with Curtain Call, as it has new tracks and contains all the music from the first entry.

Why It’s Among The Best: The Final Fantasy music is one of the series’ strongest components, and making a game that celebrates that is smart. It gives fans the feeling like they’re conducting their own Final Fantasy. Obviously, this series doesn’t pack as big of a punch as Kingdom Hearts or Tactics, but we reward a good idea when we see one. If you want to live out all the iconic music, the Theatrhythm games give you enough reason and fun to do so, even if you’ve never been all that great at rhythm games.

Click on the next page for our picks for the worst….


www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Square Enix joins Wii U Virtual Console with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

The service has been running for three years, but one of the companies best associated with Nintendo’s retro platforms is finally joining in. …


Gamasutra News

Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report Returns This Weekend With Stealth And Magic

Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata is ready to drop some more info on the game, and you won’t need to wait long. The next Active Time Report program is scheduled for this weekend.

On the next episode of the recurring program, Tabata and global marketing director Akio Ofuji will discuss Final Fantasy XV’s magic system. The duo will also reveal some additional information about an upcoming event taking place in March.

New screenshots released today also show off the game’s Fire spell and Magitek Armor. Final Fantasy XV will also feature stealth elements, which will also be discussed.

Active Time Report is scheduled for Saturday, January 30, at 8 p.m. Pacific / 11 p.m. Eastern. The show will be fully subtitled, and you can watch it here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Final Fantasy Explorers Review – Leveraging Final Fantasy Nostalgia To Dull The Repetition

Routine isn't always bad. Some players like knowing what to
expect, completing familiar tasks and fulfilling an explicit list of
objectives. In Final Fantasy Explorers, you search a vast landscape doing
mundane tasks, such as killing specific monster types, but the payoff comes in
how you turn your rewards into building your ideal character. Think of this
quest-based, resource-gathering structure as a less complex version of Monster
Hunter with a Final Fantasy skin; the core experience is about striving for the
next big upgrade and reveling in all the Final Fantasy content.

If you're a Final Fantasy fan, Explorers was made for you,
as it takes iconic parts of the franchise and infuses them in each portion of
the game. You can find materials to forge new gear, such as Sephiroth's attire
to don on your customizable avatar. Classic bosses like Ifrit and Shiva keep
you on your toes. Fast travel is done using an airship, and you can buy items
from Moogles. Exploring Amostra is exciting because you never know what classic
monster from the franchise you'll find roaming the field, such as Chocobos and
Adamantoise. Trance mode also allows you to transform into popular characters
like Cloud and Lightning, but it's more a novelty than a super-move. The only
part Explorers doesn't ape from the main series is an interesting story; the
narrative is bare-bones and inconsequential.

The ties to Final Fantasy are a main part of the appeal, and
the quest-driven gameplay loop exists mainly to deliver all of the nostalgia.
You select one main expedition to complete at a time, but can also do numerous
sub-quests simultaneously. Completing quests earns you points, which can then
be used to be purchase various abilities for your character and upgrade
weapons. The quests themselves are basic, tasking you with taking down bosses,
eliminating monsters, and collecting goodies on the field. They also allow you
to reach new places in Amostra, from sandy beaches to fiery volcanoes. Beware,
though, as Explorers' clunky UI can often get in the way of seeing what's out
there.

The quests get repetitive quickly, forcing you into a
mindless routine with the goal of incrementally upgrading your character. I
grew tired of doing similar tasks over and over, and more variety would have
helped. On the bright side, the quests aren't long, although some require you
have a certain amount of money before taking them on. This can be frustrating
when you want to spend your money on upgrading weapons and abilities, but
instead have to keep an untouched cash reserve to keep progressing.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

You have complete control over your avatar; you can change
jobs in town and unlock many additional selections (20 in total, including the
Dark Knight and Samurai) along the way. You also can equip up to eight
abilities at once, purchasing and upgrading only the ones you desire. Any
ability you desire you can learn regardless of your job, but your custom
abilities are specific to the weapon you wield. I liked having the ability to
experiment and never being locked out of anything. For instance, I went with
the Knight class at first and constantly upgraded my sword attacks whenever I
could and loved seeing the damage multiply on tougher enemies, but that didn't
prevent me from picking up cure or fire abilities if I desired. That being
said, the custom abilities pack the bigger punch, so you're best to focus on
those. 

Explorers' greatest asset is how it makes you feel like
you're always progressing. The more you do, the more that opens up. For
instance, new weaponry becomes available to craft as you advance, and you're
shown the required ingredients to make it, giving you something else to track
down on your travels. The game even has a monster fusion system, which becomes
another fun element for experimentation. After slaying certain enemies, you can
pay to create them as a party member (bring up to three with you in battle). You
can level up your monster allies and fuse them together for new abilities.
Unfortunately, until your monsters reach high levels, they die quickly, (though
they eventually revive automatically).

While the progression loop proves strong, the combat is
disappointing. It relies on more button mashing and spamming special attacks
than actual strategy (outside of running away from enemies before they attack).
You have a special ability called crystal surge, which changes things up by
adding elemental properties and other perks to your abilities. While battles
get tougher as you advance, don't expect the same level of difficulty or
tactics you'd put into a big fight like in Monster Hunter. Through local or
online co-op, you can bring up to three friends in battle to slay beasts with
you, but it's nearly identical to the single-player experience. Playing with
friends is obviously more fun than relying on A.I. monsters, but it's not a
game-changer.

Final Fantasy Explorers never fully captivated me. Building
up your character is fun and the Final Fantasy fan in me enjoyed all the
callbacks, but it didn't keep me invested. It gives you plenty to tinker with,
but doesn't have the meat to back it up.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Play Final Fantasy VII With Us In Our New Game Club

Update: Winners have been selected! Check your "Conversations" inbox on this website to see if you won! If not, we encourage you to play along with us anyway! 

For some time, members of the Game Informer staff have wanted to organize a game club so that the entire Game Informer community could play something alongside one another. We're pleased to officially announce the GI Game Club. The goal is to not just play a classic – in this case the PlayStation JRPG phenomenon Final Fantasy VII – but to also examine certain aspects of games and present our findings for discussion on the podcast and website. Our Game Club can't exist without you, the GI Show listeners/viewers, playing in tandem with us and writing in your comments and insight. To help kickstart the GI Game Club, we're starting off by giving away 20 codes for FF VII on PlayStation 4 and PC.

We chose Final Fantasy for several important reasons. First and most importantly, it's one of the most groundbreaking RPGs ever created, and for many of us it cemented our love for the genre. Secondly, Square Enix is in the process of creating the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII remake, which had been a thing of myth and rumor for many years leading up to its official reveal during Sony's E3 2015 press conference. Lastly, now is a perfect opportunity for those of us who haven't completed the game in years and those of use who have always meant to play it to join up and have some fun dissecting it. Together with the GI community, we aim to examine how FF VII stands the test of time, innovates on the genre as of its release in 1997, and how it might influence our excitement for the FF VII Remake. Even better, the PC and PS4 versions of FF VII include features like switching random battles off and increasing speed to smooth off the edges of the grind in case you need them to keep up.

Our first Game Club discussion will air on episode 284 of the GI Show Podcast (Thursday, February 4), which gives us all two weeks to play up until the same point in the game. For the first "chapter" of our discussion, we should aim to team up with Avalanche and fight our way out of Midgar. Once you hit the open world, save and put down the controller (if you can). We'll follow up with subsequent discussions about the latter sections of the game in the coming weeks.

Be sure to keep a notepad handy to record any observations, criticisms, or questions you think could spark discussion during the Game Club segment of the GI Show. For the first GI Show Game Club session, consider the following discussion topics and questions, but also feel free to share your own insights and perspectives. If you can, recruit some friends to join in on the conversation, and discuss the game together.

 

  • The developers go out of their way to layer in a fiction about the history and lore of Midgar in the opening hours. What are some of most imaginative aspects of the setting?
  • The reactor assault is often cited as one of the most iconic and memorable opening gameplay sequences ever. Why?
  • Do you care about the members of Avalanche?
  • What are your thoughts on the surprising cross-dressing Cloud sequence? If you’re replaying after many years away, does it feel different now than when you first played the game?
  • Final Fantasy VII combines pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D character models. What’s the visual effect as a player? In the context of a 1997 RPG, what advantages did this process provide to the developer?

 

Email your thoughts/questions to [email protected] with the subject headline "Game Club: Final Fantasy". Remember, the GI Show Game Club can't succeed without your participation! For more information about our ongoing Game Club, read our introduction post.

We'll be giving away Final Fantasy VII codes in the comments below. To qualify, post your favorite FF VII memory or a detailed reason why you want to play it and we'll send 20 lucky GI community members a Direct Message on this website with a free download code while supplies last!

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