Tag Archives: Square Enix

Final Fantasy ATB: Expensive Nostalgia

I bought Final Fantasy All the Bravest out of curiosity. It truly should have been freemium or at least a goddamn 99-cent game. Square’s been pretty outrageous with their pricing strategies so it’s not a surprise that they’d tack on in-app purchases on top of the amount you have to pay up front.

Here’s my no frills look at the game. I’m not going to talk about the visuals or music since I imagine most reviews around the Web already do:

Mindlessly Tap or Swipe Your Way to Victory

The gameplay is like a much more interactive version of many RPG-themed Japanese waiting games (see Hunt the Monsters! and Hunt the Hero! I should mention that you can at least make use of the virtual money gained in those titles. The currency in All the Bravest is just number on the screen). Incidentally, I pretty much only make the comparison to point out how insanely effortless and inane this game is. Oh, plus there’s the whole character, weapon and monster collecting bit too. With that out of the way, I’ll just get back on track about the gameplay — In FF ATB, you just get a bunch of randomly selected generic 16-bit heroes based on various job classes found in various FF games and tap on them or swipe across them to trigger attacks. They’ll attack on their own and you have absolutely no control over which enemy they target, nor get a say in what attacks they should use. As far as I can tell, each character only has one type of attack anyway. The speed at which they’ll throw themselves at an enemy is dependent on how quickly their Active Time Battle meters fills.

You start off with a microscopic number of characters. However, after some hours of levelling (or some hefty investments in Premium Characters), you’ll be travelling around with a party of a maximum of 40 units. To speed up the process, you also have the option of getting 1 additional party slot by helping SE promote the game through the wonders of social networking; you can either spam the Facebook time line or Twitter feed of your friends. To ensure that your followers won’t defriend you or physically come to your home to punch you in the face, you’re limited to 1 status update/tweet per 24 hours. Of course, they may still perform either action once they learn that you actually bought FF ATB.

Most battles will cause your pixel party to dwindle in size as enemies can take out party members in one hit. Once your group is reduced to 0, you have to wait for the party meter to replenish which goes at the rate of 1 character per 3 minutes. There’s an hourglass icon next to the meter though which will allow you to bring back everyone in an instant. Square gives you 3 complimentary hourglasses but if you require more, you’ll have to toss money at them. Such gimmicks are typical of freemium titles but sadly, this game isn’t freemium.

You will navigate the world map by a pre-determined route. Enemy encounters and bosses are in fixed locations but with the exception of boss monsters, they’re randomly generated from a pool that’s specific to the spot your party avatar is standing on. Speaking about bosses, there’s a good chance they’ll wipe out your party on a first try. If you happen to have a Fever saved up, this would be one of the best times to trigger it.  (A Fever simply gives you a brief moment, free of ATB meters, where you can swipe or tap your screen like mad to try and get in as much damage as you can. It also only pops up once every three hours.)

OCD + In-App Purchases = Lots of Money Down the Drain

Every single enemy in the game has a weapon spoil but the drop rate isn’t very high which means obsessive-compulsive players will have to repeat battles over and over until they get it. Of course, it’s most likely dependent on the enemy as well since I’ve gotten a few drops from later enemies but I’m still working on the damn Cockatrice from the first map. There are also rare monsters too such as the Cactuar and Tonberry which means more rounds of visiting areas you’ve already conquered. Joy.

Square Enix had it in their heart to exploit fans right from the start since there’s actually a Catalog that records all the job types unlocked, Premium Characters bought, weapons found, and enemies encountered. Really, it’s obvious it’s a game made for people that obsess over collecting everything in a game. What these kinds of players should realize, however, is that FF ATB is a very costly game as there are 35 Premium Characters to collect that cost 99 cents each and 3 different Premium areas, each with a price tag of $3.99 (for some unfathomable reason). If you add everything up, you’re looking at just over $50 US/CAD for the game which is bloody expensive given the lack of content and substance. In fact, you can probably buy 1 or 2 FF mobile games at full price and get a ton more out of them than you ever could with Final Fantasy All the Bravest. I would definitely recommend waiting for this title to go on sale before taking the plunge.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that while you can obtain Gil in the game, there’s no way to spend it. However, there is a Game Center leaderboard based on how much wealth you’ve racked up.

Anyway, here’s a gallery of some screenshots I took while playing FF ATB.

$40 iOS Game from Square Enix? You Better Believe It.

I realize this isn’t new news but I figure I’d play my part and spread the word because, frankly, this is quite disgusting.

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SE has been known for its zany pricing which has been loving dubbed as “Square (Enix) Tax” by various iOS gamers. A lot of times, people could see that a port of a PSP or Nintendo DS game, while still running close to $20 US, is relatively cheaper than buying the game to play on the parent system. And then there are those that will also defend the pricing scheme of critically acclaimed titles like the Chaos Rings series that are made specifically for the mobile platform. These particular fans will tell you that the quality of the games justify the premium prices.

Finally, you get something like Demons’ Score, a $7 US rhythm action game with a whopping $35+ worth of in-app purchases. You may think that it’s just for virtual currency and silly little aesthetic changes but NOPE. These IAP are content-based; that is, unless you want to play the same two music tracks ad infinitum, be prepared to donate your life savings to Square.

Strangely enough, Japan is not affected by this madness. While the title is sold at a higher price from the get-go, all content is already included. Simply put, for roughly $20 US, you get the entire game. To drive home the point, you can see the pricing comparison with screenshots at http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/iPhone/Demons’+Score/news.asp?c=45198

The revelation of the price discrepancy obviously isn’t going over very well with gamers around the world. However, I came across a post over the forums at The Escapist that suggests that it’s plausible SE considered the chance that Demons’ Score wouldn’t really be something the international market would eat up with a $20 price tag. Now, if there really was some sort of market research that was done to determine the possible behaviour and reaction of international rhythm gaming fans, Square Enix fans, and iOS gamers to the title, then why didn’t they just convert the $7 game to a free Lite version or at least reduce the price? (The obvious answer is that they wanted to make some sweet profit from the “trial” version. Kind of sickening.)

Honestly, I’m down with people defending the prices of ports and some of Square’s other premium priced games, but I can’t imagine anyone approving them for gouging users like this.

Drakerider

I figure I should write up a proper entry about the game since it’s the only RPG that I’m playing right now.

I mentioned I picked up the Japanese version back in August … but stopped playing it a bit after that. I think I was mid-way through Chapter 1 too. The English version came out without me realizing it until about a week after its release. I’ve since invested some time in it. :3

I’m not sure it’s safe to say that it beats the despicable KRPG grindfests cuz I’m using a specifically modified file that allows the user to have 1 each of the EXP multiplier and Crystal multiplier items — the Sub Rosa Skills and Crystal Tickets, respectively. They are in-app purchases only, I believe, but it might be a good idea to invest in a Sub Rosa Skill now and then as it can sure speed up levelling like crazy.

When I began the game, I used the item named “15 Sub Rosa Skills” which allowed me to enjoy 10 times the experience gained for 15 battles. Within minutes, I was at level 10. :3 Likewise, the Crystal Ticket 15 gave me 10 times the Crystal Points in 15 fights so I just splurged on all the abilities that I could get at the time.

Drakerider - At some point in Chapter 2
I wonder how many hours it actually takes to get to this level if played normally?

From what I could remember in my Japanese run, levelling and CP farming isn’t bad at all. For CP, you have the multiplier that comes naturally from Invocation. As long as you don’t break a chain of Invokes, the multiplier will keep increasing. I’m currently at a 75 combo on Chapter 2 and can manage at least 100 CP per fight. You might actually be fighting more to grind for experience though but I believe there isn’t terrible balance issues in Drakerider.

I DO wonder about some of the Chapter 2 bosses though. Since I’m fast-tracking, I’m already at level 35 but I have no idea if that’s the average level at this point in the game. The bosses aren’t insanely tough per se but they can pack a punch with their stronger attacks and they can also take a beating. It’s a good thing that I got Healing II and Amelioration already. (Enemies begin to spew status ailments from this chapter onward so it’s a good idea to learn the latter.)

Drakerider - Abilities Menu
There’s no way I could have gotten some of these “so soon” without using Dragon’s Acumen.

……… Oh yeah, I forgot you have to MASTER abilities too in order to learn some other ones so maybe the grinding CAN get a little on the annoying side after a while. 😡 I mean, given that there’s an IAP item that’ll allow you to instantly master a skill, I would think that the game is designed in such a way that will cause some players to eventually snap.

You know, Square Enix should have given 1 each of these IAP items to users that were within the first 100,000 to download the game or something. Let them get a taste of the fast-tracking and it’ll hook ’em. 😀

In terms of story, I don’t expect anything spectacular. The localization is quite good, IMO, although listening to the Japanese dialogue and reading Westernized names seems kind of odd. For example, the dragon is known as Murasame in the Japanese version. In English, it’s Eckhardt. Similarly, the female character that shows up at the end of Chapter 1 was originally called Mina but has been localized as Gale. :V

I’ll leave it as this for now. ^^

End of Summer Sale on Google Play: One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Something is strange among the sale apps ...
Can you see which one is the odd one out? (Click on image to see full size)

Continue reading End of Summer Sale on Google Play: One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)

Android, please get good game titles

I look at my wishlist on AppShopper (which is an iOS exclusive app) and I see 47 apps (most of which are games). I don’t think I can even come up with 5 for Android. I just did a search for the first few on the list to see if they have ‘Droid counterparts. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the answer is no. :E

Considering that there’s a pretty large population of Android users now, why haven’t a lot of devs released stuff for that system? I guess there are complications with creating applications for it but I heard that fragmentation shouldn’t be too much of a issue now with ICS and Jelly Bean so if that’s scaring them off then it shouldn’t, I don’t think.

Speaking about good game titles, Cave released Espgaluda II and DoDonPachi Resurrection on Google Play today but there are … issues with the Lite version. Other than the fact that the games are a part of a bloody social network for some reason (obviously, the partnership has some benefits for Cave), DoDonPachi R doesn’t load up on my Galaxy Tab 10.1. What’s more is that is that it’ll probably be the SD version (like  the Japanese Android release).

If I remember correctly, the Japanese version kind of worked. I think it force closes at some point before the boss battle though. Regardless, at least I can actually play a little of it. Looks hideous on the tablet though. I wonder if they’ll ever release the HD one that the iPad and iPhone have? I sure hope they do because I’d be willing to buy those, not the ones they just put out. (I already own both games on iOS.)

Square Enix seems to be slowly opening up their Android library. There are already several games on the Square Enix Market for Android devices in Japan. I know Chaos Rings is already available but we just got Final Fantasy I recently or something? Of course, all these games still come with the wonderful “Square Tax” but given their length and production values, I suppose we shouldn’t complain about the outrageous prices too much.

On the topic of Square prices, I downloaded Final Fantasy Dimensions a few hours ago and played about 30 minutes of the Prologue. It’s not bad. It certainly FEELS like an old school FF game. One gripe is that the graphics aren’t 16-bit SNES. XD I would have loved it if they looked like FFIV characters. ^o^~  Another issue is that the Chiptune OST is a whopping $10. I assume that it contains AT LEAST 20 tracks (or maybe even a minimum of 16) so the price is pretty typical of a full album price on iTunes or something, I guess? I’m actually kind of tempted to get it since the soundtrack’s not bad and I want to hear the chip music versions. ^.^

Then there’s the price of the “entire” game which comes out to $28.99. You can argue that it’s a 40+ hour game that was made from ground up for the the mobile platform but hey, at least it’s supposedly cheaper than FFIV: The After Years. I think Square just likes to treat iOS devices as another gaming system of sorts so they tend to not care much about what users expect to pay or are used to paying. Well, that and they KNOW people will throw money at them.