Dear Square-Enix type-person,
I hope you don’t mind this little open letter to you but I want to say that I have been a loyal customer of yours for many, many years. And I have played a great many of your RPG titles over the years as well, indeed, I was largely raised on them. This shaped my formative years and made me truly appreciative of the quality of storytelling in gaming, and in turn inspired me to write as well. I owe you much for this direction in my life.
That said, you clearly don’t seem to love the likes of me any more. A casual glance of the titles you plan to release count relatively few RPG titles midst their ranks – now, I appreciate a company cannot live on RPGs alone, but that said, as two companies merging which both sort of made their entire name in RPGs on the NES, Super Nintendo and beyond, the truth is your RPG output of late has been frankly shocking, if not a betrayal of the legions of fans that have trusted you for two decades or more.
For example, what possessed you to release a game like Final Fantasy XIII? I ask this as a perfectly serious question, as I cannot believe you, as a company, could allow a game as rank as this to taint what has been up until very recently a franchise you could practically bank your house on. XI Online was okay, but it wasn’t really a great MMO. XII was great technically, but lacked any real soul or character. XIII was downright awful, as we all know, and XIII-2 looks to be at least a marginal improvement so far (although probably might have been best to try and ignore it ever happened really). XIV is great, but I fear – like XI – it is going too far in the direction of making things very very difficult to do. Which, shock horror, very few people find to be fun.
So, with Final Fantasy since X-2 (I cannot believe I am actually defending that game!) no longer the stable and bankable franchise it used to be, and Nintendo largely assisting with Dragon Quest X it seems, you have put more attention into other games – like the lovely looking Tomb Raider, the long-awaited Hitman Absolution, and the frankly do-want-lots Thief 4.
But, noticeably, not many RPGs in there.
And this got me thinking – with the popularity of the 3DS and the Virtual Console, and the Vita being released, what games are there you have made that could be very quickly and cheaply ported to the handhelds?
Well, let’s look at some old classics from the Super Nintendo, spanning both your companies, shall we?
Alright, so off the top of my head, let’s throw in Seiken Densetsu 3 – or Secret of Mana 2. With the fan translation ROM Hack already out there, it seems a shame to waste what is supposedly one of the finest SNES RPGs ever made, right? There’s the obvious Secret of Evermore, which has long been a bit of a cult hit. Treasure of Rudra – another game that the fans had to rom-hack into English to truly appreciate one of the finest magic casting systems of its era. Live A Live, another good candidate, again with an already-completed english translation out on the internet for people to illegally download. And what of the Enix stuff? Evo: Search for Eden. Actraider. Star Ocean. And of course, for me one of the all time greats, Terranigma. Oh, and if we’re being picky here, let’s also include Lufia 2, seeing as how you bought out Taito in the mid-noughties, a game which I maintain to this very day urinates all over FF3/6 (depending on your region) from a very great height.
And you know something Square-Enix? If you sold each of these on the 3DS Store for $5 a pop, I’d buy them all. I have money. I want to give you this money. Allow me to buy these games, with decent translations (or just pinch the ROM hacks if legally obliged) where applicable, and my money is yours.
And then there’s the issue of the RPG franchises you now seem to own. You have a raft of licences at your disposal that quite frankly shames you that you don’t make any actual use of them.
When I heard you’d bought out the Grandia franchise, I choked a little bit. We’d like Grandia 3 in the West if at all possible please. Parasite Eve – the first one got banned, but we’re a more tolerant society these days and seen far worse, so why not see what all the fuss was about? You have Vagrant Story – still one of the finest PS-era RPGs money can buy, and people are practically on their knees for either a sequel or an HD update. You have others, but it’d be rude to name all of them, these are the three I want most really.
And I do want them. Square-Enix, I want to buy a new Grandia game. I loved the first two Grandia titles; I love them more than I love Final Fantasy VII and VIII (IX has Vivi and automatically wins). I loved Parasite Eve more than I loved Resident Evil 2, partly because it was deeper, cleverer and had a far more meaty sense of horror about it. I love Vagrant Story so much it physically hurts. Seriously, I adore Vagrant Story. I have bought this game many times as I’ve actually worn many of the discs into oblivion. In the past 11 years, I have no shame in saying I must have clocked more than 1000 hours in it in various means and ways. That’s how much I love it.
Many of us want RPGs. Proper RPGs. I know it isn’t the most fashionable genre these days but when was it ever fashionable? When I was playing games like Secret of Evermore, others were reveling in the gory nature of Robocop vs Predator. When I was enjoying Final Fantasy VII, GTA was the darling of gaming. At every stage, other games have been more marketable than RPGs. And yet, we still bought them, and you guys still developed lots of them.
And yet, now you yourselves have abandoned the pretense and the RPG, as we knew it, is left to Nintendo to salvage with games like Xenoblade Chronicles (which is awesome, you should play it!) and Pandora’s Tower and The Last Story. Nintendo, as ever, becomes the last bastion of a dying genre that doesn’t actually need to die at all.
No, you have forgotten that you founded your reputation on RPGs. And I suggest you maybe take a step back and think of people like me, who are itching to give you ACTUAL MONEY in exchange for you doing something with the myriad of titles and licences you own and have acquired over the years. 3DS/Vita ports of SNES Classics is a great first step. An HD reloving of Vagrant Story would see many of us weep profusely with joy, even YouTube-ing it for your pleasure. A new Grandia? Oh boy. That’s my next three birthdays and Christmases all coming together in one massive bundle of woot.
This isn’t to say we want them to replace Tomb Raider (now on its what’th reboot?) , or the revival of the great Thief franchise. But we’d certainly like to at least hear about something, anything, other than Final Fantasy. To be honest with you, we’re getting a bit bored. All the cock-teasing for a FF7 remake has just worn everyone out – it’s still a when, not an if, but quite honestly, care levels are dropping faster than underpants in Essex on a Saturday night. Wouldn’t hurt to give another licence a go and give Final Fantasy a year or two off to recover really.
Getting some of these old games back out there would be amazing. To do new versions of them – a 3D Terranigma remake would utterly blow my mind. But it requires you, Square-Enix – made of companies that for as long as I’ve been gaming have been there to sate my story-based needs – to want to make RPGs again. Real RPGs. Proper action-adventure ones and proper JRPG ones.
I still retain some faith this may happen. But my faith is dwindling, and I fear one day, you will forget you ever made RPGs at all. And many dreams, hopes and wishes will be crushed under the desperate grab to keep up with the industry as it changes and tries to settle into some sort of cliche of the moment.
Please, make RPGs again. Make them good. Make us proud.
We want to give you our money. Give us the games we want.