Following yesterday’s joyful news that Square and Nintendo have managed to exchange handbag battles for handshakes over random battles, new details have emerged about the content of future games. And you’ll love it!
An all-new Final Fantasy game will be created jointly for GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Amazingly, this is expected to be exactly the same game for each system, tailored to its technical specifications. The implications of this are massive. If you ever pay full attention to a piece of gaming news, make this the one.
Tentatively titled Final Fantasy N, Square’s Game Designer Studio division will create one game over two platforms. Both versions will feature the same maps, battles, dialogue and plot, with no difference other than in terms of graphical presentation. You play the GameCube version at home, probably using the GBA linked to the GameCube as a novelty extra screen. When you have finished playing and have to go out, you save the game, which will then transfer the data to the GBA and jump you to that point in the GBA version. You then go about your business, playing Final Fantasy N on the train, bus, or wherever, and when you get back, simply hook the portable up to the GameCube and it will jump to the same point in the home version. You will then be given the option to view any of the home version highlights, like FMV sequences, you might have missed.
The concept of Final Fantasy N has been around for some time. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that the project has had the green light from both Nintendo and Square since Christmas of last year. The basic concept of this new ‘play anywhere’ version of Final Fantasy originated, somewhat surprisingly at Nintendo. Square’s Akitoshi Kawazu was approached and agreed to the concept of the game. Then, in a career-defining u-turn, Nintendo president Yamauchi decided to fund the project out of his Fund Q, the development cash set aside for small, independent development projects. Both companies felt that it was best to hold off any announcement until now, as it may detract from their immediate PR and marketing pushes.
Nintendo of Japan made the following statement today “We are told that a Final Fantasy which will run concurrently between the GameCube and GBA is currently in the works, and that it will be released this Christmas. Two other titles for the GBA are also in development. We hear that one of them is Final Fantasy Tactics.”
Two other titles including Tactics! This just seems to get better and better.
All Nintendo development at Square will be funded by Yamauchi. Sony Computer Entertainment, as one of Square’s major shareholders, has been neatly sidestepped. Square did make some allowances for this, like pledging that any Nintendo development would not affect PlayStation 2 projects, but the structure of top-level Japanese gaming strategy has been turned on its head of late. Sony needs Square to turn a profit for its own good and Nintendo development has been highlighted as the key to this, especially portable versions of the franchise, which can take advantage of the huge installed userbase of the GBA. There is also the matter of Square’s 2D specialists being left somewhat disenfranchised at the prospect of developing for Bandai’s WonderSwan Color for the foreseeable future.
It is worth mentioning at this point that the basic concept of Final Fantasy N could have been implemented more than a year ago by taking advantage of the much-underplayed connectivity between the WonderSwan Color and the PlayStation 2. Only the fact that Bandai’s handheld is available solely in Japan prevented this from happening.
Square and Sony have also made it clear that they no longer see each other as immediate rivals. Microsoft’s big budget entrance into the market has doubtlessly made the industry stalwarts put aside their immediate differences and come to an agreement that the devil you know is infinitely better that devil you don’t. Especially when the new devil on the block has the most powerful gaming machine ever seen and a wallet the size of Kansas.
Now we have delivered the story you have been waiting for for seven years, please remember one thing: where you read it first.