As a publisher that inspires truly fervourous fanboy fever in Japan, thanks largely to the immense popularity of the legendary Final Fantasy series, Square Enix?s approach towards supporting the NDS and PSP is being watched closely by the whole industry. There have been legitimate concerns that third-party publishers might not have the creative talents to make optimum use of the DS?s unique features; whilst others are worried that the PSP software library will consist largely of re-hashed games from days gone by.
Up until now, Square Enix has only confirmed that it will be developing a single brand new title for the DS, and its only work for the PSP confirmed thus far is the UMD movie Advent Children. Observers had been inclined to think that re-releases of the FF games would probably go to PSP, rather than DS, and Square Enix certainly hasn?t refuted this outright.
However, packaged in the new Final Fantasy 1 & 2 GBA release is a potential strategy-shaping voting slip. These customers, many of whom will be fairly hardened FF disciples, are being asked which SE titles they would like to see ported onto Nintendo?s DS.
The nominated games unsurprisingly include Final Fantasy episodes 3, 4, 5 and 6, as well as other favourites like Chrono Trigger, Front Mission, Hanjuku Eiyuu and Seiken Densetsu (Secret Of Mana). One would assume that any port of these titles would make use of the touch-screen as a (semi)permanent options/map window.
It will be extremely interesting to see what Square Enix does once it?s collated the data from its initial research project. If the DS does become the sole home for re-workings of celebrated S.E. RPGs, as well as the uniquely innovative DS specific titles, it will have a distinct advantage over the PSP, especially in the Japanese market.
Sony, which has been keen to court Square Enix throughout the hype-mongering process, may well be concerned by this news. At this early stage, however, it would be inappropriate to draw any concrete conclusions from what is merely a light dabble in market research.