News: Japanese New Year – 2021

Kitase Shares Resolution to Further Damage Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII is now only about as popular and successful as Nier Automata. Earlier this week it was revealed that Nier Automata has now sold 5 million copies. The last update we received from Final Fantasy VII Remake also had that game selling 5 million copies. There has not been an update since, which means that Final Fantasy VII Remake has not sold 6 million copies. It took Nier Automata a long time to reach this milestone, but it got there in the end because it possesses something that Final Fantasy VII Remake is lacking: a very strong word of mouth. The legendary status of Final Fantasy VII ensured immediately strong sales right out of the gate for the remake, but when people discovered that Nomura had turned the game’s story into a bunch of Kingdom Hearts bullshit, attitudes began to shift, and the word of mouth surrounding the game appears to be decidedly mixed, at least enough to prevent the game from reaching 6 million copies sold. The original vintage release of Final Fantasy VII sold 9 million copies, and that figure has increased to 12.6 million copies sold in the years since. Thanks to Tetsuya Nomura (along with his enabler Yoshinori Kitase) the legendary golden goose of Final Fantasy VII is now only about as important as an above average Yoko Taro game. Good work!

It will pan out awfully.
The game’s original director is unsure how the story will pan out.

The end of the year is a time for pensive reflection, as people consider their achievements throughout the year, and then resolve to do even better in the new year. To this end Yoshinori Kitase has made it very clear that he is immensely proud of the debasement of Final Fantasy VII, and has resolved to allow Nomura to wreck the franchise even more in 2021 and beyond! Kitase states that he cannot even imagine the ways that Nomura will bloat the game’s story during future development:

In 2020, I was able to release FFVII Remake, which was my long-time wish. The new world of FFVII has just begun. My aspirations are not only for 2021 but also for the future. I’m excited because not even I can imagine how the story will expand in the future. Please look forward to it.

Of course! We are currently preparing further expansions to FFVII. But please wait a while for the details.

Yikes! Is it not more than a little disconcerting that Final Fantasy VII‘s original director and co-scenario writer confesses that he is unable to confidently predict the ways in which the Remake‘s storyline will expand going forward? It is like Kitase has resolved to see Final Fantasy VII Remake 2 sell about as well as the Nier Replicant remake. This is a good place to check out of this farce, and leave Akademician to play through these abominations going forward.

Atlus Is Fixing the Nocturne HD Remaster Ahead of Western Release

Coming up through the SNES, PS1, and PS2 console generations it was always easy for English-language markets to think of ourselves as getting the short end of the stick, and in many ways that was true. One of the benefits of being a secondary market however, was the fact that by the time that a game reached us it was often in a much better place than it was at launch – and it looks like the history of yesteryear may be about to repeat itself with the English release of Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne HD Remaster in Spring of 2021.

The Japanese release really wasn't great.
Hopefully Nocturne is in a fit state when it launches in the West some time this Spring.

The Japanese release of the Nocturne HD Remaster back on October 29 was like the JRPG equivalent of Cyberpunk 2077 – albeit nowhere near as bad as that horror show. That was a bit of an exaggeration, but it did release with glitches, crashes, and a certain degree of slowdown. The game was certainly still quite playable – but the state of its release was frowned upon because the vintage release of Nocturne back in 2003 was very stable, and did not feature any of the issues of the HD Remaster. More to the point however, in much the same way as Cyberpunk 2077, the Nocturne HD Remaster launched missing a bunch of features that fans were expecting.

One of the most impactful advances that has happened to the Shin Megami Tensei series since the release of Nocturne is that demon skill inheritance is no longer random, and is now under the control of the player. Back in the time of Nocturne if the player was reliant on a certain demon skill but needed to fuse that demon, then they would have to save and reload the game multiple times until the RNG would provide the desired result. For many players this is the biggest impediment to going back to replay Nocturne, and so a good many people were looking forward to the Nocturne HD Remaster solving this issue – only it was not solved for Japanese gamers, at least not at launch.

With the release of patch 1.02 Atlus has added ‘Skill Shuffle’ and ‘Skill Inheritance’ features to the demon fusion process. ‘Skill Shuffle’ sounds like it might be the vintage style of randomised skill inheritance, while the ‘Skill Inheritance’ feature has already been shown on Youtube to allow players to pick which skills a demon is to inherit, bringing Nocturne in line with modern Shin Megami Tensei releases, just as players wanted. With patch 1.02 Atlus has also improved menu responsiveness, fixed the compendium completion percentage in Maniax mode, rebalanced the new DLC cheat dungeons, and fixed a handful of bugs:

Bug Fixes

Fixed a bug that prevented trophies from unlocking in certain situations.
Fixed a bug so that normal attack motions are performed at high-speed in auto-battle.
Other bug fixes.

Additional Features

Added a Skill Shuffle feature and Skill Inheritance feature to the fusion results screen in the “Cathedral of Shadows” facility.

Feature Improvements

Improved input response for all facilities, the status screen, Magatama screen, and save / load screen.
The total count of the “Demonic Compendium” has been revised to be able to reach 100 percent completion even when only Maniax Mode is played.
Game balance has been adjusted for the downloadable content “Master’s Expectations” and “Little Master’s Mercy.”

It is uncertain the extent to which the patch has fixed the stability of Nocturne HD Remaster, but the missing fusion features is what was really getting this author down about the game’s release, so it is great to see that stuff like this is being fixed ahead of the game’s Western release. This really seems like a great occasion in which to miss out on a simultaneous worldwide release!

Japanese Developers Share New Year Messages

It was not just Square Enix arch villains who issued their looming threats for 2021 this week, as a number of other prominent Japanese developers also disclosed their resolutions for the new year. Famitsu gathered together these resolutions, and what follows is a collection of some of the more meaningful ones for your perusal.

It would seem that Mistwalker is still hard at work on Fantasian, which is apparently releasing in 2021, and which aims to be a very unusual JRPG on a couple of counts. The game is digitising hand crafted dioramas for its backgrounds, and it will be exclusive to Apple’s game subscription service Apple Arcade, at least at launch. Hopefully the game will not be locked to Apple hardware in perpetuity, as this game will obviously be dead on arrival in the West, but one look at the multiplatform status of Mistwalker’s biggest games does not inspire much hope of seeing Fantasian on other platforms. The fact that Mistwalker is essentially a 15 man game planning committee, leaves them very little leverage to be able to get their games on other platforms. The game’s intended primary audience is probably Japanese mobile phone gamers, so the preferences of Western JRPG enthusiasts likely did not factor into the game’s planning.

People who care about Sakaguchi's work on vintage entries in the Final Fantasy series are not going to be playing games on their iPhones, and they certainly aren't going to subscribe to Apple Arcade.
Fantasian looks promising, but it is obviously dead on arrival in the West.

■ Mistwalker

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Keywords for 2021: Near complete.

Ambitions for 2021: Fantasian, which we’ve been developing for three years, is finally near completion. It’ll release for Apple Arcade in 2021!

Hironobu Sakaguchi later expanded on his new year message on Twitter, confirming that Nobuo Uematsu will be providing the game’s soundtrack:

A happy new year!
#FANTASIAN, the game we have been developing over the last 3 years is almost complete and is scheduled to be released on #AppleArcade this year.
The game is an RPG that takes players through a unique world handcrafted dioramas: music by Mr. Uematsu.
@AppleArcade

Diorama backgrounds seems like a good move for the genre, it's just a pity that the barrier of entry is set way too high.
This is probably the most detail we have seen in a background since developers moved away from pre-rendered backgrounds.

After the collossal fuck up that was Shenmue III, it appears that Yu Suzuki is threatening another meandering pointless sequel. If nothing else, it is going to be amusing to watch him go back to the crowdfunding well to find it dry!

■ Ys Net

Yu Suzuki

Keywords for 2021: Shooting / RPG.

Ambitions for 2021: 1) Reflect on head-to-head battles. 2) Sequel…

Hideki Kamiya of Platinum Games begins by assuring fans that Bayonetta 3 development is still progressing smoothly, before teasing a new project that he is involved with codenamed Progect GG. Will Platinum Games be given a shot at developing an action adventure Guilty Gear game? Are they working on their first release for the Sega Game Gear? Is GG some sort of Gundam acronym? It is probably none of these things.

■ PlatinumGames

Hideki Kamiya

Keywords for 2021: Do my best.

What’s New: First off, many people are worried about Bayonetta 3 considering there hasn’t been any new information since its announcement, but verifications of new systems have been going great and development is going very well, so please wait with peace of mind. (This is a copy of my 2020 comment.) Also Project G.G. (title tentative) has finally started moving, so please look forward to it.

2021 marks Falcom’s 40th anniversary, and it also marks the year in which the Trails of Cold Steel project comes to an end, and work on the next set of Legend of Heroes games will begin in earnest. Work on the next mainline Ys game is also likely in its early stages. As such, it is a year of transition for Falcom:

■ Falcom

Toshihiro Kondo

Keywords for 2021: Turning point.

Ambitions for 2021: In 2021, Falcom will reach the major milestone of its 40th anniversary. Naturally, we should always aim for rejuvenation regardless of turning points, but occasions like these are important, so I’d like to use this opportunity to review our current development methods and systems. I wanted to increase the number of development lines and staff in the company, so we have already expanded and reformed. We await the applications of those interested in development at Falcom!

It sounds like 2020 was a year where Covid weighed heavily on Koei Tecmo staff. It appears that work on the Nioh franchise will go into hiatus next year, as the team tries their hand at something else. They are also drawing attention to the 20th anniversary of the Fatal Frame series, which may mean that they have a game release or rerelease planned to mark this occasion. If this is the case, then it probably means that they have the backing of an ascendant Nintendo.

■ Koei Tecmo

Keisuke Kikuchi

Keywords for 2021: Rebuild.

Ambitions for 2021: 2020 was a year where things that were normal were no longer normal. I’d like to look at what’s important and what I love once more, and create a game with a fresh perspective. 2021 is also the 20th anniversary of the Fatal Frame series, so I’d like to celebrate it in some way if possible.

What’s New: We’re working hard to announce some titles by spring. We’re developing a wide range of titles, from those currently under adjustment to those with pending names.

Fumihiko Yasuda

Keywords for 2021: Year of transition.

Ambitions for 2021: At Team Ninja, the seven years-long development of Nioh series will reach a resting point, and there are several projects that will begin full-scale development in 2021. I plan to change my development style to match my changing lifestyle and concentrate on new titles. As for me personally, I’ll try not to gain any more weight.

Yikes! “You’ll be waiting a little while longer” is Japanese coded language for ‘you won’t be playing it next year‘, which is bad news for anyone hoping to play Shin Megami Tensei V next year. The Persona 5 team has been hard at work on an, as of yet untitled, fantasy JRPG – and while it sounds like it will not be coming next year, it does seem like they intend on formally unveiling the game in 2021. It also seems like Atlus has something planned for the Persona series – this could be the long-requested release of Persona 3 FES for PC, or it could be another shitty dancing game. only time will tell.

It might be a bit of a lean year for Atlus.
Sounds like you won’t be playing this game next year.

■ Atlus

Shinjirou Takata

Keywords for 2021: Think outside the box.

What’s New: So about Shin Megami Tensei V… we’re working hard on development to make it an even better product. You’ll be waiting a little while longer, but please look forward to it.

Katsura Hashino

Keywords for 2021: Silence.

Ambitions for 2021: With last year’s novel coronavirus causing swift change throughout the world, all we can do is continue focusing on our work. Our title in development is going through an important phase and we want to face it head on in order to deliver some interesting gameplay to the world.

What’s New: I’d like to announce the title we’re developing as soon as possible. We’ve previously created contemporary dramas, but please look forward to the ‘fantasy RPG’ we’re taking on next.

Kazuhisa Wada

Keywords for 2021: Carrying out my original intentions.

What’s New: My project has been steadily in the works. Thanks to everyone, the Persona series will celebrate its 25th anniversary! We have exciting plans in the works, so please look forward to it.

It sounds like there is some good stuff coming out of Japan next year, even if none of it is coming out of Square Enix.

4 comments

  1. “It also seems like Atlus has something planned for the Persona series…”

    Atlus has been listening and are finally making the Persona Football game that I’ve been talking about for months.

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