Do you remember Square? Do you remember Enix? Separate, the two companies did more for the world of RPGs that any other Japanese developer out there. Their success carried all the way into the the new millennium, revolutionizing video game storytelling and putting the genre at the forefront of the market.
Together, however, they’ve been nothing but a hollow corporate shell, barely a shadow of the glory they used to demand. Since the two giants’ merger ten years ago, competition in the RPG market has dried up and streaks of mediocrity have pushed them into a corner where the only escape is to sell out to the strategy of the big boys. Square Enix purchased Eidos not too long ago, and have been using their creative genius as a crutch, effectively becoming the Japanese equivalent of EA and Activision.
Not to say the Gamescom line-up isn’t impressive. Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution are all show-stoppers worthy of taking home the accolades they receive, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is the ultimate apology from a game developer. However, their success is at the undoing of a generation of wonderful games that inspired my entire childhood.
Gone are the days of Terranigma and Chrono Trigger, and gone are the days of Parasite Eve and ActRaiser, a time when the separate entities knew how to take risks. Flickers of their old spirit show up once in a while, but more often than not peter out and die rather than catch flame. Give yourself a run-through of The Last Remnant, Final Fantasy XIII, and Infinite Undisovery, and tell yourself these are the guys who made Final Fantasy VI. Hard to do, really.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within might not have killed the series on the spot when it drained Square’s stock value and forced them to merge. However, its affects are sadly still being felt today as these once great teams slowly lose touch with their roots.
No offense to the games, each of which looks like a blast. Square Enix’s line-up at Gamescom 2012 consists of Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman Absolution and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Final Fantasy VII will make an appearance, and the iOS game Final Fantasy Dimensions will be on display as well.