It’s been a while since I’ve been so pumped to be a Square Enix fan, but after seeing what was being offered at E3 2016, the company has set itself up with one of the biggest and best line-ups for the remainder of 2016. That is, biggest and best if you are a fan of JRPGs. We’re halfway through the year, and I can already tell that the second half is going to be dominated by EXP gathering and exploraing marvelous fantasy worlds.
Here are all of the JRPGs Square Enix is putting out in 2016 that we have solid dates for, chronologically.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
Release date: June 28, 2016 for PlayStation 4
The ball starts rolling in just two week with the first major JRPG of the new season. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness marks the return of a fan-favorite series that lost track of itself during the previous console generation. Fans are hoping that it can get this sci-fi/fantasy hybrid back on the right tracks and in good graces with those who control its fate.
Developer tri-Ace is putting everything it can into this game, and it is looking to establish it as a long-term fixture of its plans with future open-world games and other projects. To help it distinguish itself from the rest of the bunch, it will be employing a large 7-member combat party and the same intense action RPG battle system that put the series back on the map in the 90s.
I wouldn’t expect this to shake the world. Watch your expectations and just be ready to get lost in a brilliant JRPG world. Impressions have been somewhat mixed, but likewise, I wouldn’t stop that from letting you get excited either. JRPG fans know what they are getting into with a game like this.
I Am Setsuna
Release date: July 19, 2016 for PlayStation 4 and PC
If we are talking “old-school” JRPG though, then Star Ocean doesn’t even register when being put next to I Am Setsuna. Square Enix anf Tokyo Game Factory are digging way back into their libraries for inspiration in this game, name dropping Chrono Trigger more so than any other title for comparisons.
I’m more interested in the story and music than I am with the gameplay in this title, but if it can prove that classic JRPG mechanics can work on a modern console, then I will be thrilled. I Am Setsuna is a game that is taking risks by being a little too conventional instead of trying big new things. It’s a conundrum I can only get behind with the JRPG genre because here, looking backwards into the days of yore is sometimes the best way to more forward.
Again, this is not a game-changer, just a solid looking little title that wants to tell a story and take you back to a time and place. Treat it with it right respect, and it could be something magical.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
Release date: Sept. 16, 2016 for Nintendo 3DS
This video game is already three years old after taking forever to be localized from Japanese into English, but Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the the Forgotten Past is finally nearly upon us after a fan uprising pressured Square Enix and Nintendo into finally giving it a chance.
This game has everything that old-school JRPG fans. A deep job system, an overworld map that rewards players for exploring, a colorful cast of memorable characters, great music, and of course, that inexplicable Dragon Quest charm. There’s just something about this series that even its fans have a hard time placing, and it is in full bloom with this excellent looking Nintendo 3DS game.
We’ve waited forever, and we are now only a mere three months away! Afterwards, we turn out focus to Dragon Quest XI, and we will let it be known to the powers that be that it should and will have a place on the English speaking market.
Final Fantasy XV
Release date: Sept. 30, 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
The alpha dog of the pack comes to us just two weeks after Dragon Quest VII, and that’s a game which is notorious for being over 100 hours long. Who has the time?! I’m more than happy to be splitting up whatever free moments I can between that and Final Fantasy XV though. I wasn’t too impressed with the game’s E3 2016 presence, but I’ve been sold on it for far too long to have any second doubts.
Where as all of the previous games have been gaining a reputation for being very “safe” JRPGs, Final Fantasy XV is breaking all the rules with a controversial new battle system, a ridiculous cast of dude-bros in dopey black leather, and an open-world aiming to compete with the likes of The Witcher and Skyrim.
Final Fantasy has survived this long because it is always adapting to match the times, and that is exactly what Square Enix is doing with this game. It might be playing very liberally with established lore and traditions, but in between the cracks, it is definitely the series we’ve some to love over the last three decades. Can’t wait!
Dragon Quest Builders
Release date: Oct. 14, 2016 for PlayStation 4 and PS Vita
We jump back into Dragon Quest with this wonderful little rip-off of Minecraft. Never before has there been such a blatant attempt at Square Enix to capitalize on a popular trend, but I’m all for it. Minecraft has never been my thing because I don’t operate well without limitations or boundaries, so I am expecting this little game to give me the context I need.
Sure, he is building the world, but he is doing it for a purpose! That Dragon Quest charm leaks its way back into the villagers and monsters, and our hero must rebuild a world destroyed by the first game’s antagonist. Excellent set up. Inside, he’ll have destinations, missions, and requests that should give him the power to conquer evil.
Or, our hero can just build stuff! After all, this is Minecraft.
World of Final Fantasy
Release date: Oct. 25, 2016 for PlayStation 4 and PS Vita
This is the last time we’re jumping between Square Enix’s two biggest series. World of Final Fantasy is the tribute game that all of these small mobile games are wishing they could be. Not only does it star a good many of the series’ most popular characters, but it also treats them right with a deep combat system and dozens of hours of gameplay.
Since it’s reveal last year, Square Enix has done a marvelous job of painting this game as one that can stand on its own two feet rather than just cutesy fan-service. I’m dying to better understand the story and relive moments with familiar faces from previous games.
That’s all she wrote. We are still without solid release dates for Kingdom Hearts 2.8 or Romancing SaGa 2, and 2017 is also shaping up to be a lot of fun with NieR: Automata, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, and perhaps, maybe even Dragon Quest XI or SaGa: Scarlet Grace if we’re lucky!
What are you looking forward to the most? It’s a toss up between Final Fantasy XV and Dragon Quest VII for me. I have no idea where I’m going to find the time to play both of them!!