With this post, my goal is to look a little bit in the future and digest all the information we’ve got for the various games that will be coming out from this venerated Japanese company. For the record I’ll only be focusing on the Japanese side of things and not the Eidos Teams. I feel it’s a useful endeavor as Square Enix has proven to be rather prolific in recent years in terms of releases, and 2016 looks to be one of their biggest ever. So moving on let’s look at what Square Enix has in store for 2016 and beyond.
Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna/Project Setsuna (PS4/PSV)
- Release Date: Feb. 19, 2016 (JP)/Unknown (NA/EU). I’m hoping for a late second Quarter release or early third however we may yet have a Bravely Second situation pushing it into 2017 due to schedule constraints.
I’ll start with a big one for me going forward. Project Setsuna (as we still know it) was revealed to the world at E3 2015 for both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Little is known about the game, however, Square has stated their goal is to recapture the magic of 1990’s SNES RPGs. If that wasn’t enough for you, they have confirmed that the Active Time Battle system, found in Squaresoft’s masterpiece Chrono Trigger, will be the base of the battle system.
Beyond that, the game’s art has a simplicity to it, and yet, a beauty we haven’t seen much of recently. Furthermore, the game is being developed by Square Enix’s “Tokyo RPG Factory”, a new studio with the stated goal of producing unique and engaging RPGs. It’s an issue Square admits they have had in recent years. In short Project Setsuna feels almost as if it’s Square Enix’s apology letter to long time fans and there is only promise of more.
Bravely Second (3DS)
- Release Date: April 23, 2015 (JP)/2016 (NA)/Feb 26, 2016 (EU)/ Feb 27, 2017 (AUS). If I had to put money on a release date I’d say somewhere in late Feb. looks likely...
Speaking of Bravely Second, the sequel to the surprise (well to Square) hit will finally be coming Westward sometime in 2016. Considering the game has been out in Japan for months now there really isn’t much to learn about the game other than the release date. However if you were a fan of the original, there will be much for you to love including new jobs, weapons, and of course, a story to chew over.
Returning from the first game, seemingly as the new main character, the game will follow Tiz as she fights a new threat. Honestly I’ve been trying to keep myself separated from most plot elements to this game, so I really don’t know much beyond that, sorry. Luckily, it does look like the game could get a release announcement anytime now for us in North America as Europeans already have theirs.
SaGa: Scarlet Grace (PSV)
- Release Date: 2016 (JP)
Honestly I don’t really know what to say about this game. I’ve never played a SaGa game as the last one came out nearly a decade ago. Beyond that there is so little information regarding the title that even the trailers don’t tell us much. At the end I’m not expecting much out of this title in 2016 as that date is only for Japan. As the Japanese release date gets nearer I expect more information to be released. For a taste of the SaGa experience however check out The Legend of Legacy for the 3DS which is seen as a spiritual successor to the SaGa series.
Dragon Quest VII & VIII (3DS)
- Release Date: Summer 2016 (DQVII)/2006 (DQVIII)
Who else has been waiting on these? Nobody? Okay I guess I’m weird then. Due to the fact I kind of missed the 6th Console Generation for the most part (ya ya I know), I’ve never had the pleasure of playing these games. The Dragon Quest remakes and Dragon Quest IX are some of my favorite games on the Nintendo DS. Overall I’m very excited to finally have a chance to fully embrace this massive franchise.
Furthermore, as a lead up to the long awaited Dragon Quest XI for the PS4 and NX (what was Nintendo thinking letting them announce that...), it’d be a great way for people to be reintroduced to the franchise in the West. It’s been shown that pure PS2 ports can work brilliantly on the 3DS, with games like the amazing Tales of the Abyss leading the way.
Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)
- Release Date: January 26, 2016 (NA)/ January 29, 2016 (EU)
It’s weird but this game really hasn’t been on my radar much. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that it looks like a cross between Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter, and I’ve never really been into the latter series as opposed to the former. However based on the trailer it seems to be a competent, if unoriginal action RPG for the 3DS.
While its graphics aren’t anything revolutionary, it captures the feel of Square’s mobile games such as the DS (and Mobile...) remakes of FF III and IV, and of course Final Fantasy 4: Heroes of Light and Bravely Default. I’m not nearly as hyped for this game as I am for the next one, but I have to say after researching it for this little blurb, I’m a little annoyed it slipped my mind for so long.
World of Final Fantasy (PS4/PSV)
- Release Date: 2016 (TBD)
This is another cute little thing (it looks like a cross of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy) that crept up on us. When first announced at E3 2015 (I keep saying that, it was a good year year wasn’t it?), nobody really knew what to think and many still don’t. Is it an “MMO”? Is it a “real” Final Fantasy? The World of Final Fantasy is starting to give me a Tactics vibe and that this could be something special in regards to the spin offs.
What I’m saying is, is that this is clearly a fully realized RPG, while simultaneously being something you could play with your significant other, family, and friends. I really don’t like aping marketing material but there is something about the title that really makes you want to buy in. I’ll be honest: this is one of my most anticipated titles of 2016 and I have no clue why.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (PS4)
- Release: 2016 (TBD)
A lot of people aren’t really excited for these games and I can see why. Kingdom Hearts III still seems over a year away, and more of the spin offs don’t really excite people. But if the words Dream Drop Distance HD don’t excite you well you’re just not a Kingdom Hearts fan like me. Arguably one of the best games in the series (Birth by Sleep being unarguably the best), it puts into place the final piece that makes the lead up to Kingdom Hearts III complete.
Beyond that it’s the first completely new content for consoles since 2005 Kingdom Hearts II. Many argue (rightly) that Square is milking this franchise for all it’s worth. I personally have no real problem with it as the content has always seemed worth the cost. While this is clearly the thinnest of the remakes, and sports the dumbest title at the end, it’s the lead up to Kingdom Hearts III and honestly it’s hard not be just a little excited about that. Of course I don’t think anyone would blame you if you put away your wallet for this glorified trailer and just wait for the main event.
Star Ocean V (PS4)
- Release Date: March 31, 2016 (JP)/2016 (NA/EU) (TBD)
Now we’re getting to the bigger ones. After literally years of thinking Tri-Ace had been lost to the siren song of mobile games, this year saw the surprise announcement of Star Ocean V. For fans after a disappointing Star Ocean IV (I personally liked it for the record) there was considerable debate if we even needed a new Star Ocean. Obviously the announcement proved the want was there, however it seems Tri-Ace and Square realize the franchise is kind of on probation with fans, and their announcements regarding the game have been mostly in that light.
Regarding the plot, Tri-Ace has been explicit in stating it’s closer in tone to fan favorite Star Ocean III rather than IV. This is significant as many argued Star Ocean IV tried for too much pure Sci-Fi rather than the Sci-Fi/Fantasy blend the series is known for (for the record IV did have an “angel” alien and a busty space elf mage...).
In terms of gameplay, Star Ocean V will be ripping off the lesser known and poorly received Infinite Undiscovery’s on-field battle system, which also saw a heavily modified appearance in Star Ocean IV. Despite Infinite Undiscovery being a piss poor game all around, its battle system made up for it... partially. In many ways, what Tales of Zesteria was trying for will likely be realized here, where the field is the battle zone.
Luckily with the power of the PS4 it’s likely the frame rate issues that plagued Infinite Undiscovery will be dealt with as well. Although it is disappointing, the game will also have a last generation version for Japan, limiting its technical scope. From what Tri-Ace is saying, it’s looking like Star Ocean V may be a reboot of sorts, as they have shown openness to making a 6th and 7th installment based on sales—something many fans thought was impossible. Let’s just hope this one is good, as it has a lot riding on it being the biggest non-Final Fantasy Square Enix JRPG coming out next year.
Nier: Automata (PS4)
- Release Date: 2016 (TBD)
The sequel-ish thing to one of my favorite games of all time (and a follow up to the criminally underrated Drakengard 3 too!), Nier: Automata is the game everyone should be excited for but isn’t. If crazed writer Taro Yoko’s involvement wasn’t enough, the fact this is being made by Platinum Games should be enough for hype. The idea of Platinum making an Action RPG with Square Enix just gets my nerd head going in all sorts of ways.
Sadly very little is known about the title other than basically what I just wrote. Which for myself just lends to the mystery and excitement of it. Unlike some other games on this list, I know why I can’t wait for this game. Of the few games I’ve Platinumed, Nier and Drakengard 3 are on that list. There is just some weird, amazing majesty of knowing a game is made without a f*** for sense and sensibility, and just goes for it like all Taro Yoko games are.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4/XB1)
- Release Date: 2016 (TBD)
Everyone is talking about that remake, which is amazing, but a game that we’ve known about for literally a decade is finally becoming a reality. How Final Fantasy XV got forgotten so quickly is a testament to VII-R but not an insult to XV, as this game looks to be a return to the high quality and standards we’ve know previously. To say Square has a lot riding on XV would be an understatement. Although it doesn’t look to be the be last great hope for JRPGs that it could have been in 2014, there is still a lot riding on this release for Square Enix and the genre in North America especially.
Luckily though, Square seems to be taking fan feedback to heart with this game. I’ve never seen such attention to fan criticism from a Japanese company ever. The difference in the demo post patch was like day and night, and as time has gone on they have continued to work to improve the game and polishing up their biggest release in 2016. Square understands what is riding on this and I expect they’ll deliver. Also honestly, who doesn’t want to go driving in a nice car with your bros?
What began as a post to basically round up all the games coming out from one of my favorite companies, ended up being a creeping realization that 2016 may be Square’s best year in at least two decades. There are eleven (two DQ games) games on this list, most of which have the potential to be must buys. Indeed there are two here that will hopefully round out my 2016 Games of the Year list, and a few more which could be dark horses. From Square alone, 2016 is going to be a banner year for JRPGS.
Next up... literally everything else from Japan (what you thought I forgot about Persona 5?).