It took almost twenty years but Bandai Namco is finally releasing a version of their hit Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Tales of Symphonia on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on February 17, 2023, and it will come with a lot of stuff apart from the from the enhancements. Already pre-orders are being accepted.
In relation to this really good news, watch first the official Xbox trailer of Tales of Symphonia Remastered posted below…
For added insight, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement from Bandai Namco. Some parts in boldface…
Lloyd Irving and his friends journey is getting closer, confirmed for release on February 17th. Bringing veteran fans and newcomers in the worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla, the game offers visual enhancements, gameplay improvements, and new features.
Alone or with up to four players during battles, players will be able to experience or re-experience the deep and fascinating story in one of the most beloved “Tales of” titles.
Players will have the choice between two editions:
The Standard Edition, only available digitally
The Chosen Edition, containing a metal case, art prints and stickers, with pre-orders already available here
For the newcomers reading this, Tales of Symphonia was originally released on the Nintendo Gamecube way back in 2003 followed by the PlayStation 2 in 2004, PlayStation 3 in 2014 and Windows PC in 2016. The game gathered lots of positive reviews from game critics and it sold more than 2,000,000 copies worldwide.
I will get straight to the point here – Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroesis my most wanted Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) of this current console generation and it is one of the main reasons why I subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) as soon as I bought my Xbox Series X console late last year. While a release date was not yet announced as of this writing, I am looking forward to this upcoming JRPG on my Xbox Series X sometime in 2023. Check out the official Xbox listing of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes by clicking here.
During the recent Tokyo Game Show (TGS), publisher 505 Games and Rabbit & Bear Studios executives – including studio head Yoshitaka Murayama (the Suikoden series creator) and Junko Kawano (who worked on Suikoden and Suikoden IV) – had their own presentation and made announcements. During the TGS, the newest trailer of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was unveiled and it sure looks really good even though the footage shown was from pre-alpha build. Watch the newest trailer below…
As I mentioned earlier, no release date was announced during the TGS which I found baffling since that event drew a lot of viewers and gamers’ attention worldwide. Could it be possible that Konami’s surprise announcement of Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to multiple platforms (including Xbox) in 2023 might have something to do with the lack of a firm release date for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes? At least in my view, developer Rabbit & Bear is still working on finishing their JRPG.
Perhaps publisher 505 Games is doing a wait-and-see approach about the many video games expected to fill the market in 2023 with anticipated heavy hitters like Starfield, Forza Motorsport (2023) and Redfall to name a few. 505 Games will have to select soon a firm 2023 release date for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes based on market competition and the development status of the game.
For the newcomers reading this, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a turn-based fantasy JRPG which has a design and style similar to what was seen in the first two Suikoden video games. As seen in the above trailer, the upcoming JRPG has the combined talents of game creators such as Yoshitaka Murayama, Junko Kawano and Junichi Murakami (Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow) plus musicians Motoi Sakuraba (Star Ocean series, Tales of series) and Michiko Naruke (Wild Arms series).
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes has a story set in one corner of Allraan, a tapestry of nations with diverse cultures and values. On Xbox.com, 505 Games released the first set of character profiles introducing: Nowa, Seign, Marisa, Lian and Garr. Their respective descriptions are as follows…
Nowa – When the League of Nations recruits warriors to assist in a joint expedition with the Galdean Empire, our protagonist answers the call and leaves his remote village to test his skills. On the mission, he finds an ancient rune-lens, unaware that the discovery will spark a war between the League and the Empire. After the conflict begins, he joins a unit in the League’s border guard. The protagonist is the “leap before you look” type. He doesn’t always weigh the pros and cons before springing to action, and while his constant need to involve himself in other people’s problems sometimes creates headaches for his companions, they like him for it and know his heart is in the right place. After all, if they ever got into trouble, he’d be the first person there.
Seign – The second-born son to House Kesling, a powerful imperial family. His older brother died on the battlefield. Seign is exceptionally gifted; after achieving outstanding grades at military academy, he was placed in command of a company of his peers and sent on the expedition to find the ancient rune-lens. During the mission, he meets the protagonist. The two warm to each other as they overcome adversity, and they learn of one another’s ambitions. Seign’s strategic mind allows him to analyze things from a broad perspective and make sound decisions. People often confuse his clear mind for a cold heart, but he is guided by strong ideals and a deep passion to fulfill them. After his brother’s death during a border rebellion, Seign began to think long and hard about what it means to fight.
Marisa– A young member of the Guardians, a clan that hallows and protects the forest. Since Marisa was very little her family has instilled their ways and traditions in her. She has a warm, affable smile — except on the battlefield, where she wears the countenance of a warrior.
Although the Guardians live as one with the forest, they have respect for the outside world’s culture and technology, and they are not against integrating the parts of it that make sense to them. Marisa is particularly forward-thinking in this regard and loves new things — especially cute things.
Lian – After the Empire’s forces invade league lands, Lian is infuriated and runs away from home without even the slightest semblance of a plan. She decides the first thing to do is hoof it to the biggest town she can find, and luckily that’s where she meets the protagonist and his companions. Lian was born in a dojo, and her father wasted no time in teaching her. She was doing roundhouse kicks before she even learned to walk properly.
Garr– A veteran beastman warrior. He and his clan make their living as mercenaries, and their vast experience and sheer brutality put them in high demand. War is all Garr has known, and to him life is one battlefield after the other until you die.
To date, Rabbit & Bear Studios already released the side-scrolling spin-off game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and has been working hard to complete Hundred Heroes. The shared game design elements between the early Suikoden games and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes such has having over 100 playable characters, a story of war, in-depth world exploration, heavy use of 2D sprites for the characters along with their acts during battles, and dynamic group battles are not surprising given Murayama’s history of leading the development of the Suikoden JRPG franchise (until the 3rd game) during his time with Konami. Murayama also is a proven fantasy storyteller with the Suikoden games. Personally, I really loved playing Suikoden II which in my opinion is not only the best of the Suikoden game franchise but also one of the very best JRPGs of the 1990s that I have ever played as well as one of the best JRPGs that was not made by Square Enix.
Knowing that Murayama, Kawano and other notable Japanese creators are working together in making Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, I have reasons to be confident about it. On my end, my taste on video games has changed a lot over the past fifteen years and that goes the same with my interest in JRPGs. Along the way, I really miss the fun I had with the first two Suikoden games as they had gameplay elements that were not only uniquely fun but also aged well. For me, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes could become the most delightful surprise among JRPGs in this current console generation. It is my most-wanted JRPG of this console generation and I believe it will fit in nicely with the Xbox ecosystem which is already becoming an ideal haven for fantasy RPGs and RPG fans in general.
Watch out for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass in 2023.
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official Xbox.com announcement. Some parts in boldface…
We are pleased to confirm that Xbox will be making its digital return to Tokyo Game Show on September 15 at 6 p.m. JST / 9 a.m. UTC / 2 a.m. PDT, with a streamed broadcast celebrating the vibrant players and visionary creators across the region. Like years’ past, this will be a show curated for our players in Japan and Asia.
We invite fans to tune in to the Tokyo Game Show 2022 Xbox Stream where you can expect to see updates on existing titles from Xbox Game Studios and titles launching from developer partners that we hope will delight players here in Japan, across Asia and around the world.
While Tokyo Game Show 2022 will open its gates to the public for the first time in three years this September, the hybrid nature will allow players from around the world to also enjoy the latest in video games, technology, and games culture in Japan. With the theme of “Nothing Stops Gaming,” Tokyo Game Show 2022 will embody the solidarity of gamers and the promising future that lies ahead for our industry.
Gaming has always provided an important way to connect, but especially over the past few years. It has a transformative power to bring joy and foster community, and it’s at TGS where we can all enjoy the spirit of games together.
We look forward to you joining us digitally for the Xbox Stream on September 15 at 6 p.m. JST / 9 a.m. UTC / 2 a.m. PDT.
In the above announcement, the 2nd paragraph mentioning developer partners suggests that games – both brand new and those released previously on non-Xbox platforms – will be unveiled. I can imagine this would turn out to be a mix of independent productions as well as games from the medium-sized game studios and perhaps from the big ones.
When it comes to the big game publishers of Japan, I can only hope that Xbox chief Phil Spencer and his team renewed and reinvigorated their business relationships with Square Enix, Capcom, SEGA, Bandai Namco and other game publishers to secure their new games for release on Xbox platforms plus PC and also some of their old-but-fun games (from the previous console generations) that would make nice additions to Xbox Game Pass (XGP). I would love to see classic titles like Xenogears, Final Fantasy VI, Breath of Fire IV, Virtua Fighter, Shining Force III, Tekken 3, Lunar, Suikoden and many others on my Xbox Series X through my XGP subscription.
Team Xbox should establish stronger relationships with their Japanese partners and keep on moving forward with what they have achieved so far in Japan in this current generation. Already Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S combined outsold the Xbox One in Japan by a wide margin (including a sales victory over PlayStation 5 in Japan last June). Until now, I am seeing almost every day on Twitter picture posts of Japanese gamers who showed off a new Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console they bought. There is no doubt that Xbox is gaining traction in Japan better in this current console generation and that alone should convince Team Xbox to keep on intensifying and improving their gaming interest in Japan.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus last year’s Xbox TGS live stream…
To be clear, I find Square Enix’s business relationship with Team Xbox lacking. The HD remastered version of Legend of Mana was very noticeably released on multiple platforms but not on Xbox. Tactics Ogre: Reborn was announced for future release for multiple platforms except Xbox. Still on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the announced sequel are exclusive to Sony’s platforms. The exclusions are clear and disturbing. Why Square Enix excluded the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the Xbox One (which still has many millions of console users until now) as platforms to sell the above mentioned games remains a mystery although there is speculation that Sony Corporation and its PlayStation executives made a secret deal with the JRPG giant to specifically hurt Xbox without affecting Nintendo and Steam. Realistically, Microsoft pointed out that Sony pays game companies for blocking rights to keep games off Xbox Game Pass. Read all about it here, here and here.
While these developments are disturbing and also annoying, I still wish that Square Enix would remaster one of its classic JRPGs and release it on Xbox platforms similar to what they did with the remastered Chrono Cross. That classic RPG I’m referring to is none other than Xenogears.
I played Xenogears on the original PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it due to my academics and other external matters. It also did not help that the CD-ROM of the PlayStation deteriorated.
Regardless, I had a lot of enjoyment during my limited time with the said JRPG, the design of which was led by Tetsuya Takahashi. The fictional concept of Xenogears took a lot of inspiration from real-life forms of religion as well as concepts from certain intellectuals to establish the story themes, the fictional cultures and historical backgrounds within the game. At the same time, the game had this in-depth universe composed of different settings for gamers to explore. In my experience, I felt immersed into the game’s universe and I still remember the moments I got astonished discovering not only the many locations and landmarks but also the many non-playable characters (NPCs presented as 2D sprites) in the form of local communities and the in-game cultures.
While Xenogears had a science fiction concept, it still had lots of settings and gameplay features that made it feel like a fantasy. I love the way how the creative team’s artists implemented their art styles on the environments, the characters, the machines, the interiors of places and more. Visually, this game saw the use of 2D sprites for the characters who move along a 3D polygonal environment which can be explored creatively by a camera that can be adjusted by the players. As such, this approach done in Xenogears made the game look and feel a lot like Grandia.
While Xenogears’ battle system had key elements that were common with other JRPGs, there was a clear emphasis on hand-to-hand combat that took a lot of inspiration from martial arts as well as 2D fighting games of the decade. There were these martial arts-inspired combos which required button combinations and timing which were fun to watch happen. There were also these death blows which were really rewarding when pulled off correctly. Of course, there were still some magic attacks that were nicely presented.
What made Xenogears stand out is the use of giant robots or gears in the game. Not only did the game allow me to travel with the gears, it also allowed me to engage with enemies (both the large and the small ones standing on the floor/ground) with a fully functional battle system that emphasized size, scale and impact altogether. Similar to the other battle system, the gears battle system fun and engaging in my experience. I can never forget the moment I first saw my gear crush a huge enemy with a lot of impact to seal the victory. Travel using gears, however, was hampered somewhat by the creative team who implemented platform gaming elements (note: this includes jumping from one platform to another without falling down to your death) and the controls were not really responsive enough. This is something Square Enix should consider improving if they ever remaster Xenogears.
Right now, I would love to replay Xenogears and complete it but I prefer the game should be remastered and be released for Xbox consoles. I have no intention of buying a new console from Sony and Nintendo to play Square Enix JRPGs that are missing on Xbox consoles. JRPGs on Xbox are not exactly lacking (note: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released via Xbox Game Pass in 2023 while Persona RPGs are coming to Xbox soon) but it would be great not only for Xbox gamers but also Square Enix itself to remaster Xenogears and release it on the Xbox ecosystem. That being said, I believe Xenogears itself would make a great addition into Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which already has many millions of subscribers worldwide!
Think about it carefully. Having a remastered Xenogears for sale on Xbox and also listed on Xbox Game Pass will not only be good for the Xbox ecosystem but also for Square Enix to not only sell games but also reach out to the XGP subscribers who could enjoy the said JRPG and add a lot of new players that the JRPG giant could not reach before. Not only are more Square Enix role-playing games are needed on XGP right now (note: adding Chrono Cross into it will be delightful), they can also benefit nicely as the Xbox ecosystem is gradually becoming the premier ecosystem for RPG enthusiasts in this console generation. Xbox-exclusive RPGs like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, Fable as well as future sequels of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout will collectively generate big game sales as well as increase the number of gamers in the Xbox ecosystem and Xbox Game Pass subscribers will grow big as well. The growth will be even bigger once Team Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. For Square Enix to miss out on fast growing Xbox ecosystem in favor of Sony’s blocking rights will be a regrettable move.
Going back to Xenogears, I want to make it clear to Square Enix that now is the time to remaster it and release it on Xbox as well as other platforms. That being said, I also urge Team Xbox’s chief Phil Spencer, executive Aaron Greenberg and the Xbox Game Pass team to reinvigorate the business relationship with Square Enix and try to convince them to release Xenogears and other classic JRPGs into XGP and the Xbox game store. To the Xbox gamers and RPG enthusiasts reading this, I encourage you to contact Square Enix and Team Xbox to have Xenogears and other JRPGs (both classic and modern) released on the Xbox consoles and Windows PC.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Xenogears-related videos for your enjoyment.
To put things into perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement on Xbox.com written by Square Enix Content Communications Manager Duncan Heaney. Some parts in boldface…
Get ready for an adventure that’s out of this world… literally! Star Ocean The Divine Force launches October 27 on Xbox!
This latest entry in the Star Ocean series features a fascinating story that fuses science fiction and fantasy, astonishingly responsive real-time combat, and an almost unparalleled level of freedom.
Add the innovative Dual Protagonist system, which lets you pick between two main characters each with their own journeys and companions, and it’s shaping up to be a stellar adventure in more ways than one – read on and I’ll tell you all about it.
What’s the story of Star Ocean The Divine Force? – The Pangalactic Federation has changed. Once it stood for peace, tranquility, and justice, but, but now it assimilates entire planets against their will.
Raymond Lawrence is the captain of the merchant vessel Ydas. One day, he departs from the nonfederated planet of Verguld on what seems like a standard transport job, but when his ship’s fired upon by the Pangalactic Federation battleship Astoria, he’s forced to crash land on the underdeveloped planet Aster IV.
Separated from his crewmates, and under attack by vicious local wildlife, Raymond is saved by Laeticia Aucerius – the princess of the Kingdom of Aucerius: a large territory located on the underdeveloped planet of Aster IV.
The two embark on a mission to save her land from a warmongering neighbor and find his missing companion.
However, the shadow of the Pangalactic Federation looms large…
What kind of game is Star Ocean The Divine Force? – That setup paves the way for a sprawling action RPG that’s full of twists and turns, secrets to find, fast-paced, strategic combat. The dual protagonist system lets you choose between Raymond and Laeticia, and the events you experience and the allies you build will be different depending on who you play as.
Regardless of which character you pick, you’ll enjoy an amazing feeling of freedom because not only can characters traverse the vast environments of Aster IV from ground level, they can also soar up into the sky and fly around in the air!
Want to fly to the top of a cliff to see what’s there or soar between the buildings in the city like a sci-fi superhero? It’s all possible, and it’s a real thrill to be able to explore many of the nooks and crannies of this detailed world so easily.
Of course, Aster IV has plenty of dangerous areas and sooner or later you’ll run into one of the vicious beasts that prowl the wide expanses of the planet.
Combat in Star Ocean The Divine Force is incredibly fast-paced, with super high-speed movement and attacks, and some awesome skills, such as the ability to vanish for a brief moment right in front of your enemies’ eyes, or even take them out in a single hit!
The pace and fluidity of combat, combined with the glorious freedom of traversal, makes for a game that feels just wonderful to play – I can’t wait for Xbox fans to experience it yourselves!
The above article on Xbox.com mentioned that Star Ocean: The Divine Force will come out on Xbox platforms in a Digital Standard Edition ($59.99) as well as a Digital Deluxe Edition ($74.99). The more expensive edition includes a game’s official soundtrack, as well as some in-game items, including an Armor pack, and Accessory pack.
Going to Star Ocean: The Divine Force has that recognizable action-oriented gameplay of the game franchise. Still I cannot understand why the developers went for the plastic, dolly looking aesthetic on their characters. More notably, it remains to be seen if their storytelling in the new game will be any good. Regardless, Xbox gamers and Windows PC gamers who love JRPGs should watch out for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on October 27, 2022.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Star Ocean: The Divine Force videos for your enjoyment.
Anyone who owns an Xbox console or a Windows PC who loves Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) should be delighted to know that the popular Persona game franchise will have three of its established games released for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC with availability through Xbox Game Pass (XGP) soon as confirmed in the recent Xbox-Bethesda games showcase! For clarity, Persona 5 Royal is slated for an October 21, 2022 release.
For starters, watch the official video below…
To understand the Persona games better, posted below is an excerpt from the official article published at Xbox.com written by SEGA Communications Manager Stacy Lee. Some parts in boldface…
Cheers to 25 years of Persona! In this very special anniversary year, we are bringing the worldwide hits Persona 5 Royal, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 3 Portable to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and with Xbox Game Pass. Starting this fall, fans will get to experience this beloved RPG series.
To kick things off, on October 21, don the mask of Joker and join the Phantom Thieves of Hearts when Persona 5 Royal arrives with Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC. We’ll have more to share on the release of Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable so be sure to stay tuned here to Xbox Wire.
For those who missed out on these games originally, or are excited to play Persona on Xbox and Windows PC, the 25th Anniversary is a great time to join in the celebration. Here’s a quick refresher on each game:
Persona 3 Portable – If I say there’s an hour “hidden” between one day and the next… would you believe me? This unknown time is the “Dark Hour.” Unfamiliar stillness swallows the city, people turn into eerie coffins, and otherworldly monsters called Shadows swarm. One night, the protagonist is attacked by these Shadows. When all hope seems lost, the power of the heart, their Persona, is awakened.
Persona 4 Golden – They say your soulmate will appear if you stare into a television set on a rainy night… This strange rumor slowly spreads through the rural town of Inaba, the protagonist’s new home, just as a chain of mysterious murders begin. As the protagonist and his teammates chase after the truth, they find themselves opening the door to another world.
Persona 5 Royal – Forced to transfer to a high school in Tokyo, the protagonist has a strange dream. “You truly are a prisoner of fate. In the near future, ruin awaits you.” With the goal of “rehabilitation” looming overhead, he must save others from distorted desires by donning the mask of a Phantom Thief.
In my personal experience, the one and only Persona video game I ever played was Revelations: Persona on the original Sony PlayStation way back in 1996. I never finished that game but I spent many hours playing it and that includes the loading times and the not-so-efficient pacing of the gameplay.
Combined with those mentioned Japanese games or JRPGs to be exact, the addition of Persona games is indeed a welcome addition to the Xbox ecosystem which has lots of gamers craving for such games. It’s nice to see that Team Xbox head Phil Spencer has been working hard negotiating with Japanese game companies and makers to release their games into the Xbox ecosystem. In fact, during the Xbox-Bethesda showcase, a special Xbox project with Hideo Kojima’s company was confirmed to be real and there was also the announcement of an Xbox release of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty developed by Team Ninja.
Let me end this piece by ask you readers: Are you happy that the Persona game franchise is coming to Xbox with the mentioned three games? Do you think that more Japanese RPGs and other kinds of games made by Japanese game developers will continue to be released on Xbox? What other past JRPGs do you want to see released on Xbox and Xbox Game Pass? Do you think that all the JRPGs already announced coming to Xbox and mix in with Western RPGs (examples: Starfield, Fable reboot, The Outer Worlds 2 and Avowed to name a few) will result a wide variety of games for those who love playing role-playing games? Do you see Xbox as the definitive ecosystem for RPGs right now?
Way back in 2000, I got to play Chrono Cross on the PlayStation which was a hot release from Squaresoft. Due to a lack of time as well as the breaking down of the console (bought in late 1996), I never got to finish the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG).
Just days ago, I got very surprised as Square Enix announced that it will be re-releasing Chrono Cross in remastered form in Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition which is set for an April 7, 2022 release on Xbox One (compatible with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S) and Windows PC (via Steam). The good news is that you can order it already online now for only $19.99. Anyway, watch the official video below…
To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from the official announcement by Square Enix. Some parts in boldface…
CHRONO CROSS, which was never before released in Europe, returns as a remaster in CHRONO CROSS: THE RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION. Follow the story of Serge, who stumbles into another world and learns of the connection between his existence and the future of his planet. A classic time-bending tale of adventure and friendship, featuring one of the largest and most diverse casts of playable characters of any RPG. With over 40 potential party members, each character brings their own element affinity and unique skills. Additionally, “RADICAL DREAMERS – Le Trésor Interdit -“, a text-based adventure video game released for Satellaview in 1996, which forms the bedrock of the story, is also included in this edition.
Players can look forward to some exciting new features, such as:
3D models converted to HD*
Brand new artwork and character redesign by Nobuteru Yuuki*
Refined background music by Yasunori Mitsuda
Switch enemy encounters on or off
Background filter feature*
Battle enhancement features
French, Italian, German and Spanish localization now added
Switch between imitation pixel font and HD font*
The inclusion of Radical Dreamers, never before released in the West.
Players can choose between playing with original or updated graphics*
As I am writing this, I still am very surprised by the announcement as I never anticipated Chrono Cross would be made for Xbox, even though I wanted Square Enix to release many of its RPGs – both classic or modern ones – on Xbox. It is, however, nice to see Square Enix including Xbox in the worldwide release of Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition which is one of many Japanese RPGs (Japanese role-playing games) that has always been identified with PlayStation. Its strong legacy with PlayStation even made certain gamers – including the people who hate Xbox – believe that it would never ever be released on any Xbox console. Well, Square Enix proved them wrong and it is clear that the company needs to sell to the many gamers who own an Xbox One or Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console. The Windows PC release through Steam makes business sense.
For the newcomers reading this, Chrono Cross is set in the same world as the classic JRPG Chrono Trigger. It should not be perceived as a sequel. On its own, Chrono Cross was very playable and engaging, and it is notable for allowing players to recruit lots of characters and take them on quests as they play along. As for the common elements between Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger, learn from producer and designer Hiromichi Tanaka’s statement below.
When creating a series, one method is to carry over a basic system, improving upon it as the series progresses, but our stance has been to create a completely new and different world from the ground up, and to restructure the former style. Therefore, Chrono Cross is not a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Had it been, it would have been called Chrono Trigger 2. Our main objective for Chrono Cross was to share a little bit of the Chrono Trigger worldview, while creating a completely different game as a means of providing new entertainment to the player. This is mainly due to the transition in platform generation from the SNES to the PS. The method I mentioned above, about improving upon a basic system, has inefficiencies, in that it’s impossible to maximize the console’s performance as the console continues to make improvements in leaps and bounds. Although essentially an RPG, at its core, it is a computer game, and I believe that games should be expressed with a close connection to the console’s performance. Therefore, in regards to game development, our goal has always been to “express the game utilizing the maximum performance of the console at that time.” I strongly believe that anything created in this way will continue to be innovative. – Hiromichi Tanaka (source – GamePro)
Take note of Spencer’s words “existing agreements” and “our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.” Existing agreements most likely refer to what Activision Blizzard made with Sony which I believe are years-long deals on games with regards to platform releases, marketing, post-release downloadable content, etc. Of course, such agreements can last long but NOT FOREVER. The business benefit for PlayStation from Activision Blizzard will someday come to an end.
As for Microsoft’s desire for keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation, that clearly means that the corporation of Xbox is technically in-charge of not just the COD franchise but on the decision making, marketing and releasing its games on specific platforms. Sony and its PlayStation team are not in the driver’s seat here anymore. Whatever deals Activision signed with PlayStation before the acquisition will expire and they certainly will not be renewed once Microsoft and its Xbox team takes over. In due time, future COD games as well as other upcoming games and new intellectual properties of Activision Blizzard will become Xbox-exclusive in accordance to what Spencer declared before…
“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,”
This brings me to my next point – Sony as a global business entity is way behind Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon when it comes to establishing ecosystems that result tremendous business growth and reaching billions of customers worldwide respectively. The decades-old console-focused approach by Sony with PlayStation was indeed successful but not great enough to help it grow big time. Not even their Hollywood business nor Spider-Man could lift them up greatly. The weird thing was that Sony in previous decades had established an old ecosystem before PlayStation began.
To put things in perspective, posted below is a long excerpt from a recent Nikkei Asia article. Some parts in boldface…
The 10% drop in Sony’s stock price this week following Microsoft’s announcement that it will buy game content developer Activision Blizzard shows the market has belatedly awakened to an existential flaw in Sony’s kingdom. It lacks an ecosystem.
In terrifying contrast, Microsoft is a formidable ecosystem whose component elements, such as devices, operating system, browser, search engine, applications, content, cloud memory, work hand in glove to suck in captive users and never let them go. The ecosystem effect is all too familiar to owners of PCs that run on the Windows OS, which maddeningly redirects users to Microsoft’s Edge browser and Bing search engine against their will.
It is no accident that five of the world’s seven largest companies by market capitalization — Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet/Google, Amazon and Meta/Facebook — are ecosystems. Every consumer decision to buy a device, be it a PC, smartphone, Kindle reader, or game console, entails a surrender to an interconnected ecosystem. Promiscuity among ecosystems is possible but, by design, not easy. The ecosystems are at war and want to make you their captive.
Ironically, Sony was early to recognize the strategic significance of the ecosystem effect. Its decision to acquire CBS Records and Columbia Pictures in the late 1980s was inspired by the notion that controlling entertainment content could somehow push device sales, such as Betamax VCRs and Sony Walkman.
What Sony overlooked was that it would be self-defeating to make its controlled content exclusively available on Sony devices. Very few consumers would buy a Walkman just because it was the only way to listen to Michael Jackson. And Sony’s refusal to license Michael Jackson to non-Sony device users would perversely shut down third-party royalty revenue from the controlled content. Sony saw, but misunderstood and misapplied, the ecosystem effect between devices and content.
Sony’s next, more costly, wrong turn was its failure to anticipate and keep up with the morphing of portable audio devices like the Walkman launched in 1979 and iPod in 2001 into the iPhone debuted in 2007. The iPhone integrated, in a single handheld device, all of the functions formerly provided by the multiple discrete products in Sony’s consumer electronics lineup: phone, TV, camera, video and audio player and recorder, clock, calculator, and so on.
Sony’s stock price plunged from 30,000 yen ($260) per share in 2000 to 1,668 yen in 2009. Sony and the entire Japanese consumer electronics industry are still in disarray from the iPhone paradigm shift.
Unlike Sony, Apple founder Steve Jobs was a master at creating and orchestrating an ecosystem. In particular, he understood when to link content exclusively to a device and, just as important, when not to. Even now, Apple’s iOS is available only on Apple devices, unlike Microsoft’s device-agnostic Windows OS.Initially, Apple’s iTunes music store platform was available only on Apple’s own devices. Then, in October 2003, “the day that hell froze over,” Jobs made the strategic decision to make iTunes compatible with and freely downloadable by non-Apple devices.
The result was not only to massively increase the audience and revenues of the iTunes platform. Non-Apple device users discovered how great iTunes was and that it worked even better on an iPod, leading to a surge in new iPod owners conveniently prepped for the coming transfiguration of the iPod into the iPhone.
The same interplay between devices and content is at the center of intense competition in the $180 billion global PC gaming industry. Dedicated gamers have a choice among three game-specific consoles — Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Switch.
The choice of device, in turn, entails a menu of device-specific exclusive content. Xbox and PlayStation each offer about 2,000 titles, but the bestselling 200-300 games for each tend to be exclusive to one or the other. A gamer’s choice of console implies a decision about preferred content.
But the relationship between game devices and content is evolving rapidly, tracking changes elsewhere in the internet universe. Games today can be played on any device, PCs and smartphones, not just a dedicated game console.
Gaming is now mobile. Game content is increasingly being streamed, just like Netflix and Amazon Prime. You can play games on YouTube. And an Xbox can be used as a PC to surf the Internet and do your homework.
The immediate threat to Sony posed by Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is that Microsoft will make the content it is acquiring — global blockbusters like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft — exclusive to Xbox users and invite defections from PlayStation users who want to keep playing their favorite games.
But this is just one element of the multifaceted ecosystem effects Microsoft can deploy to squeeze Sony. Sony should be nervous, for example, that it has no cloud or streaming capability of its own and relies on Microsoft’s own Azure platform to deliver streaming content to Sony users.
Sony’s game and network services segment now accounts for 30% of its revenues. It is hard to see how Sony can compete in the long-term in a narrow game-specific segment without credibly competing with the likes of Microsoft, Alphabet/Google and Amazon across the board in all segments of the device-content spectrum.
From a financial point of view, Sony is not only behind the tech giants with ecosystems. Sony simply does not have the major financial muscle needed to pull off massive acquisitions of game publishers (massive meaning more than $5 billion per each acquisition) that each have lots of game developers, intellectual properties and technologies. The Japanese giant does have a business ecosystem but it’s too small and too narrow compared to its Western competitors. This also means Sony reaches much less customers worldwide.
In a possible response to Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal, Sony can try to acquire its fellow Japanese gaming entities like Capcom, SEGA or Square Enix and integrate the entity(s) into PlayStation, but that will require not just a whole bunch of money but also willingness to not just make big offers the other party cannot turn down, but also the willingness to overcome all the legal obstacles, solve all the complications, absorb all the employees, fund future projects already in development, etc. If the PlayStation team is willing on building up its very own exclusive properties, they could expand the work forces as well as the projects of their very own game studios.
The Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal is very hard to match not just because of the financial value and organizational weights involved, but also because the said deal covers consoles, Windows PC, mobile devices, cloud gaming, browser gaming and much more. The PlayStation ecosystem is still console-focused and so far team PlayStation released only a few of its games on PC. Is Sony even working to improve PlayStation Now? Are the PlayStation executives realizing that their 3rd party marketing deals won’t lift up their corporation and consumer base anymore? Has it occurred to the PlayStation executives that future games of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon franchises (both of which are permanently identified with Sony’s gaming brand due to exclusive games released on the first PlayStation console) will be released only on Xbox platforms?
As mentioned in the Nikkei Asia article above, business ecosystems are not perfect and they have their flaws that affect customers in bad ways. As such, the ecosystem powers and organizers should do their work to be more user-friendly and be more consumer-oriented. Still, the ecosystem approach to business has proven to be very effective with regards to reaching the widest number of consumers worldwide as well as driving business growth to new heights, not to mention generating economic benefits for business partners involved (example: credit card companies whose users buy on Amazon, Xbox network, Google, etc.) No amount of sales of Final Fantasy games and Street Fighter games exclusive to PlayStation consoles will ever match that.
As for the console fanboys who still hate Xbox, they should learn to stop living with fantasy and wake up to reality. Time to grow up.
In ending this piece, posted below are videos related to Xbox and the Activision Blizzard deal…
As I mentioned previously, 2022 will be a bigger and more exciting year for enjoying video games on Xbox platforms as there will be more and varied new video games coming out as well as new fun stuff through the Xbox network and Xbox Game Pass (XGP). Adding more depth and excitement on Xbox gaming this year is the fast-approaching release of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin on March 18, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One consoles!
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action-packed, Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) being made by Koei Tecmo-owned developer Team Ninja (best known for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) under publisher Square Enix. For key details about the upcoming game, read the Square Enix press release excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…
STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN blends challenging and strategic action gameplay with the world and lore of the FINAL FANTASY series to create a unique action RPG experience. Join Jack and his allies as they throw open the gates to the Chaos Shrine and step into a world of dark fantasy and exhilarating battles to discover if they are truly the Warriors of Light the prophecy foretold.
In this new tale you’ll play as Jack, a stranger to the Kingdom of Cornelia with a past shrouded in mystery. He must hazard numerous challenges to bring the light of the crystals back to a kingdom conquered by darkness in this hard-core action RPG. Will restoring the crystals’ light usher in peace or a new form of darkness? Or perhaps something else entirely? Keep reading to find out what makes this Final Fantasy story so unique.
Visceral Action Combat
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin allows players to experience Final Fantasy action like never before. Real-time combat keeps the action at the forefront of gameplay. But you won’t find success by mashing buttons. You’ll need to turn your enemies’ powers against them to turn the tides of battle. Switch between jobs with a push of a button so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. When the odds are overwhelming, use the powerful Lightbringer ability to push back the monstrous hordes. Once you’ve broken their spirit, finish them off with a crystal crushing finishing move.
Deep Character Customization
With each enemy you defeat and every chest you open, you’ll uncover powerful treasure to help you on your journey. Each piece of armor will not only augment your abilities but will also change the look of your character as well. The weapons you find will also unlock new jobs to fit your play style. You might start off as a swordsman, but you’ll quickly discover options to become a mage, dragoon, monk, and so much more. Find the right combination of abilities to fit the way you play and don’t forget to customize your team-mates gear for some added support.
A Dark World to Discover
If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you might recognize some familiar creatures and locations, but you’ve never seen them like this. What secrets does each location hold and what manner of monster await you in the darkness?
To order the game in advance for your Xbox console, you can go for the regular edition here or the digital deluxe version here. Being a highly stylized action RPG developed by the talented guys at Team Ninja, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will surely standout among all other RPGs (regardless of core design or gameplay styles) that are coming to Xbox consoles in this console generation. It is also interesting to see how this upcoming game will perform in terms of visual fidelity and frame rates when optimized for Xbox Series X. Mark your calendars for March 18, 2022 for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.
There is no denying that 2021 saw Team Xbox got its groove back as the current Xbox ecosystem (composed of Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PC) got filled with not only excellent games but also with the continued rise of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) as the best subscription service in gaming! The most recent additions of backward compatible games also added depth into the Xbox network for users – especially long-time Xbox gamers – to enjoy.
2021 Xbox-exclusive games like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Flight Simulator were acclaimed games and they really showed what the Xbox Series consoles could do when it comes to giving gamers a true, fun-filled next-generation experience.
On the production side of Xbox gaming, the $7.5 billion acquisition and integration of Bethesda (through ZeniMax) into Xbox already showed nice results and there will be even better results in the form of brand new games in 2022.
For some insight on 2022 Xbox gaming, watch the following videos below…
Expect 2022 to be a much bigger and more exciting year of gaming on Xbox in terms of exclusive games, multiplatform games and XGP! Techland’s Dying Light 2 Stay Human will be released on February 4 which should please gamers who have long been waiting for it. Coming out on February 10 is CrossfireX which will have a story oriented single-player campaign as well as robust multi-player system. The high-profile FromSoftware RPG Elden Ring will be unleashed on February 25.
Tunic, a timed Xbox-exclusive game, will be released on March 16 and to this day it continues to get compared with The Legend of Zelda due to its design and art style. Die-hard players of Grand Theft Auto V who wish to replay the game and its multi-player features with the benefits of playing it on Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X will get something from Rockstar Games as the next-gen update for the game will be released sometime this March. For those who love crime-oriented open-world games that are not connected with the GTA franchise, there is the Saints Row reboot which has been delayed to August 2022.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, which promises to give gamers a lot of action and cooperative play to enjoy, shall be released on Xbox Series consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass sometime this year. Similarly, Square Enix’s sci-fi Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Star Ocean The Divine Force will be released sometime this year. If the game will be released in the 3rd quarter or 4th quarter this year, then it is likely Square Enix will announce the release date at this year’s E3 convention. Still on JRPGs, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from developer Rabbit & Bear Studios and publisher 505 Games should be come out sometime this year on Xbox consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. A final release date might be announced soon. Another notable video game that should be released sometime this year is Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League which has the potential to be a big hit as it was made by the same developer behind the three most acclaimed Batman Arkham games.
When it comes to the more high-profile exclusive Xbox games set for release this year, Xbox fans as well as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise fans should know that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be released on December 8, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC. The game, which will also be released through Xbox Game Pass, promises to deliver a massive open-world for gamers to get lost in and experience lots of action mixed with horror elements. Redfall, another Xbox-exclusive made by Arkane Austin under Bethesda, should be released sometime in the 2nd quarter this year on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. Expect a pre-release showcase before or during the 2022 of E3.
What is widely considered to be the most anticipated Xbox-exclusive game of 2022 is Bethesda’s next big RPG Starfield which will be released on November 11 for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. This game’s production is being led by Todd Howard and he and his team at Bethesda Softworks are really challenging themselves to immerse gamers into a brand new, science fiction universe that will emphasize space travel, colonized planets, discovering the unexplored and getting involved in the uneasy peace between the major factions. It is inevitable that a major showing of Starfield should happen at E3 2022 or in an upcoming digital event of Team Xbox.
The above mix of games are just some of the many new games coming to Xbox this year. In fact, there is a possibility that Team Xbox could release some more Xbox-exclusive games this year such as the yet-to-be-showcased Forza Motorsport (note: the latest entry of the FM franchise Forza Motorsport 7 was released way back in 2017) for example. They could also announce new and even timed exclusive games coming through Xbox Game Pass within the year. As for other upcoming undated Xbox-exclusives like Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II and Contraband, I wish those games will be released this year.
Whatever lies ahead, expect 2022 to be more exciting than 2021 when it comes to Xbox games and experiences. There is nothing that Xbox haters and jealous fanboys could do to derail the Xbox machine and its strong momentum.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.