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Why Nintendo Needs Square Enix on Board for the NX

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There is no doubt that Nintendo has struggled in recent years partly due to their frequent lack of third party support. With the next Nintendo console seemingly on the horizon and the flailing Wii U floating down the river, it bears repeating that Nintendo desperately needs the support of certain third parties in order to make the NX a success. Square Enix, publisher of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and a veritable treasure trove of modern and classic RPGs, is one of the most important third party developers that Nintendo needs to woo back into their good graces in order to successfully launch the NX. In order to accommodate such a feat, each company should realize what they have to gain from each other.   

Nintendo’s Needs

With Dragon Quest XI being considered for the NX and Cloud Strife being present as DLC in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, a new era of positivity and renewed interest has begun between the two companies. There are no guarantees, however, that Square Enix will release any of its other big budget AAA titles on the NX. With Final Fantasy XV and the Final Fantasy VII Remake on the horizon, as well as the continuation of their wildly popular MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, the need for Square Enix to port its popular franchises to the NX is palpable. Without Square Enix’s own Dragon Quest games (which are very popular in Japan) and lesser titles published by them, such as Deus Ex and Just Cause (which are popular in the West), a significant portion of the NX’s possible market-share is reduced and its propensity to be an all-in-one console for some gamers is severely hampered.

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Final Fantasy XV could land on the NX if the two companies decide to cooperate.

 

Because Nintendo needs as many good third party developers and publishers to make games for the NX as possible to avoid long release droughts (while also giving variety to a gaming landscape often dominated by Mario and Co.), the cooperation of a company like Square Enix is warranted.  Their support would establish the NX as a viable one-console solution, would provide the necessary push out of the gate to attract other third party developers, and would give Nintendo the variety needed to differentiate themselves from the PS4 and Xbox One. Without a major developer like Square Enix on board, Nintendo’s ability to serve as the one console for a segment of gamers is heavily diminished. In short, Nintendo needs Square’s IPs to push as many consoles as possible; as evidenced by the Wii U, even the most critically acclaimed games are incapable of single-handedly selling consoles to a skeptical and saturated market.

Square Enix’s Needs

There are certain conditions that the NX needs to meet before ports or reworks of Square Enix games can be conceptualized. A sufficient online system is chief among those concerns. With Square Enix’s recent focus on its MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, and the chance that it may come to the NX, the need for an easy to use and streamlined online interface has never been more apparent. The My Nintendo account system is already a step in the right direction, but Square Enix should see more from Nintendo before committing one of their largest titles to a nascent online system. Square Enix’s relative independence when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward’s online system would be a boon for Nintendo. It would eliminate the need for a dramatic shake-up of their online architecture and would mean that the majority of changes would involve software and user accounts instead of hardware issues that would cost Nintendo precious time and financial resources. 

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Games like the Final Fantasy VII Remake will need the extra power that the NX will hopefully provide.

 

The NX also needs to be powerful enough to run Square Enix’s modern games at or above the Xbox One’s capability. With the Xbox One clearly the bottleneck of Square Enix’s future multi-platform games, there needs to be, at the least, that same level of performance before they should commit to any sort of deal with Nintendo. If the NX is more powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One and has jumped forward a generation, then they are in luck. The NX could be the platform in which they can demonstrate definitive editions (as far as graphics are concerned) of their modern games. With sufficient power also comes the understanding that Nintendo needs to provide a system architecture (such as x86) which is easy to understand and easy to port to. Without either of these, ports of games from either the Final Fantasy series or Square Enix’s other titles would most likely never develop and Nintendo will lose out on a chance for a huge third party developer to produce content for their console.

What They Have to Gain

Both companies have an enormous amount to gain from this deal if it happens. Nintendo would receive a much needed boost in third party support while Square Enix would receive a new platform that would increase the range of their product and the type of households that their games can reach. While Nintendo consoles are often perceived as appealing only to children or rabidly nostalgic fans of Nintendo’s past, an opportunity could emerge, depending on price, where households normally not saturated by a PS4 or Xbox One could have a console capable of playing more family-friendly games as well as the mature experiences most gamers want. It would provide an “E” rated game for the children in the household, “Teen” and “Mature” rated gaming experiences for siblings, and a myriad of games for the parents of children who play on the NX. The Nintendo NX could become a gaming console capable of appealing to every sort of gamer in a household.

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Given the size of Square Enix’s MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, a well-equipped online architecture would be a must.

 

If the Nintendo NX is more powerful than the PS4, then there is no greater company that can provide a graphically-intensive gaming experience that showcases the console’s graphical chops than Square Enix. After all, this was the same company that was able to get Rise of the Tomb Raider, a modern AAA title, running on the Xbox 360, a decade-old console with 512MB of VRAM. Given how often Nintendo struggles to create games that push the current console to its limit, the assistance of a company with decades of experience in heavily-demanding visual arts would be helpful to Nintendo’s fledgling console. While the Wii and Wii U had only one or two titles which pushed the consoles to their fullest potential, the NX could possibly have three graphically-intensive games (Final Fantasy XV, the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward) well within the release window of the console.

A Perfect Partnership

Nintendo and Square Enix would both profit from a strong relationship beginning with the NX. While Nintendo struggles with producing capable online experiences and boundary-pushing visual fidelity, Square Enix succeeds; while Square Enix struggles with saturation in family-oriented, one-console homes, Nintendo succeeds. Each company has much to gain and much less to lose. If Nintendo can provide Square Enix with a well-equipped console complete with an excellent online system, a family-friendly demeanor, and a well-understood system architecture, then Square Enix can provide them, in turn, with brilliant, visually demanding games and a newly repaired reputation among AAA-focused gamers.

The two companies have a bright future ahead of them if the path of cooperation is one that they indeed take. One only need remember the last time that Square Enix (then Square) and Nintendo cooperated fully, the SNES era, to see how this partnership could positively impact both companies and help the NX succeed. With Square Enix’s support right out of the gate, the NX could be a smashing success capable of challenging Microsoft’s position as the second most popular console manufacturer, while also contesting Sony’s control of the home console market within the space of a console generation. With Square Enix on their side, Nintendo’s NX may well prove to be a success and not just the final fantasy of Nintendo’s console manufacturing days.

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Ah, nostalgia!

Although a gamer since before I can remember, there is not a better definition of me than these three words: Christian, moderate, and learner. I am steadfast in my Faith, my Beliefs, and in my Opinions, but I am always willing to hear the other side of the discussion. I love Nintendo, History, and the NBA. Currently a PhD Student at Liberty University.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. ex fact0r

    March 26, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    A strong partnership with Square-Enix alone will not make the NX “challenge Microsoft’s position as the second most popular console manufacturer, while also contesting Sony’s control of the home console market”. I agree that Nintendo should be very aggressive in attaining 3rd party support, but one 3rd party relationship isn’t going to change much. Having Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, and Deus Ex on the NX would be great, but they’re going to be on every other console as well, meaning it won’t make a dent in either Microsoft’s or Sony’s leads. Nintendo needs to get in the good graces of EVERY SINGLE major 3rd party developer if they truly do intend on competing with the big dogs. Nintendo has a lot of wounds to mend, and a lot of relationships to rebuild.

    • Izsak Barnette

      March 27, 2016 at 2:46 am

      Well, Nintendo has rebounded before and the graces of third-parties, which are ultimately companies, are easily repaired with a console that is successful from both a financial and marketing perspective. If Nintendo can make the NX successful, then those third parties will return without a complaint. Square needs to be motivated to join Nintendo because of its specific history with Nintendo and all of the problems that the companies have had since Final Fantasy went to the PlayStation with FFVII.

      Thanks for reading the article and your input!

    • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

      March 27, 2016 at 2:50 am

      Well, Nintendo has rebounded before and the graces of third-parties, which are ultimately companies, are easily repaired with a console that is successful from both a financial and marketing perspective. If Nintendo can make the NX successful, then those third parties will return without a complaint. Square needs to be motivated to join Nintendo because of its specific history with Nintendo and all of the problems that the companies have had since Final Fantasy went to the PlayStation with FFVII.

      Thanks for reading the article and your input!

      • ex fact0r

        March 27, 2016 at 3:11 am

        I think that’s a drastic oversimplification of the situation. 3rd parties will not return to the console if Nintendo makes an outlandish controller like the Wii U’s gamepad. 3rd parties will not return if Nintendo uses an architecture that’s vastly different than that of the PC/PS4/Xbox. Why? because its not worth it for EA/Ubisoft/Square/Activision/etc. to spend millions to have teams that focus specifically on Nintendo development. Nintendo’s drive to make their consoles “unique” has hurt them much more than its helped. 3rd parties don’t need Nintendo, Nintendo needs them, and they need to realize that.

        The only motivation a 3rd party needs is ease of access. If games are easily ported to the NX, then 3rd parties will be glad to support the system. Unfortunately, Nintendo has a long history of making their consoles a nightmare to work on for 3rd party devs. Will that change? Maybe. But if the recent leaks of what the NX’s controller are even close to real… well… Nintendo will probably have another Wii U on their hands.

        • Cyber Volt

          April 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

          Nintendo needs as many third parties as they can get, both western and japanese. But the thing here is that western games such as CoD and EA games have Always sold poorly on the Nintendo systems.
          I wonder if that is really going to change with the NX.

      • Cyber Volt

        April 1, 2016 at 5:44 pm

        Awesome article, currentl I’am making a Youtube series how Nintendo, Square Enix and 2 other third parties made some of the great video game systems of all time. Would be great if Big N and SE teamed up to make NX great.

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PAX South Hands On: ‘Streets of Rage 4’ Balances Legacy and Innovation

Streets of Rage 4 embodies the original series’ elegant, action-packed design and revives it for a new generation

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Streets of Rage 4

From the moment I began my demo with Streets of Rage 4 at PAX South, it felt like coming home. It might have been more than two decades since the first three games in the Streets of Rage series perfected the beat ‘em up formula on the Sega Genesis, but courtesy of developers Lizardcube, DotEmu, and Guard Crush, this legendary series is back and in good hands. This brand new entry aims to recapture all the style and balance of the originals, while introducing innovations of its own. If my demo is any indication, the game is set to achieve that.

Streets of Rage 4 uses the same elegant level design that set the original trilogy apart back on the Genesis. The gameplay is simple: keep walking to the right, taking out every enemy in front of you with all the jabs, kicks, jumps, and special moves at your disposal. If anything, the controls feel better than ever before, with an added level of precision and fluidity that simply wasn’t possible on older hardware.

Streets of Rage 4

That’s not to mention the new move sets. Beat ’em ups might not be the most complex genre around, but Streets of Rage 4 adds the perfect level of depth to the combat. It has the same simple jabs and kicks found in the original games, but spiced up with the potential for new combos and even a handful of extravagant new special moves. With new and old fighting mechanics, this new entry features plenty of room to experiment with combat but never loses the simple, arcade-like charm of the originals.

Streets of Rage 4 revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed style for the twenty-first century

The demo included series staple characters like Axel and Blaze, yet I opted to play as an all-new character: Cherry Hunter, a guitar-wielding fighter whose move set felt very distinct from classic characters. Her movement is speedy, certainly faster than Axel but slower than Blaze, and her guitar provided for some unique melee moves. Like the new mechanics, her addition to the character roster helps shake up the Streets of Rage formula just enough, while maintaining the core beat ’em up simplicity that made the series special in the first place.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 might innovate in a few areas, but one thing that’s clearly remained true to form is the difficulty. It boasts of the same old school difficulty that characterized the original games. The classic and brand new enemies are just as ruthless as ever, mercilessly crowding in around you and can easily overwhelm you if you’re not careful. However, just like the originals, the fighting feels so satisfying that it’s easy to keep coming back for more action.

Amid all these changes and additions, perhaps the most obvious (and controversial) change is the visual style. While the original series used detailed pixel art, Streets of Rage 4 instead boasts of an extremely detailed handcrafted art style, in which every frame of character animation is painstakingly drawn by hand and environments are colorful and painterly. Thousands of frames of animation go into each character, and the effort certainly shows, making every punch, kick, and other acts of violence a breathtaking sight to behold.

Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences.

Some fans have complained that the game loses the series’ spirit without pixel art, but DotEmu marketing director Arnaud De Sousa insisted to me that this simply isn’t the case. Pixel art wasn’t an artistic choice back then – it was a matter of necessity. If the developers could have designed the game to look exactly as they wanted, regardless of technical limitations, then it likely would have looked just like the luscious hand-drawn visuals of the current Streets of Rage 4.

That’s not to mention that, as De Sousa emphasized, the Streets of Rage games are defined by looking different from one another. The third game looks different from the second, which looked different from the first – and now this new entry has twenty years of change to catch up on. Thus, it only makes sense for this new entry to adopt a radically new graphical style after all this time.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences. The difference between De Sousa and myself is perfect evidence of that. He grew up playing the games in the 90s, whereas I wasn’t even born when the original trilogy became such a phenomenon and only played them years later in subsequent re-releases. Yet here we were, standing in the middle of a crowded convention and gushing about decades-old games. We might have had extremely different experiences with the series, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating the joys of stylish beat ’em up action.

“A good game is a good game,” De Sousa told me, “no matter how old.” That’s the attitude that Streets of Rage 4 exemplifies. It revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed design for the twenty-first century. And with a release on all modern platforms, more players than ever will be able to rediscover the simple pleasure of wielding your bare knuckles against thugs of all types. Between the new art style and the solid gameplay, Streets of Rage 4 is looking like an incredibly welcome return for this iconic franchise.

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An In-Depth Analysis of Fifa’s Career Mode

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Fifa’s Career Mode

It’s a well-known fact that career mode on Fifa has been a long-neglected element of the best selling sports games series of all time. But for soccer fans who want to pretend to be a football manager, but also want to personally play the game, Fifa is currently the main option.

The problem is: for a 60 dollar game, almost nothing about Fifa career mode works properly. 

Two of the most game-breaking bugs in Fifa career mode are so bad that it fundamentally makes the game unplayable for those who want to feel any sort of immersion. 

The first is a bug that makes it so that top teams will sign many more players for a position than they could possibly need. 

For example, Bayern might end up signing 6 or 7 great center backs, and then only play three or four of them, while what they really need to sign might be a winger or a fullback. 

This leads into the second huge issue: even when a team like Bayern HAS 6 or 7 great center-backs, they will STILL often choose to start second or third-string center backs! This often leads to top teams languishing at 12th or 13th in the tables by the end of the season, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Everything about this image is wrong. Everything. The top three teams in this table shouldn’t finish higher than 7th more than once every ten seasons between them, and teams that should finish first and second aren’t even in the top eight. 64 points near the end of the season for first place is also a very low number. 

There’s been plenty of other issues as well. Even on the highest difficulties, AI on both defense and ESPECIALLY offense ranges from poor to horrible, with the AI on offense rarely actually running at the defense (making defending boring and unrewarding), leaving players like Messi or Hazard to not even try to use their incredible dribbling ability and speed and instead pass away the ball as soon as they get it. 

Instead, the most common way the AI scores are by performing a janky, unrealistic and clearly scripted pinball, with impossibly precise passes between 4 or 5 players before the ball ends up in the back of the net. 

Another major problem with the game (though some might call it simply a feature in presenting a more arcade-like, less realistic take on soccer) is your ability (if you’re a big club) to buy multiple huge players and bring them to your club easily in your first season, making the game an absolute cakewalk. 

After years of incompetence and the ignoring of career mode’s many issues, however, EA finally faced serious backlash with the release of Fifa 20–the most broken iteration in the series yet. 

For a while, #fixcareermode was trending on twitter, and reviews blasted Fifa for its litany of issues, like players going on precipitous declines in stats right when they reach the age of 30.

Yet these bugs were treated by some in the media as a first time thing, issues that had only appeared in the latest iteration. They weren’t.

As one Reddit user noted to Eurogamer: “In the last few years, every FIFA game released has had bugs that ruin the immersion. Teams not starting their strongest lineups and unrealistic tables have been an issue not just for FIFA 20 but earlier editions. Our cries for patches and change have fallen on deaf ears. The community has been grossly neglected.”

The linked article by the Independent above wasn’t accurate in other ways, either. It claims that only simulated matches suffered from the bug of teams not playing their best players, and other articles have claimed that this bug only occurs when a big team plays against a small team. 

But neither of these claims is accurate. 

Fifa’s Career Mode

You could play against a top team like Barcelona, and you could also be a top team like Real Madrid, and Barcelona would still consistently field third or fourth-string players over the likes of Messi against your team. 

This wasn’t an occasional thing, either. At least three or four top players were benched for players 20 or more points below them every game. Every. Single. Game. 

I haven’t even mentioned the commentary in Fifa, which is so buggy and so immersion-breaking in its disconnection from reality that its more immersive to just turn it off entirely. 

What is so infuriating is that that many of the bugs seem like fairly minor fixes (commentary issues aside), something that seems like it would take no more than a few hours of rooting around in the code to figure out whatever misplaced number value was causing the issue.

The fact that these major issues have existed for at least no less than SIX years (Fifa 14 was the first game I played) indicates definitively how little EA cares about its products, and how little the designers care about actual football or delivering an enjoyable experience out of Ultimate Team. 

Of course, Ultimate Team alone in 2017 accounted for almost a third of all of EA’s revenue from sports titles, so it’s somewhat understandable why Ea focuses most of its attention on that element of Fifa.

FIFA

But with the amount of effort put into the new “futsal” mode in Fifa 2020, or the three campaign-like “Journey” modes from Fifa 17 to Fifa 19, one wonders why the developers couldn’t have spent just a little more effort to fix a mode that was in many ways fundamentally broken.

Fifa HAVE made certain changes to career mode over this period, so it’s not like they’ve ignored it entirely. But the changes made to career mode in the six years I’ve played it have all either made the game much worse, slightly worse or had no great effect. 

The major changes over this period have included: 

A slightly updated youth system, which has suffered from its own serious bugs over the years, such as youth prospects never gaining stats in sprint speed or acceleration so that you end up getting stuck with players with 50 to 70 speed for eternity; a widely disliked training system for players that is utterly broken and unfair, allowing you to train players to abilities well beyond what is even vaguely realistic within a matter of a year or two; a new display screen for your team; the removal of form; the slight modification of morale; adding the ability to talk with your players; and, last but not least, transfer cut scenes which are the most incredibly pointless wastes of time in any sports game, both for the player and for the developers–at least they’re skippable. There is the ability to customize your manager–perhaps the most positive change made in this six-year period. But that’s still stunningly sad given that you will very rarely actually see your manager at all. 

None of these modifications, you may have noticed, go any way towards fixing the fundamental issues with the game, issues which have been pointed out to EA year after year.

It’s fair to say that one of the main reasons that FIFA got away with what it did for so long was not thanks to the players, but the media. 

Year after year, reviews for FIFA received solid scores (hovering around the low to mid 80’s), whereas user reviews were usually much lower. It was only this year that media reviews seriously pointed out issues with the career mode. 

The fact that FIFA received so much better reviews from reviewers as compared to players is easily explained away by the fact that the former usually play the game for comparatively shorter times, and therefore tends to miss a lot of the details. 

In response to the recent outrage which had finally reached a degree of publicity that EA could no longer ignore, EA finally patched some of FIFA’s issues, like the problem of teams not fielding their strongest lineups at least semi-frequently. This was a huge step towards making career mode not fundamentally broken, but whether or not the other most glaring issue of teams like Juventus signing 9 80+rated strikers (yes, that happened in my game once) has been solved remains to be seen. Given that I mostly gave up on the series after Fifa 19 continued the same problems of its predecessors, I don’t think it’ll be me that finds out.

  • Evan Lindeman
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‘Atelier Ryza’ Warms the Heart No Matter the Season

Atelier Ryza excels at creating a sense of warmth and familiarity, and could be just what you need during the winter months.

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atelier ryza

The Atelier series is something of a unicorn in the JRPG genre. It isn’t known for its world-ending calamities or continent-spanning journeys; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The small-town feel and more intimate storytelling of Atelier games has made them some of the most consistently cozy experiences in gaming, and Ryza is no exception. No matter if it’s this winter or next, here’s why Atelier Ryza is the perfect type of RPG to warm your heart this winter.

Ryza starting her alchemy journey.

Like a Warm Blanket

Unlike protagonists from other entries in the franchise, Reisalin Stout (or Ryza for short) has never stepped foot in an atelier or even heard of alchemy at the start of her game. Instead, she’s just a fun-loving and mischevious girl from the country who spends her days in search of adventure with her childhood pals Lent and Tao. It’s this thrill-seeking that eventually leads the trio to meet a mysterious wandering alchemist and learn the tricks of the trade.

The entirety of Atelier Ryza takes place during summer, and it’s clear that the visual design team at Gust had a field day with this theme. In-game mornings are brought to life through warm reds, yellows, and oranges, while the bright summer sun beams down incessantly in the afternoon and gives way to cool evenings flooded by shades of blue and the soft glow of lanterns. Ryza’s visual prowess is perhaps most noticeable in the lighting on its character models, which are often given a warm glow dependent on the time of day.

The cozy sensibilities of the countryside can be felt elsewhere as well. The farm Ryza’s family lives on aside, the majority of environments are lush with all manner of plant life, dirt roads, and rustic architecture. Menus feature lovely wooden and papercraft finishes that simulate notepads or photos on a desk. Townspeople will even stop Ryza to remark on how much she’s grown and ask about buying some of her father’s crops. Everything just excels at feeling down-to-earth homey.

The titular Atelier Ryza.

An Intimate Take on Storytelling

Kurken Island and the surrounding mainland feel expansive as a whole but intimate in their design. This is partially due to the readily-accessible fast travel system that Atelier Ryza employs; instead of a seamless open world, most players will find themselves jumping from location to location to carry out quests and harvest ingredients for alchemy. However, there’s still strong incentive to explore the nearby town thanks to tons of random side quests and little cutscenes that trigger as players progress through the main story.

It’s an interesting way to tackle world-building. Instead of relying on intricate dialogue like The Outer Worlds or massive cinematic cutscenes like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Atelier Ryza lets players get a feel for its world rather naturally through everyday conversations. These scenes run the gamut from Ryza’s parents yelling at her to help more around the farm to running into and catching up with old friends who’d moved overseas. They’re unobtrusive and brief, but the sheer number of them gradually establishes a cast that feels alive and familiar.

The town drunk and Lent's father, Samuel.

Of course, post-holidays winter is also the season for more somber tales. The relationship between Lent and his alcoholic father is striking in its realistic depiction of how strained some father-son relationships can become.

The narrative escalates subtly: An early cutscene shows Mr. Marslink stumbling onto Ryza’s front lawn thinking it’s his. Then an event triggers where the neighborhood jerks tease Lent about being the son of the town drunk. Lent’s house is a small shack pulled back from the rest of the town, and visiting it triggers one of the few scenes where Ryza can actually talk to Mr. Marslink himself. The situation eventually reveals itself to be so bad that it completely explains why Lent is gung-ho about being out of the house whenever he can.

Though Lent’s general character motivation is wanting to get stronger and protect the town, it’s the heartfelt insights like these that make him much more relatable as a party member. Atelier Ryza features no grand theatrics or endless bits of exposition, but instead favors highlighting interpersonal conversations as Ryza continues to learn more about the people and world around her.

Atelier Ryza

Cozy games rarely get enough credit. Just like the Animal Crossing series or Pokemon: Let’s Go provides players with a warmth that can stave off the harshest of winters, Atelier Ryza succeeds in being the lighthearted, touching JRPG fans wanted. It’s both aesthetically pleasing and heartwarming in the way it builds out its world and cast of characters, and seeing Ryza gradually grow more confident and capable is a joy unto itself. If you’re in need of a blanket until Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes out in March, you can’t go wrong here.

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