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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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Most Important Games of the Decade: ‘Dark Souls’

Despite the difficulty and learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the Dark Souls series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers.

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Over the course of the last decade a lot of games have made large and influential impacts on the medium of gaming but few have done so as significantly or triumphantly as Dark Souls

The pseudo-sequel to Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls took the framework of the original title and altered it considerably. Gone were the many individual stages and hub area, replaced by a massive open world that continuously unfolded, via shortcuts and environmental changes, like a massive metroidvania style map. 

Dark Souls also doubled down on nearly every aspect of the original. The lore and world-building were elaborated on considerably, making the land of Lordran feel more lived in and expansive. An entire backstory for the game, one that went back thousands of years, was created and unfolded through small environmental details and item descriptions. 

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The bosses were bigger, meaner and more challenging, with some of them ranking right up there with the best of all time. Even standard enemies seemed to grow more deadly as the game went on, with many of them actually being bosses you’d faced at an earlier time in the game. Tiny details like this didn’t just make the player feel more powerful, they added to the outright scale of the entire game.

Still, if we’re here to talk about the biggest influence Dark Souls had on the gaming world, we have to talk about the online system. While the abilities to write messages and summon help were available in Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls improved on and enhanced these features to the point where they changed the game considerably. 

The wider player base made the online components work more consistently as well. Rarely were players left standing around for 15-20 minutes waiting to summon or be summoned for a boss fight. There were more messages on the ground to lead (or mislead) players, and the animated spirits of dead players warned of the hundreds of ways you might die while playing through the game. 

Dark Souls

The addictive nature of the game and its rewarding gameplay loop would lead to the establishment of the Souls-like genre. Like with metroidvania, there are few compliments a game can receive that are as rewarding as having an entire genre named for them.

Since 2011, the year of Dark Souls’ release, dozens of Souls-likes have emerged from the ether, each with their own little tweaks on the formula. Salt and Sanctuary went 2D,The Surge added a sci-fi angle, and Nioh went for a feudal Japanese aesthetic, to name just a few. 

Either way, Dark Souls’ influence has been long felt in the gaming industry ever since. Despite the hardcore difficulty and intense learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers. For this reason alone, Dark Souls will live on forever in the annals of gaming history. 

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Game Reviews

‘Riverbond’ Review: Colorful Hack’n’Slash Chaos

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Sometimes a little bit of mindless smashing is just what people play video games for, and if some light sword-swinging, spear-stabbing, laser-shooting giant hand-slapping action that crumbles a destructible world into tiny blocks sounds like a pleasant way to spend a few hours, then Riverbond might just satisfy that urge. Though its short campaign can get a little repetitive by the end, colorful voxel levels and quirky characters generally make this rampaging romp a button-mashing good time, especially if you bring along a few friends.

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There really isn’t much of a story here outside something about some mystical leaders being imprisoned by a knight, and Riverbond lets players choose from its eight levels in Mega Man fashion, so don’t go in expecting some sort of narrative thread. Instead, each land has its own mini-situation going on, whether that involves eradicating some hostile pig warriors or reading library books or freeing numerous rabbit villagers scattered about, the narrative motivation is pretty light here. That doesn’t mean that these stages don’t each have their various charms, however, as several punnily named NPCs will blurt out humorous bits of dialogue that work well as breezy pit stops between all the cubic carnage.

Developer Cococucumber has also wisely created plenty of visual variety for their fantastical world, as players will find their polygonal hero traversing the lush greenery of grassy plains, the wooden piers of a ship’s dockyard, the surrounding battlements of a medieval castle, and the craggy outcroppings of a snowy mountain, among other locations, each with a distinct theme. Many of the trees or bridges or crates or whatever else happens to be lying around are completely destructible, able to be razed to the ground with enough brute force. Occasionally the physics involved in these crumbling structures helps gain access to jewels or other loot, but this mechanic mostly just their for the visual appeal one gets from cascading blocks; Riverbond isn’t exactly deep in its design.

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That shallowness also applies to the basic gameplay, which pretty much involves hacking or shooting enemies and environments to pieces, activating whatever task happens to be the main goal for each sub-stage, then moving on or scouring around a bit for treasure before finally arriving at a boss. Though there are plenty of different weapons to find, they generally fall into only a few categories: small swinging implements that allow for quick slashes, large swinging implements that are slow but deal heavier damage, spears that offer quick jabs, or guns that…shoot stuff. There are some variations among these in speed, power, and possible side effects (a gun that fired electricity is somewhat weak, but sticks to opponents and gives off an extra, devastating burst), but once an agreeable weapon is found, there is little reason to give it up outside experimentation.

Still, there is a rhythmic pleasure to be found in games like this when they are done right, and Riverbond mostly comes through with tight controls, hummable tunes, and twisting levels that do a good job of mixing in some verticality to mask the repetitiveness. It’s easy for up to four players to get in on the dungeon-crawling-like pixelated slaughter, and the amount of blocks exploding onscreen can make for some fun and frenzied fireworks, especially when whomping on one of the game’s giant bosses. A plethora of skins for the hero are also discoverable, with at least one or two tucked away in locations both obvious and less so around each sub-stage. These goofy characters exist purely for aesthetic reasons, but those who prefer wiping out legions of enemies dressed as Shovel Knight or a sentient watermelon slice will be able to fulfill that fantasy.

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By the end, the repetitive fights and quests can make Rivebond feel a little same-y, but the experience wraps up quickly without dragging things out. This may disappoint players looking for a more involved adventure, but those who sometimes find relaxation by going on autopilot — especially with some buddies on the couch — will appreciate how well the block-smashing basics are done here.

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Game Reviews

‘Earthnight’ Review: Hit the Dragon Running

Between its lush visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, Earthnight never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

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Earthnight

In Earthnight, you do one thing: run. There’s not much more to do in this roguelike auto-runner but to dash across the backs of massive dragons to reach their heads and strike them down. This may be an extremely simple gameplay loop, but Earthnight pulls it off with such elegance and style. Between its lush comic book visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, it creates an experience that never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Dragons have descended from space and are wreaking havoc upon humanity. No one is powerful enough to take them down – except for the two-player characters, Sydney and Stanley, of course. As the chosen ones to save the human race, they must board a spaceship and drop from the heavens while slaying as many dragons on your way down as they can. For every defeated creature, they’ll be rewarded with water – an extremely precious resource in the wake of the dragon apocalypse. This resource can be exchanged for upgrades that make the next run that much better.

This simple story forms the basis for a similarly basic, yet engaging gameplay loop. Each time you dive from your spaceship, you’ll see an assortment of dragons to land on. Once you make a landing, you’ll dash across its back and avoid the obstacles it throws at you before reaching its head, where you’ll strike the final blow. Earthnight is procedurally generated, so every time you leap down from your home base, there’s a different set of dragons to face, making each run feel unique. There are often special rewards for hunting specific breeds of dragon, so it’s always exciting to see the new set of creatures before you and hunt for the one you need at any given moment.

Earthnight is an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.”

Earthnight

Landing on the dragons is only the first step to slaying them. Entire hordes of monsters live on their backs, and in true auto-runner fashion, they’ll rush at you with reckless abandon from the very start. During the game’s first few runs, the onrush of enemies can feel overwhelming. Massive crowds of them will burst forth at once, and it can feel impossible to survive their onslaughts. However, this is where Earthnight begins to truly shine. The more dragons you slay, the more upgrade items become available, which are either given as rewards for slaying specific dragons or can be purchased with the water you’ve gained in each run. Many of these feel essentially vital for progression – some allow you to kill certain enemies just by touching them, whereas others can grant you an additional jump, both of which are much appreciated in the utter chaos of obstacles found on each dragon.

Procedural generation can often result in bland or repetitive level design, but it’s this item progression system that keeps Earthnight from ever feeling dry. It creates a constant sense of improvement: with more items in your arsenal after each new defeated dragon, you’ll be able to descend even further in the next run. This makes every level that much more exciting: with more power under your belt, there are greater possibilities for defeating enemies, stacking up combos, or climbing high above the dragons. It becomes an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.

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At its very best, Earthnight feels like a rhythm game. With the perfect upgrades for each level, it becomes only natural to bounce off of enemies’ heads and soar through the heavens with an almost musical flow. The vibrant chiptune soundtrack certainly helps with this. Packed full of driving beats and memorable melodies with a mixture of chiptune and modern instrumentation, the music makes it easy to charge forward through whatever each level will throw your way.

That is not to say that Earthnight never feels too chaotic for its own good – rather, there are some points where its flood of enemies and obstacles can feel too random or overwhelming, to the point where it can be hard to keep track of your character or feel as if it’s impossible to avoid enemies. Sometimes the game can’t even keep up with itself, with the performance beginning to chug once enemies crowd the screen too much, at least in the Switch version. However, this is the exception, rather than the rule, and for the most part, simply making good use of its upgrades and reacting quickly to the challenges before you will serve you well in your dragon-slaying quest.

Earthnight

Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.”

It certainly helps that Earthnight is a visual treat as well. It adopts a striking comic book style, in which nearly every frame of animation is lovingly hand-drawn and loaded with detail. Sometimes these details feel a bit excessive – some characters are almost grotesquely detailed, with the faces of the bobble-headed protagonists sometimes seeming too elaborate for comfort. However, in general, it’s a gorgeous game, with its luscious backdrops of deep space and high sky, along with creative monsters and dragon designs that only get more outlandish and spectacular the farther down you soar.

Earthnight is a competent auto-runner that might not revolutionize its genre, but it makes up for this simplicity by elegantly executing its core gameplay loop so that it constantly changes yet remains endlessly addictive. Its excellent visual and audio presentation helps to make it all the more engrossing, while it strikes the perfect balance between randomized level design and permanent progression thanks to its items and upgrades system. At times it may get too chaotic for its own good, but all told, Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.

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