The last couple of Final Fantasy games have been less than stellar for Square Enix, in terms of reputation. Final Fantasy XIV released despite beta testers warning them the game was essentially broken, Final Fantasy XIII released as a sixty plus hour movie with a handful of playable gameplay segments, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 has (so far) sold much less than any of its predecessors. Throughout these debacles gamers have stuck by Square and Square has continually found one way or another to somewhat sully the Final Fantasy name"¦until now. Final Fantasy Type-0 looks like it may be just the game to "right the ship" for Square Enix, if only they would take the time to localize it.
Last fall, Final Fantasy Type-0 was released in Japan to strong sales and favorable reviews. Despite being available solely on the PSP, there's only one major flaw with the game: it currently has no world wide release date! This sad fact obviously shows that Square Enix seems to have lost their way when it comes to promoting and moving the Final Fantasy franchise forward in the mainstream. We English speakers still enjoy JRPGs and we arguably make up a majority of the worldwide market for such games as well.
Type-0 features everything old-school gamers would expect from a new generation of JRPGs, with free-roaming combat, massive open environments to explore, Chocobos, strategy-oriented battlefield segments, huge bosses, multiple ways to fight enemies, action-oriented combat and more. It really does make you question why Japanese PSP gamers get such an extensive experience and why we English speakers are left with merely a broken MMO and a sequel that most fans were not requesting.
For some reason, Square decided to bank their money on projects that make you question what's up with their management. Final Fantasy XIII sold well enough, but most reviewers weren't enamored by the cinematics and realized that there wasn't much of a game under the pretty graphics. Final Fantasy XIV was even worse, so much so that the game had to go through a complete restructuring phase and is now taking subscriptions again. Who knows the current status of Final Fantasy Versus XIII"¦ the concept seems fascinating but all signs show it to be stuck deep within the dungeons of "development hell."
Why Square decided to invest in FFXIV instead of Type-0 is beyond me. I can't see why old-school FF fanatics and new-school JRPG junkies wouldn't be excited to play such a game on the Xbox 360 or PS3. It features several of the classic elements (and even a few fan-favorite bosses from the SNES) and still maintains a strong sense of role-playing qualities, despite moving the genre forward with new evasive maneuvers, combat and skills.
Is it possible Final Fantasy Type-0 will ever make it to the sunny side of our English speaking shores? I'm not holding my breath, but at least the recent release of the Play Station Vita (along with its ability to download and play PSP titles) gives us some hope. And there was of course the translation from the Type-0 Ultimania, which offered "confirmation".
In the coming months, we here at Gaming Union will keep you posted if Square ever decides to ship Final Fantasy Type-0 for us North Americans and Europeans. If you ask me, it looks like Type-0 is a game you'll want to grab regardless of the language it is in. So if you're a serious JRPG fan looking for an actual evolved version of the games that made Square famous, you might want to bust out that Japanese-to-English dictionary.
Cross your fingers everyone, but in the meantime let's just try to enjoy XIII-2!