After years of medieval city-states and futuristic dystopias, Final Fantasy has found a new setting: Web 2.0.
Social media can already help you change jobs, but did you know that you can also use it to engage in deadly airship battles and summon ancient mythological beasts? Almost 25 years after the series first appeared on the NES, Square Enix is bringing Final Fantasy to web browsers and smartphones in Japan. Working in conjunction with Japanese social gaming service Mobage, Final Fantasy Brigade will bring traditional 2D Final Fantasy gameplay to social media networks, complete with its classic job system, over-the-top summons, and iconic airships.
Mobage and Square Enix did not reveal too many details about this new game at a recent press conference, but assured the media that Final Fantasy Brigade will retain the key elements that made the series so popular. Players should expect 16-bit style graphics (not unlike the upcoming Theatrhythm), turn-based battles, a world-spanning story, and plenty of character classes and abilities. It's not all old news, though: two new features will allow players to "fight for their friends," suggesting a cooperative battle element, and airship combat, which has generally existed only in cutscenes in prior games. The game will release in late December for choice phones, and expand its presence to the web and other smartphone models some time afterwards.
While there's no question that this is unusual territory for the series, Bioware has actually tried this concept before and it worked out pretty well. 2D sprites lend themselves well to almost any computer or smartphone, and turn-based combat mixed with a limited number of actions per day seems like a natural match.
Square Enix's last online outing was not so good, but this project seems like a much more careful approach with a much smaller scope. Some fans will undoubtedly be upset that one of the most popular core RPG series out there will soon embrace the casual market, but then again, when was the last time the Final Fantasy fanbase actually enjoyed a Final Fantasy game?