Those of you who know me know that my biggest axe to grind with Square-Enix has always been Tactics Ogre. Tactics Ogre was one of the best RPGs ever made, even compared to modern fare, a deep and amazing franchise that was deliberately killed off by both halves of Square-Enix, even before they merged. Well, with the recent remake of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for the PSP, I suppose I have to finally let this grudge go. But that's not what this post is about.
No, this post is about an epiphany I had while playing the new Tactics. Ready? Here it is.
Square-Enix half-asses everything, except when making remakes.
That's not an underhanded jab about how their old games are better than their newer ones either, that's an honest statement. The new Tactics Ogre isn't just a re-release, even though that would've been fine. It's gotten a complete loving makeover. Graphics, dialogue, even the combat and levelling systems have been overhauled, all in the name of making it better.
Tactics Ogre isn't alone. When Square-Enix decided to finally port Final Fantasy 3 to the United States, they could've done the same thing they did for the original Final Fantasy, and ported it mostly as-is with some graphical updates; and you know what? People probably would've been happy with that. But they didn't. They completely overhauled the game, changing the graphics to 3-D, adding new gameplay, classes, and even creating entirely new main characters. They put forth a lot of effort.
The remakes prove that as much as we all hate Square-Enix they really can still make good games, which is why it's so infuriating that (with a few exceptions) they just don't bother with their new games. I've already talked about the half-assed job they did on Dissidia as well as Magical Yuri Dress-Up Fantasy. I haven't reviewed Final Fantasy 13 because honestly I just can't be bothered to care about it, but it definitely qualifies too. When it comes to making new games Square-Enix doesn't care at all.
I can't say why it's this way. The most likely answer is that the teams that do the remakes and the teams that make new games are different crews. (The Tactics Ogre remake, for example, was made by the same people who made the original, who are now called the Ivalice Alliance and actually do tend to do reasonably good work.) Whatever the case, Square-Enix, this isn't how you run a franchise. I love that you're putting thought and effort into your remakes, and yes I love the old games too, but there's only so many times I can replay them.
If you were to make a new game, putting in the same amount of thought and effort that you put into the remakes...well, I'm not going to say it will shut up all the raving fanboys. Most of them are hard-headed idiots who will never be satisfied by anything. But Hell, at the very least it might save you from eventual obscurity.
So how about it, guys? You gave us Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy 6, and Final Fantasy 7. You can do good work. I know you can do it again, at least once. What do you say?