I wasn’t sure what to expect from today’s Nintendo Direct. But I thought I did know what not to expect, such as anything historically deemed impossible. Now, After a whirlwind half an hour or so, I am absolutely losing my fucking mind. Square Enix, which has been consistently pumping games out at an alarming rate lately, was all over this thing. It wasn’t just a matter of having some gas left in the tank. It was like Square Enix rolled up in a brand new car.
Square Enix dominated this Nintendo Direct, or at least it felt like it. Every other game shown was a Square Enix joint, and all but one of them were brand new announcements. Triangle Strategy is on its way soon of course, so a new demo is out on the eShop. You can transfer your save to the retail game! Par for the course with tentpole JRPG launches. What wasn’t par for the course was everything else that happened.
Square Enix Nintendo Direct February 2022 JRPG Bonanza
Basically, somebody at Square Enix went down the list of Games Never Released in English with a big marker, and scratched several games off the list. While some of the content announced has been translated by fans, most of it has gone decades without some kind of official release. It’s like if someone found the Holy Grail in a cave, then found three more variants as they crawled further in. I’m still reeling from all this nonsense, but let’s break it down as best as we can considering the circumstances.
Front Mission 1st: Remake
Logistics haven’t been kind to Square Enix’s long-running tactical mech RPG series. Multiple Front Mission games have been localized, but nearly just as many never were. The first game, an enhanced version of the Super Famicom original, actually did show up on the Nintendo DS.
This remake seems like a full-on, capital-R Remake. But that isn’t even the wild part. In the same trailer, a Front Mission 2 remake was also confirmed. This series didn’t hit North America until the third game found its way to the PlayStation in 2000. And follow-ups were inconsistent at best, leading to the critically panned Left Alive spinoff which confused fans and spelled death for the IP. Now we’re getting two big remakes, one of which for a game never localized before.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
We’ve been hearing scuttlebutt about a Chrono Cross remake or remaster for a while, so this announcement wasn’t a surprise. Until it was. Chrono Cross itself was a popular dud, a big deal that got its Greatest Hits label back in the day, but faded into obscurity due to a tepid reception. Cross later found itself a niche support group, and here we are.
Chrono fans know that bringing a sequel to Chrono Trigger, one of the most revered JRPGs ever made, was a messy endeavor. Before Cross, Square Enix released what was essentially a visual novel as a direct sequel to Trigger, called Radical Dreamers. Elements from this story became Chrono Cross, which largely shelved the more direct links to the first game. Radical Dreamers was released for the Satellaview, a bizarre Super Nintendo peripheral doomed to never leave Japan.
Naturally, like many unreleased Squaresoft SFC titles, a fan translation was eventually released. That was the end of the history book for nearly two decades. Now, an official Radical Dreamers localization is packed in with this Chrono Cross remaster. A strange, little text-based game for a weird add-on, effectively scrubbed from canon, and translated by fans anyway. Surely, Square Enix would never find the corporate guts to spend money doing… the thing Square Enix did today. Jesus Christ.
Somehow, Radical Dreamers wasn’t the biggest surprise out of Square Enix during this round of Nintendo madness. Take a breather and look at this goofy Chocobo GP shot from the Japanese Direct, tragically left out of ours.
What in the Blue Hell is going on? I’m losing my marbles all over my office floor! Is that Hulk Hogan? This can’t be real! It cannot! Oh my goodness Square Enix is even doing a physical release I can pick up from like, Best Buy if I wanted to. The simulation has been cracked, and I wanna know who’s responsible. Live-A-Live, one of the true long-lost Squaresoft JRPGs, is on the way. In just a few months! On a cart in a package I can buy without paying extra for Southeast Asia prints!
Live-A-Live is one of the strangest games from its era, the era of Super Famicom bangers like Final Fantasy VI and of course Chrono Trigger. This game is more off the beaten path than the Romancing SaGa trilogy. The player picks from an ensemble cast, similar to in Octopath Traveler, which is my comparison because this is also a “HD-2D” joint.
Each character’s story is paired with distinct gameplay gimmicks, surrounding a shared turn-based battle system. This game goes all over the place, from the prehistoric era to the distant future. You got dinosaurs, you got Wild West dueling, you got demons, you got robots. Live-A-Live casts a wide net, is what I’m saying. It all comes together at the end, and people who’ve played it hold it right up next to the rest of the SFC era classics.
If the premise sounds kind of familiar, you’re right. Live-A-Live was directed and written by Takashi Tokita, who did the same with Chrono Trigger (which was a multi-director effort) and the first Parasite Eve. This game also happens to be the debut RPG work of one Yoko Shimomura, following a few years at Capcom. Yes, the person credited as composer for the likes of Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV and… Mario & Luigi.
What’s next, Square Enix? What could you possibly have left to dig out of the vault? Oh right, there are several possibilities. See you at the next Direct? Warn us first next time, for goodness’ sake!