Square's busier than Nintendo on their own platform from now until February. Who knew?
It seems like every week, another Square Enix game is announced for release soon. A third Voice of Cards game came out the day of the September 13 Nintendo Direct and wasn’t mentioned in the Direct, likely because at least 5 other Square Enix games already had a chunk of time in the 40-minute presentation. There were two shadowdrops from Square, in the form of the Apple Arcade castoff Various Daylife and a prologue demo for the November release Harvestella. By an approximate count, Square Enix has 10 Switch games coming out between today and the end of February 2023. To compare, Nintendo themselves currently only has four games on the calendar in that same time frame. I thought it’d be fun to do some gut reactions ranking the 10 upcoming games. Note: this is my opinion, man so if you know my top list of 3DS games, the top choice is preordained.
10. The DioField Chronicle
I was fascinated by The DioField Chronicle when it was first revealed earlier this year. It seemed to be like Fire Emblem by way of a weird real-time battle system, but the demo that came out in August level-set me in a way that I don’t think this is a game for me. The "Real-Time Tactical Battle System" is interesting, but at the end of the day, I’d rather actually finish Triangle Strategy or wait for Tactics Ogre Rebirth to get my tactics on. Of special note, based on the demo, the Switch version seems to run nice. We’ll find out a lot more about this game soon. It’s due out on September 22.
9. Life Is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection
Full disclosure: I’ve never played a Life is Strange game. I’ve heard they’re very good and hey - maybe this is my entry point. Finally getting a release date of September 27 in August, this remastered collection of the first game and its later prequel is finally coming to Nintendo platforms following the most recent sequel’s Switch release last year. On other platformers, the package got a mixed reception, citing that the quality of the games are present but the actual remastering is rough. Since the Switch has never seen these games before, I’d imagine even a few rough edges might not dull the reported quality of the stories.
8. Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Remastered
At one point during the Switch’s lifespan, I was gaga for SaGa, but now my cup runneth over with SaGa games and I’m stuffed. That’s not to knock the series (and if you’re looking for a good SaGa game, you’ve got Super Famicom classic Romancing SaGa 3, solid PS1 RPG SaGa Frontier, and the newer SaGa Scarlet Grace all on Switch), but in an article about how there are so many Square Enix games coming out in a small time frame, it’s worth noting that I could easily make a similar piece about how many SaGa games have been ported to Switch. Minstrel Song Remastered is a remaster of a PS2 remake of the Super Famicom original, bringing the PS2 visuals to HD among a variety of modernized additions. I’ve never played the original Romancing SaGa or its PS2 remake, so I’m excited for this RPG even if I’m staring at my barely-touched copy of SaGa Frontier on Switch and asking myself if I should just play that.
7. Tactics Ogre Reborn
I am ecstatic that Tactics Ogre’s PSP remake (that I’ve never played before) is coming to modern platforms. On the strength of just that, this should be higher on this list but I’m not going to lie: I agree with the critiques about the price of this port and the way the nice pixelated visuals look in the HD filter. I’m on board for Tactics Ogre for the gameplay and even at the high cost, I’m in, but Tactics Ogre will have to live with the fact they’re lower on this important list.
6. Dragon Quest Treasures
Slated for a December 9 release, Dragon Quest Treasures seems to be of a similar style as the Dragon Quest Monsters spinoff, but this has a different presentation that judging by the response I’ve seen to this game, seems to be rejuvenating what might have become a stale spinoff. I’ll be real: this was the Dragon Quest game I was least excited about so when it was announced for a 2022 release, I wasn’t super stoked. However, I’m ready to embrace the new-age twist on the Monsters franchise. Real-time battling seems cozy and the visuals are pretty. Hopefully it runs well on Switch and, a recurring trend of this list, maybe I should get further than 10 hours into Dragon Quest Builders 2. Listen I have two kids now; my RPG spinoff time has lowered considerably.
5. Octopath Traveler II
Octopath Traveler is overrated. I feel like the fact that I am personally responsible for overrating it makes me either the best or worst person to issue that statement. Here’s a fun story that you can use to apply to most of my reviews in the summer of 2018. My first kid was born 5 weeks early and spent weeks in the NICU. Retrospectively, any game I reviewed in the summer of 2018 definitely got some sort of “stressful experience” bump. I can recall being torn between an 8 or a 9 for my Octopath score and just rounding up because that was the mindset I was in. Octopath is more of an 8 to me now, which maybe is more thematic with the game. Anyway, I love Octopath’s visuals, soundtrack, and battle system. Anyone who wants to drag the story can go right ahead. I won’t argue. Just to me, the important part of this game are the things I love. I enjoyed spending time in that world, messing with the unique character abilities and the shamelessly-stolen-from-MegaTen battle system. It’s a good romp. I hope Octopath Traveler II retains that style and cleans up the rough edges of the writing and story presentation. If that happens, maybe a 9 will be a proper rating for it when it hits on February 24, 2023.
4. NieR: Automata - The End of YoRHa Edition
Alright fellas: you got me. It’s been a while since everyone raved about NieR: Automata in 2017. I was too busy with my Switch to care, but fine. You got me. I’ll play the damn game. The Switch port seems good enough and based on reputation alone, I should try this game. Let’s say if I’m worshiping at the altar of Yoko Taro by the end of October.
I liked what I have played of the Harvestella demo so far. It’s a tad slow in the early goings, but this legitimately just seems like the kind of game I always wished Rune Factory was. I want to sink my teeth more into this world, which is exactly what I sought to find out from the demo. I recommend checking it out to see if it’s for you. Save progress carries over in the final game when it hits on November 4.
2. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion
The difference between this and Tactics Ogre is the version we’re getting on Switch for Crisis Core seems to be a bigger remaster. I might put some doubt on the Switch version running well since it’s a multiplatform release, but as someone who never owned a PSP, I’ve always wanted to play Crisis Core, even more so now in a world where I’m all in on the stupid of Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s storytelling experience. Dated for December 13, Crisis Core seems to be relatively faithful to the PSP original and being in a world where Final Fantasy VII and its Sony-exclusive prequel thing are both on Switch is wild. Now what trickery has to happen to get Final Fantasy 7 Remake on Switch...
1. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
I sincerely believe that Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call is one of the best 3DS games ever made and I also believe that the 3DS is one of the best platforms ever made. By the transitive property, that means Theatrhythm is one of the best games ever made. I’ve been lamenting how Theatrhythm might be trapped on the 3DS when the eShop closes, but Square Enix is timing it almost perfectly that Final Bar Line launches on February 16, 2023 - right around when the 3DS eShop shuts down for good. This game will have damn near 400 songs at launch and also include a ridiculous amount of extra content from a variety of Square Enix games, including Octopath Traveler, NieR, and my sweet darling redheaded step-child Chrono Cross. On 3DS, these games were a celebration of Final Fantasy focused on the all-important soundtracks. On Switch, it seems like it will continue that celebration and more organically include the rest of Square Enix’s impressive soundtrack catalog.