Friday, July 25, 2008

Sketchy Ports

Generally I'm the kind of guy who comes out in defense of ports. I think it's great that you can still buy classics Final Fantasy VI, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario 64, or R-Type for systems that are commonly available. I think the release of Final Fantasy XIII on the Xbox 360 is going to make a lot of North American gamers happy, and likewise Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon's move from the PSP to the PS2 moved it from a system not exactly known for a large or broad demographic to one that nearly everyone has. Other times, games like Disgaea or Riviera: The Promised Land that had limited distribution can get a second wind from a port to a new system, often with added features.

What is not cool, however, is what Square Enix pulled when releasing Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon. The day it released in North America - within hours of everyone happily picked up their preorders that are becoming oh-so-integral to actually getting a copy of a game - they announced a port from the Wii to the DS. This port, which adds a few minor features, is being released less than a year after the initial release in Japan. It's clearly been under planning since before the release of the Japanese version, but the timing is obviously designed to make sure as many people as possible bought the Wii version first.

I am similarly torn about my purchase of Knights in the Nightmare, the latest installment of Sting's Dept. Heaven series. Yggdra Union, the previous game, got a port from the GBA to the PSP two years after release. This is not too surprising, as the GBA was fading when it first came out, and the rerelease features significant improvements. Between this and the Riviera remakes, however, they've set a precedent - buy the game early, and you're getting the worse version. This time around it's for the DS to start with, but I can't stop feeling a "wait and see" attitude towards the game. Of course, if I don't show interest, the game's chances of localization get reduced; and if it is localized and I don't buy it, the chances of a potential remake's localization also get reduced. Living in North America, it's a situation I can't win. (I plan to try to win it by buying the Japanese first edition and, if it ever comes out, the North American remake - sorry Atlus!) They should confirm or deny plans for an enhanced port up front, both with regards to development and localization.

Ports of old games make sense, and crossplatform releases make sense. These feel more like crossplatform releases where they didn't announce half the platforms, then delayed one, then strategically announced it to screw fans as much as possible.

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