Evil.JP: Assorted Bits of News

The last couple of weeks have been rather eventful inside and outside of the gaming space.  Though much of the country is currently occupied with the “Red vs. Blue” battle taking place outside of Xbox LIVE (the one that is won by count of ballots), there have also been a few surprising news stories leaking out from the Land of the Rising Sun over the last few days – mainly from interviews with some of the industry’s influential voices overseas. And, just like that bowl of leftover Halloween candy you can’t stop snacking on, these bits of assorted news are small, sweet, and guaranteed to provide the Japanese gaming equivalent of a sugar rush. Time to peel off those wrappers and dive in…

The Kingdom Hearts HD Collection

Announced just a couple short weeks ago at Tokyo Game Show, Square-Enix has once again decided to milk the Kingdom Hearts cash cow. Instead of continuing down the road of spinoffs on portable systems, however, series director Tetsuya Nomura has instead decided to move towards accomplishing two goals he set out for the series in an interview earlier this year: first, to move away from portable spinoffs and get the series back on consoles, and second, to allow fans of the series to experience the entire story on a single platform. The collection announced at TGS, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, contains HD remastered versions of the original Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and Re:Chain of Memories as well as a non-interactive cutscene retelling of the entire storyline of 358/2 Days and is scheduled to launch in Japan early next year. Unfortunately for us, no Western release is currently announced, though all signs point to a localization and eventual 2013 release.

Though coy on the subject, Nomura also implied in the same interview that the original game’s superior PlayStation 2 sequel, Kingdom Hearts 2, will also make its way into a HD Collection, which fans are hoping will be accompanied by the previously PSP-exclusive Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. A few questions remain, however. With the non-backwards-compatible successor to the PS3 supposedly being primed and ready for launch next year, where does that leave Nomura’s grand plan for Kingdom Hearts? Will additional HD Remix titles be released for the PlayStation 3, paving the way for yet another platform switch for the sequel to appear on the PlayStation 3′s successor? Will the HD Remix titles even release in the West, considering overseas releases for Kingdom Hearts titles historically require a few more months of development time than their Japanese counterparts and therefore landing the localized titles right in the path of the PS4′s launch? The next several months are going to be interesting for the future of the Kingdom Hearts franchise in the English-speaking world.

Type-0 Localization

Speaking of localizations, one of the Square-Enix higher-ups, Hajime Tabata, recently spilled the beans on why we haven’t seen or heard anything about Final Fantasy: Type-0 in ages. The short answer: “PSP doesn’t sell in the West, so no localization for you”. The slightly longer answer mentions something about “challenges in the current handheld market” and “wishing to bring the title to fans in North America and Europe”.

To me, the challenges Tabata is speaking of may not only include the PSP but the Vita, as well. Many fans overseas expected an HD version of the title to be eventually released on the Vita, but poor sales numbers may have put the project on hold. Apparently releasing the title as a PSN exclusive on PSP wasn’t an option, though reasons are unclear. I would be surprised if the size of the game, along with its dual-disc nature, weren’t at least partially to blame for the game’s absence on this side of the pond.

Miyamoto and the myth of the “Nintendo Advantage”

When talking to IGN concerning third-party support on Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U console, famed game designer Shigeru Miyamoto stated that he is currently in the process of talking to game developers individually on the matter. He specifically reference the rumors in the Western media that Nintendo deliberately withholds information about their consoles/interfaces from third-party developers as false, stating that the company does its best to assist developers realize their visions on Nintendo’s unique hardware. Considering Nintendo’s hardware is often extremely distinctive, shoehorning functionality into games designed for other platforms has produced mixed results at best – something Nintendo is aware of and is attempting to avoid with their new console.

Stuffed with Japanese gaming news? Me too. Stay tuned to GamesAreEvil.com for more updates as the Nintendo Wii U launch looms closer.

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Evil.JP is Games Are Evil’s bi-weekly romp through all things Japanese gaming. Follow this column’s author Michael Migliacio on Twitter here.

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