Square Enix, baby, what are you doing?
First you announce that you’re into NFTs, and then you kind of shit on your own Guardians of the Galaxy game, despite it being one of the most beloved releases of last year. And now this. Chocobo GP.
Making a Final Fantasy racing game shouldn’t be this fucking hard, guys.
Here’s how to make a good Final Fantasy racer. You take Mario Kart. Replace the characters with Final Fantasy fan service, and you make it about 60% as good. Replace mushrooms with potions, replace blue shells with summons, and replace coins with, I dunno, I guess different coins.
That’s all you need to do. It’s all anyone’s asking you to do.
But you couldn’t even do that, could you? You couldn’t even slap together a fucking Final Fantasy racing game without adding the weirdest microtransactions. So, I need to buy a season pass to play as troubled youth Cloud Strife, but the fake money to get that season pass is free, but also expires, so if I don’t use it, I need to buy the season pass anyway. Got it. Great.
Sure, I know season passes are the thing now. Games are expensive to make in 2022. In the game business there ain’t no game without the business. But for the love of god, the way Chocobo GP demands you work through its eldritch economy is like paying $50 to get the opportunity to re-experience the worst aspects of mobile games from the worst eras of mobile games.
Square Enix, you were able to do this shit just fine on the original PlayStation! And, again, I do mean “just fine.” Chocobo Racing on the PlayStation was a mediocre Mario Kart cash-in and, you know what? We were okay with that. The point wasn’t that it was necessarily any good – it was a racing game based on a cartoon bird-horse – it was just that we got to go vroom vroom with our little fun characters we liked from better games.
Nobody expects a Final Fantasy-themed racing game to be amazing. None of us are new here. Making a good IP-based crossover game is hard. That’s why Masahiro Sakurai is near death every time he finishes a Smash game. But we know you aren’t Sakurai. Our bar is so low you could step over it. Remember Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl? Probably not, but it was absolutely fine and that’s all that we needed from it. A game that took fictional characters and had them compete against other fictional characters from different, but related IPs.
I grew up idolizing Square Enix, back when it was just ol’ Square. A lot of us did. Older Final Fantasy games were obscure gems talked about with kids in the know. Once Final Fantasy 7 hit, we knew that gaming had finally grown up, dad. I once posted a 2,000+ word essay on a forum defending Parasite Eve. I wrote fan fiction about Brave Fencer Musashi. I was so into Square games that I was willing to make their company my entire unfuckable personality.
And the thing is, I’m still an easy mark! I’ll buy shit with Cactuar on it. I own a bunch of unopened Final Fantasy trading card game packs. I’m a childless adult man whose only interests are wanting to die and having virtual experiences that help me forget my ongoing desire to die. Which, I reiterate, is not that hard to do! Just give me a character named Cid and let me go about my business.
Square Enix, I love you. I really do. You guys are a weird company, but you can and still do sometimes make good games. Even if, again, you’re mad at one great superhero game because it didn’t recoup the cost of one bad superhero game. But at least you’re making those games!
I really do get it. It’s capitalism. Yet, I’d posit that you might’ve made more money shoveling out something mediocre than something mediocre that makes me spend human money on virtual bucks to buy virtual coins to unlock virtual stones to buy virtual racers or whatever. Actually, probably not. You’re probably making more money on this shit. I can admit that.
It should not be this hard to make a Final Fantasy racer. You could even still have microtransactions. A bunch of games do! We’re used to those. Just try to create the illusion you give a shit about your players’ experiences. Throw some who-gives-a-shit characters in funny airship cars and let us spend money every few months on a new racer. But don’t make it feel like you’re mad at us for buying your $50 B-rate Crash Team Racing.
And I’m being generous with that $50 because even that’s fucking wild to charge.
Yeah, Square Enix isn’t going to read this. And I understand video game companies aren’t going to give a shit that some fans are mad they’ve got to spend and/or earn money to buy features they thought would just come with the game. That’s basically the entire NBA 2K business model.
But I’m not talking about NBA 2K.
I’m talking about a Final Fantasy racing game. Square Enix. Buddy. Just make playable garbage. Have a track based on Midgar. Do a kazoo version of Eyes on Me. I don’t care.
Just let me be nostalgic for fifteen minutes in this nightmare world without feeling like you hate me for wanting to enjoy your fucking games.
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