Sunday, July 15, 2007

Square Enix vs. North America: Final Mix

It's not unheard of in Japan to have a game come out and then be re-released later in some form of director's cut. Who hasn't heard of Resident Evil and it's many incarnations spanning nearly all platforms from the PSOne to the N64 to the Game Boy? Capcom has not been one to shy away from this practice and neither are other companies.

The Japanese market, while not as big as the North American market, has very different buying habits. Besides the government request that all games be released on Sunday to minimize the impact on national productivity, many games are repackaged with a little extra content and released at full price a bit after the original game. Square-Enix has capitalized on this with the director's cuts of many games such as Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII, Kingdom Hearts, and Kingdom Hearts II. The North American market has seen very few of these re-releases and when they do, it's generally a console port with added content so that the purchase is justified in the buyer's eyes.

The sad downside of this is many rough edges in Squeenix's releases are never really fully realized with a second publish for North America. Yuna's story in FF X-2 did Final Fantasy X-2 International + Final Mission. Sora was already having encounters with the blokes in hoods before Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories but you would only know that if you'd played Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix. Need some optional bosses, desire to fight all of Organization XIII at will, or see the fantasy of a 3D Chain of Memories? All that content is easily accessible in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix +. Never heard of these games? They're Japanese only releases. 

The logic behind a lack of a NA release is maddening. Square has said they won't re-release a game citing a variety of reasons, yet Namco can release new editions of Pac-Man all day and they will still sell. The same runs with Resident Evil, Super Mario 64, any Madden game, Prince of Persia, Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Solid, and many more. All of these new releases are essentially the same game but they boast some new content and sell rather well, despite the fact that the best-seller $19.99 edition is sitting on the shelf right next to the new edition.

Square, take a leaf out of the sales book of North America and give us KH II: Final Mix + and all the other goodness you're still holding back. It shouldn't take 12 years to get a re-release in all cases.

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