A short while after Final Fantasy XI got its release date, May 16 in Japan, Square Co. Ltd announced their plans of returning the successful FF saga to Nintendo. Six years after abandoning Nintendo Square will create a subsidiary, with the sole purpose of developing Final Fantasy titles for the GameCube and GameBoy Advance systems. The subsidiary will be Game Designers' Studio, a development house in Tokyo, with Akitoshi Kawazu as president.
Square first developed the Final Fantasy titles in the 1980's for Nintendo's Super Famicom and NES. Following financial difficulties and lot's of shrewd Sony moves, the titles found a new home in Sony's PlayStation and PS2. The move(1996) played an important part in the PlayStation overtaking Nintendo's N64 console. The N64 was more advanced, something like the XBox of its time, but developers found it extremely difficult to make games for it.
Following the commercial failure of Final Fantasy the movie, Square found themselves deep in financial problems. In October Sony reacted to Square's worst-ever loss by supplying it with US$116 million. The recent Final Fantasy X which, despite being released in December, ended 2001 in the top 20 best selling games and the total of 30 million sales for the Final Fantasy series should also have helped.
Square however, are not clear yet and have reacted well to the idea that Fund Q, started in January by Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo's president, would provide the financial resources for FF development.
What to Expect
It is difficult to explain how or why Sony would allow Square to supply a rival with one of its most successful titles. It is also unclear whether Sony could stop Square even if they wanted to. Analysts claim that the release of Final Fantasy titles for GameCube is likely to give Nintendo an edge in Japan rather than in the U.S. It is obvious that Nintendo and Square are considering all options since they have only hinted that the new Square titles for Nintendo will be part of the Final Fantasy saga. These hints can be read at the official Nintendo Web Site.
No one can underestimate the importance of having FF however, and the first Nintendo versions will begin surfacing in Q4 2002. For the time being only a Japanese release has been confirmed for those titles but no one has denied the possibility of a U.S. and European launch as well.
Final Fantasy XI, upon its release, will add the online-play experience to the successful series, based on the online services announced by Sony it is bound to attract attention. Nintendo have yet to announce any similar services for the GameCube so what FF will look like on Nintendo is anyone's guess.