JAPAN: Final Fantasy VII PSP and Potions

JAPAN: Final Fantasy VII PSP and Potions

Tim Rogers muses the newly announced FFVII Crisis Core PSP for Japan, big PS3 games and a real life, magical FFVII potion–or it might just be an energy drink.

FINAL FANTASY VII CRISIS CORE PSP PACK COMING IN SEPTEMBER

At E3 last week, Sony Computer Entertainment announced the new, slightly slimmer PSP, and showed off a couple of the somewhat-fantastic bundles that would be making their way to the US market this September. I watched this press conference and wondered what bundles would come to Japan. I almost immediately thought, "Probably just one, and it’ll probably be Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core". A few days later, I was right!

The FFVII Crisis Core PSP will be released on September 20th, 2007 for 25,980 yen, which is precisely the price of a new PSP (19,800 yen), the price of the game (4,900), and the price of 1,280 yen, which is probably to cover the larger box, the FFVII Crisis Core silkscreen image on the back of the PSP, and the Zack cellular phone strap, which the press release calls a "PREMIUM" cellular phone strap. Like the "leather" Judge strap that came with my Final Fantasy XII PS2? I’m sorry: that strap wasn’t made of leather. It was plastic-coated cardboard. It fell apart within a month of use. I guess I wasn’t supposed to use it. Sorry, I just . . . needed a strap for my phone.

This pack is being touted as the "Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Edition". Truly, Final Fantasy VII was released ten years ago, though in Japan, it was released in January, 1997, which would make it nearly eleven years from the release of Crisis Core in Japan.

Final Fantasy VII was released on September 7th, 1997 in North America, however, so maybe if Crisis Core was being released in Japan and North America at the same time, it would be nicer.

I’m only picking on numbers here because Square has used 2007 for two Final Fantasy "anniversaries" — first for the 20th anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy for the Famicom, and now for the 10th anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation. Yet there’s some weird overlap: the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy was celebrated with a re-re-remake of Final Fantasy for the Sony PSP, labeled the "Anniversary Edition", followed by a re-re-remake of Final Fantasy II for the PSP, also labeled as an "Anniversary Edition", even though Final Fantasy II was released in 1988. In calling the Final Fantasy II re-re-remake an "Anniversary Edition", they upgraded the idea of "20th Anniversary" to encompass the entire Final Fantasy series, not just the first game. To have a 10th anniversary in the middle of their 20th anniversary seems kind of tacky. It’s like a married couple having a second honeymoon on their tenth anniversary, and then calling their third honeymoon, on their 20th anniversary, a "second second honeymoon". It makes people’s heads hurt, man!

Furthermore, there’s the special logo Square has minted and trademarked for the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary — the logo is one of the two things silkscreened on the back of the limited edition PSP. It seems like weird form, from where I’m standing, to now call Crisis Core a member of the "Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary" celebration, when it’s also already a member of the "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII" (which is, yes, also a trademarked name).

The "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII" is a series of cash-in products meant to recall the spirit of Final Fantasy VII without artistically matching the game. So far the "Compilation" has included a cellular-phone-based online RPG called Before Crisis, a third-person shooter with RPG elements and a dismal sales profile, entitled Dirge of Cerberus, and a computer-animated movie called Advent Children. (I remember when director Tetsuya Nomura encouraged the journalists at Square-Enix’s 2005 E3 press conference to please refer to Advent Children as "non-interactive software", not as a "computer-animated movie".)

Minting a new group title — that being "Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary" — might not have been a good move for Square-Enix. Bizarrely, patches of internet hoodlums have caught a whiff of the name and are panicking left and right. They’ve been hopeful, for the longest time, for a PlayStation 3 remake of Final Fantasy VII, which Square-Enix would have to be mental not to make at this point (though it would philosophically defeat them to announce its production before announcing a release date for Final Fantasy XIII). Though if "10th Anniversary" is the new branding of Crisis Core, and if the year of FFVII’s tenth anniversary ends just three months after the release of Crisis Core, what are the chances that the FFVII remake will be part of the tenth-anniversary celebration? Will it be considered part of the "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII", and not part of the "FFVII 10th Anniversary"? The fans are boggled — surely Square-Enix wouldn’t release just one title under the "FFVII 10th Anniversary" banner. Right?

Square expects Crisis Core to be a relatively big hit for the PSP because it’s a new story involving characters who only appeared tangentially in the original game. The fans who care await it breathlessly; for the longest time, they were scared it would be a bad game, like the terrible Dirge of Cerberus for PlayStation 2, though when Crisis Core’s gameplay was revealed to be turn-based and strictly RPG-like, just a few months ago, they lightened up.

Advertisements currently running on Tokyo Metro subway lines show the PSP on one side of the train door, with the letters "This is the year of FF — on PSP!" a not-so-subtle play on the English acronyms. The other side of the door shows all the currently released FF PSP games — FFI, FFII, Final Fantasy Tactics, the UMD movie of Advent Children — and the upcoming titles — Crisis Core and the fighting game Dissidia. The goal is clear: if you’re a true fan, you’ll own a PSP and all of these games.

77,777 units of the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary PSP pack will be released, a keen reference to the number seven (7), or the fact that adjusting your character’s hit points to 7,777 in Final Fantasy VII would make him invincible. (I’m surprised I remembered that. You’d think I’m a . . . fan, or something.)