I don’t know what has been in the water at Square Enix the last few years, but I’m happy for it. The 8-bit and 16-bit Final Fantasy games can only be re-released and/or remade so many times, I suppose. We’ve received localizations of classic games I never thought we would see like Romancing SaGa 2 and Romancing SaGa 3. We’ve seen the latest SaGa, SaGa Scarlet Grace, get a release on new platforms and in new regions. Even the classic Game Boy games that kicked off the SaGa series (unbeknownst to those of us in the West at the time) got reissued on the Nintendo Switch. And now things come full circle, after a fashion. SaGa Frontier Remastered ($24.99) sees the very first game in the series that was localized under its original title make a return, hopefully to a warmer reception than last time.
Following this pattern, it would seem logical to think that Final Fantasy 8 would arrive in 2016. Well, we did get a Final Fantasy game that year, but it was the rather impressive port of Final Fantasy 9. Unlike the previous game, this felt like it was rebuilt for the hardware. Perhaps that was the hold-up with Final Fantasy 8? At the time, I thought we’d see the eighth game arrive in 2017. Instead, we got the original title Final Fantasy Dimensions 2. Hm, maybe in 2018? No, that ended up being Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition. Oh, I see! 2019 is the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy 8! Square Enix, you sly dogs. But no, no such luck on mobile that year. It did come to other platforms. Perhaps it was just a bit behind on mobile?
Image & Form’s SteamWorld franchise began back with SteamWorld Tower Defense which was a DSiware title. The franchise finally had a breakthrough hit with SteamWorld Dig that was released on Nintendo 3DS before seeing multiple ports following. Since then, the Swedish studio released two of my favourite indie games of all time with SteamWorld Dig 2 and SteamWorld Heist so I had high expectations when I played SteamWorld Quest on Nintendo Switch.
Fortunately, the talent behind a game is generally more important than any branding. Igarashi wanted to make another Metroidvania, and fans enthusiastically obliged when he went to Kickstarter to find the funding for it. A lot of stories like that have disappointing or even terrible endings, but Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night ($9.99) seems to have largely gone as everyone hoped. A few bumps on the road, to be sure. It was originally set for a 2017 release but ended up coming in 2019 instead. A few of the planned versions were canceled thanks to the platforms being on their way out. The Switch version launched in a rather miserable state. A few planned features had to be changed.
The fantastic tactical RPG XCOM Enemy Unknown surprised a lot of people when it hit iOS a long time ago not just because of the port but also the price point. Fast forward to today and the full sequel has arrived on iOS devices in the form of XCOM 2 Collection ($24.99) as a premium and very demanding release.
One of the cool things about covering one beat for a really long time is in watching developers improve in leaps and bounds over the years. When Valorware first brought 9th Dawn to mobile a whopping seven years ago, it was an impressive throwback to an era of RPGs where the graphics were limited but the worlds seemed nearly limitless. 9th Dawn II ($1.99) arrived a few years later, polishing some rough edges and expanding the possibilities of the world it put in your pocket. Now here in the cursed year of 2020, 9th Dawn III ($9.99) arrives. So many things have changed, but one thing remains the same: the 9th Dawn games are really hard to put down once you get into them.
Call of Duty: Mobile (Free) from Activision has been doing great on mobile ever since it launched a while ago on iOS and Android. It has received loads of new content, modes, and updates since launch and continues to be very polished experience. A now deleted Activision job listing spotted by Charlie INTEL was looking for an Executive Producer, Features for WZM. A lot of the job description involved translating Call of Duty: Warzone‘s essential features into mobile, proposing mobile-specific additions and changes, and more. Call of Duty: Warzone debuted earlier this year on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It is a massively popular battle royale experience. Watch the trailer for the console version below:
Originally released on PC back in 2006, Company of Heroes ($13.99) is now on iPad thanks to Feral Interactive. The real time strategy classic has been adapted for touchscreen with two control options and a plethora of enhancements in its newest incarnation on iOS as a premium release. Since this is a Feral Interactive port, expectations are very high given their superlative track record. I’ve been playing Company of Heroes on a first generation iPad Pro (9.7″) over the last week and the conversion is mostly everything I wanted with a few issues holding it back.
There are some things that you don’t realize you want until you actually have them, and for me this mobile port of Konami’s classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night ($2.99) is one of them. This is one of my favorite games of all-time, one that I obsessed over for a couple of years following its release on the PlayStation in 1997. I found every item, uncovered every secret, and squeezed out every last percentage point of map exploration. I’ve replayed it time and again on various platforms and have written numerous pieces about it, with the most recent being less than a month ago.