10 Biggest Square Fails
Oh how the mighty have fallen. This list of the 10 Biggest Square Fails chronicles the fall of one of the most well know and successful third party game developers ever. Squaresoft used to be a household name for gamers. Known for games such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 which continue to show up on “best games of all time” lists, Square made a few really bad decisions which eventually led to them merging with Enix, and things didn’t get better from there. Now, the RPG giant is focusing their efforts on publishing rather than development, and by their own admission, the games they put their name behind have been “commercial failures.” In a way, it was Square’s downfall that contributed to the downfall of the JRPG as a dominant game genre. These are the 10 Biggest Square Fails.
Back in the days of the SNES, PlayStation and PlayStation 2, the Squaresoft and Square-Enix name meant something. Specifically it meant RPG excellence, but as RPGs become less and less popular Square-Enix has been struggling to adapt to the changing times. As a result, they have attempted to play the role of publisher more than developer and have taken a lot of wholly mediocre IPs under their wing. Titles like Nier, Infinite Undiscovery, Drakengard, and Wakfu are really just diluting the Square brand. At this point, the only recognizable Square-Enix property is Final Fantasy, and even that isn’t doing so hot. That’s why these throw away IPs are number 10 on our list of the 10 Biggest Square Fails.
In many ways The Bouncer was the beginning of the end for Squaresoft. This was one of their first great departures from their comfort zone of the JRPG, and it didn’t go well. The beat em’ up gameplay was dry and repetitive, and the whole game came off as generic. When the game’s melodramatic JRPG style story was contrasted with other brawlers, it just made the whole premise seem schlocky. Maybe that snapped gamers out of the haze of awe they had for Squaresoft since the SNES era, and started spreading the idea that spikey-haired kids saving the world might be played out?
Recently, Square has said that IPs like Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, and Hitman: Absolution were commercial failures. Let’s crunch some numbers for a second. Tomb Raider has sold over 4 million copies. Hitman: Absolution has sold over 3.6 million copies. Sleeping Dogs sold 1.75 million copies. Do any of these sound like failures to you? No. They are all million-sellers. It’s just that Square expected them to sell on the level of other AAA blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty. As a result, they took a huge financial hit for games that weren’t even bad and didn’t even sell poorly. Reign in your expectations, Square.
After the SNES, Final Fantasy games rarely came out on Nintendo platforms. Then, Square wanted to bring a new series of more child friendly Final Fantasy games to the Gamecube, as a way to even out it’s fanbase a bit. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was the first in this series, and it didn’t do so well. It was primarily a multiplayer game, but it required everyone playing to own their own Game Boy Advance and Gamecube Link Cable, and that was very rare. Further games in the Crystal Chronicles series also had mediocre releases, always being the mainline Final Fantasy series’ embarrassing younger cousin.
If there’s anything we have learned over Square’s long and troubled career, it’s that Final Fantasies should never get direct sequels. Final Fantasy X-2 took a story about upending a religious conspiracy and turned it into pop star dress-up time. Final Fantasy XIII-2 took a story about defying the gods and turns it into Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure. Dirge of Cerberus took one of the most loved Final Fantasies of all time and turned it into babies first cover based shooter.
What… the heck… is wrong with Square for not continuing this series. Chrono Trigger is considered one of the greatest JRPGs, if not video games, of all time. Chrono Cross, its sequel was slightly less well received but was still considered a phenomenal game with one of the most outstanding soundtracks of video game history. Oh, and remember how great the third Chrono game was? No? THAT’S BECAUSE THERE IS NO THIRD CHRONO GAME! No matter how much fans ask, Square-Enix refuses to continue this franchise. In fact, they go out of their way to prevent fans from completing fan projects based on the franchise. It’s a wonder this isn’t higher on our list of the 10 Biggest Square Fails.
Many gamers hold respect for Square as one of the initial great game developers. Unfortunately, Sqaure didn’t exactly have as much respect for you. Back in the days of the SNES, Square thought that U.S. gamers were too stupid to appreciate an RPG. That’s why Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was created, to be a beginner’s RPG. It was pretty bad, and at the time people simply regarded it as a below average game. However, as time went on and people understood more about Square’s motivation, some of the hardcore RPG crowd took it as an insult. It’s still a cult classic today, but Final Fantasy V, the game that never came out in America during the SNES era, probably would have played much better to the JRPG fans of the time.
Former Square president and Square Enix executive Hisashi Suzuki is not happy with how Sqare-Enix has been doing. Last November he went on record saying that the Square/Enix merger was a “complete failure” saying that the current company has “no vision for the future.” I could go on to say how Square-Enix has lost their focus on game development, how they watered down their strongest IPs into mediocre messes, and how they have put too much faith in lackluster publishing efforts, but the fact that a former Square president thinks the merger is a failure is good enough for me.
Final Fantasy XIV was widely considered one of the absolute worst Massively Multiplayer RPGs of all time. The game flat out didn’t work, with several outlets calling it “totally unplayable.” It scored a 49/100 on Metacritic, making it the lowest scoring game of the entire Final Fantasy series. It was so bad it went offline to be remade and re-released… and then it still didn’t work! Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn users are still having connection problems. This fail was so big it happened twice.
And here we have it, the head honcho of our 10 Biggest Square Fails list, 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.' This movie, and all of Square pictures for that matter, may be the worst thing Square has ever done. It created a company that immediately went bankrupt. It created a movie that was stuck in the uncanny valley, almost universally panned, and had nothing to do with Final Fantasy. It almost single-handedly knocked Square down the path to merging with Enix. It ended Square’s glory days in so many ways. Squaresoft may have been a much different company if this game never existed.