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Final Fantasy Takes Another Hit



This Week in Games
Final Fantasy Takes Another Hit

by Heidi Kemps,

Here we are, on the final day of 2021. While it wasn't the dumpster fire that 2020 was, I don't think anyone would say it was a particularly amazing year. We did get some darn good games out of it, at least!

My original plan for this week's column was to do big reviews of Deathsmiles I + II and Cotton Rock n’ Roll, two recent Japanese shooter releases. But guess what? The physical copies I ordered from Amazon Japan still aren't here yet.

Shipping's still backed up from the holidays, I get it, but what worries me is that instead of shipping by the usually-reliable and fast DHL, Amazon Japan sent this particular shipment by a courier called SF Express… and googling their name for reviews does not yield encouraging results. Meanwhile, Deathsmiles I+II just launched on the US Switch eShop today, so I could just buy it there, but I don't want to risk it while my box is still in limbo.

In recent years a lot of folks have turned to Amazon JP for their import game and media orders. If they're phasing out DHS to use these questionable-quality couriers, though, I'll have to take my business elsewhere. I'm not risking things like my limited-edition Egret II Mini full package getting lost or damaged.


After two years, Comic Market 99 (aka Comiket) is happening in Japan – albeit with very stringent COVID checks and a reduced capacity. While I couldn't be there in person, a doujinshi book I put together was being sold there through my friends at the retro-gaming focused doujin circle Yuzumo Design.

Yes, I did in fact get a bunch of folks together to create an illustration doujinshi featuring Vanessa from Virtua Fighter, and it debuted yesterday at the show. While I haven't seen the printed copies in person yet, just looking at the photos is enough to tell me that they turned out great! If you're interested in getting a copy, I have pre-orders available here, though it'll take a little bit of time for the books to get here from Japan.

Overall, even with the rules and restrictions, most folks are just glad to see Comiket back again. If the Comiket staff manage to keep transmission to a minimum, it bodes well for the future of other in-person otaku events in Japan.

Anyway, even if my plans were upended, there's still some stuff worth talking about as the year closes.


What's been going on with Final Fantasy XVI? It feels like forever since we first saw the game revealed. There have been multiple prime opportunities for Square Enix to share more information or show new footage – all of which have yielded nothing. With the year coming to a close, Naoki Yoshida took to Twitter to update folks on the current status of FFXVI. And surprise, surprise – it's suffering from COVID-related development setbacks.

I'm glad he's being upfront about the development problems, even if I feel like he should have said something a little bit earlier. I don't think anyone's terribly shocked by this news, though – we know very well by now that a lot of games, announcements, and product launches have been pushed back due to the pandemic, and FFXVI's just another entry in that list. At least we won't have to wait too much longer for news, as spring 2022 isn't all that far off.

FFXVI isn't the only delay for Square Enix, however, as Dragon Quest X Offline has also been pushed back from its February 2022 release date to summer. The official reason is because “the game has a lot of content,” but I think we all know that it's probably more pandemic setbacks that are really to blame.. (And still no word on an English release yet, either.)

And I guess since I'm talking about Squeenix, I should mention the YOKO TARO IS ENDING NIER??!!!! headlines you've been seeing a lot. I mean, come on, we all know what Yoko Taro is like by now, right? Of course he's trolling. But he's also helping websites generate a lot of clicks and ad impressions, so… thanks for the revenue, you masked madman!


The Japanese television network TV Asahi recently did a survey of around 50,000 participants to vote for their all-time favorite games. They then broadcast a list of the top 100 results. The fine folks at Gematsu transcribed the entire list, which you can check out here.

What's the big takeaway from the list? Well, if you ask me, it's that, much like their Western counterparts, Japanese gamers will generally name what's either currently or historically super-popular as their “favorite” games. The difference between West and East is that instead of poll results packed with Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, you get a list full of Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter. There are also a whole lot of Nintendo games on the list, but that's not too surprising giving the Switch's current complete market dominance. (Also, the entire world loves Nintendo stuff.) In fact, there's almost nothing there for platforms that aren't Nintendo or Sony.

There are some interesting entries, though. A few Western games made the list: Minecraft, Undertale, Apex Legends, Ghosts of Tsushima, and Dead by Daylight. Minecraft and Undertale got a lot of coverage in the JP press, while Apex Legends and DbD have been recent streaming hits during the pandemic. Street Fighter II being the only fighting game to make it on there is a bit of a surprise considering how well Virtua Fighter II and Tekken 3 sold in the days of 32-bit. No Resident Evil/Biohazard 2 or 4 is a surprise, and Tales of the Abyss being the only Tales series game on the list is also a bit of a surprise (though it's certainly not a bad series entry). Some folks were surprised to see Namco's early shooter Xevious on there, but it's a very historically significant game – it did tremendously well in Japanese arcades (even better than Pac-Man), it was a standard-setter for future games in the genre, and it had a surprisingly solid Famicom port.

Overall, the list is a good look into the mindset of the “typical” Japanese gamer – someone not interested in experimental visual novels and high-skill action games, but who's really into what they see being played and talked about on streaming channels and Twitter. I know some folks have an image of the Japanese as enlightened super-gamers who can appreciate obscure titles us westerners can't, but for the most part, they're just like us: going along with what they see as popular and trendy. The games they embrace might be different, but the sentiment's the same.


While Activision-Blizzard was the ongoing game industry shitshow of 2021 (and likely 2022), League of Legends publisher Riot Games has been facing its own reckoning over the past couple of years. Riot has been faced with allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and have been subjected to multiple lawsuits over the past few years. One of these lawsuits was settled earlier this week, and while it's a step in the right direction, Riot isn't completely clean yet.

Besides having to pay the plaintiffs (every female employee or former employee or Riot since November 2014), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Division of Labor Standards out of a $80 million settlement fund, Riot will also be instituting workplace policy reforms. These include establishing a $6 million, three-year fund for revising diversity and inclusion programs, involving a third-party firm in scrutinizing company pay and promotion practices, and working with a different third party to make sure that Riot is in compliance with all of these new reforms.

This is only one lawsuit, however – another, separate lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and unwanted advances from CEO Nicolo Laurent is still ongoing, and it may be a while before we see where that leads. (Riot has conducted their own internal investigation and cleared Laurent of wrongdoing.) And while it's good that Riot is implementing these much-needed company reforms, I do wonder if they were more eager to get this settlement handled after seeing all of the heat Activision's been (very deservedly) getting.

If there's one good thing to come out of all of these reports on toxic work environments at game publishers, it's that these awful corporate cultures are finally being dismantled and remade. Activision-Blizzard is facing a massive reckoning, Riot is finally starting to implement meaningful change, and if recent reports are any indication, developers are getting fed up with Ubisoft's abusive and miserable work environment as well. This has all been long overdue, and even if it's painful now, it will – I hope – lead to much better workplaces (and much better games) in the future.

And that caps off the final column of 2021! What are your most anticipated games and game events of the coming year? Any wild (or mild) predictions about what will happen next year in the game industry? Feel free to share your thoughts in the forum (link below, as usual) as we count down the last few hours until 2022. May you all have a happy new year!