There are two gaming companies that can’t seem to make announcements without being bombarded by vitriolic attacks in forums, Facebook and Twitter. One of these is Gameloft, which I may address in a future column. The other is Square Enix. They have made some of my all-time favorite games, and yet now, today, I hate them, too, because of what they’re doing to Chaos Rings Sigma.
This is a fanboy reaction, of course. My original intent for this article was to write about how Square Enix needs to release the next chapter in the Chaos Rings saga. For those who haven’t played the games, Chaos Rings is a series of turn-based strategy games originally released for iOS, and now available for Android, as well. They feature Final Fantasy style combat, combined with wonderfully melodramatic storytelling, gorgeous music and excellent character/monster design. It would take far too long to dig into the wonky premise of the games, but the gist is that pairs of fighters are brought to the Ark Arena to fight to the death, basically, to the determine the toughest pair so they can destroy a monster that threatens their very planet and (apparently) time itself.
There have been three games in the series: Chaos Rings, Chaos Rings Omega, and Chaos Rings II. The first two were fine, but it was Chaos Rings II that took over my all of my gaming time until I’d finished it and its content updates. From the moment it was done, I’d been looking forward to the next installment. That installment has been announced, and I hate it. Why? Beacause of the two most dreaded word in gaming:
Also, because of the most dreaded hyphenated words in gaming:
Chaos Rings Sigma (see official website) will not be a sequel to the glorious Chaos Rings II, or even an expansion, as Omega more or less was for the original Chaos Rings. Square Enix hasn’t officially stated exactly what it will be, we just know it’ll be online, and that it’ll be free, with in-app purchases to make sure you spend much more than the $17.00 you dropped on Chaos Rings II, or else you’ll be punished with an incomplete game.
How do turn-based strategy tactics become online multiplayer? How do you tell a decent story with nearly 30 main characters? You don’t. Some reports have suggested Chaos Rings Sigma will be card-based. Others optimistically point out that the “social RPG” designation has been changed to “online RPG,” which does little to allay my fears. I’ve read that you won’t control the characters from the previous games, but will merely interact with them.
There are still details to be unveiled, but I’ve read enough to know that Chaos Rings Sigma will not be a Chaos Rings game, it’ll be a cash grab.
Look, it’s possible Square Enix will somehow do a good job with this. Kitajima Yukinori is returning to develop the scenario, after all, and development is still in the hands of Media.Vision, both of which are very good signs. It’s possible that—as with Musiea and Escher—my anger with Square Enix will turn to respect (and perhaps love) once I come to understand the reasons for their seemingly horrific actions. I’ll find out when the game is released in 2014.
Barring that, I’ll just be gathering Sopia and leveling up on random encounters until a true Chaos Rings III is announced…or until Gameloft finally announces a sequel to their wonderful Final Fantasy rip-off, Eternal Legacy.