Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis

 Jul 19, 2004
Final Fantasy VII is hot stuff these days; Square-Enix has started two projects on it within a short period of time, and both are due this year. The fans of the best selling title in Square Enix’s history are up for a treat – prequel and sequel are coming out the same year. But what exactly is Before Crisis? It hasn’t gotten as much attention in the western world as it has in the Land of the Rising Sun, because it’s a mobile game, and Europe and the US are still far behind Japan, when it comes to making your mobile telephone a portable gaming console.

Before Crisis was announced during Square Enix’s press conference earlier this year, which came as quite a surprise, as Square Enix already had a Final Fantasy VII project underway. The response to Before Crisis hasn’t been quite as overwhelming and positive, as it has been to Advent Children. Is it possible to make a game that would actually be good, when it is played on a tiny screen with small mobile phone speakers? The game being a prequel for Square’s most popular title to date raises the pressure a lot.

FFVII: Before Crisis has been advertised with big outdoor advertisement campaigns in the underground trains on the Yamanote and Chuo Lines, which seems to indicate that Square Enix is taking this project very seriously. But not everyone is convinced. Is Square Enix just trying to cash in by riding on the popularity of an old title?



The campaign so far has been quite vague; consisting only of few splattered words on the ads, such as “Lifestream”, “Jenova”, “Midgar”, “Sephiroth”, “Turks”, which alone say very little about what we have to expect. “Compilation of Final Fantasy VII -- Part 1" appears in one advertisement accompanied by: “The first thing to be revealed: the truth behind the Turks”. The other advertisement plate has an even more interesting message: "Seven years ago, there was a secret history that was not told" and "Final Fantasy VII has started once again; related products will continue to appear." What could this mean? The vagueness of the current Final Fantasy VII advertising has got some rumours flying around that Advent Children and Before Crisis won’t be the last of Final Fantasy VII we’ll see. The ads also state that the beta testing for the game will start soon, and as soon as that happens, we can expect more actual screenshots and material of what the game play is like.

Thanks for FFShrine for this image!

The mobile game takes place before the events of Final Fantasy VII (around 6-7 years ago), and the main characters are said to be the Turks. The game logo features two characters that resemble young Reno and Elena (however, Elena wasn’t a Turk back in those days, she only became one during the game). Another familiar face to appear in the screenshots is Tseng. Because the game takes place before the notorious events of ‘five years ago’, we’ll probably witness other familiar faces as well; such as Vincent, Sephiroth, young Cloud or Zack. The game is probably going to be quite action-based, as the mobile technology has limited qualities in showing detail and heaps of dialogue on the screen. Rumours tell us that the battle system is going to resemble that of the one we have gotten used to while playing Final Fantasies, though we’ll probably encounter some changes too, as the technology used in the mobile industry is quite different. Numerous sources have risen up to the suggestion that there will be a possibility of playing the game with multiple players, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

The game is being developed (and will later be published) by Square Enix’s mobile games division (Square-Enix Mobile), which seems to be a growing area for the company. The Square Enix subsidiary was established back in late 2003, and so far has released just one game: ‘Brave Shot’, which was a space shooter game. We’ll see in the future, if they will be coming up with more mobile game projects related to Final Fantasy.

A Final Fantasy VII related project sounds like a good place to start, rather than bringing a whole new title in to the markets. The game has already sparked some interest, for being a Final Fantasy VII prequel. The concept of playing more complex games on mobile phones is still rather new, and Square has tried new innovative ideas in their games before, and pioneered in fields such as CG animation movies (which didn’t really pay off in the end, however). The market for games played on mobile phones is larger in Japan, so it might not be that long until other major game developers start investing in where the future of gaming is going at the moment. Mobile phones have opened up a whole new market area for game developing, and developing them doesn’t take nearly as much resources as making games for consoles and PCs nowadays.

Whether the game will ever be seen outside of Japan is a big question mark, because the odds are against it. The phones used in Japan have a standardised broadcast system, which isn’t the same on this side of the ocean. According to IGN, Square Enix is developing the game for Foma 900i series mobile telephones, which is brand new technology. Japan’s biggest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo has developed the new video mobile, which has two colour screens; the battery is capable of hour and a half of videophone conversations, the phones support HTML based E-mail and some models have fingerprint recognition. This all shows that the mobile technology in Japan is far ahead, so it’ll take a while before the west catches up and phones capable of playing Before Crisis are even available here.

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Written by alhana


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