A Glance at Echoes of Mana

I’m not really one for random mobile games. I really would prefer a proper PC or console title. I am somewhat fond of the Mana series, though I haven’t played all of them. I played a lot of Secret of Mana, a little Secret of Mana 2 (as a fan translated ROM, not the re-release), and a decent amount of Legend of Mana, both the original and the remaster which I recently finished an initial playthrough of.

The original, branded Final Fantasy Adventure in its initial US release, I’ve never played in any form, and there are a couple of mobile/Nintendo DS titles that I never messed with. I should add rounding this out to me to-do list.

I bring this up because the roster of characters for Echoes of Mana seems to draw from the protagonists of these games.

Front and center are the two that seem to be the protagonist(s) of Echoes. I also see the characters from Secret of Mana (bottom right and left center), Secret of Mana 2 (bottom left and most of the right side and back row), and Legend of Mana (back row, the two on the left). The two right behind the Echoes protagonists and the brown haired girl in the back, I don’t immediate recognize, though it’s probably safe to assume they’re from the other titles.

An attempt was certainly made to rope in all the more well-known titles, especially those that have received remakes in the last several years.

So, I could go a bit in-depth on the screenshots of Echoes, but I have some reservations. As a free to play title with in-app purchases from a Japanese developer, it really smells like mana-flavored gacha. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be bad, some people really enjoy that kind of thing, but many of them tend to feel low effort. I’ll keep an eye on it, if I don’t forget, but I’m not exactly excited.

I’m somewhat more interested in a different announcement from the same press release, Legend of Mana – The Teardrop Crystal –. This is an animated series involving the creators of the original new game cinematic from the game. Legend of Mana has a few characters and stories that are, as far as I know, unique to it. It’s a bit of a stretch, but based on the name there’s a good chance it involves the Jumi, a race of immortal beings with a gemstone “core” who have been hunted to the brink of extinction because humans like shiny things.

Regardless, I enjoy the universe and lore of Legend, so I’m curious to see what they do with it. While it says it will have a worldwide release, there isn’t any information on how, where, or when they plan to distribute it.

Absolute Speculation: The 24-man raid series of FFXIV: Endwalker will be Mana-related.

Y’all take care. Don’t burn down the mana tree.

Final Fantasy Tactics meets Octopath Traveller?

All images in this post are taken from the trailer. I have embedded it at the end of the post.

I was going to write something about my misadventures with PSO2 installation (because that’s still a thing) but instead I came across this trailer. Now, when I see the words “strategy” and “Nintendo” in close proximity, I tend to think of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. While I have limited experience with the actual handheld Advance titles, I was a large fan of the original Final Fantasy Tactics on PS1. Enough so that I own another copy for android.

Since I eventually discovered it was a genre and not a game, I try to keep an eye out for these. Enough so that I own far more of them than I’ve actually played. I wasn’t surprised to find out it was a Squenix title, in fact, I was quite excited. My first thought was, of course, a new entry in the Final Fantasy Tactics series. While it could be branded that way, I suppose, the trailer specifically says it’s a new entry in the HD-2D series.

I can only assume this is a reference to Octopath Traveller, a game I also own on two different platforms but have barely found time to play. I did enjoy what I played though, and while not exactly what I think of when I hear “tactical RPG,” the level of thought and planning I had to put into encounters seems similar, even if the gameplay is more traditional console RPG.

This is somewhat reinforced by the “chosen path” idea. I would dare say that’s the primary concept of Octopath. Octopath as also originally announced as “Project Octopath Traveler.” The title also has the same style as Octopath Traveler, though I can’t imagine it will keep the name “Triangle Strategy.” It sounds so… mundane.

The footage in the trailer certainly appears to be the tactical RPG that it claims to be. The “triangle” part of its name seems to refer to three characters that personify different paths, though for me its hard to shake the mental image of Fire Emblem’s melee rock paper scissors diagram. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Provided I don’t forget between now and the time I get home, I’ll do my best to track down this demo and give it a go. Don’t hold your breath though, that isn’t safe.

Considering I watched the trailer and immediately stopped to write about it, I seem to be fairly excited to see the game. I’m not exactly sold on the overall concept, but it’s a genre that Squenix knows well enough and I have a small measure of trust in their ability to execute it. It’s also intriguing to see the birth of a new IP. I had always assumed Octopath was a bit of a standalone niche game what would do good to get more than a single sequel.

Y’all take care, and here’s the trailer if you want to see it for yourself.

Game Publisher Stocks are Down, Maybe Kinda?

So, when I looked early this morning, it was already news that EA was down due to the official report that they missed on holiday sales. Been hovering around the -13-15% mark. In isolation I wouldn’t think much of it, but it’s almost looking like a trend at this point. There seem to be an awful lot of developers, both hardware and software, reporting weak holiday sales. Kinda put the idea in my head that maybe the industry as a whole turned down a bit.

It was also in my feed that Take-Two had taken a hit for it’s earnings report. Kinda reinforced the idea that’s forming. At least, until I actually looked it up. Honestly, I’m a little confused. I’ve got reports saying they missed and others saying surpassed expectations. I can say that according to the actual news report from Take-Two the numbers reported by that second article seem to be incorrect. One article said the stock was down not due to weak sales but weak guidance. I didn’t know what that even was, but apparently it’s a sort of “we expect this to happen” kind of statement.

It’s not just those two though, it looks like the other developers/publishers on my list are also down overall today compared to yesterday, in the general ballpark of -10-15%. I’ve read a few things saying the market as a whole is kinda down-ish due to the state of the union address, so that may also be a contributing factor. I mean, let’s face it, I have no idea what I’m talking about here.

I also didn’t read any of this especially closely, just enough to get a general idea of what’s going on. I’ve actually considered looking into the virtual market game that MarketWatch has, if only out of sheer curiosity. No better way to learn than by doing, right?

Square Enix is also making some minor headlines with their Q3 report as well. Ironically, their actual (US) stock is up. The Japanese and German listings, however, are down. Their report also shows sales and income down from last year, but also expenditure is higher as well. It will probably improve in the near future though, I know the pre-orders for the FFXIV expansion go live soon, if they haven’t already. A year ago I would have been all over that pre-order, so I’m sure that’ll help bring in a little spike of income. Their projected end of year is still down over last year though.

It would appear that most of the lower than expected sales were in the mobile/browser, mmorpg, and merchandising areas, while development and advertising costs rose over the same period. At least, that’s what the press release says.

Meanwhile, operating income declined year-on-year due to greater amortization of development costs for major new titles and increased advertising expenses.

In the smart devices and PC browser area, many of the titles newly launched in the prior fiscal year performed below expectations and failed to generate additional revenue on top of that from existing established games. A decrease in licensing income and an increase in advertising expenses also resulted in a year-on-year decline in net sales and operating income. “Romancing SaGa ReuniverSe,” which was launched in December 2018, made a good start (net sales from this title are
not recognized in Q3 but will be booked in Q4).

In the area of massively multiplayer online role-playing games, net sales and operating income decreased compared to the same period of the prior fiscal year, which had seen the launch of  expansion disks for “FINAL FANTASY XIV” and “DRAGON QUEST X.”

I think that’s all for my dry gaming stock watching for today though. I’m looking forward to the release of Anthem and how that plays out in this regard, though I suppose we probably won’t get a decent financial report for another few months yet. Such fickle and volatile things, these stocks.