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Square Enix in your pocket: DS edition

Ross Miller
Ross Miller|July 5, 2007 8:00 AM

Unlike its PSP counterpart, the Nintendo DS has been no stranger to North American Square Enix releases. Chocobo Tales, Final Fantasy III, Children of Mana and Dragon Quest Rocket Slime have all graced their presence on Western shores. And Square Enix is far from done supporting Nintendo's money-printer.

Of the eight titles, we've got 4 Final Fantasy games, 3 strategy games, 2 remakes, and one surefire Japanese phenomenon by way of Dragon Quest IX. Have a look at the publisher's upcoming selection after the break.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates

The GameCube version of Crystal Chronicles was a fun and lighthearted multiplayer experience, released at a time when the price of admission -- four Game Boy Advance portables and four GBA-GCN cables -- was too high. (The full experience can still cost you $165.)

Single player and multiplayer portions are somewhat disparate, according to Gamespot's hands-on of the game at this year's Square Enix party. Also new is the ability to walk away from other party members in multiplayer, but you still must be together to leave an area.

There are five character classes this time: warrior, archer, black and white mage, and a support class that can make magic orbs (spells will require you to lose orbs to cast). You can now pick up characters, which will reportedly be used for combat and moving through areas (e.g. throwing a party member across a chasm.)

Ring of Fates is bound for Japan August 23; a North American or European release date has not been announced.

Final Fantasy IV

Much like they did with Final Fantasy III, Square Enix is revamping this once-Super Nintendo title (then released in US as FFII) and giving it a 3D makeover. It's no surprise, then, that Matrix Software, who did the FFIII release, is also handling this update.

Final Fantasy IV used the age-old story of a noble Dark Knight saving the world from an evil force. The game introduced Active Time Battle, which has been used in every Final Fantasy title since.

A recent Japanese trailer for the game stated the game was coming in 2007, with no indication if it'll make it outside of Japan by the end of the year.

Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings

The first (and so far only) announced Final Fantasy XII spin-off title, Revenant Wings is part of the so-called Ivalice Alliance, named for its use of the world of Ivalice in each related game (FFXII, the FF Tactics series).

The title is a strategy game ... a real-time (gasp!) strategy game, though videos of the game in action liken the pace and style to that of Dragon Force more so than, say, Warcraft.

Released April 26 in Japan, Revenant Wings unsurprisingly topped the charts. The game is coming this winter to North America.

Dragon Quest IX: Defenders of the Sky

The great coup that caught everyone by surprise: Enix's legendary Dragon Quest series going exclusively DS for the next installment. The franchise, which is such a phenomenon in Japan it cannot be released on a weekday without fear of harming the economy (on account of everyone making sick days), is likely to have a massive impact on the DS' already-impressive sales. (As Ludwig quipped, "Square Enix just handed Nintendo the keys to the Death Star.")

Expect DQIX to stick with the traditional turn-based battle system while adding a multitude of character customization options. No word on a Japanese release date yet, but comments by Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada indicate there are plans to release as-of-yet unannounced Dragon Quest remakes for Defenders of the Sky see the light of day.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Sealed Hole

Almost everything about this sequel to the Game Boy Advance FF Tactics gives us the impression that the game was initially designed for the single-screen and then moved to DS once it took its throne. Most notably, there is no touch-screen support.

Speaking to IGN, game director Yuichi Murasawa said, "We wanted to incorporate the major part of the battle system from the GBA version, so from that perspective, the touch screen wasn't a suitable answer."

The mechanics of FF Tactics A2 don't stray far from those of its predecessor, while touting enhanced visuals, new jobs and new races. The strategy title is expected to come out later this year in Japan; no US release date has been announced.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker

Capture, raise, and battle monsters. Sound familiar? The million-selling DQM: Joker has been in Japan since the end of December 2006, reportedly receiving a 36 out of 40 in respected Japanese gaming periodical Famitsu.

The game boasts non-random encounters, three monsters out each battle, cel-shaded animation similar to Dragon Quest VIII and IX, and online play via Nintendo Wi-Fi.

Joker is due out later this year in North America.

The latest title in the World of Mana franchise is real-time strategy title that takes place 19 years after the events of Japan-only Seiken Densetsu 3.

Heroes of Mana
came out in Japan March 8 and will reach North American and European shores on August 14 and September 14, respectively.

Front Mission 1st

A remake of the 1995 title Front Mission that has since been seen on Wonderswan Color and PlayStation One, the DS release will mark the first time it comes to North America. (FM 3, 4, and 5 have also come out in North America.) In a nutshell, it's mech ... er ... wanzer-on-wanzer action, with separate health bars for the arms and legs and countless robot customization options.

This version will include new missions, parts, accessories, characters, etc. The game was released March 22 in Japan; a North American version has been confirmed in Nintendo Power (via N-Sider).