Ever since the NES, Squaresoft has brought out rpgs of top quality. Their games are the games by which all other rpgs are measured; it's a fact.
"Did you like Tales of Destiny?"
"Yea, but it's no FF7."
How common a conversation could this be? Heck, I even had a similar one a couple days ago with a fellow worker here at RPGFan. Many people say that because not every game Squaresoft puts out is absolutly perfect (no game is perfect, really, so it's silly for me to even fuel this argument, guess I'm just a silly silly guy) that Square has somehow lowered itself. I say, bull!
Let's take a little peak to the distant, distant past which most people forget. Were all of Square's NES games perfect? Tom Sawyer?! Please. Now that Square has helped make RPGs a LOT more mainstream (raise your hand if you think rpgs would be as popular as they are today without Final Fantasy, no hands? Didn't think so.) They're expanding their horizons by putting out unique fighters such as Bushido Blade, some very cool strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, and now they're even going back to racing; something they haven't done in ten+ years. Even better, they're mixing the racing genre with rpgs! Come on people, that's innovation! Back to my main point; Square's game quality has not lowered, our expectations from them have raised. Had Final Fantasy VII been released under another name by.. say.. Atlus (this is not a knock against Atlus, my pick for company of the year btw.) EVERYONE would have praised them to the Earth's end and back. Yet for some strange reason that I cannot possibly comprehend, it has become the 'in' thing for people to bash Square. Ironically however, 99% of the Square bashers probably love Xenogears.
Another point: Nowadays Square is making more games then ever before, how could it be at all possible for them to maintain the great level of quality they had in the past? I really don't know, but IMO they're doing a damn good job. Others say Square is now 'more like a businessman.'. Haven't they always been? Let's think realistically people, why did Square start? Why did ANY company start? This includes everyone from Sega to Nintendo to Atlus, WD, or Sony: TO MAKE MONEY. People need to make a living. The people at Square are making a damn good living. In the days of the SNES, there were two big systems, the SNES and the Genesis; did anyone bitch at Square for not supporting the freaking TurbographX 16?!? NO! Why didn't they support the TG16? It didn't make good sense. Square has always said they will release games to whatever platform is superior and will reach more gamers. Today, that is obviously the PSX. If FF7 had been Saturn only, it wouldn't have sold like it did and I probably wouldn't own it. Now Square is going to make games for the PS2, because it's what they feel to be a superior system (the ton of money given to them by Sony probably also has something to do with this decision :P). Is this unfair to the minority that owns a Saturn and no PSX? Not really, that's just the way life is. Is it unfortunate for them? Yes.. but come on, you guys get Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force 3 ;-)
Many claim that Square is hyping their games so much that other companies don't get the attention they deserve, I feel this is false. Square doesn't take up every page of advertising in game mags. Square doesn't take up every bit of tv ad time, Square doesn't dominate every webpage: There is plenty of room for other games. Games like Metal Gear Solid for instance, proving that not only Square is into the hype-game (though I admit, no one can hype a game quite like Square can.)
Is Squaresoft the same as it was yesteryear? The answer is no. Square is bigger and better than ever, and with Final Fantasy VIII, they're showing everyone just how an rpg should be made, receiving a dazzling grade of 99% from our own editor E-Chan.
The best is yet to come.
Written by your friendly neighborhood ff