Atlus – Square-Enix’s Overthrower?

Maybe the title’s a bit far-fetched, but it’s entertaining nonetheless, with a hint of truth.

We all know of Square-Enix (SE)… Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Star Ocean. But how many know of Atlus? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you’ve played Atlus titles, and never knew it. Some of their better known titles include Riviera: The Promised Land, Yggdra Union, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Odin Sphere, as well as the Trauma Center, Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises. This relatively unknown company has been doing everything right lately. Especially treating their fans right. Not to mention that Atlus actually has a sense of humor.

I admit, sales-wise Atlus can forget it. That goes without saying. But, in regards to game quality and promotions, Atlus is pulling ahead of other companies. From artbooks and soundtracks, even plushies, to games with mature and dark storylines that put the player in interesting and deep situations not often seen in games, and amazing art direction and unique music that makes every game a unique jewel.

Now, I’m not saying Square-Enix games aren’t great, but honestly they’re all friggin shovelware. High-quality shovelware, but shovelware nonetheless. Case in point, Kingdom HeartsKingdom Hearts 1, Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 2, RE:Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days… I mean, come on! Stop shoveling the games out! If you ask me, Final Fantasy 13 will be SE’s first AAA title in forever, and even that is yet to be seen. (All the) KH, even Dissidia are AA, and while Atlus doesn’t have many AAA, most are definitely higher quality than AA.

While I do consider Persona 3, FES, and 4 AAA, it’s from a personal standpoint. I don’t have too many AAA games, but I’ve played those 3 titles so much, I’ve burnt out the color balance on my TV. For me, an AAA game has every component covered. It has artwork, it has story, it has soundtrack, it has fluid gameplay, it has replay value. For me, it mainly boils down to: Does it keep my interest? If it does, it’s AAA in my book.

SE also shoves their games down our friggin throats. I like the games, a lot, but if they keep advertising all the time, I’m gonna start feeling like I’ve played the games a few hundred times over, and I hate that feeling. It’s one of the reasons why I was originally hesitant about playing the Kingdom Hearts series. Not to mention they make ridiculous numbers of copies, so the games are readily available, maybe too easily.

Whereas Atlus is notoriously well-known for only printing a certain number of a title and then discontinuing printing. That in itself is a wise move on their part, because it builds demand for the games, assures the market won’t be flooded and it keeps their titles niche. So when we go out and hunt it down in stores, it feels like it’s ours. It’s what the hardcore fans have come to expect.

Andrew Monkelban

Andrew Monkelban is an avid gamer and writer, who has been featured in Second Skin, and on Wired's GameLife and The Escapist. He is also really into the Japanese entertainment scene. Even though he has Cerebral Palsy, he does not let it stop him from doing what he loves, although he's always on the look-out for technology that would help him with difficult tasks. He came to PopTen in the Summer of 2009, where he's now able to combine his passions.

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2 Responses

  1. guy says:

    I agree that Square hasn’t made a good game in a long, long time. To me, they’ve just gone downhill since FFVIII, and I think most people find that the last Square game the really enjoyed was KH2. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts games, because I’m just not really that into Disney anymore.
    I think Square’s fanbase is WAY too huge now though to be overthrown by anyone. It’s not just the size, but the mentality of the fanbase. Especially Kingdoms Hearts, which just appeals to everyone. It’s a lot like how Naruto and Bleach are hugely popular despite being mediocre series at best. It’s both the quality and quantity of their fans that will keep selling their games. The quality of the games is practically irrelevant.
    I’ve kinda lost confidence in Square. It just doesn’t excite me any more to hear about the new FF, or the new Kingdom Hearts. Or a new remake of their old games. Except Chrono Trigger. I was excited when that got ported to the DS =3

  2. Alexjonathan41 says:

    “I admit, sales-wise Atlus can forget it.” That kills the whole point of this article.

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