Square Genius or Blunder? [11/20/00]

Like many fans of the Final Fantasy series, I waited long in anticipation of FFIX and the ensuing strategy aides. When I first heard the Square was going to do an online strategy to coincide with a printed guide, I was intrigued. I understood their attempt to make the first step towards the online promotion that would be needed for FFX and FFXI, both of which seemed to be either partially or wholly involved with the upcoming online service for the Playstation 2. My only wonder was whether this was a good move. Having grown familiar with RPGs over the past years, I wondered how they could successfully execute such an aggressive plan.

But, they are Square…

November 15th rolled around and FFIX hit the shelves. I, like many other people, rushed out and snatched up the game and the coinciding strategy guide from BradyGames. When I reached home, the guide hit my desk, unopened, while I churned through the first couple of hours of the game. I found myself unstoppable until I hit a major snag: Tetra Master.

Finding this card game unpredictable and altogether difficult, I went to the strategy guide and stated reading. Needless to say, I was a little less than disappointed in the almost ambiguity of the guide. Anything of real importance was "cross-referenced" to the website. Any decent secret (special items, secret bosses, the Stellazio Coins…) had a look-up code for the website.

With a sigh, I went online. Earlier in the day, I had registered for the website (and, mind you, I had to do that twice to get it to go through), so I started to browse around. Once inside, I checked out the BBS, finding there a number of fans had already been there and were displaying some quite vicious displeasure. It looks like I wasn't the only one miffed by the whole string of events. But that wasn't even the least of it. That Friday (Nov. 17th), I tried to get on, only to find the site down. And it was down all through the weekend. I guess It came up partially on the next Monday, but I still found myself unable to log-in or register under a new ID.

Now, I wouldn't be giving this evidence of my own troubles if I didn't think that everyone else were having similar troubles. This leads me to wonder if this was the best idea for Square to try. Yes, I congratulate them for trying something new, but I have to wonder if they should have worked out all the kinks before going live with this. If they can't seem to rectify this problem, I almost wish that someone would have put out an unofficial guide. (Anyone else remember the excellent guide for FFVII by Versus Books?)

All of this just seems to leave a bad taste in our mouths. With such a strong year from Square, we wonder if this will end their year on a down note? We'll still play this game multiple times in a row to get all of the secrets, but we'll sit there wondering who dropped the ball.

- - Kinderfeld

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If you were like me and a number of other people, then this is what you managed to see that first weekend. Even if you did manage to get in, you probably didn't like what you saw.