This is one I saw a lot in the comments these last few days, and one on our original list when we first thought to do the series. If you have ever played any of the Final Fantasy games, these guys were the ones to deliver it to you. They are an icon in the Japanese RPG genre, with an armada of developers working on just about every genre out there within their ranks.
Can they handle our cute cartoon equines though? Technically they have already teamed up with Hasbro in the past for Monopoly, and are known for their crazy collaborations in the form of Kingdom Hearts and it's Disneyfantasy fusion. Below the break, we dive in and find out!
They already did it!
Good old Square Enix. They have had a few rocky patches over the last decade, but love em' or hate em', there is no doubt that they have created some of the greatest and most memorable games of the last 30 years. Many a mistake has been made, but some of their biggest gambles have paid off tremendously well.
These guys already know how "cute, colorful, cartoony, yet adult" works thanks to their extensive partnership with Disney on the Kingdom Hearts lineup. If anything, this single point qualifies them more than anyone out there. They took a largely family friendly brand and melded it with a more adult oriented style to create one of the most compelling fusions we have ever seen in gaming. I remember way back in High School first hearing about it and thinking how absolutely ridiculous the merger of "Final Fantasy" and "Disney" sounded, yet here I am chomping at the bit for their 3rd, forever teased installment. That sounds exactly like my "brony" origin story!
This is really good news for pony. Hasbro already wants to appeal to a wider audience than their original "girls under 12" net from back in 2010. With Guardians of Harmony showing that they are more than willing shed the shades of pink and gritty it up a bit, a Square Enix partnership for some epic pony-based story telling in a very similar setting wouldn't be difficult at all for the companies to pull off. Kingdom Hearts has always been about the protagonist chasing after his friends while making new ones and exploring worlds. The message is so close to pony is staggering! And Square Enix has all the experience needed to do it again.
Of course, with their extensive collection of studios and communication between each, an action game like KH wouldn't be the only thing they could produce. These guys have a vast array of genres under it's belt, from the simplest of puzzle apps to epic 100% story driven 40+ hour long journeys. Square is no stranger to investing an insane amount of time and money into a project for the sake of building an icon of the industry. Quality is always a huge deal for them.
This can sometimes backfire though. The "decade of Final Fantasy XIII" got nowhere near the level they expected it to attain due to the poor sales of the first game for a variety of design choice flaws. They pumped a ton of resources into specific areas while neglecting others, and it burned them in the end. They've spent most of the last few years trying to make up for lost ground, and few will consider the FFXIII saga to be anywhere near as important as their earlier installments.
A lot of things have changed for the better though. They learned some important lessons, first with the blinder mentioned above, and second via the absolutely terrible launch of Final Fantasy XIV. With two major projects essentially flopping, a rethink was in order. On the MMORPG front, a new team stepped in with an entirely different mindset, transforming a total failure into one of the most popular games in the genre. On the other side, Final Fantasy XV is already showing a willingness to fix everything that was wrong in it's fellow single player predecessor.
The future looks bright for these guys with lots of exciting press and open showings for upcoming titles. Like Blizzard, we would have to wait a LONG time for a pony game to actually pass their huge quality bar, but I think I could trust Square Enix with the keys to Equestria!
Hopefully you are all having fun with this series, I know I am. It's kind of refreshing writing about games after so many years of just ponyponypony. Feel free to suggest any others below!