Dragons and mascots and Square, oh my!
Square Enix, famous for generation-spanning IPs like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, has just unveiled Studio Istolia, a game development company named after the Greek word for “story.” Studio Istolia’s first project will be the mysterious (in that they didn’t really say much about it) Project Prelude Rune. What really makes this interesting, though, is the main talent they put behind the wheel of this new venture: Hideo Baba.Baba, for those who may not recognize the name, was one of the key producers on Bandai Namco’s Tales series for years. He’s got loads of experience and plenty of titles under his belt, so putting him in charge of his own studio is honestly a no-brainer. By the sounds of it, Baba’s already got plenty of ideas raring to go. In an interview with Famitsu, as translated by Siliconera, Baba revealed the unnamed mascot character of the studio as well as the general feeling he wants fans to take from Istolia’s first project. Baba plans to make a game that radiates “warmth,” something players would jump at the chance to experience. The general aesthetic of the game (as intended at the moment) is more in the vein of traditional fantasy than the more magitech-style that the Tales and Final Fantasy series generally go for.
The future is looking good for traditional fantasy JRPGs, if this and Atlus’s upcoming Project Re Fantasy are anything to go by. While I love me some good old fashioned modern-day fantasies (cough go play The World Ends With You cough), I’ve been hoping we get a return to at least some traditional high fantasy settings after all of the Shibuya and World War 2 analogues. As long as they can make these landscapes engaging with characters we actually care about, we’ve got some fun games to look forward to.
Or they could just make it all mobile. Who knows?
Check out the studio’s Facebook page here, if you feel your Japanese skills are up to par.