Square Enix and mobile develoepr DeNA announced Final Fantasy: Record Keeper, a free-to-play Android and iOS game, for North American audiences today. It comes out this spring.

Released last September in Japan, the new app combines many of the Final Fantasy games into an original story that involves a new protagonist named Deci, who visits the various worlds in the series via magic paintings. As Deci, you recruit pixelated versions of characters who have been rendered in 3D like Cloud, Lightning and Tidus, as well as older favorites like Shadow, Kain and the Black Mage. The overall style resembles the sprites from Final Fantasy VI, the last 2D game in the main numbered series.

Final Fantasy: Record Keeper has already been downloaded 5 million times in Japan.

From the looks of it, Record Keeper bears resemblance to Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, a notorious app released in 2013 that featured little to no gameplay; all you did to play was swipe the screen without rhyme or reason and buy characters. It was universally reviled.

The press release for Record Keeper inspires hope: "Gameplay in Final Fantasy: Record Keeper is as strategic and challenging as ever with the classic Final Fantasy Active Time Battle (ATB) system in place. Players battle their way through the most epic Final Fantasy moments, woven together for the first time on mobile with an all-new tale. Featuring skill-based interactive gameplay, players plan attacks, carefully choose tactics, and engage enemies in active time battles."

Meanwhile, the official website features screenshots from past Final Fantasy games. You'll see familiar scenes from Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X and the polygonal remake of Final Fantasy IV. A counter around the middle of the site advises users to "Pre-register now and boost the point meter to unlock special rewards, including Tidus from Final Fantasy X!"

The release states nothing about microtransactions or cash shops, but does mention that "characters can each be completely customized and equipped to the fullest with iconic gear, powerful spells, summons, and hundreds of weapons to choose from."

If Record Keeper has actual substance, it could succeed as another example of Square Enix's attempts to repair the once-venerated Final Fantasy brand. If not, it will join the rest of the company's recent cheap and recycled efforts in the mobile realm. Besides All the Bravest, Square Enix also released iOS and Android remakes of Final Fantasy V and VI that are riddled with bugs, typos and chintzy visuals inferior to the original games. It also took down the broken iOS version of The World Ends With You.

On the other hand, Square Enix is about to release Final Fantasy Type-0 HD in March, a high-def repurposing of the long-awaited PSP game that will come with a demo for the even-longer-awaited Final Fantasy XV -- formerly Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a game announced in 2006. Square Enix's MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, has also enjoyed great success and popularity after a disastrous launch that required a whole new team to come in and rebuild the game from the ground up.

With Final Fantasy at an important crossroads in its life, a decent mobile app could help push the series in a more positive direction. For what it's worth, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper has received good word of mouth already.

But Square Enix has more spin-offs in store: Final Fantasy VII: G-Bike, a mobile app based on Cloud's escape from Midgar; Final Fantasy Explorers, a Monster Hunter clone for Nintendo 3DS; and Final Fantasy Agito, a mobile spin-off of Type-0. If Square Enix wants to return the flagship series to its halcyon days, perhaps the company should stop diluting it.

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