Hironobu Sakaguchi Looks to the Future as Terra Battle Shuts Down

Hironobu Sakaguchi Looks to the Future as Terra Battle Shuts Down

Final Fantasy's creator returns to his roots as Mistwalker's free-to-play tactical RPG shuts down.

Terra Battle, the tactical role-playing game released on mobile by Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mistwalker studio, is shutting down on June 30. As of today, you can no longer purchase the game's hard currency ("Energy,") but you can spend whatever's in your reserves. Get to spending.

Mistwalker posted the termination notice earlier today, which marks the beginning of the end for the six-year-old mobile RPG. Sakaguchi completed the news about the shutdown with a farewell note.

"This game was also our first smartphone service-type RPG," he writes. "I personally learned a lot from this experience, and am constantly reminded that 'there are no paths that aren't worth taking.'

"I am very thankful to have had such an experience."

Sakaguchi's goodbye segues into a promise that Mistwalker is working hard on Fantasian, the full-blooded RPG revealed alongside the Apple Arcade service in March 2019. "This game goes back to my roots in the Famicom (NES) era, and I plan to bring this to life using dioramas," he writes. "Development for the game is currently moving at full speed and I hope to see you all in the next 'world.'"

From this angle, Fantasian seems like a crossroads for Sakaguchi. We haven't seen anything about the game since its 2019 reveal, but it's clear Sakaguchi chose an ambitious path with his hand-crafted diorama backgrounds. The Terra Battle closure notice mentions the game was cancelled because the team "would not be able to continue providing the necessary quality of service moving forward." Terra Battle 2 is still kicking for now, but it's exclusive to Japan. That suggests Fantasian is in an "all hands on deck" stage of development. We might see something about the RPG soon. The question is, what? And where?

In the early '10s, several developers of classic games experimented with mobile and web-based game development, but most have since returned to consoles or PCs. Sakaguchi's commitment to mobile makes him a holdout—but the nature of Apple Arcade makes it possible we'll see Fantasia on consoles after a period of timed exclusivity on iOS. Shantae and the Seven Sirens just hit consoles after an Apple Arcade stint. Sayonara Wild Hearts came to consoles, as did Earthnight. In other words, we might see Sakaguchi return to consoles at last, albeit on a roundabout way. Moreover, games developed for Apple Arcade lack in-app purchases and other microtransactions. You pay for your game, you get your game. We're finally going to have an unadulterated Sakaguchi RPG, and if we're super-duper lucky, we'll get a Switch port.

This might all be wishful thinking since Apple Arcade's licensing deals are kind of nebulous. Capybara's puzzle game Grindstone shows no signs of branching from Apple Arcade, and no doubt Apple wants to keep similar prestigious games for itself. Sakaguchi and Fantasian might wind up being an Apple Arcade exclusive for a long time, if not forever.

Honestly? I'll play Fantasia regardless of its home platform. It's a shame to see Terra Battle go—I played the game for a time, and was actually part of the early Canadian soft launch audience—but it's exciting to see Sakaguchi creep back to "real" RPGs and embrace his roots as Final Fantasy's creator.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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