This JRPG from two Final Fantasy legends is secretly Nintendo's best announcement of the summer

Fantasian Neo Dimension key art
(Image credit: Square Enix)

June's Nintendo Direct was jam-packed with major announcements. We were shown a new 2D Zelda game – with the titular character taking the lead role for the first time since the CD-i – along with our first real look at Metroid Prime 4: Beyond, a brand new Mario & Luigi title, and much more. Yet arguably the biggest announcement might not be what you'd expect: Fantasian Neo Dimension, which Apple Arcade users have been clamoring about for the last three years. Can you blame them? After all, it's the latest RPG from Final Fantasy veteran Hironobu Sakaguchi and features what is likely the last full soundtrack from legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu. 

Fantasian originally released on Apple Arcade in 2021, with its linear first half releasing in the spring, and the far more open-ended second half launching later in the summer. Developed by Mistwalker, Sakaguchi's company, Fantasian was (fittingly) a turn-based RPG made in a similar style to the developer's previous work on Final Fantasy. Inspired by the pre-rendered backgrounds of the franchise's original PlayStation era, Fantasian's environments were hand-modeled and scanned for use in the game, while the story followed Leo on his quest to regain his lost memories and how they might connect to his place in the world.

Fantasy dimensions

Fantasian Neo Dimension screenshot

(Image credit: Square Enix)

It's an incredible game, as anyone who managed to play it on Apple’s subscription service might be able to tell you – and the announcement that it's finally coming to other platforms is a bombshell for RPG fans. Apple Arcade exclusives haven’t always escaped the service before being delisted: most recently Platinum Games' World of Demons was axed without a port in sight, while SEGA's ChuChu Rocket Universe has essentially been lost media since September 2022. No game deserves to languish on a subscription service where it might eventually be lost to the sands of time, least of all a game which holds the legacy of industry icons like Fantasian.

I don't think it's a stretch to claim that the games industry has a problem with preserving its history, and when it comes to subscription services like Apple Arcade, it feels like a damning example of all of our worst practices. We should never have had to worry that anything even approaching the esteem of Sakaguchi's last game could be lost forever, but we very well might have if things had gone even slightly differently.

Ironically enough, it may have been what Sakaguchi's been up to in his "retirement" – playing Final Fantasy 14 like a full-time job – that could have led to the game's release on other platforms, as Square Enix's own Creative Studio 3 is helping with the new release.

Second time's the charm

FANTASIAN Neo Dimension - Announcement Trailer - YouTube FANTASIAN Neo Dimension - Announcement Trailer - YouTube
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It goes without saying that Sakaguchi returning to working with Square is a major deal. There's something poetic about them coming together to ensure that what might be the father of Final Fantasy's last project won't end up in purgatory. To make things even better, it sounds like the game will benefit from more than just being playable: improved resolution and visuals, voice acting, and a new difficulty mode are all on the way.

Even at its release, I lamented that Fantasian was a game that felt doomed to an audience much smaller than what it deserved. While I loved the difficulty present at its release, and never had any particular issues with how it ran or looked on a then-current Apple TV 4K, it was undeniable that a core portion of the game's potential fans would never give it the time of day without an eventual port and a few balancing tweaks.

Now, that port has finally arrived – and in a state where I'm sure the wider RPG-playing public might finally give it that chance. There were plenty of heavy hitters at the Nintendo Direct, but as far as I'm concerned, none were as important as Fantasian finally seeing the light of day. I'd almost lost hope it would ever happen - and the true weight of the game's legacy is still up in the air. While it's unclear whether he feels the same now, at the time of the title's release Sakaguchi famously called Fantasian his last game. Moreover, Nobuo Uematsu maintains that his work on the soundtrack will likely remain his last full project as a composer. To see the game finally come to other platforms, and with the help of Square Enix no less, feels like a minor miracle.

Fantasian: Neo Dimension is set to release for the PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam in Winter 2024. In the meantime, you could always check our something from our ranking of the best JRPGs to play right now.

James Galizio

James Galizio has been writing about gaming and technology from LA since 2014, and has contributed to outlets such as RPG Site, Nintendo Insider and more with a special focus on PC gaming and Japanese RPGs. Graduating from the University of California, Irvine in 2021 with Bachelors in English he has covered events such as E3, Tokyo Game Show and more as he hopes to help shine a light on games both big and small. If he’s not writing about an upcoming or recently released RPG, you can probably find him playing Monster Hunter or some random game that might have recently been released in Japan.