Square-Enix Adds a Silver Lining to Variant Hunting
For almost a decade (as of this post), Square-Enix has been quietly selling reprints of some of their most popular role playing games on their online-store at https://store.na.square-enix-games.com.
The catch is that their original PlayStation games hide a secret once the sure-fire way to weed out a bootleg game; they’re molded in the standard silver plastic, not the typical blue / black PlayStation dye.
Six total games represent the Silver Bottom subset. I’ve posted one of each here for quick reference. Click each name to go to that game’s individual page:
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy Anthology
Final Fantasy Chronicles
Final Fantasy Origins
Now this being Game-Rave – I can also share that there are variants within the subset. It appears that each print run of a game provides a very minor difference from the previous run. I’ve bought one of every game available when they’re up for sale to track these changes, and can safely admit they’re not exactly inspiring. About the only consistent variant is one where the Greatest Hits Green bar fluctuates in hue and brightness. Some discs will shift between thicker and thinner fonts for the Copyright text. Others have no known difference among their reprints.
If you’re going to attempt to collect a base set of six, here’s the checklist to help you know what to look for, especially when shopping for New copies.
- They have no Top Security Seals with the hologram. Sony stopped this practice at some point in the years of the late PlayStation releases and PlayStation 2 games.
- Shrinkwrap has not been consistent. Don’t even bother trying to use this as a gauge. 3 different orders had at least three different shrinkwrap styles, and none of them had the clear tear strip.
- The double jewel case games have a much darker, richer black shell. If one were sitting among original releases, you could spot it.
- The cases themselves are not consistent. Two versions of Chronicles each had a different style double-jewel case. Square-Enix is printing these with whatever supplies are on hand
- Final Fantasy VIII appears to be the most difficult to snag, due to what appears to be smaller print runs. I’ll explain the possibility of why that is below.
- If you’re going to be a good collector and open these to play – I can not stress this enough – BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL with the double jewel cases. My original copy of Final Fantasy VIII’s hubs were so tight I snapped Disc 3 in half trying to remove it from the tray.
- Final Fantasy IX appears to be the only one with a code revision from its original Greatest Hits release. The other five games are the same code wise.
- If you’re shopping used, in online sales auctions all you need to do is look at the disc hubs. All of them are clear, so if you don’t see a thick black ring it’s the silvers.
Missing in Action
Now comes the theory on Square-Enix’s choice of games to reprint. Obviously, there are some serious heavy hitters missing from that list and these might be the reasons why:
- Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics, among other titles were originally co-published by Sony themselves. It’s more then likely Sony preferred to keep the profit margin from the digital PSN store versions than go through the paperwork hassle of physical publishing rights.
- Final Fantasy VIII’s fewer print runs may be tied to the licensing rights of the music featured in the opening and closing. With the re-master having been released, they were more than likely putting all the money into that version.
- There doesn’t seem to be any hope for other legends like Vagrant Story and Xenogears, among others due to the complications of the modern-day licensing rights.
Aside from that, it’s a fairly easy and in-expensive set to pick up. A nifty conversation piece right up there with the Fighters Edge games. Please use the above links to check out each game’s page and ding the variant tab to track all the chaos.