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Jetsetter: After all these years, Final Fantasy Versus XIII turns into Final Fantasy XV

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It’s the weekend, a time when Digital Trends’ gaming section turns its wandering eye to distant shores to check out what game developers around the world are making and playing. This is Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column devoted to import gaming and the international game development community. The United States represents the largest monetary gaming population on the planet, but we’re dwarfed by the wild range of gaming expression found across world cultures.

This week, we start with a look at a peculiar appearance from a new Swedish developer who may just be a front for one of Japan’s most iconic directors. While in Japan we check in a fashion designer’s influence on the world’s most famous RPG series, Final Fantasy. And finally, we head back to Sweden to look at the first original title in years from Starbreeze, the developer of Chronicles of Riddick.

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* Who, or what is, The Phantom Pain developer Joakim Mogren?

Back in December, an odd trailer for a game called The Phantom Pain from Swedish studio Moby Dick Games was shown at the Spike Video Game Awards. Speculation at the time suggested that no such studio existed and that the so-called Swedish game is actually Metal Gear Solid 5, from the very Japanese studio Kojima Productions. The hoax, if it is one, continued on Friday when Game Trailers aired an interview with Moby Dick Studios chief Joakim Mogren, who appeared with his face wrapped in bandages. After the interview aired, forum posters in communities like NeoGAF began speculating that Joakim Mogren wasn’t even a real person, but a computer animated model built using Kojima’s new FOX Engine, meaning that the entire hoax is meant to be spectacle for demonstrating new technology. The logo for the FOX Engine does appear in promotional materials for The Phantom Pain. That Kojima is one sly fox.

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* Fashion company claims it’s working on Final Fantasy XV.

With the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 winding down, a role-playing era is also coming to a close. Since the series began in 1987, every console generation has received three entries in the Final Fantasy series. The original trilogy was on NES, followed by the SNES trilogy, the PS1 trilogy, and the PS2 trilogy which included multiplatform MMO Final Fantasy XI. Now, it looks like the only trilogy this time out is for three Final Fantasy XIII games.

The series may not die an ignoble death, though. Japanese fashion line Roen has, according to its online biography, worked on Final Fantasy XV. Why is this worthy of attention? Because Roen announced back in 2008 that it was contributing to Square-Enix’s long lost PlayStation 3 exclusive Final Fantasy Versus XIII. That game is no longer listed in Roen’s bio, just Final Fantasy XV. Has Square finally decided to rename the game it insists is still in production? Is the Japanese role-playing game saved? Will Square’s Japanese developers ever stop coasting on past successes and make good games again? Only the future can answer this terrible, terrible questions.

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* Starbreeze shows off Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

Moby Dick Studios may not be a real Swedish game developer, but Starbreeze certainly is. The studio is responsible for two of the last decade’s most interesting first-person shooters, namely The Chronicles of Riddick for Xbox and The Darkness. Since finishing work on the reviled Syndicate shooter in 2012, Starbreeze turned its eye to making a new original IP. Jetsetter reported on the announcement of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons back in September, but it was only this week that previews of the game started hitting the web.

Early word is good. The gorgeous adventure game tasks you with controlling the titular siblings using both analog sticks on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controller. “We made this from scratch, and this is our own, this is what Starbreeze made,” Starbreeze COO Mikael Nermark told Eurogamer, “It’s not Starbreeze making an EA IP, or an Activision IP or whatever. I wouldn’t say we’re reaching a dead end in the industry, but I saw the same things coming up – and whatever game we make, I think we need to bring something new to the table. And with Brothers, I think we’re doing that. So that was something that really appealed to me.”

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