Square Enix Reboots: Tokyo RPG Factory

Collin Kelly

Last week, Tomb Raider came back to the big screen with a full reboot of the film franchise. In collaboration with Square Enix and based on the 2013 video game, Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander in what will solidify a new age of Lara Croft. Both the film and game franchises will have been fully rebooted with a new reinvigorated energy that Square Enix will only continue to improve and deliver on. On top of the film release, the rebooted game franchise has just announced its latest Lara Croft adventure with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Square Enix has received critical acclaim for their new Tomb Raider franchise. But this isn’t the only franchise that they have rebooted for the modern age. In honor of the new film reboot, USC Games takes a look at the hit reboot franchises of Square Enix and the success each has received.

Tokyo RPG Factory

In 2015, Square Enix announced the establishment of a new studio within the company in order to develop new games based on the traditional JRPGs that made up the “Golden Age of RPGs”. While not strictly a reboot in the sense of a franchise revival, Tokyo RPG Factory represents the interest of a legendary Japanese publisher, known for hit titles like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts, in continuing to honor, develop, and focus on classic JRPGs.


The creation of Tokyo RPG Factory is a reboot in the sense that Square Enix is creating a development house specifically to spark further interest in the field of JRPGs and bringing to RPG fans worldwide new and interesting games that scratch the itch of JRPG fans looking for something a bit more nostalgic. The first game announced for this project was “Project Setsuna”, which would later take on the name I am Setsuna.

Released for the Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and later Windows PC and Nintendo Switch, I am Setsuna tells a gripping story of a maiden named Setsuna, who must sacrifice herself at a sacred shrine to appease hostile demons. The story’s central theme is sadness and evokes role-playing games of the 1990s by using an Active Time Battle System, such as that in Final Fantasy 7 and Chrono Trigger.

The game’s concept was created very quickly, with the first alpha built within only a matter of a few months. The goal was to create something that encapsulated the golden age of RPGs and was built by a team of developers who were impassioned to fulfill this vision. “We wanted to make the kinds of games that really affected us as children. Nowadays you don’t see many of those kinds of RPGs out there, so it was good to see that there is an audience who wants to play them,” said studio director Atsushi Hashimoto. Many of the developers held Chrono Trigger as one of their favorite games and recognized that there were very few spiritual successors to it. The game became well received and was remarkable for its overall atmosphere, somber story, and piano score composed by Tomoki Miyoshi, a young 24-year-old composer who worked on Soul Calibur V. The Verge author Andrew Webster remarked that “part of what made I Am Setsuna so striking was its focus: it only did a few things, but it did them well.”

The success of I Am Setsuna prompted Square Enix to greenlight a spiritual successor titled Lost Sphear, which was released for Switch, PS4, and Microsoft Windows in the West in January of this year. It even received a retail version in the West unlike its predecessor. With feedback from the first game, the team made several improvements and received similar positive critical acclaim for its familiar, but well executed, gameplay.

Although some critics remark with surprise at the development of classic-style RPGs today, many are positive about the support and development by Square Enix and by the titles that have been produced. “But it is not all nostalgia, and in fact, when it comes down to the brass tacks of gameplay, it is the freshest RPG I have played in some time,” said Ben Barrett of PCGamesN.

The creation of Tokyo RPG Factory is an amazing development in today’s era of games. According to Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda, the team is made up of volunteers who want to make this kind of game and come from an array of backgrounds and age groups. He wants them to be able to create their own “in-house style” and carve out a unique way of creating games by looking to the past and combining that with the development techniques of today. USC Games looks forward to seeing what comes out of the Tokyo RPG Factory next! Passionate developers who really care about their projects isn’t new to us, and we hope that the studio finds much success in their future endeavors.

For more on Square Enix and their rebooted titles, come back tomorrow as we talk about the sneaky stealth game, Thief!

In case you missed it, we covered:

  • Tomb Raider, and the return of Lara Croft
  • Hitman, and its experimental episodic model

We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of these great titles so far. And look forward to our coverage of Square Enix’s next great titles, Octopath Traveler and Kingdom Hearts 3 later this year!