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What’s Square-Enix’s big new secret? Here’s why it’s probably not Star Ocean 5

Today Square-Enix started teasing a new title on their official website, under a page ever-so-tantalisingly-named ‘secrets’.

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Square-Enix secrets

Today Square-Enix started teasing a new title on their official website, under a page ever-so-tantalisingly-named ‘secrets’.

Not content with this week’s incredibly popular announcement of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – which to be completely honest didn’t go according to plan when a Russian website spoiled the big surprise one day into the three-day reveal event – but if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Information on the new page is pretty sparse. Visitors are met with a zoomed-out view of an unspecified planet, and a few seemingly-random characters that don’t give much away. Other than sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook – which when activated pops up a message stating “Square Enix New Project. NEXT 2015.04.13” – that’s really all we get. So while Square-Enix will be hoping that their latest cryptic reveal isn’t cracked so easily, there are those out there who believe they’re already figured it out.

The text in the centre of the page reads:

    S          A    R
0    1           0            1

Which to some, seems blindingly obvious. Twitter, forums and comment sections are abuzz with Square-Enix fans confidently proclaiming it’s a reveal of Star Ocean 5. It makes sense; slip a ‘T‘ in the top line and you’ve got ‘Star‘, the planetscape below contains an ‘ocean‘ and ‘5‘ in binary is ‘0101‘. Case closed, many are saying. But something about this doesn’t quite add up…

Square-Enix secrets

When you highlight the header image, it doesn’t seem to quite fit that the first line says ‘Star‘. It’s off-centre, and there’s definitely room for more characters on the right-hand end of the line. As for the second line – that could very well be binary, or some other code – but the amount of extra space between the characters looks like it’s going to hold a bigger secret than the binary for ‘5‘.

When you look at the source of the webpage it doesn’t give much away, but it does proudly proclaim in the centre under the meta tags within the head element that the operative keywords are “Square-Enix New Project” in English, and if you translate the adjacent Japanese characters they read “New Project” and “New Project Start Up”. So all signs point to something new, something exciting, and something very different from the grandfather of the J-RPG.

Not convinced? Need yet more proof that it’s not Star Ocean 5? Square-Enix have not yet registered the domain name ‘StarOcean5.com‘ or ‘StarOcean5Game.com‘ – cue internet trolls to rush out and purchase them for blackmail purposes – sorry Square-Enix!

We can’t tell you what Square-Enix’s new secret is going to turn out to be – sorry about that – but based on the evidence on hand, were pretty confident it’s not going to be Star Ocean 5.

Update, April 10 2015, 9.10pm GMT:

There’s an additional sub-domain under the main URL above, simply called ‘sp‘. What does ‘sp‘ stand for? We have no idea! It looks like it’s just a portrait-oriented version of the site, but it does change the orientation of the clue text somewhat, becoming:

Square-Enix secret 'sp' page

There’s still plenty of free space to the right of the ‘R’ which indicated the word is longer than four letters, but having the numbers re-arranged like that might mean something different – they might well be representing a date. Thanks to N4G user Bhuahahaha for spotting that interesting tidbit!

Additionally, thanks to a rudimentary Tin Eye Reverse Image Search we’ve been able to establish that while it is definitely an ocean in the background, the planet in question is actually our own Earth! Take a look at the following image for a comparison, and keep an eye out for the West-African coastline in the Square-Enix image:

Square-Enix's secret is the Atlantic Ocean!We’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available!

Update, April 13 2015, 1pm GMT

There are more numbers on the page, and as we predicted, they’re beginning to spell out a date in 2015. There are more letters on the page too, and they do indeed spell out ‘STAR‘ but that still doesn’t mean we’re certain it’s a new Star Ocean title just yet. There still looks to be space for an extra character on the right-hand side, and it’s even more prominent when you look at the hidden ‘sp’ page:

Square Enix secret 'sp' page

It just doesn’t quite look right, does it? So if that top line isn’t complete, what could be in the final position? There aren’t that many five-letter words that begin ‘star‘ – in actual fact, there are only four of them – ‘stare‘, ‘stark‘, ‘stars‘, and ‘start‘. Following the Final Fantasy VII remake trolling from December 2014, who can really say they’re that confident that Square-Enix aren’t just teasing the ‘start‘ of something?

We’ll check back again tomorrow, as the next update is coming on April 14.

Update, April 14 2015, 9.45am GMT

We’ve received a bit of fan-boy-fueled hate mail in the Thumbsticks post box over the past few days. People have been asking us why we “hate Star Ocean” and why we “don’t want to see another Star Ocean game” – they’ve also been calling us some quite nasty names.

That’s not it at all. We actually rather like Star Ocean, and would be very pleased to see Star Ocean 5 released, but that wasn’t the point of this article. We simply didn’t think, based on the evidence at hand, that the ‘secret’ Square-Enix were teasing was actually going to be Star Ocean 5 at all, and do you know what? It looks like we might have been right:

Square-Enix START

So check back tomorrow and we’ll see what Square-Enix are teasing the ‘start‘ of, and remember – we predicted yesterday that the page was going to spell ‘start‘ while everyone else was still convinced it was Star Ocean 5 – you heard it here first.

Update, April 15 2015, 11.45am GMT:

Well what do you know, it turned out to be Star Ocean 5 after all!

We were right about a couple of things along the way – we identified that the numbers were spelling out a date rather than the binary for ‘5’; and we realised Square-Enix weren’t in fact spelling out the word ‘Star‘ on their secret page, they were actually spelling out the word ‘start‘ – it just so happens that the thing they were teasing the ‘start’ of was actually the hype-train for Star Ocean 5. What’s that, a double-bluff? Triple? We’ve lost count in all the excitement.

In any case, we’re delighted that it did turn out to be Star Ocean 5 in the end. We’re also more than happy to hold our hands up and admit we were wrong on this one – sorry everybody – but hopefully you had as much fun as we did trying to figure out what Square-Enix were teasing on the way to the final reveal.

All we know thus far is it’s called Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness and it’s coming to both PS3 and Ps4, but we’re still officially very excited.

Star Ocean 5 confirmed

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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New Nintendo Switch releases (Sept 28-Oct 3, 2020)

Super Mario Bros. 35 headlines a jam-packed week of new games released on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

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New Nintendo Switch eShop releases
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Super Mario Bros. 35 headlines a jam-packed week of new games released on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary hasn’t been quite as celebratory as the Nintendo might have hoped. Much of the criticism has been directed at Super Mario 3D All-Stars, but the three-game collection has still sold like hotcakes and is an excellent – albeit bonus light – package.

Next up is Super Mario Bros. 35, a new battle-royale twist on the 1985 platforming classic. If it can match the pleasures of Tetris 99, we’re in for a treat. The game is free to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, but only until March next year.

Also coming to Nintendo Switch this week is cult classic action RPG, Ys Origin. Nihon Falcom’s 2006 adventure is the ultimate dungeon crawl and blends a galloping story with excellent combat mechanics. As the game’s PS Vita release proved, its structure makes it the perfect handheld experience.

Of the 30-plus other titles release on the eShop, we recommend taking a look at MindSeize, the ambitious Metroidvania from Kamina Dimension, and Orangeblood, a frenetic hot mess of an RPG from Grayfax Software.

Here’s the full lineup of confirmed new Nintendo Switch releases. We’ll keep this post updated throughout the week with any late additions.

New Nintendo Switch releases: Sept 28-Oct 3, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • Undead Darlings ~no cure for love~

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Alwa’s Legacy
  • Bacon Man: An Adventure
  • Projection: First Light
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip
  • Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • Detective Case and Clown Bot in: Murder in The Hotel Lisbon
  • Mindseize
  • Murder in The Hotel Lisbon

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • Candy Raid: The Factory
  • Electronic Super Joy 2
  • Farm Builder
  • Filament
  • Hot Shot Burn
  • The Last Days
  • Liege Dragon
  • Little Big Workshop
  • Macbat 64
  • Nubarron: The adventure of an unlucky gnome
  • Orangeblood
  • Powertris
  • Shmubedi Boo
  • Smoots World Cup Tennis
  • Super Mario Bros. 35 [Switch Online]
  • Warsaw
  • Ys Origin

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • 103
  • Birthday of Midnight
  • Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan
  • Logic Puzzle Collection: Sudoku – Permudoku – Nonodoku
  • Let’s Sing presents Queen
  • Make a Killing

Saturday, October 3, 2020

  • Quell

More Nintendo from Thumbsticks

For more Nintendo content, read about the new Final Fantasy eShop sale, the incoming Switch port of Doom Eternal, and our review of RPG Maker MV. You can also bookmark the Thumbsticks new releases page and follow us on Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Classic Final Fantasy games up to 50% off in a Nintendo Switch sale

You’ll find big discounts on classic Final Fantasy games – including 7 through 10 – in a sale on the Nintendo Switch.

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Final Fantasy Nintendo Switch sale
Nintendo / Square Enix / Thumbsticks

You’ll find big discounts on classic Final Fantasy games – including 7 through 10 – in a sale on the Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch does feature new games – every week! Bookmark our new releases page to stay up to date on that front – but it’s the console’s credibility as a retro machine that gets people excited.

Everything is getting ported to Nintendo Switch. Everything. Even PC games at both ends of the joke – Doom at the low-end, to Crysis at the high – are getting a run-out on Nintendo’s little handheld that could.

It’s a combination of that lovely form factor and the ease of portability, with a little help from a lovely 720p screen, that makes the Switch feel so good as a remaster-wielding retro machine. (And of course, Nintendo’s stellar back catalogue, from a raft of NES and SNES games with Nintendo Switch Online to the recently-released Super Mario 3D All-Stars.)

At the top of my list of things I wanted to see on the Nintendo Switch was “every Final Fantasy game ever, please,” and, sure enough, Square Enix and Nintendo are obliging. But they’re rarely cheap. You’d think for all the times I’ve bought and re-bought Final Fantasy VI, VII or IX over the years, I might get some sort of loyalty discount. Maybe a Final Fantasy equivalent of Nectar points? But no. They cost quite a lot, even if Square’s ports aren’t always that hot.

Which is why a Square Enix sale on the Nintendo eShop – featuring a bunch of Final Fantasy games, but also, more! – at discounted prices is so exciting. There’s up to 50% off, as well, which is a cracking discount.

Here’s everything included in the Square Enix Nintendo Switch publisher sale.

Square Enix Nintendo Switch publisher sale

  • Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
  • Final Fantasy IX
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
  • Final Fantasy Explorers (Nintendo 3DS)
  • I Am Setsuna
  • Lost Sphear
  • Oninaki
  • Romancing SaGa 2
  • SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions
  • Spelunker Party!
  • Star Ocean: First Departure R
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call (Nintendo 3DS)
  • World of Final Fantasy Maxima

The picks of the litter are obviously the mainline Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy VII is obviously brilliant; the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII is splendid; Final Fantasy IX is secretly the best one; Final Fantasy X/X-2 is another excellent remaster; Final Fantasy XII isn’t great (but the Zodiac Age remaster makes it much more bearable); and Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is… also on sale. There’s a reason the Final Fantasy VII Remake is so great, and it’s because it steals its best ideas from these earlier iterations.

The recent remake of Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon – subtitled EVERY BUDDY!, their emphasis, not ours – is also well worth checking out, even if it is a bit of a peculiar curio. Romancing SaGa 2 is also well worth checking out, while I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear are modern-developed indie games published by Square Enix.

These deals are only available until September 30, so you’d better get on that.


Bookmark our sales and freebies pages for the latest video game promotions. You can also follow Thumbsticks on FlipboardFacebookGoogle News, and Twitter for daily news updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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New PlayStation 4 releases (Sept 28-Oct 2, 2020)

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars: Squadrons headline the list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars: Squadrons headline the list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

Here at Thumbsticks, we pride ourselves in being some of the finest gaming armchair analysts around. But, we’re only human and have to confess that the popularity of Activision’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy took us by surprise. With over 10 million copies sold it’s now over to Toys for Bob to bring the franchise up to date with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. First impressions are positive, and the recently revealed N’ Verted mode should give the game a venue to experiment with some wild new ideas.

EA’s history with the Star Wars licence has had its ups and downs, but following Battlefront II (eventually) and Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order the publisher has found some consistency. The strong run looks set to continue with Star Wars: Squadrons, a game that sets out to do one thing well, and from early accounts achieves it capably.

Speaking of licensed products, we’re also hopeful for The Walking Dead Onslaught, the new PSVR survival game from Survios. It’s about time the franchise had another decent tie-in.

Other new PlayStation 4 releases include Orangeblood, Genshin Impact, and Re:Turn – One Way Trip. There’s also a chance that the promising future racing game Pacer will be released on PS4 following a short delay.

Here’s the full lineup of new PS4 games confirmed so far. Check back throughout next week for details of any late additions.

New PlayStation 4 releases: Sept 28-Oct 2, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • Genshin Impact
  • Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Commander ’85 – TBC
  • Pacer – TBC
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip
  • The Walking Dead Onslaught
  • Warsaw
  • Projection: First Light
  • Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!
  • Until You Fall

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • No new games today!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • FIFA 21 (EA Play First Trial)
  • Orangeblood

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Star Wars: Squadrons

More from Thumbsticks

Visit our new releases page for weekly updates on the latest games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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New Xbox One releases (September 28-October 2, 2020)

Crash Bandicoot, Star Wars and FIFA (sort of) headline this week’s list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

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New Xbox One game releases
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Crash Bandicoot, Star Wars and FIFA (sort of) headline this week’s list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

Do you know which Star Wars games are the absolute best? No, it’s not that new one with Archie Andrews off Riverdale as a Jedi, nor is it Episode I: Racer, or even Knights of the Old Republic. It’s the classic PC flight sims, the ones that came on half a dozen floppy disks: X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and X-Wing vs Tie Fighter.

With that in mind, we are perhaps most excited about Star Wars: Squadrons, a Star Wars space combat flight sim with all the pew! pew! you’d expect. Squadrons has pedigree, too; it’s developed by EA’s Motive Studios, the crew behind the brilliant Star Wars Battlefront II. (That’s the modern, multiplayer Battlefront II with lots of cool ships to fly, not the middling shooter from 2005.)

The other big name on the Xbox One Releases this week is Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Developed by Toys for Bob, the company behind the excellent remasters, publisher Activision hopes that the return of its mascot platformer will emulate the successful return of its other late-90s icon, Tony Hawk.

There’s one other big game this week, but it’s not for everyone. Literally. If you don’t have EA Play, you won’t get to play FIFA 21 on October 2; you’ll have to wait until October 9 like everyone else. But if you do have EA Play – and remember, it’s now included with Xbox Game Pass – you’ll get to try out EA’s big footie sim, FIFA 21, a week before your mates.

Other games of note include Feather, a zen exploration game with beautiful flight, Commander ’85, an intriguing cold war mystery, and Inertial Drift, a racing game with an innovative twin-stick control scheme.

Each new game can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store or the Microsoft web store. We’ll update this post throughout the week with any late additions to the lineup.

New Xbox One releases: September 28-October 2, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • No games for you!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Bartlow’s Dread Machine
  • Projection: First Light
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • Birthday of Midnight
  • Commander ’85
  • Feather
  • Inertial Drift
  • Swordbreaker

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • FIFA 21 (EA Play First Trial)
  • Orangeblood

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Star Wars: Squadrons
  • Dragon Lapis
  • Warsaw

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest games. You can also follow us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Left 4 Dead 2 is having a free-to-play weekend

If you enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 during its free weekend, you’ll be able to pick it up for just $2 / £1.43.

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Left 4 Dead 2 free-to-play weekend
Valve / Thumbsticks

If you enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 during its free weekend, you’ll be able to pick it up for just $2 / £1.43.

Valve, the company that famously does not make threequels, released Left 4 Dead 2 almost 11 years ago, in November 2009. It’s a co-op zombie first-person shooter and, well, it’s really good.

Unsurprisingly, Valve stopped releasing content updates for it years ago – the last one was the addition of the first Left 4 Dead’s campaign to the sequel in 2010, if memory serves? – but that doesn’t mean Left 4 Dead 2 has been left fallow.

Thanks to Valve’s famously open Source engine (that’s a “famously open engine called Source”, not “Open Source” in the licensing sense), however, fans of Left 4 Dead 2 have been able to keep the updates coming. One of the biggest was Cold Stream, released for PC in 2012 and Xbox 360 in 2013.

Then, just this week, another community-created update – called The Last Stand – was released for Left 4 Dead 2. Once again, Valve gave the community creation its blessing and, as a result, The Last Stand is a very official unofficial update.

To celebrate, Valve is hosting a free-to-play weekend for Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam. The game, including all single- and multi-player modes, will available to play for free all this weekend. Even better, if you enjoy it, you’ll be able to pick up Left 4 Dead 2 for the princely sum of $1.99 / £1.43 until September 28, 2020.


You like free stuff, right? Bookmark our free games page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular free stuff updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

Continue Reading