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2020: The Year of NieR

NieR: In the Beginning

Back in 2010, a small development company called Cavia produced a game for the PS3 with Square Enix Producer Yosuke Saito and at the time freelance Director Yoko Taro. Upon release, it was obvious how it would nestle into its little comfy niche among JRPGs and slowly fade away into obscurity.

Or so people thought.

Known in Japan on the PS3 as NieR Replicant, which featured a brother figure to the young girl Yonah, whereas conversely it was released on the Xbox as NieR Gestalt, which instead featured a father figure rather than brother, the game had an almost cult following, but this was to be expected. Yoko Taro is almost notoriously known for his dark storytelling, likeable characters in which only bad things befall them, characters you grow to hate getting away with everything… But at the core, it’s not the darkness that we’re drawn to, but rather the light that shines all the more brilliantly within such confining walls of ebony.

According to Wikipedia, the development team behind Cavia closed shortly after releasing NieR; it had been undergoing a gradual merger with AQ Interactive in October 2005 and was completely integrated into the company by April 2011.

Various members at the company either continued on with AQ Interactive or broke apart to work at other gaming companies or even forging their own. Yoko went back to doing freelance work for his own company, Bukkoro, which he set up in 2007. So from then on, it looked like the days of NieR were at an end... until members at PlatinumGames postulated the idea of making another NieR game.

And this was how NieR:Automata came to be. Of course, this is grossly simplifying things, not to mention leaving out the importance of the YoRHa Ver.1.0 stage play in 2014, which set the foundation for Automata’s story.

Although the original NieR didn’t necessarily sell all that well, PlatinumGames breathed new life into the series from which it only continued to grow its loyal fanbase. It grew so exponentially that fans of Automata began to outweigh the original, many not realizing Automata was even a sequel to an older game from 2010.

NieR Trademark Suggesting a Remaster / Remake?

In an interview with TSUKUMO & ASCII, Producer Yosuke Saito discussed a couple interesting points in which he said, “If it costs money, I want to do something new!” In context, he was referring to fans of Automata who have been asking for additional DLC for the game, but I believe this can also be taken out of context to refer to the series in general that could be a round-about way to say that would rather hold off on doing a remaster or remake of the original at this point in time. Regarding that sentiment, he also said, “On a personal level, I want to work hard to release a remastered version and do something new, but…” That doesn’t sound like a very confident thing to say…

Along with the news that Square Enix trademarked the singular name “NieR”, many fans came out to profess their belief that this must mean a remaster/remake is coming! Personally, as a long-time Yoko Taro fan, I don’t see this as a plausible next step in this saga just yet. Like Saito said, I think it would be best to continue on with something new first, then work on possibly doing a remaster/remake of the original NieR at a later date. We know there are plenty of Automata fans who are interested in playing the original but they’re not able to because it was only released on the previous generation, PlayStation 3, which is pretty hard to come by these days if you don’t still have a working system. I agree that the potential for something like this is there, I just don’t see how the timing is right for it at this point in time.

NieR Soundtracks Now Available on Streaming Services

Several of the NieR official soundtracks are now available on many streaming services such as Spotify. We covered this topic in more detail here.

Here’s a quick list of what’s currently available on Spotify:

  • NieR Gestalt & Replicant Original Soundtrack
  • NieR Gestalt & Replicant 15 Nightmares & Arrange Tracks
  • NieR Gestalt & Replicant Piano Collections
  • NieR:Automata Original Soundtrack
  • NieR:Automata Arranged & Unreleased Tracks
  • NieR:Automata Piano Collections
  • amazarashi - Inochi ni Fusawashii / Deserving of Life Single

Upcoming Events Not to Miss For the 10th Anniversary

The NieR franchise turns 10 on April 22, so we’re kicking off the year with a bang, full of awesome goodness for fans all around the world to enjoy! Here’s a look at what’s to come this year for the 10th Anniversary.

NieR:Orchestra Concert re:12018

The orchestra concert which featured music from both NieR Gestalt/Replicant and NieR:Automata will be visiting several major cities across the globe later this month and later in February. All music originally composed by Keiichi Okabe, Keigo Hoashi, and Kuniyuki Takahashi, members of the music production company MONACA, this concert features tracks from the newly released NieR Orchestral Arrangement soundtrack that brought many critically acclaimed composers and arrangers together for the project. This orchestration was originally performed in Yokohama late summer 2018, but since this will largely be a repeat of that concert, the subtitle “12018” has been updated slightly to reflect this aspect. If you are near enough and able to attend any of these shows, I would highly recommend going--I went to two of the four shows in Yokohama and I can attest to its quality!

Dates and Locations

  • Chicago, USA: January 24-25
  • Los Angeles, USA: January 29
  • London, UK: February 2
  • Bangkok, Thailand: February 15-16

Be sure to check with the official concert website for further details.

YoRHa Ver.1.3aᵃ Stage Play

This is generally a lesser-known branch of the so-called “Yokoverse”, the gigantic timeline that expands through several converging branches in which most of Yoko Taro’s works all fit into in some way or another, but for any fan of NieR:Automata, it might be important to familiarize yourself with its beginnings as the YoRHa stage play which originally ran in October 2014. Since then, the play has been “upgraded” several times over, each time Yoko not only tweaked the script but also the changed format of the play. Ver.1.2 added live music and a couple new vocal songs to officially be dubbed a Musical rather than a simple stage play.

The latest update to the play and possibly the version that’s changed the most, Ver.1.3a (a for “arrangement”) swapped out the all-female cast for an all-male one, not to mention adding in a mysterious character originally from Yoko Taro’s 2013 RPG “Drakengard 3,” Accord. The mere presence of this character had fans scratching their heads in utter bewilderment and excitement at the overall implications of his appearance--not to mention Accord was originally a female character in the game…!

Ver.1.3a was such a hit, running for nearly a week in both Tokyo and Osaka, that it will be coming back for yet another brief run later in March, this time called YoRHa Ver.1.3aᵃ. In usual Yoko fashion, this version will be slightly different from the last, swapping out the character Anemone with Jackass (yes, that’s the character’s name!) due to the unavailability of the actor, Rin Matsubara. The rest of the cast, however, will be reprising their roles once more, so that will be exciting to see! Just like last time, this play will be broadcast live on NicoNico Douga. The direct URL to the livestream has not been made public yet, so stay tuned to hear more about that in the coming weeks.

Dates and Location

NieR:Theatrical Orchestra 12020

This is one of the first “new arrivals” for the 10th Anniversary of the NieR series, so we don’t quite know what to expect at this event yet. Vocalists Emi Evans and J’Nique Nicole as well as several of the voice actors from both NieR Gestalt/Replicant and NieR:Automata will be in attendance, so it’s likely this will be similar to the NieR:Automata Memory of Dolls concert from 2017 in which it included several recitation dramas, called roudokugeki. Several of these recitation dramas were vital for delving deeper into the lore of the series, filling in gaps in the storyline and further developing the main characters.

Dates and Locations

YoRHa Boys Novel - English Release

This last entry isn’t so much an event as much as it is a new English release of the YoRHa Boys stage play novelization. YoRHa Boys was a brand new stage play that ran from January 31-February 4, 2018 and featured the first all-male cast in the series. The novel was later released in Japanese on July 27, 2018. The story revolves around the M Squad, an experimental all-male YoRHa squadron in the year 11942, roughly 3 years prior to the setting of NieR:Automata.

Hints and Teases for What’s to Come?

Since the release of NieR:Automata back in 2017, it’s thoroughly rejuvenated the franchise to such a degree that the fanbase has grown exponentially in just a couple years. As an older fan of the original NieR Gestalt/Replicant game from 2010, I’m always keen on following current news and other projects the development team might be involved in, and just like any other fan, I, too, get excited whenever a new piece of information is dropped. That being said, I think it’s also important to stay slightly skeptical about hyped-up rumors until an official statement can be released. In the December 27 issue of Famitsu magazine, NieR Producer Saito Yosuke stated this comment that fans have eagerly lapped up:

Many things will kick off in 2020. Babylon’s Fall, which just released a new promotional video, will begin full-scale promotions. Additionally, we’re working on a bunch of things for the “NieR” 10th Anniversary as well as an as-yet unrevealed title simultaneously, so we’ll announce more information about all of that when the time is right. Please look forward to it!

Saito Yosuke

This statement has been translated several different ways, one stating that it’s difficult to grasp quantifiers in Japanese, and it seems like people were getting swept away by the implications that they may be working on more than one title, although I find this highly unlikely. Another important thing to realize is that this statement by Saito was originally released as a sort of comment for the coming new year, which was reprinted in its entirety for the January 9 issue. Many other gaming sites and fan-based blogs and YouTube video commentaries have made it seem like this statement in the latest issue of the magazine was brand new, which that is not the case.

So, are you looking forward to what’s in store for the future of the NieR franchise? Let us know in the comments!

By - Terra Dragos.