CyberConnect was founded on February 16, 1996 in Japan. On September 11, 2001 the company renamed themselves as CyberConnect2, which was a decision to focus not just on games, but other projects like anime. It’s probably a video game company most gamers aren’t familiar with unless they’re Naruto fans. Otherwise, the announcement of Square Enix collaborating with CC2 on the FF7 remake may have piqued curiosity to a wider crowd. Whatever the case may be, this writer has compiled a brief retrospective on the company’s twenty-year history.
Tail Concerto was their first game. It released on the PS1 on April 16, 1998 in Japan and in the U.S. on November 3, 1999. It’s an action game set in a fictionalized steampunk fantasy world filled with anthropomorphic dogs and cats. The game stars a cat policeman, piloting a small mech, charged with tracking down pirates. Eighteen years later it still looks good thanks to the stylized polygonal graphics, but the mechanics are a bit clunky to today’s standards. Sadly it may be hard to track down as it fetches a high price on the retro game markets and it’s not on PSN as a PS1 Classic.
Their next game was called Silent Bomber. It launched on the PS1 on October 28, 1999 in Japan and February 29, 2000 in the U.S. It’s a top down action game where players control Jutah, in charge of taking down the spaceship Dante. It’s like a gritty anime take on Bomberman as Jutah is armed with several different types of bombs. It still holds up pretty well, despite the difficulty. It’s worth looking into, but it too may be hard to track down.
After Silent Bomber’s release, CyberConnect changed their name to coincide with their next big venture: Project .hack. It would not only incorporate video games, but books, anime, and other merchandise like toys as well. Each entry took place in the same universe, but with other characters set in different timelines. For example, the anime, .hack//Sign, is the first part in the timeline with the game series, starting with .hack//Infection, taking place afterward.
Infection begins with a new player, Kite, jumping into The World, a Virtual MMORPG, to meet his friend, Orca. Upon their first adventure, the duo come face to face with a mysterious girl and a virus that puts Orca in a coma in the real world. This game and it’s three sequels, Mutation, Outbreak, and Quarantine, follow Kite and his friends trying to solve the mystery of The World and its effects on reality. In terms of gameplay, it’s a mock MMORPG so there’s no online connection whatsoever, but it is structured like one. At its core, .hack is an action RPG.
The anime and the games were this writer’s first contact with CC2, just as a small note. Anyway the .hack games were released from 2002-2003. In that same year, CC2 tackled its first licensed based game with Naruto: Ultimate Ninja for the PS2, which was a fighting game. From here the company would work on and off on both Naruto and more .hack projects. It wouldn’t be until 2010 that the company would work on something non-related to these two properties.
Solatorobo: Red the Hunter was released for the Nintendo DS on October 28, 2010 in Japan and the following year on September 27, 2011 in the U.S. At its heart, Solatorobo is a spiritual successor to their first game, Tail Concerto, which features mechs, pirates, and anthropomorphic animals. It’s a stunning gem on the DS and it plays great. It’s a better version of TC essentially. The only downside is the writing as it’s overabundant and gets in the way of the action. Otherwise it’s fantastic and shouldn’t be missed on the Nintendo DS.
Following this, two more Naruto games were developed before they tried their hand at another original property. Asura’s Wrath actually launched for the PS3 and Xbox 360 first in the U.S. on February 21, 2012, followed by a Japanese release two days later. The game is another example of the company’s unique usage of cel-shading, creating a visually popping anime vibe like no other. It features God of War like combat, along with shooter segments, and a hell of a lot of quick time events. It’s an interactive anime pure and simple, which is awesome. The actual mechanics of combat aren’t great, but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.
Another .hack and Naruto project preceded this, before CC2 tackled another anime. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle launched in Japan for the PS3 on August 29, 2013 with an April 24, 2014 release in the U.S. Unlike the Naruto games, JoJo is a more traditional fighting game on a 2D plain whereas most of the recent Naruto titles featured 3D environments. As someone unfamiliar with the anime, or manga, it didn’t do much for this writer. Stylish sure, but there wasn’t a loving connection.
From here, CC2 has ventured into mobile gaming, aside from pumping out more Naruto games. Shadow Escape, Shinigami Messiah, Little Tail Story, Final Fantasy VII G-Bike, and New World Volume 1: Maiden of Silver Tears have yet to be released on either Android, or iOS devices in the U.S. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is their latest title, which launched last week on the PS4. It’s a culmination of everything they’ve worked on before. It’s a fan letter to Naruto through and through with their best usage of cel-shading and action combat yet. It’s a treat for the eyes to be sure.
Aside from working with Square Enix on the FF7 remake, CC2 has two other projects in the works. Again, CC2 isn’t a name most people know about, but hopefully this article shed some much-needed light on them. That remake and its next projects will hopefully broaden their outreach further. For now, this writer cheerfully wishes CyberConnect2 a profound Happy 20th Anniversary.
Special Notes: Check out the video retrospective on CC2 and its games on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.