It's been one busy weekend, and a lot to keep straight, so the Haven offers you this less-than-interactive guide to Square Enix Party 2005.This past weekend showcased the eventful Square Enix Party 2005, which began Saturday at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan. Featuring the gamut of Square Enix titles, including Final Fantasy XII, Kingdom Hearts 2, and Grandia III, the lucky attendants were bathed with playable demos and new information. Here is an overview:
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XII finally received an official Japanese release date of March 16, 2006 after years of delay, grief, and moral decay. Unfortunately, this came with the news that director Yasumi Matsuno had since left development, and was no longer working on the title. Matsuno has since taken a position as scenario writer and consultant due to illness, while Akitoshi Kawazu replaces Hironobu Sakaguchi as executive producer.
"Kiss Me Good Bye" became the theme song to FFXII, as composer Nobuo Uematsu introduced Japanese-American singer Angela Aki, who performed the song for an eager audience.
The title was, of course, playable at the event, inducing the unsurprising ridiculous lines and absurd waits despite the 200 booths set up at the event. Two areas were available for selection, the Foon Coast and the Miliam Ruins, and for around fifteen minutes players could experience this gameplay-oriented demo with stat affecting ?Green? magic and Hashmurim summon, the latter of which, unlike with summoning in Final Fantasy X, leaves on the field the summon monster and the player who summoned it.
Doubtless it was a busy party for the Square Enix crown jewel.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
In addition to showing another trailer, Square Enix announced that Advent Children would appear in theatrical form in Japan on September 8th, following a national release two days later. Advent Children is still set to release on September 13 and September 14 in North America and Japan, respectively.
Additionally, the Final Fantasy VII tech demo from E3 was shown again, prompting rampant speculations of an actual re-make in the works. Obviously, no such confirmation was provided, but this never prevents popular digressions.
Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts II was also showcased in playable form where the recently announced Disney Castle level was playable. However, Chip and Dale, Merlin, Pirates of the Caribbean protagonist Will Turner and the captain of the Black Pearl Barbosa have also confirmed to make appearances in the game. Kingdom Hearts II is due in Japan come December?no specific word on a North American release date has been provided, but one is surely impending.
Dirge of Cerberus
While this picture is probably the prettiest thing yet to come out of the Dirge of Cerberus Party showing, Square Enix also announced Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII will feature an online multiplayer mode, where players assume SOLDIER roles and fight in co-op missions or a typical versus mode. This one is set to release in Japan sometime this year.
World of Mana
Like a swift kick to the groin, Square Enix announced that the elusive World of Mana would not be a single title, but, as the name implies, a collection of games based on a new franchise??..based on the Mana series. So far, the only announced title of this multi-genre, multiplatform series is Seiken Densetsu DS (Secret of Mana DS), but with recent polymorphic trends, I wouldn?t be surprised if they pumped out a movie based on the classic SNES Secret of Mana. Oh, that Thanatos!
Not to be outdone, Grandia III made a decent showing at the party, with a playable demo of its own, allowing players to test out its new ?initiative points? ring battle system. This nearly-completed version of the game featured combat, area map exploration, and airship travel, and you can find more details here. Grandia III is set to release next month in Japan?no word on a North American publication.
A New Era
All things taken into consideration, Square Enix is definitely beginning to broaden their horizons and franchize every single thing they can get their hands on. From the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII to Code Age and now World of Mana, trends are beginning to shift towards utilizing every piece of media, whether it be anim?, cell phone, or game, to reach the largest audience possible. The most ironic thing about the situation is that although it appears as if they are listening more than ever to fans (case in point: the Final Fantasy VII tech demo), Square Enix has still received more than its share of flack from many gamers, who, having previously deemed these events wishful thinking, now seem to turn against the company for exploitation of the ideas which at one time they could only dream of coming to fruition.
And so ends the party, but the best is yet to come.