Square-Enix Press Conference Kicks Off E3 Frenzy

Square-Enix kicked off what will hopefully prove to be an explosive week for the gaming world with their annual pre-E3 press conference, held yesterday at LA’s Palladium event venue at 1:00 PST.

The conference started with a video montage of various up-and-coming games, such as Dawn of Mana on the PS2 and the GBA iterations of Final Fantasy V and VI. A brief speech from SE President Yoichi Wada followed, containing the usual blurb about embracing the next-generation of gaming, and then COO Daishiro Okada took to the stage to introduce the upcoming lineup.

The US release date of Final Fantasy XII was given as October of this year, though no mention of the corresponding European release was made. Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episodes was also said to be coming out on mobiles this summer.

A long trailer of Final Fantasy XII was then shown showcasing a high calibre of voice acting, all in English, something which should please all those non-Japanese fans of the series. Numerous other trailers followed, including such games as Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth and the latest Final Fantasy XI expansion, as well as a fully 3D Derge of Cerberus game on mobiles.

The very promising Final Fantasy III was shown, and dubbed “The only Final Fantasy never to reach Western shores“. Let’s hope the wait’s been worth it! Final Fantasy V and VI were promised to include new surprises when released for the GBA, something which will make them a more worthwhile purchase for people who have already played both games to death, and Children of Mana’s very own sequel-prequel, Dawn of Mana, was shown off, albeit in mostly (nice-looking) CG form. Rounding off this batch of handheld delights was Dragon Quest heroes: Rocket Slime for the DS, a cutesy adventure game that should hopefully find itself a pleasant home on Nintendo’s dual-screened wonder.

Shinji Hasimoto subsequently took to the stage to talk about the success of the ‘Compilation of Final Fantasy VII’ series, and also very kindly gave the US release date for Dirge of Cerberus, complete with new features, as being August 22nd.

The next game to be shown was the highly anticipated FFVII Crisis Core for Sony’s PSP. The story was confirmed to focus on Cloud’s friend and Soldier member Zack, as well as a large amount to do with Sephiroth. No gameplay footage was shown, but the real-time cutscenes were fantastic considering it’s on the PSP.

The next big revelation was the news that Dragon Quest is coming to the Wii in the form of Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors. What’s even better news is that it’s going to be a launch title! Unfortunately, no actual gameplay footage was shown, but the name itself is enough to make some people very excited. Especially those crazy Japanese.

The executive producer of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Akitoshi Kawazu, then made his way onstage to introduce two new games in the CC series; Ring of Fates for the DS and The Crystal Bearers for the Wii. Ring of Fates will feature wi-fi multiplayer and will have the same basic style as its Cube counterpart. Shots of The Crystal Bearers were shown containing CC-esque characters fighting bombs among other things, all of which looked rather nice, though it is unclear if they were in-game or not.

The final announcement of the conference, and perhaps the most exciting, was the announcement of a trio of Final Fantasy XIII games. Final Fantasy XIII: Fabula Nova Crystallis (Latin for ‘The New Tale of the Crystal) is being made for the PS3, and appears to be the main game of the three. It is being developed by Motomu Toriyama and the team behind FFX. A video of the game was shown portraying a girl similar to FFX’s Yuna, wielding both a gun and a sword whilst traversing a futuristic world, with perhaps more to be revealed later on during E3.

The second and third games in the trio were finally introduced as Final Fantasy Agito XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Agito will be released on mobiles, whilst versus will be joining Fabula Nova Crystallis on the PS3. A video of Versus was then shown, made by the Advent Children team, showcasing a spiky-haired guy holding his own against machine gun-toting soldiers, although it was stated that the Kingdom Hearts team will be behind the actual game, which will feature “extreme action elements” and have a central theme of ‘bonding’.

To round off the conference, Yoichi Wada took to the stage once more to talk about SE’s commitment to the next-generation of gaming, and touched on the success of the release of the ‘Compilation of Final Fantasy VII‘ across different mediums, no doubt something which will continue with FFXIII and probably many more after that.

Source: Gamespot