Final Fantasy at E3

 May 18, 2006
Final Fantasy XIII: Fabula Nova Crystallis

The most surprising piece of news announced by Square-Enix on May, 8 2006 at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles had to be the trilogy of games centered around Final Fantasy XIII entitled Fabula Nova Crystallis (New Tale of the Crystal). The other two games in this trilogy, in addition to Final Fantasy XIII, are Final Fantasy versus XIII an action RPG also for the PS3, and Final Fantasy Agito XIII for mobile phone. These other two titles are not meant to be prequels or sequels of Final Fantasy XIII in the traditional sense. The three games will not share common characters, worlds, or stories but rather will be linked by a common mythology.

Final Fantasy XIII will be the third Final Fantasy game (after VI and X-2) to sport a female protagonist. In the trailer shown at Square-Enix's press conference, she could be seen leaping through a futuristic setting attacking a group of masked soldiers riding on a train with a weapon that resembled a gunblade before the video cut to in-game footage of the same battle. Though Square-Enix has not revealed any game play details the battle did look similar to Final Fantasy XII's real-time battle system. Yoshinori Kitase, whose team created Final Fantasy X, will head this project.

The other PS3 title in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, Final Fantasy versus XIII, will be under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, who is also the concept designer and character designer behind the entire Fabula Nova Crystallis series. Nomura has announced that this title will be made with the combined talents of both the Advent Children and Kingdom Hearts teams. The former will create all the in-game cut scenes and the later will handle the game play aspects. The trailer started with text describing the setting of this game as being an isolated nation protected by kings that apparently is the last country trying to protect itself from invading heretics. The camera then zooms in on a blue-haired young man slouching on a throne. The man then stands up and proceeds out into a courtyard full of soldiers. The soldiers train their guns on the man and begin to fire. However, the man, protected from the bullets by an energy shield, summons a number of spinning swords. Just as he is about to release the swords on his attackers the trailer ends with a shot of the game's logo.

Final Fantasy Agito XIII, which will be designed to run on the next generation of cell phones, is an online RPG. Gamers will use the mobile phone network to select party members via an ad hoc connection and take on quests throughout the FFXIII universe. Project director, Hajime Tabata, explained the name “Agito,” which means “to put into motion” in Latin, is a reference to the game's mobile phone platform. The opening text of the trailer explains the game is set "in the hallowed halls of Akademeia." The characters look like young mages wearing red school uniforms. For now the three games are tentatively scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Final Fantasy VII Compilation

Square-Enix has, at long last, revealed details about its final entry in the Compilation series, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core for the PSP. Crisis Core will be a prequel to Final Fantasy VII and the main character will be Zack. The game will explore Zack's past as a young recruit in SOLDIER trying to achieve first class and his involvement in Project Genesis. The trailer at E3 showed images of Zack arguing with a new character, his mentor. Sephiroth also appears many times in the trailer. Fighting in the game looks fast paced and action-oriented as Zack was seen jumping from enemy to enemy, slashing them with his sword as well as using a gun. The trailer ended with Zack and Sephiroth clashing swords.

As if Square-Enix did not have enough Compilation titles on its plate, yet another one was announced last week: Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode for mobile phone. As the title implies, this 3D action RPG is a missing chapter from the PS2 Dirge of Cerberus. The game takes place three years after the end of Final Fantasy VII. Vincent Valentine will still be fighting his same antagonists from the PS2 title, the Deepground Army. In this story, Vincent must journey to the Shinra Mansion to protect the Protomateria, a magical materia the Deepground are also after. While there, Vincent will uncover many clues about his forgotten past.

Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode is scheduled to come out some time this summer. Dirge of Cerberus will arrive in North America on August 22, 2006. Both Crisis Core and Before Crisis are scheduled to come out at the end of 2006.

Final Fantasy III DS

American gamers were treated for the first time to an English demo of the Final Fantasy III DS remake. Battles are turn-based, with four characters participating in battle. Available commands are "Fight," "Guard," "Row," "Item," and "Run Away." In addition to the original class levels there is now the new job levels though it was not clear from the demo what its function will be. The starting class “onion kid” has also been replaced with the new name “freelancer.” Both traditional buttons and touch pad can be used to execute the same actions. Running around the map and making selections from the menu are much easier with a stylus though battles go much faster by repeatedly pressing the A button. Action takes place on the bottom DS screen the majority of the time unless the menu is opened. Then the map screen moves up to the top and the menu opens on the bottom. Final Fantasy III DS is slated to be released at the end of this year.

Crystal Chronicles

Akitoshi Kawazu, the executive producer for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles announced two new additions of to the series: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers for the Nintendo Wii and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates for the Nintendo DS. Few details about the former were revealed though the game's director, Toshiyiki Itahuna, promised that the game will be a "daring fusion of graphics and style that is full of life, while still maintaining basic RPG tradition." More information was available about Ring of Fates for the DS which will follow the "story of the time when the red moon still shone in the night sky, and the people feared the crystals." Similar to the Gamecube title, gamers will be able to choose from multiple character archetypes and will have the choice to play the game in either single-player mode or team up with up to four players simultaneously on the DS multiplayer network. There are advantages to playing with other people as one of the scenes from the trailer showed four characters fighting against a giant crab that took up an entire DS screen. Ring of Fates is scheduled to be released before the end of 2006 and no release date has been announced for The Crystal Bearers yet.

Honorable Mentions

Demos were available for both Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy I Mobile though Square-Enix had no juicy new tidbits to report about either game. No changes are planned for Final Fantasy XII and the game will be a straight translation of the Japanese version and it is scheduled to be released in October 2006. Final Fantasy I Mobile is a port of the GBA remake for cell phone and will come out at the end of 2006. Though there were no demos for either game, Square-Enix did show trailers for both Final Fantasy V Advance and Final Fantasy VI Advance. Not much information was given about either game but Square-Enix did promise that the games would not be straight ports to the GBA but would boast some new content. Both games are scheduled to come out before the end of the year.

Article written by Yun for Final Fantasy: Worlds Apart.


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