E3: Square Enix's Large E3 Roster
05.14.03 - 6:32 PM

The newly monikered Square Enix’s booth was bustling this year. After last year’s small representation (Square’s booth was on the edge of Sony’s massive space) with only Kingdom Hearts, the company showcased a line up extending into next year.

-Finally, the “will they or won’t they” speculation can end, because Final Fantasy XI will be released in the US, along with the near eternally delayed HDD. As reported earlier, the title will be published for the PlayStation 2 by Sony Computer Entertainment America. Sony devoted a small amount of time to the game at their annual press conference yesterday. It has yet to be confirmed if Square Enix will publish the PC version or seek a veteran publisher. Considering the company has no experience in the PC market as far as publishing goes, it may be a wise move. At the booth, the game was shown running on the PS2 with fully English menus and dialogue. Testing for the PS2 version should begin in June, with a July timeframe set for PC testers.

- Unlimited SaGa was shown and our hands-on impressions should be posted shortly; however, be sure to check out our preview.

-The highly anticipated sequel to Final Fantasy X was shown, though the RPGFan staff has been having an…interesting time with it in the hotel room (we’ve nicknamed three characters Christina Aguilera, Joan Jett, and Dido…can you guess which ones?). The E3 demo allowed us to play through two scenes in English, complete with dialogue; the admittedly campy opening and a more serious boss fight with Bahamut. Square Enix confirmed with us that all voice talent from FFX would be returning for the sequel and that recording was currently underway for Paine. No voice actor was named. FFX-2 is currently slated for a release sometime in the fall.

-In the first of a new line up of titles from the Enix side is Star Ocean 3, a game that fans across the board have been waiting for earnestly. A fully playable, albeit Japanese, version was shown. The localization is barely underway, as the now defunct Enix America hadn’t even started on it before their sudden closure, so fans have another year to play the waiting game.

-One of the more interesting titles to be localized out of the Square Enix merger is the former Drag-On Dragoon, now more stylishly renamed as Drakengard. In the demo we were shown two different types of playing environments; the first begins with the player controlling a red dragon flying through the skies, complete with a breath attack. The second was a Dynasty Warriors-esque brawl. The most interesting portion of this, however, was the use of swords. Equip a different blade (in the demo we had several in our arsenal) and not only will you attack differently, but also you can use a different type of magical attack to clear out the waves of enemy soldiers. Square Enix also mentioned the varied storyline, such as how it bounces between fantasy, sci-fi, and even almost horror elements.

- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a fun, colorful… Gauntlet. Well, not quite, but the game does evoke similar gameplay. Using a GBA, players take control of one of four characters. Whoever holds the mana pot (lovingly called the cookie jar by those of us playing it) leads, with a large circle inside an area. If any of the party members step out of the circle, damage is incurred. So put two and two together…or I’ll just do it for you; stay within the circle. The game plays like an action RPG; use the B button to pick up and throw objects and A is to attack. Each character is also assigned to an element, and a ring of color signifying this element halos each. By holding down the attack button, you can move this halo to another object, for example an enemy, and therefore assign your character to attacking where the halo surrounds. At this time I’m not really sure what the GBA SP is used for in game other than as a controller, but a status screen showing where the characters were positioned and which ones were dead or alive appeared while playing. Nintendo of America will publish FF Crystal Chronicles this year.

- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance will also be released this year…and again, Nintendo of America’ll publish it.

- Sword of Mana was the last game shown, and will also be published by Nintendo of America in 2003. The game is a remake of the original Seiken Densetsu, published in the US as Final Fantasy Adventure. Various visual upgrades have been promised and the game is, of course, much prettier compared to its Game Boy counterpart.

Be sure to check back with RPGFan with more pictures of Square Enix’s E3 lineup.

Nicole Monet Kirk