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News / 2007 / May / 15

Mapping out the Square Enix Party

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Square Haven continues its report on the Square Enix Party with coverage from the show floor, including maps of the game booths, photos, and gameplay impressions. Demos of upcoming Square titles featured at the event included Final Fantasy Tactics A2: The Sealed Grimoire, Dragon Quest Swords, and Subarashiki Kono Sekai, among others.
The 2007 Square Enix Party was available to anyone with train fair to the Makuhari Messe and the determination to brave the multi-hour lines to try out the company's highly anticipated upcoming games. For an idea of what titles were on display, and in what spacial configuration to other booths on the floor, the following overview should give some idea of the layout of the Square Enix Party event at the Makuhari Messe.

The line outside the Makuhari Messe




The packet handed out to guests of the Square Enix Party


The enclosed map of the show floor


Map of the closed theater


At the Square Enix hexagonal Closed Theater, forty minutes worth of upcoming game trailers were screened for viewers. Due to the tremendous excitement generated by the event, waits lasted up to three hours and the entrance to the line itself was guarded by Square Enix personnel with bullhorns. Getting in line was a matter of luck and timing, as staying in one place before the theater's massive display screen was made near impossible by the flowing through traffic.

The hexagonal closed theater was the hub of traffic at the event


A mobile game, "The Third Birthday," will follow Aya Brea's adventures
eight years after the events of Parasite Eve II


It's a Wonderful World


12: Subarashiki Kono Sekai demo. The playable demo of Subarashiki Kono Sekai began with a cut-scene in which two stills of Neku and Shiki faced each other and exchanged dialog via speech bubbles. Every so often an audio sentence fragment would pop up, indicating the game designers were finding new ways to push the DS hardware to its limits. Gameplay began with guiding Neku around a cordoned off asphalt parking lot and through the narrow streets resembling Shinjuku and Shibuya, where a crowd of small character sprites drifted across the screen. At any time a small black insignia in the bottom right corner could be touched with the stylus, causeing Neku to fill the screen as the character said, "Must concentrate." Neku's psychic powers cause floating orbs to appear on the screen, which, when touched, activate the battle mode. Shiki and her stuffed animal doll take the top screen while Neku handles the bottom. After having some difficulty with the gameplay, one of the Square Enix Party assistants demonstrated an attack by clawing a fingernail across the screen. The motion caused an arrow to strike through the enemy, while other attacks could be performed by tapping the target with the stylus or drawing circles to cause bursts of fire to form. For Shiki's part, attacks could be executed by punching in button commands using the D-pad.

Visitors could have their picture taken with a chocobo and Mana cactus
and also take home mobile game art folders




6-8: Mobile game booths: Phone games available to demo included Tetsuya Nomura's puzzle RPG Monotone, Seiken Densetsu, and Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode. Monotone plays similar to 16-bit RPG's like Eartbound, with visible enemies on the overhead map who chase your character around the screen, leading to a turn-based battle upon contact. Casual game elements, ala Tetris and Dr. Mario, appear during battle and one's performance in these trials determine the power of attacks. After a quick mobile game demo, visitors were invited to take a photo with the cactus from Legend of Mana or man-sized chocobo, both of which could be seen at various times wandering around the show floor during the event.

Map of the Square Enix Music booth


The fan response chalkboard at the Square Enix Music booth,
and Masashi Hamauzu at the meet and greet


3-5: Square Enix Music: the booth opposite the hexagonal theater had CDs from many Square soundtracks available for purchase, including the newly released Square Enix Battle Tracks vol. 1. The monitors located beside the checkout register played a DVD of the Voices: Music from Final Fantasy live concert. There were also photographs from behind the scenes of the piano arrangement record Vielen Dank, currently in production. On a chalkboard tacked to the side of the booth, visitors could leave messages or chocobo chalk art for guests Yoko Shimomura and Masashi Hamauzu, who showed up for meet and greets with the first one hundred visitors to purchase products from the booth.

The entrance to Itadaki Street


9: Itadaki Street booths: Fans of Mario and Dragon Quest could compete for prizes by playing various mini-games at the Itadaki Street DS booth. The entrance was framed by an arch of balloons, and cut-outs of Nintendo characters including Donkey Kong and Luigi were posted to the booth walls.

Square Enix is offering classical music and flower arrangement training.
The company also hopes to be your guide to tourist destinations of the East and West


10: DS Style: Square Enix's foray into serious games was present in the form of several Nintendo DS titles. A classical music training title and flower arranging are two serious departures from the kind of gameplay that made Final Fantasy famous. Also on display were demos of the Chikyuu no Arikikata series, the Japanese equivalent of Lonely Planet guides. At the booth visitors were able to take a virtual tour through maps of Italy and Thailand.

Catching a quick meal in the center of the show floor


27: Snack corner: Just in case visitors might be expecting to end their Square Enix gameplay prematurely for need of nutritional sustenance, at center of the show floor was a food court selling rice balls, noodles, and rice balls.

Map of the Dragon Quest corner


Playable demos of Dragon Quest games on display


18-21: Dragon Quest booths: Passing through a Toriyama-styled portal led visitors to the Dragon Quest corner. An arcade title co-developed by Taito called Dragon Quest Battle Monster Battle Road, involved Pokemon-esque arena battles and trading card collecting. The already-released DS title Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker was also present. The demo of Dragon Quest Swords had players progressing through a dark cave as bats and slimes rushed toward the screen. The title is due out July 12 and anticipated by many Wii owners in Japan.

Map of the Star Ocean and Crystal Chronicles booths


The Star Ocean museum offered trailers and demos of PS2 Tri-Ace games


22: Star Ocean Museum: No videos were on display of the rebooted Star Ocean series at the Tr-Ace booth. There were however playable demos and trailers available for such titles as Valkyrie Profile Lenneth, Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria, Radiata Stories, and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Fans of prolific composer Motoi Sakuraba apparently have a lot to look forward to, with new releases of Star Ocean 1, 2, and 4 currently in development.

20 years of Final Fantasy and the fan feedback corner


23: 20th Anniversary of Final Fantasy gallery: Walking through a corridor, guests could view boxart and screens from every installment of the Final Fantasy series in its twenty-year history. Even Mystic Quest (or Finala Fantasy USA, as it is known in Japan) was represented. After passing through, fans were invited to leave a note on a colored post-it for the game developers. More than a few pleaded for a full remake of Final Fantasy VII.

Ring of Fates


24: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates: One of the most impressive qualities of Ring of Fates is the game's inclusion of audio dialog. The demo opens with protagonists Yurie and Julinka bickering in Japanese. After a tutorial on the combat system, gameplay involved fighting enemies with combo chains, performed by repeatedly tapping the D-Pad. Using the stylus executed special attacks. Most of the demo invloved puzzle elements that will be sure to challenge the problem-solving abilities of DS owners. The game will ship August 23 in Japan.



Map of the Final Fantasy booths

Final Fantasy XI Amano art was on display


11: 5th Anniversary of Final Fantasy XI: Square Enix was celebrating the anniversary of MMORPG Final Fantasy XI with a gallery of Amano art and live stage events. Some information was available on the next expansion pack for the series, called "The Wings of the Goddess," which will be available in Winter of 2007.

A sign informs guests that the wait for FFXII International is currently 210 minutes


14: Final Fantasy XII International: The booth for the International edition of the last Final Fantasy for Playstation 2 focused less on the zodiac job system than on the novelty of hearing the game's characters speak in English. What additions to gameplay and strategy will be added is yet to be seen, but Japanese fans fo the game could not hope to receive a better English-language version than the one localized by Alexander O. Smith and Joseph Reeder, and featuring the voice acting of Gideon Emery and Kari Wahlgren, among other brilliant performances.

The Lion War chapel and tournament arena


15: Final Fantasy Tactics - The Lion War: It was definitely a good idea to bring a friend along to play the demo for Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSP, and not only because the line for the recently released game took up over two hours of one's time. Guests were paired off with whomever happened to be next to them and engaged in a fifteen minute wifi versus battle. Parties were composed of dreamteams like Cloud, Balthier, Rousseau, and Ramza. The game plays similar to the original, with some minor audio and slowdown problems hindering the port. On the other hand, the Yoshida anime sequences look incredible.

The first playable demo for The Sealed Grimoire appeared at the event


16: Final Fantasy Tactics A2 - The Sealed Grimoire: The demo of the DS's spiritual successor of the Game Boy Advance Tactics title closely followed its design and gameplay. The demo begins with Rousseau falling from the sky into the world of Ivalice, presumably after opening the Sealed Grimoire located in his school's library. One mission was available, in which the protagonist along with a "clan" of Ivalice creatures had to drive a giant bird monster off the overhead map. Those who disliked the presence of judges in the original may be disappointed to hear that they are back. The particular handicapp for the demo was "No item use allowed." The music playing through the headphones were the arranged tracks found on Hitoshi Sakimoto's original soundtrack of the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST, indicating that the improved DS sound card has allowed the development team both to boost the audio quality and retain many of the same memorable themes. Upon completing the mission, Rousseau was invited into the clan by Cid and began his journey across Ivalice.

Coverage of the Square Enix Party will be followed by two exclusive interviews from Shibuya, Japan, coming later this week.




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Man I could go for some rice balls right now.
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Mmm, rice balls
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