m a y . 3 1 . t h u r s d a y

Final Fantasy Soundtrack News
   Based on the apparently positive reception of the previously announced Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections rerelease, Square has decided to go ahead and rerelease the Final Fantasy V and VI Piano Collections as well. As before, the new albums will come in regular CD jewels and will not include the hardcover sheet music that was a part of earlier printings. They will be released under the catalog numbers NTCP-1002 (FF5), and NTCP-1003 (FF6).
   It has also been confirmed that Square is planning a third volume in the Final Fantasy Vocal Collections series, which thus far consists of Final Fantasy: Pray, and Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow. The new addition, catalog number SSCX-10052, was previously announced with a release date of March 5th, before being temporarily cancelled by Square. It's now back on release lists, and slated to come out on June 20th.
   Lastly, the Final Fantasy X OSV has been confirmed for an August 1st release. As with Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX, the first printing will be a limited edition featuring special packaging. Also, as with the last two games, the theme song, "Suteki da Ne," will be published as a CD single. The single has a planned release date of July 18th, and will include the vocal arrangement of Aerith's Theme, the winner of Square's previously reported poll to select a track for vocal arrangement. Although tracks will be sung by Okinawan folk artist Rikki, the lyrics for the new arrangement will be provided by Emiko Shiratori, the singer who recorded Final Fantasy IX's "Melodies of Life."
   SOURCE: The GIA | Daryl's Library | AnimeNation

NON-SQUARE New Xenosaga Details Revealed
   Xenosaga's nature as a prequel to Xenogears has been all but confirmed following Director Tetsuya Takahashi latest comments in Famitsu magazine. Takahashi, who also directed Xenogears, states that the game "is not a sequel or remake" and is subtitled "Episode I: The Will for Power." Takahashi also alludes to Xenosaga as a truer vision of what he wanted to achieve previously.
   Starring in Xenosaga will be Cion Uzuki, a young woman in glasses who Takahashi denies has any connection to Xenogears's Citan Uzuki. The new game will drop any fantasy themes and instead be completely science fiction.
   Xenosaga also leaves behind the character sprites of the original in a move to 3D, including polygonal versions of creations by returning character designer Kunihiko Tanaka. All story scenes will be generated by the engine instead of being animated or pre-rendered, and the player will have no control over the automatic camera.
   Battles will be based off a Chrono-style system where enemies are visible and physical contact with them starts a fight. Takahashi was vague on the use of gears in battle, though they will apparently return at least "once."
   The game is currently 30% finished, and though developer MonolithSoft is still looking for additional talent, Takahashi is aiming for a December release in Japan. An official unveiling of the game remains set for July 8.
m a y . 3 0 . w e d n e s d a y

Final Fantasy XI Details Unveiled
   Squaresoft of Japan announced the release date of their next Final Fantasy title (and first online RPG), Final Fantasy XI for the PlayStation 2. The release date is March 2002, definitely sooner than expected since FFXI is an online title, PlayOnline will obviously also be ready to go by the time the game is released in Japan. Final Fantasy XI is indeed pay-to-play as was reported earlier, and customers will actually not be charged until a month after the March release date. The price of the game itself, which is not 100% decided upon yet, should be between 6,000 and 7,000 yen according to the announcement.
   The official announcement did not mention any other platforms besides the PlayStation 2.
   SOURCE: Gaming Age
m a y . 2 5 . f r i d a y

Final Fantasy X Pre-Orders Begin
   On June 7 Japanese gamers will be able to pre-order the next installment of Final Fantasy for PlayStation 2.
   Along with Square's pre-order announcement, several Japanese retailers have revealed promo plans. Retail chains will offer everything from Final Fantasy X music discs and bandanas to wall scrolls.
   SOURCE: FGNonline
m a y . 2 3 . w e d n e s d a y

Square's Financial Status
   Square has announced their financial results, the forecasted 6 billion yen deficit is decreased to 3.1 billion yen, due to better than expected sales in their PlayStation 2 software. Other than the high costs of the Final Fantasy Movie and PlayOnline development cost.
   The cause of the deficit is blamed on the marketing strategies on Final Fantasy IX, because Square has restricted the walkthrough and strategy solution books for the game, both the popularity and sales of the game have largely decreased.
   Square announced that they will be supplying walkthroughs and guide books for Final Fantasy X after the game is released.
   SOURCE: The Magicbox

More Details Regarding Square's Shareholder Meeting
   Square announced that the PlayOnline RPG Final Fantasy XI is scheduled to release by the end of March 2002, the first online version of Final Fantasy.
   The PlayOnline network is developed to support low bandwidth users who connect at 56Kbps, (i.e., it is possible to play FFXI using 56Kbps analog modems). Final Fantasy XI will support up to 100,000 simultaneously. A beta testing version of the game will be released in November. FFXI will retail for 6000 - 7000 yen, and a one year PlayOnline subscription will be around 1200 yen (differing from yesterday's 'monthly' payment news).
   Finally, Square mentioned about FF12, which will be made to support both online and offline.
   SOURCE: The Magicbox
m a y . 2 2 . t u e s d a y

New Final Fantasy XI Details
   At a business briefing held in Japan today, Square president Hisashi Suzuki commented on various issues regarding the company's Online future.
   Suzuki first commented on Final Fantasy XI for the PlayStation 2. This first Online Final Fantasy game will require that you join Square's PlayOnline service in order to play. You will have to pay a monthly access fee, although the game will cost between 6000 and 7000 yen, lower than the 8800 yen of FFX. Account charges will begin in Japan in April of 2002, which makes us believe the game will arrive close to that time.
   Suzuki also commented briefly on Microsoft's Xbox system. Apparently, Square differs somewhat in its ideas for networking from Microsoft, and the two companies have been in negotiations over software development for the past two years.
   Square requires 300,000 paying users in order to break even on the PlayOnline service.
m a y . 1 8 . f r i d a y

E3: Square's "Disney RPG" Revealed
   Square's Kingdom Hearts will combine Nomura-designed Disney characters with traditional Disney characters and worlds. Two years in the making, with a production team of over 100 of Square and Disney top talents, Kingdom Hearts is an unusual melding of the talents of two of the leaders in worldwide entertainment. It is worth emphasing that the Nomura-designed characters of Sora, Riku, and Kairi are being described by all as "Disney characters," not simply Nomura-characters in a "Disney RPG." In an interesting twist, Court Wizard Donald and Captain Goofy are said to change their appearance with each new world, by changing their outfits and even "morphing into different versions of themselves."
   Kingdom Hearts marks the first time that multiple Disney worlds have coexisted in the same interactive product. Announced worlds include those of Aladdin, Tarzan, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and The Little Mermaid. Characters will also visit "new Disney worlds" in their dimension-spanning adventures. Confirmed villains include Jafar (Aladdin), Clayton (Tarzan), Ursula (The Little Mermaid), and more.
   Many of Square's top talent has been working on this title. A list of announced staff members follow:

   Tetsuya Nomura: Director and Character Designer (FFVII, VIII, PE1, PE2, Bouncer)
   Jun Akiyama: Event Director (FFVII, Tactics, Vagrant Story)
   Takeshi Endo: Stage Planning Director (FFVII, VIII, IX)
   Akira Fujii: Real-time Graphics Director (FFVII, VIII, IX, PE)
   Tatsuya Kando: Animation Director (FFVII, VIII, IX, PE)
   Yuichi Kanemori: Battle Director (PE2)
   Tomohiro Kayano: Character Model Director (FFVII, VIII, IX, PE)
   Yoko Shimomura: Composer (Front Mission, PE, Legend of Mana)

   With so many of their key personnel dedicated to this title, Square clearly considers Kingdom Hearts one of their top priorities for the next generation.
m a y . 1 4 . m o n d a y

Final Fantasy X 2-Disc Release Cancelled
   Square confirmed today that it has canceled the 2-DVD release of Final Fantasy X in favor of just a single-disc release. Fans won't have to worry about missing out the higher-quality video and sound planned for the special edition, however: Square explains that it was able to achieve with a single disc the quality it was aiming for in the special edition, thus making a two-disc release unnecessary.
   A new bonus DVD video disc has also been added to the Final Fantasy X package. Titled "Other Side of the Finalfantasy," [sic] the disc will include developer interviews, storyboards, a Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within trailer, and footage of upcoming Square titles.
   Final Fantasy X's release date remains unaffected by this change. The game is due out July 19th in Japan at a price of 8800 yen ($71 US). North American and European releases will follow in 2002; it's currently unknown if these versions will include the Other Side of the Finalfantasy disc.
m a y . 1 2 . s a t u r d a y

Emiko to Write "Aerith's Theme" Remix Lyrics
   Square recently revealed on its PlayOnline site that Emiko Shiratori, singer of the Final Fantasy IX theme "Melodies of Life," will provide the lyrics for the remix of "Aerith's Theme." The winner of a recent survey on Square's Japanese PlayOnline site, "Aerith's Theme" will be remixed into a vocal track for inclusion on the CD single release of Final Fantasy X's theme, "Suteki da ne." Okinawan folk artist Rikki will sing both "Suteki da ne" and the "Aerith's Theme" remix.
   Interestingly, this is Shiratori's first song-writing contribution to the Final Fantasy series -- while she sang "Melodies of Life," its lyrics were written by one "Ciomi."
m a y . 1 1 . f r i d a y

Final Fantasy X Bonus Track Survey Final Results
   Voting has concluded in Square's PlayOnline survey to determine which music track will be remixed for inclusion on the CD single of the Final Fantasy X's theme "Suteki da ne."
   "Aerith's Theme" from Final Fantasy VII won a clear mandate from series' fans with 1794 votes, over three times as many as the next runner up, "You're Not Alone" from FF IX. Other notable also-rans include "Battle With Gilgamesh" from FF V with 309 votes and "Aria de Mezzo Caraterre" from FFVI with 283 votes.
   "Aerith's Theme" will receive new orchestration and added lyrics, to be sung by "Suteki da ne" vocalist Rikki. In additon to these two songs, the single will also include an original track from Rikki entitled "Utikisama," which translates as "The Moon." The CD single will likely be released sometime around FFX's launch on July 19.
   SOURCE: Madman's Cafe
m a y . 0 8 . t u e s d a y

Pre-E3: Square Announces E3 Lineup; FFX Plot Details
   Surprising relatively few, Square EA has announced that the company will display two (or three, depending on how you look at it) titles at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo: Final Fantasy Chronicles for PlayStation and Final Fantasy X for PlayStation 2.
   The FFX announcement includes some interesting story tidbits. As it turns out, Tidus doesn't get to show off his blitzball skills for very long. His homeland is destroyed, leaving him one of the few survivors amid a world of ruins. Meeting the summoner Yuna, whose monsters are called "Aeons," he joines her on a journey through a world called Spira, as she hopes to develop her mastery of the summoning arts and defeat a being called "Sin." A thousand years before the present time, technology dominated an urban world, until Sin destroyed mankind's advanced civilization, creating the technophobic world of the present. Now, Sin is back...

Final Fantasy II WSC Packaging
   Square's WonderSwan Color remake of the second Final Fantasy arrives in Japan, in standard and deluxe editions.

m a y . 0 7 . m o n d a y

New Final Fantasy Movie Trailer Online
   The official site for the Final Fantasy movie has updated with a QuickTime version of the new Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within trailer. The trailer, which is also playing in theaters, can be viewed in resolutions ranging from a petite 240x128, 5.8-megabyte version to a 38-megabyte 640x480 monster.

Final Fantasy X Official Site Opens ... In Japanese
   Squaresoft's official Final Fantasy X site has gone live. Though content is skeletal at best, with nothing more for English readers than a few already-posted screenshots, the opening intro movie is noteworthy for the way it showcases Yuna to the exclusion of all other characters. Greyed out sections of the site include World, Motions, and Downloads, so expect additions as the game's release date nears.
   The site can be found here.


m a y . 0 4 . f r i d a y

Final Fantasy X Reservations Begin
   While the latest chapter in Square's epic RPG series is still more than two months away from release, Japanese retail chain Sofmap announced today that they'll begin accepting preorders on May 7th. While not officially authorized by Square, Sofmap will guarantee copies of Final Fantasy X those customers who preorder in full beginning next week. For reference, Final Fantasy X is scheduled for release on July 19th in Japan, and will ship on DVD-ROM format for 8,800 yen ($78).
   SOURCE: Core Magazine