a u g u s t . 2 2 . w e d n e s d a y

Chrono Cross Joins Greatest Hits
   Square Electronic Arts L.L.C. (Square Electronic Arts), the exclusive publisher of all Squaresoft products in North America, today announced the addition of its popular role-playing game, Chrono Cross, to Sony Computer Entertainment America's "Greatest Hits" series. The "Greatest Hits" edition of Chrono Cross will feature never-before published, English-translated lyrics to the game's end credit song, "Radical Dreamers ~Le Tresor Interdit~," in the owner's manual. The game will have a suggested retail price of $19.99.
   SOURCE: Gaming Age
a u g u s t . 2 1 . t u e s d a y

Square Plans Final Fantasy X Guides For Japan
   Square has confirmed plans to release to guidebooks for their PlayStation 2 RPG 'Final Fantasy X' next month in Japan. The first guide will be an overview of the storyline and the environments in the game and will be entitled 'Final Fantasy X: Scenario Ultimania.' The second will be an in-depth analysis of the battle system including enemy charts and will be entitled 'Final Fantasy X: Battle Ultimania.' For reference, both guides will retail for 1,400 yen ($12) each, and will be available at Digicube affiliated stores across Japan including Familymart, 7-11, and Circle-K.
   SOURCE: Core Magazine
a u g u s t . 2 0 . m o n d a y

Tokyopop to Release Partial FF10 Soundtrack
   Online anime retailer Tokyopop revealed on its web page that it will release a Final Fantasy X soundtrack CD in North America, with the disc due out the same time as the PlayStation 2 game. The company has already published soundtracks for several other Square titles, including Parasite Eve II, Final Fantasy IX, and both games in the Final Fantasy Chronicles set.
   As the disc carries a suggested retail price of $14.98 US, it can be assumed that the release will be a single CD collection of selected tracks from the game and not the full four-disc soundtrack. (Final Fantasy IX's soundtrack was given a similar treatment.)
a u g u s t . 1 7 . f r i d a y

Final Fantasy DVD Hits Top Ten
   Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has its spirits up on the DVD charts at Amazon.com. The Special Edition DVD is currently the 10th top selling DVD at the online retailer. The ranking is impressive considering pre-sales just started.
   The FF:TSW DVD hits stores October 23rd.
   SOURCE: Gaming Age
a u g u s t . 1 5 . w e d n e s d a y

Final Fantasy Movie In Real-Time
   Square and Nvidia have unveiled the Final Fantasy Technology Demo, which runs scenes from the movie in real-time, at Siggraph 2001, a convention for graphics professionals. The demo uses a workstation with a Nvidia Quadro DCC graphics card to render scenes on-the-fly, albeit at a rather slow framerate, conservatively estimated at an average of 2.5 frames per second. Square's demo takes advantage of the vertex and pixel shaders on the Nvidia chip to do the realistic cloth and hair modeling that so distinguished the photo-realism of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The Quadro DCC is Nvidia's product for professional graphics and has the same specs as the GeForce3, or slightly less graphics power than the Nvidia chip in the Xbox.
   "It has long been an artist's dream to render CG animation in real-time," said Kazuyuki Hashimoto, chief technology officer at Square USA. "This technology demonstration represents the future direction of digital 3D entertainment, simulating human emotions, movements and characteristics through the use of computer-generated graphics."
   However, this demonstration doesn't mean that a single powerful workstation is capable of producing movie-quality CG in real-time. The actual production rendering of Final Fantasy movie used about 1000 processors running 24 hours a day for a year and a half. Most shots were divided into multiple layers (for example, the spirits were always rendered as separate layers) that were rendered independently then composited later as separate photo plates. One shot in the movie was made up of nearly 500 layers. This sort of division of labor is obviously not possible with a real-time rendering system.
   During the movie's development the Square team used a custom real-time preview system that allowed them to test lighting, character placement, and other details before the time-consuming final rendering process, which took an average of 90 minutes per frame. For CG artists, this sort of real-time preview can save a lot of time, but it does also hint at what's coming for game graphics, which don't need the same incredible level of detail. Last year at Siggraph 2000, Square showed a real-time tech demo running on the GSCube, which puts the power of 16 PlayStation2's in one system.
   SOURCE: Videogames.com
a u g u s t . 1 4 . t u e s d a y

FF: The Spirits Within DVD Extras Announced
   While the first announcement concerning the home version of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within gave eager fans a street date to fixate upon, many were left wondering what would be included in the double-DVD edition of the movie. Any curiosity can now be laid to rest, as Columbia-TriStar Home Entertainment has revealed all the bonus material to be included in the package, which is listed below. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is scheduled to arrive in stores October 23 with a suggested retail price tag of $29.95.

Disc One
•Two feature-length commentaries:
 -Co-director (Motonori Sakakibara), sequence supervisor (Hiroyuki Hayashida), sets & props lead artist (Tatsuro Maruyama), Phantom supervisor (Takao Noguchi)
 -Animation director (Andy Jones), editor (Chris S. Capp), stagingdirector (Tani Kunitake)
•Isolated score with commentary by composer Elliot Goldenthal
•Storyboard/Playblast selects of the film with optional filmmaker commentary or subtitled factoids
•Theatrical trailers
•Interactive animated menus, featuring CGI introductions created by Square Pictures
•Scene selections with motion images
•Production notes

Disc Two
•Original interactive documentary - The Making of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Dig deeper and link-out to information pods which spotlight:
 -Final Fantasy Thriller Music Video
 -Alternate opening sequence
 -Mini-movie: Aki's Dream
 -Trailer exploration
•Multiple workshops including:
 -Seven in-depth character files
 -Three vehicle scale comparisons (Bandit, Quatro, Black Boa)
 -Two face wraps (Aki, Dr. Sid)
 -Character morphs
 -Compositing builds
 -Matte art exploration
 -Sets and props
•Final Fantasy Shuffler: Become the filmmaker by re-editing a pivotal scene from the film. Complete the edit and play back your final cut.
•Interactive animated menus
•DVD-ROM exclusive interactive film exploration
 -Includes complete screenplay
 -Virtual tour of Square Pictures

Additional Specifications
•Digitally mastered audio & video
•1.85:1 aspect ratio (anamorphic for widescreen TVs)
•Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) and Dolby Surround 2.0 (French)
•English and French subtitles
•Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
•106 minutes

a u g u s t . 1 0 . f r i d a y

FFX Lead Actor Revealed?
   Square has released no official information as yet concerning who will voice the characters in the American release of Final Fantasy X, but today IGN PS2 discovered what might be at least one of the actors. According to FFX's entry in the Internet Movie Database, the lead role of Tidus will be played by James Arnold Taylor, an actor who's played a few voice roles in TV and movies, including an appearance on Fox's Futurama.
   When contacted, Square representatives would neither confirm nor deny that Taylor would play the role of Tidus. You can check out his entry on the IMDB here.
a u g u s t . 0 2 . t h u r s d a y

Final Fantasy Tactics Rerelease Defective
   The long-awaited Final Fantasy Tactics rerelease arrived for some buyers today; unfortunately, all initial pressings of the new copies are improperly formatted for the PSone. Square is working to address the problem, but has given no date as to when fans can expect a corrected batch.

FF4, Chrono Trigger US Soundtrack Details

   Tokyopop is readying Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV soundtracks for US publication to tie in with the recent rerelease of the two classics in the form of Final Fantasy Chronicles. Neither soundtrack has previously seen an American release.
   The single-disc FFIV soundtrack will feature all the tracks from the game, as well as an additional arrangement of "The Theme of Love." The much longer CT soundtrack has been pared down to fit on a single disc, with a selection of tracks that largely mirrors the Japan-only Chrono Trigger '99 soundtrack - minus most of the arranged tracks. Both soundtracks will include "bonus materials and extras," though what form these will take is currently unknown. The FFIV and CT soundtracks will be available on August 21 and will each retail for $14.98.
   A track listing of both soundtracks can be found here (towards bottom of page).