At its pre-E3 press conference today, Square Enix announced that it will be bringing its highly successful mobile massively multiplayer online game Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis to the United States in 2006.
According to a company representative, development of the North American version has been "coming along nicely," and the Japanese company expects that Before Crisis will provide American gamers with "an unexpected experience" on their mobile phones.
The action adventure game--which recounts the events that led up to Final Fantasy VII from the villainous Shinra Corporation's perspective--is presently sold in Japan on a subscription basis. Square Enix didn't release any details on the pricing structure for the US version of the game. Device and carrier compatibility also remain a mystery at this time.
Although Square Enix had communicated its desire to bring the popular mobile game to North America on previous occasions, the announcement was the first official acknowledgement that the porting process is under way.
At the time of Before Crisis' Japanese launch last September, American mobile infrastructure was too primitive to support the game's complex real-time network play and camera functionality. However, the technological tide in the US has turned rapidly since then, granting high-end consumers access to the next-generation handsets and broadband networks necessary for advanced mobile play.
American fans of the series should take heart, because domestic carriers will likely drive this capability toward the mainstream in the coming months in an effort to reap the same data revenues Japanese providers like NTT DoCoMo have enjoyed from MMO games.
In related news, Square Enix also announced two brand-new mobile games at the same conference. Code Age Brawls--a futuristic 3D action role-playing game that will also be the subject of a console game and a manga series--will be available in Japan sometime in 2005. Hexcite Fusion is a geometric puzzle game that will appear on Verizon Wireless.
No release-date information was available at the time of the conference. We'll have previews for these games up in the very near future, so stay tuned.