E3 '07: Square Enix lines up for E3

Japanese publisher brings Final Fantasy in droves; Front Mission DS officially announced.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Last May was a reprieve for most publishers and developers, being no longer obligated to put on their Sunday finest and present their wares to the masses. Such was not the case for Japan-based Square Enix, who in lieu of the world's largest gaming trade show, moved its mostly annual Square Enix Party in Makuhari, Japan, to the same week as the old E3. During the event, Square Enix had on show games and merchandise from franchises both old and new, and it also unveiled several new games in its most popular franchises. With its strong showing just a few months ago, the publisher doesn't have many tricks left in its bag, but many fan favorites will still be present at this year's E3.

While it won't be showing anywhere near the amount of titles it did in May, Square Enix has an unhealthy amount of Final Fantasy on display all the same. Representing the Ivalice Alliance, Square Enix will be showing Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings on the Nintendo DS and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. The two games bookend Square Enix's Ivalice line of games, where The War of the Lions is an updated remake of the 1997 FF Tactics original and Revenant Wings is the latest extrapolation in the series.

In other Final Fantasy news, Square Enix will also be showing off the much-anticipated second installment in the Crystal Chronicles series, Ring of Fates. Slated for a spring 2008 release on the Nintendo DS, Ring of Fates will feature a fully featured single-player adventure, as well as Wi-Fi compatible multiplayer action for up to four players.

While the bulk of Square Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy products are for Nintendo's newest handheld, the publisher has a few lined up for Sony and Microsoft systems as well. Set for a July 27 release, Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition for the PSP will make an appearance at this year's expo. In this latest reimagining of FFII, Square Enix has completely revamped the graphics and included all-new dungeons. Square Enix will also be showing off the latest expansion in its massively multiplayer online game, Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess. This fourth chapter will introduce a bevy of new content to the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 2 versions of the game and is set to go live this winter.

Square Enix has more than just Final Fantasy games lined up for the show. The publisher will be bringing two from its Dragon Quest series, Joker and The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors. Already out in Japan, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker lets players capture, train, and breed more than 200 different monsters. Square Enix will be showing the game exclusively for the DS in advance of its November 6 release date. Dragon Quest is also headed to the Wii in The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors. Aimed at both longtime Dragon Quest fans and newcomers to the series, Masked Queen has players acting out the role-playing adventure using the Wii's motion-sensing controls.

While GameStop spoiled the fun in June, Square Enix confirmed it would be bringing Front Mission to the DS in North America. Similar to its recent Final Fantasy Anniversary updates, the publisher will rework the turn-based mech strategy game with dual-screen compatibility and multiplayer modes. The long-running Mana series will also have a new installment shown at this year's expo, Heroes of Mana.

Lastly, Square Enix plans to finally officially unveil its US online store. Merchandise on offer will include rarer items from the series, such as Master Arms, Mechanical Arts, and Play Arts, as well as items from popular series, such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts.

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