Japanese Final Fantasy XII gets premium price

Next Square-Enix RPG to cost nearly $80 when released across the Pacific in March; merchandising deals announced.

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TOKYO--Some things are so indispensable that retailers can charge just about whatever they want for them and people will still pay: medicine, gasoline, alcohol, Xbox 360s, and--in Japan at least--big-name Square Enix role-playing games.

Square Enix announced at a conference in Tokyo today that when Final Fantasy XII hits shelves there March 16, it will carry with it a heftier price tag than most PlayStation 2 games. Where the typical PS2 new release in Japan goes for 7,140 yen ($59.53), Final Fantasy XII will fetch 8,990 yen ($74.96). That's about $15 more than the norm but still not quite up to the 9,240 yen ($77.05) Square Enix charged for Dragon Quest VIII at its Japanese release last year. Even that sticker shock couldn't drive gamers away, as Dragon Quest VIII launched to throngs of eager customers.

American gamers who aren't willing to pay a premium for the next Final Fantasy needn't worry too much. Just as Dragon Quest VIII arrived on US shores with the standard price tag, online retailers GameStop and EB Games are likewise asking the expected $49.99 for preorders of Final Fantasy XII.

Square Enix also used the conference to announce some merchandising plans for its latest role-playing game. The game's main theme music (not to be confused with its main theme song), will be composed by Taro Hakase, a music producer who worked with the popular Japanese band Kryzler & Company in 1987. Hakase said he has been working on the project with Square Enix for two years.

A CD single of the song, titled "Kibou" (Hope), will beat Final Fantasy XII to stores with a March 1 release. It will be offered in two packages; the bare bones edition will run customers 1,050 yen ($8.75), and a special edition with the CD and a promotional DVD featuring clips of FFXII and Hakase will cost 1,680 yen ($14).

Square Enix also unveiled plans to collaborate on a new energy drink with Suntory, the largest beverage company in Japan. Kazuhiro Saitou, chief of Suntory's food business division, said the upcoming Final Fantasy Potion energy drink will revitalize drinkers, much like a potion does in the game. While the drink is still in development, Suntory is attempting to give Final Fantasy Potion a refreshing taste with the use of herbs, such as hyssop and lemon balm. The beverage will be offered in a normal package and a "premium box" package, which comes with a special bottle and a Final Fantasy XII Art Museum Card.

Final Fantasy XII is scheduled for a North American release August 1, 2006. Gamers who don't want to wait that long can nab a demo of the game packaged with Dragon Quest VIII.

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