by Ken Gagne

As the first day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo began, Square intended to quickly capture the show and divert attendants' attention to their products. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men are as subject to Murphy's Law as anything. The end product was finally shown, but not before a comical display of gaffes and goof-ups.

Together with the president of Electronic Arts, the Japanese head honchos – courtesy of a translator — gave a brief overview of their past releases with SCEA, their partnership with EA as of 27-Apr-98, and then announced the rest of their 1998 lineup.

First served will be PARASITE EVE in this September, which will include a demo CD of their other three products and a self-running demo of Final Fantasy VIII. These other three titles are XENOGEARS in October, and in November, BUSHIDO BLADE 2 and BRAVE FENCER MUSASHI , the latter which will include an interactive demo of Final Fantasy VIII. Musashi will be released in Japan on July 16th, meaning four months is as long as it takes to separate the Japanese & American releases.

Parasite Eve is said to have its focus on graphics, whereas Final Fantasy VII was oriented toward story. The EA president specifically pointed out the "gorgeous heroine". Again, unlike FFVII, the setting is non- futuristic. One million copies of this game have been sold since its release in Japan a few months ago.

FINAL FANTASY VIII, still in development, is due in Japan this October, followed Winter of 1999 in the American and Euopean markets. Despite rumours to the contrary, Nobou Uematsu, the maestro-mind behind the music of other Final Fantasy titles, will continue to produce his work for FFVIII.

Then it was time to see this highly-anticipated title in action. Then it wasn't time. Then it was… then not. The coordinators of the event were unable to dim the lights; then the video would not play; once they did, it was without sound. They switched to a Q&A session, during the middle of which the video came on and the microphones went dead; then the music to the video finally arrived, but the video disappeared.

It was to much cheering that the audio and video components finally entered a state of functionality and synchronicity, and we watched the demonstration. The first was 1'15", then a second video showing the same material but with more. We watched as seven figures streaked across a full moon sky and the title faded in, all of which then faded out to show a fleet of sleek warboats approaching a shore. Squall squinted his face against the sun, which made the scar running from above his right eye to below his left eye all the more apparent. We watched as covert stormstroopers attacked a monster, a robot locked onto a target, and Leviathan was summoned to work his aquatic magic. This game is impressive in both the graphical and musical areas.

This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Video Gaming Central (CompuServe), 26-May-98