Final Fantasy XII Is Still Around

Let’s check in on Final Fantasy XII, seeing as how a demo of it ships next week with Dragon Quest VIII. For one thing, those of you who doubt the ingenuity of the game should note its latest step in bravely discarding series tradition. Observe that Final Fantasy XII’s ostensible villain, Vayne Cardas Solidor, has brown hair instead of white or blond hair!

All joking aside, I really am looking forward to Final Fantasy XII. I remain firm in my delusion that it will be a brilliant change from the franchise’s typical form, that it will have a marvelous story capable of singly vaulting games into the realm of high literature, and that it will be a beautiful, priceless experience such as to leave you gaping in open wonder and regretting that you ever doubted director Yasumi Matsuno for a second, you ungrateful shit. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. At least not until the demo arrives, at which point we'll probably learn that FFXII is much like previous Final Fantasies, only with an MMORPG battle system, a few Shakespearean allusions, and bizarrely realistic bunny women.

The Final Fantasy XII demo is intriguing in other ways, as it’s debuting in America. I’ve heard of no such release for the Japanese market, and as far as I can tell, no U.S. gaming website landed special previews of the demo. Unleashing it on the public at large suggests either Square’s confidence in the game or the fact that they just don’t care anymore because Matsuno has fallen ill or quit or gone stark raving mad, depending on who you believe. The project is now overseen by Saga series creator Akitoshi Kawazu –in other words, the man behind Unlimited Saga. Damning as that may sound, Kawazu’s just the executive producer of FFXII and, in effect, merely the one called in to guide the project’s last leg.

The real burden of proof falls upon co-directors Hiroyuki Ito and Hiroshi Minagawa, who’ve been closely tied to either Matsuno’s past work or earlier parts of the Final Fantasy series. Ito designed Final Fantasy Tactics, directed Final Fantasy IX and helped invent the battle systems on Final Fantasy IV, V, VI, and VIII. Minagawa is a Quest veteran who handled the art direction for Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Vagrant Story. They’re some of the best talent Square has left.

So if Final Fantasy XII is a hideous, embarrassing plane crash of a game, I'll know whose fault it is.

Mine, for getting too excited about a video game.