Final Fantasy Gaiden revealed

[04.01.99] » Screenshots, information, and even a movie from the next Final Fantasy ... and it's a true sequel.

   The GIA brings you an exclusive look at Square's next hit: Final Fantasy Gaiden. The six screenshots and logo we received are arranged in the same manner as one of Square's digital presskits, leading the GIA to believe that Square was ready to announce FF Gaiden at last month's Tokyo Game Show Spring '99. Why the game was pulled at the last minute is anyone's guess; the most likely reason is FF VIII's continued strong sales.

   One look at the screen shots is sure to shock: FF Gaiden is the first direct sequel in the history of the series. Surely this is the title Square that intended to "rock the industry." Set directly after the end of FF VIII, the game's main character is none other than Squall's nemesis, Seifer. It seemed odd that Square refers to the "three main characters" of FFVIII as Squall, Rinoa, and Seifer, when Seifer's part in the game was fairly minimal. Now, the delineation is clear. Seifer is accompanied by his two fellow Disciplinary Committee members, Fuujin and Raijin. An event screen has Seifer expressing his desire to "become a better person." His intent to change and personal redemption are likely the focus of the story. What other twists the plot contains are unknown, but another screenshot reveals that Laguna, Kiros, and Ward return as player characters. Another shot shows that FF series staples Biggs and Wedge are party characters for the first time since FF VI.

   Fans are likely to balk at FF Gaiden's nature: a direct sequel reusing much media from the previous title. Square seems to have taken these concerns in mind with the title's unique release format and pricing. The title is only two CDs long and will retail for the incredible price of 3800 yen, or just $32. It will be released - as Hironobu Sakaguchi hinted months ago - in Fall 1999. The rumors that FF VIII and IX were being simultaneously developed appear to be partially true; "Final Fantasy IX" was really "Final Fantasy Gaiden." Final Fantasy Gaiden uses the same engine, world map, many of the same locations, and much of the same music as its predecessor. Why would Square do such a thing? FF VI's and FF VII's release were separated by several years, as Square mastered new hardware and new game creation techniques. FF Gaiden appears designed to fill the gap between the last PlayStation Final Fantasy and the first PlayStation 2 Final Fantasy -- perhaps Final Fantasy IX?

   Our informant also provided us with a VHS copy of a Digital Beta SP tape containing raw battle footage, likely intended to be edited into Square's Tokyo Game Show promo reel. We've edited the rather long tape for brevity and converted the footage into an MPEG (found below). The video begins with Seifer summoning a Moomba, similar to the way Squall can summon a Chocobo in FF VIII - does this hint that FF Gaiden's PocketStation game will be "Odekake Moomba"?

Seifer, Raijin, and Fuujin fight
MPEG, 240x176, 5.36 MB

   The concept of a direct-sequel Final Fantasy may send the mind reeling - but when you stop to think about it, it makes a strange sort of sense. Many fans consider Final Fantasy VIII to be the greatest the series has seen; hopefully, Final Fantasy Gaiden will only build upon its reputation.

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