Square-Enix kicked off the first press conference of E3 2005 on Monday morning at the Paramount studio lot in the heart of Hollywood. The beautiful Paramount campus was lush with palm trees, verdant lawns, and fountains that gave the impression of an oasis among the concrete wasteland of East Hollywood.
Once inside the Paramount Theater, attendees were treated to a nice continental breakfast buffet in the theater lobby. Don't go too far with that bagel though... Food and drink within the theater was strictly prohibited (as was photography of any of the game trailers).
President Youichi Wada began the conference by stumping Square Enix's new "Polymorphic Content" initiative (read: merchandising). The company will renew a focus on spinning off their intellectual properites into novels, dvd, anime, manga and other commercial ventures.
The conference then shifted gears into full-blown upcoming game hype mode. Logo slides and trailers for the following titles were shown, with the security camera patrol in full effect during the trailer screenings. All games were for the PS2 unless otherwise stated.
DragonQuest VIII - Wada stressed the series' hallowed status overseas as the "most loved RPG in Japan." With a slick cel-shaded style, appealing character designs by Dragonball Z artist Akira Toriyama, and what looks to be an engaging storyline, the game could be a breakout hit that puts the franchise back on par with Final Fantasy in the United States.
Fullmetal Alchemist 2: Curse of the Crimson Elixir. This is actually a prequel to the first game, based on the popular Japanese anime TV series. Furious action RPG combat that looked a bit on the choppy side.
Radiata Stories - This game sees the return of developer Tri-Ace to the Enix fold, with a classic anime style. Maybe too classic, as the art direction and character design seems a bit cliched. Huge eyes, waifish adolescents with oversized weapons, and woefully dubbed cutscenes. Hopefully it featured scratch dialogue, because if I had to hear the heroine spout lines like "I have to go! To the END OF THE WORLD," I don't know how long I could keep my hand away from the PS2's eject button.
The SaGa series has always sported a very stylized handdrawn art direction, and Romancing SaGa was perhaps the most unique in its visual development. Aspects of the design looked almost Picasso-eque.
World of Mana was shown as a simple pre-rendered cinema of the signature Mana tree, complete with a flock of red birds trailing towards the camera. No announcement of platform or release date.