Square Enix has confirmed new details about Final Fantasy XII's stars, the young male Vaan, and the young female Ashe. Vaan, a resistance fighter, is a thief from the Dalmaska Kingdom who dreams of soaring the skies as a sky pirate. Meanwhile Ashe, the heir to the kingdom of Dalmaska's throne, is a princess and only daughter of the king who recently passed away.
Final Fantasy games have often been filled with character and world development, and Final Fantasy XII will continue this trend. For example, the sword Ashe uses is given to her in the opening movie by a currently unknown character, and the item Vaan holds in the November 13 picture promotion is known as a "star fruit". Furthermore, the Arcadia Empire and the Rozaria Imperium from the rear continent Ordalia have waged war in the Valentia continent for many years. Eventually, Arcadia goes on to attack Ashe's Dalmaska Kingdom, located between the Valentia and Ordalia continents. In response, Ashe creates a corps of mercenaries in order to pursue the enemy leader and defeat the conquerers. In times of doubt and exhaustation by the opposition, she pulls through by relying on her pride as the heir to the throne. One of the mercenaries is the cheery young male Vaan, who is optimistic despite having lost his parents when the two empires clashed. Vaan and Ashe's meeting emotionally begins Final Fantasy XII, and their relationship proves key in the global conflict.
Yasumi Matsuno, the director of Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and development head of Final Fantasy XII, has much influenced the game's plot. It is apparent that the story takes place in a world called Ivalice, similar to the country found in Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Races from the Game Boy Advance strategy-RPG, such as Bangaa and Viera, will be found in many areas throughout the game, and Vaan and Ashe's main opponents, the Arcadian judges, look quite similar to the game's battle referees. The different races speak varying languages and have their own sets of prejudices (introducing the theme of social classes). The judges, instead of upholders of justice, are now cruel knights who rule by violence. Yoshitaka Amano's Final Fantasy XII logo is said to represent the two sides of justice in Ivalice, by displaying one of the judges holding two swords.
Musically, series composer Nobuo Uematsu will strictly be responsible for the game's theme. Hitoshi Sakimoto, who worked on the soundtracks for Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, will create the music for the rest of the game.
According to Matsuno, character models will be made with fewer polygons. As a result, animation will be drastically improved and more detailed lighting effects and textures are now possible. The architecture of the game's buildings should add to the atmosphere, based on medieval Mediterranean countries.
Voice acting will also be featured in Final Fantasy XII. Kohei Takeda will play the voice role of Vaan and work on his motion capture. "I've been playing [Final Fantasy] since Final Fantasy V, but I never thought that I'd ever be playing the main character," explains Takeda. "I hope to work hard so that people will be happy to see me portraying Vaan."
A trailer of the game, roughly a minute long, has also been released. Beginning with a scene where Vaan wakes up in a prison-like area, it then displays a town square, where a gray-haired warrior is in front of a spectating crowd. Later, a Bangaa warrior is seen arguing with a soldier, and again with a judge. More than a few battle scenes are then featured, led by Vaan, Ashe and a Viera named Fran. At the trailer's end, Fran helps Vaan and another man escape from the first scene's prison-like area.
Final Fantasy XII is 70% complete and slated for Japanese release some time next fiscal year (after April 1). Square Enix has promised to release new information on the game in early December, so check back with RPGamer.
Updated 11.19.2003 and 11.20.2003