What do Cerny Games' Mark Cerny, Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor, Microsoft's Corrinne Yu, and Obsidian's Feargus Urquhart have in common, besides being game developers? Absolutely nothing. Yet, Square Enix managed to sit them down for an hour long roundtable discussion to talk about one thing: how awesome Final Fantasy (and Final Fantasy VII, in particular) is. To say it was awkward is a tremendous understatement.
Certainly, there's much cause for celebration. With the game first announced nearly four years ago, the impending release of Final Fantasy XIII feels like a much needed breath of relief. It was Square Enix's night to celebrate its work, and with a red carpet entrance for key producers and voice actors it carried an aura appropriate for the return of the long-awaited flagship franchise. With some glowing reviews, this launch party could have rested solely on the game's merits.
A cheerful (and perhaps slightly mistranslated) speech from Square Enix president Yoichi Wada set the right tone for the evening, with Wada wearing a Fal'cie tattoo on his hand calling the audience to join him in a quest to save the world; however, the evening took a quick turn for the bizarre. A visually breathtaking 3D trailer for Final Fantasy XIII was marred by the host's obnoxious desire to watch it a second time in quick succession. The roundtable discussion that followed highlighted the franchise's accomplishments, twisting them into an overview of these developers' shortcomings. There was an almost defeated attitude with the panel, many admitting their inability to match the sheer production values of a Square Enix joint.
The evening escalated to quite possibly one of the most awkward toasts we've ever encountered. A Microsoft spokesperson took the stage, congratulating Square Enix on bringing Final Fantasy XIII to Xbox 360. Shortly thereafter, a Sony spokesperson also took the stage, emphasizing how Final Fantasy is a PlayStation franchise, and how XIII is best on PS3, on a single Blu-ray disc -- the way it was meant to be played. The audience was abuzz like a Joystiq comments thread, and champagne was had by all. Congratulations on releasing Final Fantasy XIII, Square Enix!