Square Enix has confirmed a final Japanese release date for the long-delayed Final Fantasy XII
, first announced in 2003. The game has only recently shown up again in playable form at the Square Enix Party in Tokyo; previously, a playable build debuted at E3 2004, but a lengthy gap where only prerendered video footage was displayed followed, leading to widespread rumors about the health of the project.
The reasons for the delay are partially explained in a statement released by Square Enix on the Japanese website: as translated by consumer site 1UP.com, the explanation says that "FFXII
producer, Yasumi Matsuno is recovering from sickness, and is currently involved with the project as a consultant." Matsuno's previous work for Square Enix has included the Final Fantasy Tactics
games as well as Vagrant Story
Matsuno will remain on as a consultant, while the game will be guided to completion by co-directors Hiroyuki Ito and Hiroshi Minagawa. The game also is listed as being executive-produced by Akitoshi Kawazu, father of the SaGa
series; previously, all Final Fantasy
games gave the executive producer nod to series founder Hironobu Sakaguchi, but with Sakaguchi now overseeing his own studio in Mistwalker, the mantle has passed to Kawazu.
The new Japanese release date is March 16, 2006, which ensures that the release will fall within Square Enix's Japanese fiscal year. The American release has been slated for an unspecified "later in 2006."