The latest version of the blockbuster video game "Final Fantasy" was launched in Japan Thursday, with hundreds queuing up for its release ahead of the North America and Europe launch next year.

The mythological role-playing game, in which heroes join forces to save the world in an intricate computer landscape, has been a flagship product for Sony's PlayStation and Japanese gamemaker SquareEnix.

The game publisher shipped some 1.8 million units in the latest edition's first batch alone, the company said.

Final Fantasy XIII, released three years and nine months after the 12th edition of the game, is for the first time designed to be played on PlayStation 3 (PS3), known for its quality images on Blu-ray discs.

SquareEnix boasts about the graphical quality and advanced battle systems on the new edition, for which some 350 fans queued before the early-morning release in the Shibuya shopping district alone.

"I hope the game will perform well in the year-end and New Year holiday season," said SquareEnix president Yoichi Wada in a statement, adding proudly: "I guarantee the game's quality."

Since the launch of the first edition in 1987, SquareEnix has sold more than 92 million copies of the Final Fantasy series worldwide, attracting game players with its high-definition pictures and mysterious story lines.

SquareEnix plans to launch the 13th edition in North America and Europe on March 9, both for PS3 and Microsoft game console Xbox 360 for the first time.

SquareEnix, which also publishes the Dragon Quest hit series, is Japan's second largest game publisher after Nintendo.

The latest Final Fantasy is widely expected to boost sales of PS3, which has struggled with the tough price competition from Nintendo's blockbuster Wii video game console and Xbox 360.

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