Square Enix Final Fantasy DS Interview
We sit down with the creators of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings for an in-depth chat about their new DS games.
By Kikizo Staff
Even with their high-def graphics and powerful processors, the new consoles still lag in popularity behind Nintendo's miniature wonder. With tens of millions of DSs sold worldwide, it's no wonder some of the best and brightest upcoming software releases are being tailor-made for the system.
One of DS's most fervent supporters is RPG powerhouse Square-Enix, which has a pair of Final Fantasy adventures to enjoy during the opening half of the year, including Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, released in February, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, out later this month.
While both are spinoffs of previous console titles - Final Fantasy XII (PlayStation 2) and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GameCube) - they are also promising titles in their own right that take advantage of the possibilities offered by the DS in their own particular ways.
Recently, Kikizo had the opportunity to speak with the developers behind these two titles. We discussed the challenges in bringing Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings to life with producer Eisuke Yokoyama and writer/director Motomu Toriyama, while we delved into the secrets of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates with director Mitsuru Kamiyama and executive producer Akitoshi Kawazu.
Kikizo: Why did you choose to make Revenant Wings with such a different gameplay style?
Yokoama: First of all, since we wanted to create a game for the DS, we had to take a look at its player demographic. We found that the DS's audience was quite large and varied, but it did tend to skew a bit younger. We thought of doing something along the lines of a "My First Final Fantasy" for this audience of younger and casual players. When our teams got together to discuss what the gameplay would be like, we thought primarily about using the stylus and touch screen, and came to the consensus that the [real-time strategy] style of game would make the best use of those elements.
Kikizo: This is a direct follow-up, story-wise, to Final Fantasy XII. Since you're targeting this towards new and casual players, are you worried about them being unable to follow the story and the characters?
Toriyama: Even though this is a continuation of FFXII, it's still an entirely new adventure for Vaan and his Sky Pirate crew. New users should be able to jump into the storyline without being confused. Also, since we're in the business of making RPGs, we're used to establishing background for characters that isn't necessarily shown in-game. The events of FFXII are more or less that background in the timeline of Revenant Wings.
Kikizo: So are you hoping that players who pick up RW will eventually go back to FFXII to learn more about this world and the characters in it?
Toriyama: RW is a game that can be enjoyed on its own, but if the players enjoy the game enough to want to see what happened before, we'll be more than happy if they decide to pick up FFXII as well and get to know them a bit better. Likewise, if fans of FFXII want to know what happened to the cast after the events of that game, we'll be glad if they pick this one up, as well.
Kikizo: Why did you make Revenant Wings closer to old-style Final Fantasy games in appearance? This game is sprite-based, while Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles have 3D character models.
Yokoyama: There are two reason why we used sprites. Firstly, the development team wanted to make use of the sort of warmth and handcrafted feel that pixel art gives off. Also, the battles in RW require a lot of characters onscreen at once. This would be difficult to do with 3D graphics on the DS.
Kikizo: Will the international version of the game have any new additions?
Yokoyama: Yes, there will. Particularly, we've upped the difficulty level several notches. The placement of enemy units have been changes, and they react more realistically to your characters' moves. There's also a new, optional level called the "Deep Dungeon" where you'll be able to fight the ultimate boss, Yazmat.
Kikizo: We've noticed that you're working to establish a continuity for several of these titles called the "Ivalice Alliance," along the same lines as Fabula Nova Chrysalis for the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII.
Toriyama: There's no concrete plans we can discuss at the moment regarding future titles in the Ivalice Alliance. But when we fully introduced the world of Ivalice through FFXII, we think its size and beauty really left an impression on everybody. It's definitely something we will expand on in the future.
Kikizo: Will there be any multiplayer features in Revenant Wings?
Yokoyama: There's no multiplayer elements in RW, unfortunately. We really did want to include some multiplayer features, and we considering them up until the very last stages of development, but the schedule simply didn't allow for it. But if we ever have the opportunity to create another Revenant Wings in the future, we would love to experiment with the multiplayer aspect.
Kikizo: Who actually came up with the idea to make Revenant Wings? Did you plan it around the same time as FFXII, or did it come later?
Toriyama: We had planned for a long time to create a new FF title for the Nintendo DS, and that idea existed while FFXII was in development. Revenant Wings, per se, wasn't created during this time, but the inkling of the idea was indeed there.