Square Enix’s Shinji Hashimoto and Motomu Toriyama visited Singapore (photos and videos of the meet-the-fans event here) this week as part of an Asia tour to promote Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) and the upcoming English and Asian (Chinese/Korean) releases of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for the PS3 and PS Vita.
A group media interview session with the two Square Enix creators was held for the local gaming press while they were here, with Toriyama taking questions relating to LRFF13 (we’ll be publishing that interview later on the site) and Hashimoto handling the questions for Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster.
Although the Singapore gaming press was supposed to ask Hashimoto only questions relating to FFX/X-2 HD Remaster, since Hashimoto is Senior Executive Managing Officer at Square Enix, and the corporate executive in charge of games publisher’s 1st Production Department, we (and the other publications in attendance) simply had to try our luck and ask about future Final Fantasy titles as well.
Hashimoto-san very graciously took our questions. This is what he said (through a translator):
—In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII as well as Final Fantasy XV, the battle systems are real-time in nature, like in most action RPGs, as opposed to the turn-based Active Time Battle combat systems utilised in past Final Fantasy games (such as in X/X-2 HD Remaster).
Will we see the return of a purely turn-based ATB in future Final Fantasy games, or does Hashimoto feel that the real-time combat systems are a natural progression and evolution of the turn-based ATB systems?
Shinji Hashimoto: When we approach the game design of Final Fantasy titles, we don’t really think of it as “this or that is the right direction to take the series in”.
Rather, every single time what we aim to do is to put out a great title that surpass the expectations of the previous instalment.
So for instance, even for the Final Fantasy XIII series, the games have changed a lot.
As for how each new instalment is changed from previous games, that really depends on what the director of the new title thinks will make it a great game that surpasses the previous title.
With regards to the battle system, as the director heads into the planning stages for a new Final Fantasy title, depending on what he feels will be great, he may sometimes end up deciding to go with a turn-based ATB system, or a real-time one.
Whichever the case, what the director is expected to do is to always look ahead, always look towards the future to try and find what the right direction for the next Final Fantasy game should be, and to utilise the right battle system for that vision.
—In Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, there is a 30-minute-long audio episode included in which Auron’s daughter meets Tidus. What was the intention with including this audio episode, and might it possibly lead to a Final Fantasy X-3?
Hashimoto: That’s not really our intentions with including the audio episode.
Since we’re revisiting Final Fantasy X and X-2, which were released about 10 years ago, the series’ scenario writer Kazushige Nojima and character designer Tetsuya Nomura had a discussion and thought that the HD Remaster release would be a good opportunity for them to include this additional story episode [and expand upon the univese a little further].
But the audio episode’s inclusion wasn’t because we have any plans to develop a Final Fantasy X-3.
—Tell us about the technical difficulties Square Enix encountered while working on Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster.
Hashimoto: This is easier to explain when you see it on the screen, but when we developed Final Fantasy X and X-2 over 10 years ago, not only was it in a lower SD resolution, but since the format itself is 4:3, compared to 16:9 for the HD format, there was a lot of detail missing in the sides of the 16:9 HD format that we had to fill in.
Additionally, since the games were made 10 years ago, the source materials for the games that we had were not in a complete state. Between this and having to fill in the extra details on the side, all of that really took a lot of effort to recreate.
Were there any scenes in FFX/X-2 that you personally liked a lot better, now that they are in HD?
—Hashimoto: There’s too many to mention! But in general, one of the biggest upgrades in FFX/X-2 HD Remaster are the real-time facial expressions. As a result, character event scenes are a lot more intense.
—Producer Yoshinori Kitase has previously expressed interest in releasing an HD remastered version of Final Fantasy XII for the PS3 and PS Vita, if Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster did well in sales.
From the looks of it, the game is doing very well in sales over in Japan where it was released back in December. And it’s likely to do well too in the rest of the world when it comes out later this year.
Do you think we can expect some good news in the near future for an HD release of Final Fantasy XII?
Hashimoto: At this moment, we do not have any plans [to release a HD remastered version of Final Fantasy XII]. But as Kitase-san has mentioned, if there are a lot of requests from the fans for a HD remastered version of Final Fantasy XII, we might consider it.
But with that said, at this moment there are no plans to do so.
—Shinji Hashimoto has worked on quite a number of Final Fantasy games throughout his career. Of all the FF games, which one does Hashimoto personally consider the most ground-breaking, and why?
Hashimoto: Personally for me, since I was involved with the Final Fantasy series starting from VII (Hashimoto joined Square Enix in 1995) — prior to FF7 I was familiar with the first six games only from an external point of view — and since VII was also the first title to be released on the CD-ROM format, which I thought was a new and interesting challenge in games development…
…I would have to say that personally for me, VII was the most ground-breaking.
At the group media interview session, there was also a question about whether Square Enix might ever do a remake of Final Fantasy VII, now that Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is coming out.
For the response to this question, we thought it’d be more meaningful to see Hashimoto’s response in video form rather than transcribing his question.
We’re still processing the video, but once it’s up, we will update this story to include it here.
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