World of Final Fantasy Interview: Director Talks Characters, Platforms, Kingdom Hearts Influence and More
At Gamescom 2016 in Cologne, DualShockers had a chat with World of Final Fantasy Game Director Hiroki Chiba, a Square Enix veteran who has worked on some of the most popular games of the Final Fantasy Franchise, and that now is about to deliver a super-cute new take on its characters and lore.
Before we started asking our questions, Chiba-san mentioned that while the game has a very cute look, and you may get the impression that it’s a very “light sort of game,” the team “made sure that it’s a very substantial title, something that is comparable to a numbered Final Fantasy title.”
But without further ado, I leave you with the questions and answers, reminding you that World of Final Fantasy releases in North America on October 25th for PS4 and PS Vita.
Morgane: What sparked the idea of making a super-cute spin-off of the final fantasy series?
Hiroki Chiba: It all began when Hashimoto-san [Final Fantasy series Producer Shinji Hashimoto], who is also the producer of this game, mentioned that Final Fantasy is reaching its 30th anniversary, so we have a lot of players who have grown up with the franchise, and a lot of our players are now growing older.
So we wanted to introduce the Final Fantasy franchise to the younger audience, and let them know that we have such a fun game in Final Fantasy, and help them enjoy the gameplay as well. That was sort of the catalyst for the idea, and Izumisawa-san, who designed the cute characters, drew up some concepts sketches of these little characters, and then they came back to Hashimoto-san. They looked at all the different designs, and they felt that they could do something with this style, to appeal to a younger audience and capture their attention. That’s how it all begun.
M: Many Square Enix Games are finding their way to Steam lately. Is there a possibility for World of Final Fantasy to be released on PC as well? What about a port on Xbox One or Nintendo NX?
HC: One of the major elements of the World of Final Fantasy‘s gameplay is capturing the mirages. There is over 200 of them that appear in World of Final Fantasy that the player can capture. Capturing monsters will take a long time, so you might not want to sit in front of a TV or a monitor for such an extended period of time. You might want to take it on the go, so that’s why we felt that the PlayStation platform with the PS4 and cross-save on PS Vita is a very good platform to take advantage of this capturing system.
Unfortunately we don’t have any plans at the moment for PC or any port of this game, but we would love for everybody to enjoy the game on PlayStation platforms. That being said, if there is a strong demand for a port or a different platform, it might be something that the company would consider, paying attention to the demands of the fans.
M: Are there more characters that will be announced from here to release? For instance I have not seen fan favorites like Tifa.
HC: What’s interesting about the character selection of World of Final Fantasy, is that we didn’t want to go for just the popular characters, or just the famous characters. We wanted to take the players on an adventure with the protagonists on this brand new IP, and we wanted people to meet these Final Fantasy characters throughout the story. So we made sure to look at our story in World of Final Fantasy, and picked the right ones for the situation in the story.
So you will find that there are some really famous characters that may not even appear in World of Final Fantasy, but there are some of the more unique characters, maybe those who might have been forgotten, or some from the spin-off titles, so there is a very interesting mix of characters that will appear.
We haven’t announced all of the characters that will be in there yet, but once you play the game, you’ll get to meet them, so I hope you guys look forward to it.
M: Is World of Final Fantasy intended as a one-shot spin-off, or there are plans for it to become an actual franchise?
HC: This applies to other titles as well, but it always depends on the fans’ demand and on the reception. If people accept this title, and they love this title and they want more of it, it gets us thinking about creating more titles in the series.
Of course, as the creator, I would love to have more games in this World of Final Fantasy, but for now we have the title coming out and we also have our next numbered title coming out, so we hope you guys enjoy this game. And if you do, please let us know. And if there is a demand for more titles in this World of Final Fantasy realm, we’d love to hear from the fans.
M: The design of the Mirages in the game is probably the cutest I’ve seen in a long while. How difficult was it to get to this result? Were there many iterations of the basic mirage character concept?
HC: In terms of the design of the mirage, there are various characters that are very familiar to the franchise, as well as new characters, so we definitely wanted to have a very consistent look.
Izumisawa-san, who handled the characters, drew a portion of the new characters and he supervised the other designers who contributed to the design of the mirages. We had various prominent artists in Japan to create their take on the monsters by observing Izumisawa-san’s design, and he provided feedback to make sure that the look was consistent.
M: With the delay of Final Fantasy XV to the end of November, do you think World of Final Fantasy has a greater opportunity to shine?
HC: We haven’t done any changes to World of Final Fantasy because of the change in the release of Final Fantasy XV. It is the same game, but that being said, we’re very confident in World of Final Fantasy, and the release was close to XV to begin with, so we feel that we have a good chance as a title of our own to shine and to be unique.
And of course XV is in itself a very good title, and they’re bringing their best, so we brought our best in World of Final Fantasy as well. Before we were about to say “please have World of Final Fantasy as a sort of dessert after Final Fantasy XV,” but now that the release has switched, you can enjoy it as an appetizer before XV comes out.
M: Are there any plans for DLC after release?
HC: Speaking of DLC, in the day one edition if you pre-order the game, there are some exclusive mirages that are included as DLC, so there are already some packaged as bonus content at release.
In terms of afterwards, I think it depends on the game’s reception. If people love the game, if people are eager to obtain more DLC and there is a great demand for it, it may be something that we should consider.
M: Many see similarities with the Kingdom Hearts series. Of Course Tetsuya Nomura’s character design is obvious, but there is more, like the fact that both games immerse the player in a world created to pay homage to the history of a franchise. Was there any inspiration taken from the Kingdom Hearts series?
HC: Of course we were trying to figure out what makes Final Fantasy Final Fantasy, and one of the things I thought, was that I had to have Nomura-san design the characters. When I went to talk to Nomura-san about this, he suggested “why don’t we take sort of a mid-way point between Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts?” that’s the kind of brainstorming that we did.
Since Nomura-san designed Reyne and Lann, it does make sense that the fans say that it does have some similarities to Kingdom Hearts, definitely.
As a side-note, a long time ago I worked with Nomura-san on a Super Famicom title for the Satellaview called Dynami Tracer, in which characters would ride a spaceship and travel through the universe and encounter characters there… and it was kind of like the origin, or the basic precursor of Kingdom Hearts. I think that also influenced how we came up with the tone and the look.
M: Can you give us an example of the criteria used to select the characters that will appear in the game?
HC: This is a story that is told through the eyes of Reyne and Lann, the protagonists, and like I mentioned earlier, we had to see what situation our characters are in, and decide which characters from Final Fantasy would best fit that circumstance. A simple example would be an area where the twins go to a port, and pirates appear.
So when you think about Final Fantasy and pirates, Faris from Final Fantasy V is definitely a perfect match for that kind of situation. This is the kind of thinking that we did when choosing our characters.
You’ll see various different characters appear within the story, and of course unfortunately there are characters that will not appear, but at the same time there are some very unique ones. Even Nomura-san was surprised by some of the choices that we have made, so I hope people will enjoy them.
One more thing: Since Reyne and Lann are meeting these Final Fantasy characters for the first time, players who do not know about the Final Fantasy franchise can also find out about these characters and learn where they’re coming from and what their story is about. Also, at the same time, fans of the Final Fantasy franchise will recognize them, and we tried to make it so that those characters will put a smile on their face.