A new interview in Famitsu reunites Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata with series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. We learn more about how the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV was planned, Sakaguchi’s thoughts on the game’s development, and how Tabata requested his advice on developing the game to be a “challenger.”
During the Uncovered stage event in March, Sakaguchi made a surprise showing, assuring franchise fans the world over that the newest entry met his high standards. We learn that his appearance was actually requested by Tabata, but Sakaguchi mandated that his words be subtitled so that his speech could be received at the same time by fans around the globe. The two joked about Tabata’s “air button” improv to reveal the release date, and how that date would bring with it an extraordinary amount of pressure.
When a Japanese product or company is presented to a Western audience, the presentation tends to be one of two extremes: very Japanese, or completely Western. This event, though, struck me as featuring Japanese elements while also being relatable for a global audience. A combination that has been hard to pull off. The atmosphere was fantastic. — Hironobu Sakaguchi
After Uncovered, Tabata shares that the team read a lot of feedback on the Platinum Demo. In fact, one of Tabata’s goals was to have something freely playable after the event’s conclusion.
Earlier on in his career, Tabata says he tried to avoid falling in love with Final Fantasy, as the development environment wasn’t one he was able to participate in before joining Square Enix. One he joined up, he saw the staff members working on the games — imbuing each game with their passion and dedication, while dealing with extremely high expectations. Now directing the latest entry into the numbered series, Tabata feels he is personally contributing to the series legacy.
You might say that. Only after joining Square Enix did I realize how many people were involved in making Final Fantasy happen, how hard they’d work, and how passionate and sincere the fanbase was… This all became very tangible. The many people here are doing their best to respond to the expectations, criticism included, in creating Final Fantasy, a series which is one of the pillars of the whole company. It was through witnessing what goes into its production that I’ve come to love the series as I do now. Our recent event made me feel I’ll finally be able to actually contribute to Final Fantasy. — Hajime Tabata
Sakaguchi goes on to cite several other Final Fantasy directors that have come to him for advice, including Yoshinori Kitase (VIII, X), Yasumi Matsuno (XII), Motomu Toriyama (XIII), and Naoki Yoshida (XIV). These encounters weren’t always cordial and included heated debates over how to handle development of the series.
When it came to Final Fantasy XV, Sakaguchi’s advice included fixing an awkward clipping issue where a Behemoth’s leg appeared stuck in a fence. While it seems like a small flaw to point out, Sakaguchi explained that it would convey to the team that he really cares about their work. He also advocated the team adding some sort of Easy Mode for long-time players of the series unaccustomed to action games. Tabata was unsure of breaking a precedent of having multiple difficulty modes in a Final Fantasy, but Sakaguchi assured him that it would be fine.
Closing out the lengthy interview, Sakaguchi had some final advice for Tabata as they approach the final leg of the game’s decade-long development.
With the release date set, you’re starting the final struggle uphill and it’s the toughest stretch of them all. When you look back, though, going gold is a very fulfilling moment. Both FFIII and FFIV were finished around the break of dawn, and I couldn’t help striking victory poses on my way home alone. (laughs) I still remember those moments as the most enjoyable and fulfilling moments of my life. I’m sure this will be a shining milestone in Tabata-san’s own life, so do what you do, and enjoy every moment of it. This is your Final Fantasy, and the start of a new era. — Hironobu Sakaguchi
We recommend you check out the entire interview in English on Famitsu’s website here. Let us know your thoughts with a comment below!
Final Fantasy XV will be available worldwide on September 30th 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can check out more of our extensive coverage on the game here.