We interview Kitase and Dissidia senior director Takeshi Arakawa on all things Final Fantasy.
Yoshinori Kitase is a Final Fantasy legend. From Final Fantasy V onwards, Kitase's had an influence, either as game director or producer, on most of the Final Fantasy games of the last 18 years, including seminal JRPG Final Fantasy VII. Now, as producer of the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy XIII, and PSP fighting game Dissidia: Final Fantasy, due out in Europe this autumn to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, Kitase is in great demand. We caught up with the man himself, as well as Dissidia senior director Takeshi Arakawa, and quizzed him on everything from his favourite Final Fantasy game to Square Enix's plans for a Western Final Fantasy XIII demo.
VideoGamer.com: Why did you decide to make a fighting game in a 3D arena, something we haven't seen from the Final Fantasy series before?
Takeshi Arakawa: We started off with Kingdom Hearts 2. We came up with the idea that it would be interesting if we created a fighting game based on Kingdom Hearts 2. As it happened it's been 20 years since the birth of the FF series so we decided to combine those elements into the game.
VideoGamer.com: How did you decide on the characters that have been included? What made a Final Fantasy character suitable for Dissidia?
TA: Dissidia has got two gods opposed to each other, Chaos and Cosmos, so obviously we initially took a main “goody” character and a “villain” from each past title, and started to sort them out and find a place for each character.
VideoGamer.com: Most of the characters are male. Was this a deliberate approach?
TA: To start with, if you take at the past FF games, there aren't that many female characters. As you said there are very few female characters, about which we did have a bit of a debate within the team.
VideoGamer.com: The game is coming out on the PSP. Why did you decide to make it for the PSP and not the Xbox 360 and PS3?
TA: If you take a look at other famous fighting games like Street Fighter, the battle actually goes on on a 2D screen. But with Dissidia we decided we were going to make 3D battles possible. On that note, if we wanted to do it on an ordinary console the screen would have to be split into two to realise this particular battle. Therefore in order to stick to the desired realistic sensation, as well as the strategic characteristics, we had to choose the PSP.
VideoGamer.com: The game has one versus one wireless play. Did you ever consider online play and why wasn't it included?
TA: Initially we did single out the possibility of doing online, but because of the capacity of the PSP it was not quite possible.
VideoGamer.com: In Japan people play PSP wireless together in public. In the West people don't often meet to play PSP. Does this matter to the game's success in the West?
TA: As I said we really wanted to make online play available, but we couldn't. The reason was the hardware specifications really. Even though what you've just said is right, that wasn't the reason.
VideoGamer.com: Some of the fans have noticed that Tidus from Final Fantasy X looks a little younger than he does in the main game. Was that intentional, and have any of the other characters undergone redesigns?
TA: Obviously we hand-picked all the characters from the past FF games, but in order to create a new story with them, we had to make readjustments on the way they look and the age they look, so that they can play the most appropriate part in the comprehensive story.
VideoGamer.com: Square Enix seems to be one of the few companies willing to invest in triple-A PSP games, like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. What is it about the PSP that attracts Square Enix and makes it willing to invest in creating such high quality games for it?
Yoshinori Kitase: Obviously when we talk about Square Enix games, typically they have a very long story, with 3D visual aspects, voice over and video, which takes up quite a lot of memory. On that note, if you create a game for the PSP, all the games we have created in the past for PS2 you can actually recycle some technical aspects. Also, the UMD is also used, as opposed to a ROM for the DS. It allows for a lot more memory, which means we can have more voice over and better graphics. PSP is a platform that has more appropriate conditions for the kind of games we want to make.