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News / 2007 / May / 31

Tokita talks Final Fantasy IV

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Game producer Tomoya Asano and Takashi Tokita, the original scenario writer for Final Fantasy IV, joined Famitsu earlier this week to discuss the Final Fantasy IV Nintendo DS remake, currently in production at Square Enix. "The new content is designed to have the greatest impact on those who have played through Final Fantasy IV countless times," says Tokita. "It’ll be like meeting that girl you were in love with as a kid, but she's grown much more beautiful."
Gamebrink has posted a full translation provided by Xcomp of Famitsu magazine's interview with two of the key game designers behind the Final Fantasy IV remake for the Nintendo DS. Tomoya Asano served as producer on Final Fantasy III, developed by Matrix Software. Nearing the end of the game's development, tells the producer in the Famitsu interview, he went to Takashi Tokita with the idea of revisiting FFIV.

The original game had a certain completeness to it, to Tokita's mind, with four kingdoms, four crystals, characters young and old, and various job classes representing the three previous game entries for the Nintendo Famicom. The greater image quality of the Super Famicom title allowed the richness of Yoshitaka Amano's character designs to take shape in a new way. But according to Tokita, who has been serving as writer, director, and producer on Square games since 1985, the brisk development cycle of the Super Famicom era games meant certain story ideas had to be cut out. In one year, no more than fourteen developers were responsible for creating the entire epic quest, and Tokita himself was involved in everything from event planning to creating pixel art. "The pressure was so intense," the game designer relates in the interview. "I knew that if I didn't put in the work myself, the game would never be completed." Asano's idea of going back and remaking the game, now with more time and greater resources, had a certain appeal.

Asano comments that working with Matrix Software, the focus on the game design will differ from the development of the previous Nintendo DS RPG. "When we were remaking Final Fantasy III," he says, "the concept was to let players have some freedom to experiment with the job system. With Final Fantasy IV, there will be an increased focus on scenario and drama." There are over an hour's worth of event scenes between the actual gameplay, some of which will include high-end computer generated graphics. Asano notes that Square Enix is working with Yoshinori Kanada, the key animator on such famous Hayao Miyazaki anime titles as My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke. Kanada will be storyboarding the game's FMV cutscenes.

In addition to the new story elements, the game designers are attempting to take advantage of the stylus and dual screen in offering expanded gameplay options. The game's director explains that players will have a greater degree of control this time around. "The 'Active Time Battle' system has been brought over," he says, "but in a departure from usual turn-based battles, timing magic spells so they will be cast at the right time will determine the survival of your party. [Hiroyuki] Itou is supervising battles to make playing the game on two screens easier." Key information, including how long it will take to cast certain spells, will be displayed on the top screen. And rooms will be mapped out on the bottom screen, allowing players to explore every corner of the dungeons, should they so wish.

The team on the remake is over three times the size of the original Super Famicom title, around the same number of developers as were on the Final Fantasy III remake project. The developers hope to flesh out the story in a way that was not possible given the budget restrictions and hardware constraints that present 16 years ago. "There were plotpoints in the game that were unclear or hadn't been explored in much depth," says the director. "When we first made the game we really didn't have the luxury to think that far ahead. But, with the remake, by taking into consideration the way that different events relate to each other, I believe the storytelling will reach new heights."

Final Fantasy IV for the Nintendo DS has yet to receive a Japanese release date. The translation of the full Famicom interview can be found at Gamebrink.

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