Square Enix Talks FFXIII, Crisis Core
06.07.06 - 3:39 PM

In an interview with Dengeki Online, Square Enix's executive director Shinji Hashimoto, producer Yoshinori Kitase, directors Motomu Toriyama and Hajime Tabata as well as character designer Tetsuya Nomura talked about their work on the three announced Final Fantasy XIII titles and on Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

Hashimoto explained that Kitase's first production team began drawing up plans for Final Fantasy XIII three years ago, while Tetsuya Nomura was still busy working on Kingdom Hearts II. As previously reported, the project back then was still set to appear on PlayStation 2. Already at the time when Nomura and his team began working on Kingdom Hearts II, the company had decided to develop two Final Fantasy XIII games (Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII). Only later did Hashimoto propose the development of Final Fantasy Agito XIII. Since director Hajime Tabata and his team had just finished working on Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, the two men sat down and decided to tackle Agito next.

Currently, the three games will only share a common myth. This common background was created by Kitase, Toriyama, Tabata, Nomura and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima. As always, the various games' logos are the works of Yoshitaka Amano. Staying in line with a long-standing series tradition, the image color of Final Fantasy XIII will be white, while in the case of Final Fantasy Versus XIII it will be black.

Asked about Final Fantasy XIII's battle system, director Toriyama confirmed that the development team will bring back the good old active time battle (ATB) system and hence a standard input of commands. In addition to this strategic element, Toriyama however emphasized the element of speed in explaining the concept behind the battle system. While the trailer shown at last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo saw the heroine beating down various foes on her own, she will get help from party members in the actual game. In cooperation with fellow party members, the heroine apparently will be able to unleash various chain attacks.

With Final Fantasy XIII, the development is also trying to offer battle scenes rivaling those of last year's CG movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children in terms of quality. Speaking of visuals, Square Enix's White Engine will power both Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. In about six months, the development team will begin implementing online features. While Final Fantasy XIII will be a standard single player game, Kitase promised the implementation of some interesting online features.

Asked when media and fans will be able to get their hands on a demo of Final Fantasy XIII, Toriyama said his team was working hard to have a demo up and running by the time of next year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. At that point, players should be able to actually play the segment highlighted in this year's trailer.

Tetsuya Nomura explained that the world of Final Fantasy Versus XIII was an odd place. While his work on the heroine of Final Fantasy XIII was completed, Nomura admitted the silver-haired protagonist of Versus was still a work-in-progress. The game's story will be dark and sad. Since he prefers depicting friendships over love affairs, the former will play an important role in the game's story. The burden resting on the shoulders of the protagonist and his friends might be very heavy, but nonetheless Nomura also aims to realistically show the positive aspect of their friendship, too.

Furthermore, Nomura wants to do certain things in the game which he can't do in a numbered installment of the Final Fantasy series. He also highlighted the two meanings of the word "versus". On the one hand the meaning of the English word, on the other hand the meaning of the Latin word ("changing directions"). Thanks to the composition of the development team (members of the Final Fantasy VII and VIII teams working on the visuals, members of the Kingdom Hearts team working on the battle system), Nomura hopes to create a Final Fantasy game with an added action element.

Regarding Final Fantasy Agito XIII, Tabata mentioned that the game will make use of new cellphones' various functions similar to Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII's materia creation system using a cellphone's built-in camera. The game is an online RPG offering both a stand-alone single player and an online mode. At the beginning of the game, players will have to choose one of the game's 12 protagonists, who all study at a magic school. The game itself is apparently already up and running on the PC platform, but since the hardware on which the final game will run on is not yet available, Tabata and his team are having trouble working on the connection environment.

At the end of the interview, the developers also shed some light on the fourth installment of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The PlayStation Portable game's story will center around one girl and three boys. The girl obviously will be Aeris and one of the boys will be her fiance Zack. Tetsuya Nomura did not disclose the identity of the remaining two characters, though. Nomura however did confirm that Square Enix is implementing voice acting. At the center of the action battle system will be the abilities of Shinra's elite unit Soldier.

Last but not least, the team promised concrete information on new developments regarding both the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and Fabula Nova Crystallis in time for next year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Chris Winkler