Square Enix on why it decided to remaster Final Fantasy VIII, difficulties, more
Fans have long been waiting to play Final Fantasy VIII on modern platforms. Square Enix delivered on those desires at E3 2019 last month when it announced a remastered version, which is coming to Switch.
Famitsu recently spoke with Square Enix’s Yoshinori Kitase to talk more about Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. Kitase commented on why now is the right time to revisit the game, difficulties during development, and more. We’ve prepared a full translation of the interview below.
Can you tell us why you chose to remaster Final Fantasy VIII now?
Kitase: Even if the current hardware keeps moving forward, we still want fans of the series to be able to play the original games. The plan to port FFVII, FFVIII and FFIX started from that wish. But while FFVII and FFIX were able to move along pretty smoothly to being available for purchase, with those improved capabilities of recent hardware, we decided to give FFVIII a large graphical improvement. We had to keep retesting to maintain the quality of the character models and character motions, and I think we will be providing with the highest quality product we can.
Were you aware of the really dedicated fan base the game has even now?
Kitase: When we were doing a collaboration for the Final Fantasy Mobius game, Kasumi Ashizawa (FF Dissidia Streamer) was really enthusiastic about the game. There are so many voice actors who have worked on the series that also talk about their love for VIII. That’s when I realized how important this game was for people.
Was there anyone else from the original team involved in this port, aside from you?
Kitase: Hiroshi Harata, who was the battle programmer for the original (director for the remaster) is involved, as well as Tomohiro Kayano, who worked on the original character models. I think the refinement of the character models particularly have benefited from the original staff being involved.
In the past there have been many cases of remasters hitting difficulties, such as even the original data having been completely lost. What were the main difficulties in remaking this game?
Kitase: The original idea was to bring the game over to the new hardware more or less how it already was graphically. But that game was released 20 years ago now, and TVs have moved on from the SD CRT models to HD LCD, so we made the decision to improve the quality. And so because of that, even though we were mid-production, we quickly moved onto refining those character models. Due to that we were looking at a much larger scale job, but I think due to the efforts of Harata and Kayano coming back from the original team, as well as those of character designer Nomura (Tetsuya Nomura), we’ve been able to remaster the game to a high level. So, while it meant more work for us, it ended up being the right decision.
Was there anything you learnt from other recent remasters?
Kitase: Battle Assistance, which was well-received in some of the other remasters, has also been added to this game, so I think players will find that very useful.
What about Chocobo World?!?
Kitase: Sorry, but Chocobo World will not be included in the remaster. However, the items that were only available through the Chocobo World mode will now be available with Rinoa’s special ability. Compared to the original game, they are now a lot easier to get your hands on, so I hope people will make use of that ability.
There is something I want to ask about the original FFVIII. I feel like it was being developed while FFVII was taking the world by storm. As the next numbered title in the series, was there any part of the game that you were particularly focused on?
Kitase: FFVII was a departure from previous games in the series visually, but with VIII we were keen to refresh the actual RPG systems themselves. For example, we introduced the SeeD Rank and linked it to a salary, included map traversal by cars, buses and bikes, and also added the ability to improve characters with cards… I think this a game also with the characteristic FF challenge.
Is there anything you particularly remember from your time working on the original game?
Kitase: This was the first time we used motion capture for the characters, and also the first experience any of the staff had with motion capture. Even though it would have made more sense to use something wooden and light to capture the movements of Squall’s Gunblade, we ended up making something really heavy out of metal. And it really did look like a deadly weapon! I still get cold sweats thinking about what might have happened if someone ended up being hit by it…
Translation by provided by Corks on behalf of Nintendo Everything
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