Interviews// Yoshinori Kitase on Final Fantasy XIII-2

Posted 16 Nov 2011 16:29 by
The last time a Final Fantasy game was given a direct sequel, things didnít end well. The shameful ogle-fest that was Final Fantasy X-2 seems like a lifetime ago, especially when compared to the concerted efforts made by Square Enix today to create something more adventurous in Final Fantasy XIII-2. And itís had a lot of help from the seriesí fans.

Producer Yoshinori Kitase explained to me the reasons behind the tweaks and changes in this continuation of Lightningís story. Streamlined world selection, side missions, Chocobos, Serahís journey to find her sister and repair a broken world... itís all in this interview. Have a read.


SPOnG: Time travel is a big aspect of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Is it a new mechanic youíve introduced to the series? Why did you decide to go down this particular route?

Yoshinori Kitase: If you played through to the end of Final Fantasy XIII youíll remember that Cocoon collapsed. In XIII-2 the main story revolves around the people trying to rebuild the world. But if youíre thinking about trying to rebuild a broken world from scratch, that cannot be achieved overnight. Certainly not in just one or two years - weíre talking about a fresh start for mankind.

So you have to be able to look at the whole story in a span of a hundred or two hundred years easily. When we thought of that, we decided that the best approach would be turning to the time-travel concept, so you can see how people are trying to rebuild and when they have actually accomplished it.


SPOnG: When I played it, it seemed like dungeons were structured in a much more straightforward way. I donít want to call it linear, as the Historia Crux has plenty of branching pathways, but certainly it has replaced a more open world map. Do you feel that the world map has lost significance in RPGs in this day and age?

Yoshinori Kitase: I think the world map can be quite important in some game concepts. You may have heard of our new games called Type 0, which has just been released in Japan. That has got a world map.

Itís not that we have given up on them or anything like that. On the other hand, I think what the world map used to do for many traditional Final Fantasy games has sort of been replaced by the Historia Crux, if you like.

What the world map did to each player is that it limits the kind of space accessible areas, and every time you get on top of a Chocobo or Airship or something like that, that area is expanded and you get access to more areas and locations. With the Historia Crux though, you travel through different times and dimensions and in each one you find a gate, unlock it to go through to a different world. So the expansion process is almost like a world map in that respect.

I mentioned the world map in Type 0 - because of the size of the screen on the PSP and the specs of the handheld, the kind of proportion in the woods, mountains and characters is not so realistic compared to the high-definition games. When it comes to home console titles like XIII-2, the mix of graphics have been advanced so rapidly and gamers expect some kind of realistic perspective.

Before, if you wanted to achieve all that itís obviously going to be very expensive of course. But for Final Fantasy Versus XIII we are trying to implement a worldwide view while maintaining that realistic view. Itís a big challenge, but weíre trying our best to make that work.


SPOnG: Speaking for XIII-2, was the decision to use the Historia Crux in favour of a world map made to provide a bit more of a focused experience when travelling between maps? Compared to XIII where fans had noted that Gran Pulse was perhaps too open and confusing to navigate?

Yoshinori Kitase: Your sort of assumption that we took the feedback about Gran Pulse being too open - which we took quite seriously - thatís half right and half-wrong. What we did with XIII-2 was that we wanted to give the player a higher degree of freedom in gameplay. A huge world like Gran Pulse, for example, if youíre chucked in there youíre not always sure of what you need to do and also between different quests and episodes.

Between these quests and episodes sometimes you lose a kind of speediness - progress and flow can go a little too slowly. You might lose your way, or youíre not sure what to do. In XIII-2 we wanted to ensure a very speedy gameplay so that if you go through the Historia Crux all the time and fight boss after boss there are constant high points.

There are no loose, 'sloppy' times where you donít have an awful lot to do. So no itís not that we wanted to change the system from XIII. Itís more like we wanted to make sure that the player can enjoy a very free, yet speedy gameplay throughout the experience.


SPOnG: You mentioned in our last interview at E3 that you were taking a lot of feedback from Final Fantasy XIII players in regards to towns and other gameplay tweaks. Do you feel that XIII-2 is a more traditional Final Fantasy game in style than the last game? Or do you even feel that this is the game that XIII perhaps should or could have been?

Yoshinori Kitase: No, we didnít make this game with the intention of making it a game that XIII should have been, or could have been. But on the other hand, because we received so much feedback from our fans after that gameís release, we learned a lot of lessons and we realised what they really want to see in a Final Fantasy game. So all of these elements we just developed and implemented into the new game.

And in some ways, youíre right - I think that XIII-2 has more traditional features that Final Fantasy used to have, but somehow just departed from. One prime example is the mini-games. XIII didnít feature that many mini-games or any sort of optional side-quest features. It was a very serious focused story experience.

You may remember the Gold Saucer casino from Final Fantasy VII. In XIII-2, there is a casino that may remind you of that. You can go in and play slot machines and take part in Chocobo racing there. So in that sense there are some features from more traditional Final Fantasy RPGs in this game.


SPOnG: One of the most interesting characters Iíve found in the game is a store merchant called Chocolina. How fun was it to design her, and are you anticipating or aware of how many people are going to cosplay as her at future events?

Yoshinori Kitase: Chocolina was originally created as a waitress at the casino! But the gameís director, Motomu Toriyama, really liked the design and he wanted to make sure that she was actually more prominently seen. Eventually she became a shop clerk. And because the director loves the character so much, he actually created dialogue and background history about her as well.

So when you think about Final Fantasy mascots, you probably think of the Chocobo or the Moogle and creatures like that. You can think of Chocolina as a new breed of Final Fantasy mascot, and I hope you like her very much.


SPOnG: How does she travel from place to place so quickly? Sheís everywhere in all places in time and space!

Yoshinori Kitase: [Laughs] You have to take this sort of thing reasonably light-heartedly. Itís not such a serious thing. But she is supposed to have this mysterious power - apparently in one segment of the game she talks about having this special capability of flying around the world from one place to another. So maybe she uses these skills to get around!


SPOnG: Thank you very much for your time.

Yoshinori Kitase: Thank you very much.

Comments

kerry 18 Jan 2012 18:49
1/7
You are ruining the greatest rpg ever,we want the world map and air ships.and why in the Hell Hell would you make a part two of the worst game ever.you have not made a good game cents part 10 I want to kick u in the nuts .remake 3,7,8,9,10,1,2,4,5,6 any of these not the worst one ever.I am a game because of final fantasy an you are destroying this.
bud 18 Jan 2012 18:50
2/7
Amen brother
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Concerned 5 Feb 2012 16:18
3/7
Agree completely... make a follow up for 7... by far the best story presented (actually I liked 8 a lot too). Include the fun stuff that makes FF great... fly airships, explore an island that's completely unrelated to the main story to find some cool gear I want to see world bosses and meaningless additions to keep me interested
Dakaran 10 Feb 2012 13:35
4/7
Kitase doesn't understand what makes a great final fantasy game, input his views that ruins the greatest rpg series that won the heart of millions of fans worldwide and needs to get out of square top rated games. His aura isn't even good about making a FF game, he just simply does not have it. I want a damn world map not a wormhole to travel :p Gimme the historia crux AND the world map but don't take it away. This guy's game making decisions are so infuriating I swear. Can't he just leave the things we love alone and try to make his name in another company if he doesn't want to deal with the fact we don't want his "new stuff" for the most part? grr

/growls


He tries to change his seniors's works but fails to understand the basics about the series. Final Fantasy series is in Jeopardize because of him. Every games he has been part of beside Final Fantasy X part 1 was a mess.

Super disappointed by this game producer.

Dak
Dakaran 10 Feb 2012 13:39
5/7
WTF not modelling towns and huge dungeons, WTF fast paced when exploring is about losing yourself in a immense universe?! And WTF is he thinking about when he says like it was nothing " we learned a lot of lessons and we realised what they really want to see in a Final Fantasy game."

Geez, wake up dude SQUARESOFT your seniors knew it decades ago!!!
I hate to bitch down a game maker from any company and most particularly Squaresoft but bad decisions after bad comments after wrong goals and realisation makes me mad. I'm playing XIII-2 right now and it better be good or else it's over for me for Final Fantasy until Kitase leaves Square and/or gets his hands away from the franchise.

Man, infuriating.com is this guy going.

Dak
Dakaran 10 Feb 2012 13:41
6/7
And for the record I was expecting and would have LOVED to fight the huge weapon-like monster in FXIII as the ultimate challenge fight... but no he chicked out and just teased us at a really ultra cool bad ass boss fight... screw that he cannot make cool things I'm now convinced ;p
Dakaran 10 Feb 2012 13:43
7/7
The mascots of Final Fantasy fans love are Mog the moogle and CHOCOBOS, that's it. Chocolina is a special merchant with nothing else.
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