Edge Magazine has an amazing in-depth look at the development of my favorite video game, Final Fantasy VI. The magazine sat down with Final Fantasy veteran Yoshinori Kitase to get his views on the game and where video game production is now compared to then.
Most fascinating is the fact that Final Fantasy VI took only one year to make, and it still resonates with so many gamers nearly twenty years after it first graced the Super Nintendo. Kitase pointed out that limitations of cartridges and being given too much freedom with technology.
“I miss the limitations of making games in those days. The cartridge capacity was so much smaller, of course, and therefore the challenges were that much greater. But nowadays you can do almost anything in a game. It’s a paradox, but this can be more creatively limiting than having hard technical limitations to work within. There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI.”
Nobody knows this better than Yoshinori Kitase. The man has been producing Final Fantasy XIII for the past decade. The game is infamous for its extended five-year development period, overabundance of freedom, and sequel happy tendencies. The result is a game series that barely can keep the attention of many who play it nowadays, and the dumbing down of the franchise to the point where interviews devolve to focus on the main character’s cleavage.
Compare that to the relatively tiny game, Final Fantasy VI, which was huge for the time, and how much of an emotional impact it has had on people over the years. The game’s fanbase actually increases with each re-release. It just goes to prove that new technology and limitless boundaries are not the be all end all some game developers believe they are, and there is a skill to making a game game emotionally click with an audience rather than just impress them.
Some can achieve it, and others can’t. With Final Fantasy VI, they knocked it out of the park and created one of the greatest video games ever made. Trial through adversity, limiting your budgets and time, cutting unneeded excess, and actually knowing how to write and create believable characters. It’s all basic storytelling taken to perfection in this amazing tale.
Square Enix can blame its financial troubles on the poor performances of its Western titles, but the heart of the problem lies right here when it can’t even generate hype for one of the biggest series of all time.
Not just Square Enix alone, but all AAA developers of today who develop over-expensive and hollow games selling for $60 a pop need to take a long and serious look at what made classics like Final Fantasy VI so drop dead amazing, and how the limited technology at the time proved to be a valuable resource
And oh man, that Super Nintendo box is still cool. I don’t care if the title is wrong, I’ll never forget the first day I saw that and rented it off my Microplay shelf.