The highly-anticipated Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is set to hit store shelves next month, so we reached out to Game Director Takashi Tokita to discuss the latest Nintendo DS Final Fantasy title.
Matrix previously developed Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV for Nintendo DS. Who are some of the big names involved in The 4 Heroes of Light and what are their roles?
The main staff is as follows:
Director: Takashi Tokita (FINAL FANTASY IV/Parasite Eve/Chrono Trigger)
Character Design & Art Director: Akihiko Yoshida (FINAL FANTASY XII/FINAL FANTASY TACTICS)
Composer: Naoshi Mizuta (FINAL FANTASY XI/Parasite Eve II)
Producer: Tomoya Asano (FINAL FANTASY III DS/FINAL FANTASY IV DS)
Development: Matrix software (FINAL FANTASY III DS/FINAL FANTASY IV DS)
The Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV remakes were well received, but we wanted to reunite to create a new title for the players who enjoyed our previous titles.
I was surprised by the E3 demo. First, by the graphics. Could you go into detail how you developed the game’s unique visual style?
The current style came about from the concept of creating a world for a traditional adventure story! Mr. Yoshida, the art director, developed an original storybook world. A lot of trial and error went into the character designs.
Final Fantasy has a long tradition of memorable tunes. How did the composer go about crafting an authentic 8-bit-sounding “classic” sound?
The sound was also composed based on the concept of creating a traditional world of adventure that brings back memories! Rather than compose something with rich arrangements reminiscent of movies, we wanted to create something more game-like that pushes your imagination, leading to focusing on 8-bit-sounding tracks. With Mizuta’s efforts, we created a soundtrack where sampled instruments such as strings and 8-bit sounds are in perfect harmony. It brings back memories while remaining fresh!
Another thing that surprised me was the battle system. To be honest, it confused me a little. I could select options like “Fire” and “Cure” but I couldn’t target any enemies or characters. It’s like a “half auto battle” system. Could you explain in-depth how it works?
As a handheld game, we wanted to increase the speed of the game play, which led us to implement the Action Point Battle System. This system allows you to customize commands per character where all commands, including various magic spells and abilities, use Action Points.
Will long-time Final Fantasy fans find a lot to recognize in The 4 Heroes of Light? For example: Cid, Bahamut, Shiva, a reference to Golbez or Squall. Easter eggs, in other words?
We did not reuse actual names of characters or summoned monsters. That said, we’ve retained the tone of previous games through items, weapons, armor, jobs, location names, etc.
The Crown System is the latest version of Final Fantasy’s signature Job System. Culd you explain how players will use that to enhance their characters? How similar is it to Final Fantasy V or Final Fantasy Tactics, revious games in the series that already used the Job System that fans might already be familiar with?
It is a completely new system. The head of each character will change according to the job crown he or she is wearing. What weapons and shields you equip and what armor you wear is up to your discretion—it will be reflected in the graphics and is an element that has drastically changed from previous job systems. Another new feature is leveling up your crowns and increasing abilities with jewels obtained in your adventures.
The 4 Heroes of Light features towns and a world map. Will we see the airship too? Chocobos? Boats? How does The 4 Heroes of Light balance open-ended exploration and linear storytelling?
Airships and chocobos will not appear in this story, but boats, dragons, and a giant mystery vehicle will! The beginning is story driven where we will expand the world, and the latter half will allow you to explore the world openly in a traditional format.
Final Fantasy is also famous for grand, memorable tales. What is the general story for The 4 Heroes of Light?
Final Fantasy has developed many stories in the past but we’ve really returned to its origins for a “young adventure tale.” That said, new graphics, sounds, and game systems will enliven and create a fresh experience for users.
I understand there is a multiplayer mode in The 4 Heroes of Light. Can you explain what that will be like?
Up to four players can enjoy the cooperative multiplayer mode. While playing together, you can progress the storyline, attempt to conquer some difficult towers, and obtain new crowns.
Will there be downloadable content via Nintendo WFC? I imagine new quests, dungeons, items, weapons and crowns would be a natural fit.
That’s a great idea! It probably would have been implemented if we had developed the game a year later. We’d like to consider implementing this feature in future titles, so in order to assist this, please give this title a try!