Final Fantasy IX Hiroyuki Ito Interview
This interview originally took place in March of 2001. Hiroyuki Ito was
Final Fantasy 9's director.
Famitsu: What does it mean to you that FF9 is going back to the
Ito: I think FF9 will go back to the roots at the same time as
standing on top of the rest of the series. It's not simply being nostalgic:
it is the most developed [in the series]; however, yes, going back to
the roots does mean to be nostalgic, too.
Famitsu: As a combination of a developed dramatic presentation,
and nostalgic aspects, what is the aim of FF9?
Ito: What's important is the real feeling of playing a game. That
is what I meant by the roots of FF.
Famitsu: Do you want to discover what the roots are?
Ito: Because we are not trying to imitate, the roots are not necessarily
in 1 to 8.
Famitsu: Would it be right in saying that it collects all the essences
of the series?
Ito: I want to make a uniquely FF9 fantasy world, by getting a
little bit of the essences of each game in the series. Players might think,
"Did they get that from this game?", but in some ways, it's
not from any of them.
Famitsu: What are the enjoyable parts of FF9 to the player?
Ito: The whole thing? For parts we want the player to progress,
we will let them smoothly progress; but there will be many parts where
players will have to make a choice. I think there will be lots of involved
conversations between friends, saying "Hey, did you find that?"
or "What did you do in that situation?" The battle system will
be like that, and it will show the personality of the player. Such as:
"So you're a use-and-discard type, huh?" or "I'm a learn-an-ability
type."...and that may be a clue to what it's going to be like, by
the way. (laughs)
Famitsu: ! That's very interesting.
Ito: I think by playing through the game, people will realize:
"So he's that kind of guy," or "I was this kind of person,
Famitsu: Will what type of gamer you are affect completing the
Ito: It won't. You'll start to gradually see yourself when you
Famitsu: You just said that it's a game where you start to see
yourself. Has this got anything to do with the hidden theme of FF9, that
Sakaguchi-san mentioned in his interview?
Ito: Maybe a little. There are 8 characters, and I think people
will play through it thinking, "What character am I like?" or
"With what character do I have an affinity?"
Famitsu: Will making choices be affected by the 8 characters being
use-and-discard types or ability learners?
Ito: Not necessarily 8 characters, but what I mean by use-and-discard
and ability learners is the way you get involved in the battles...
Famitsu: Regarding the screenshots released this time, and looking
at the picture of the weak-minded black mage, is there any link with this
idea of use-and-discard or ability learning?
Ito: Really, the most important point will be the relationship
between the player and the character, I think.
Famitsu: Will the character become closer to or further from the
player's personality, according to the player's stance?
Ito: Yes, maybe.
Famitsu: You are making a new gameplay system, are you not? When
interviewing Sakaguchi-san, he mentioned that there is a new battle system...
Ito: It will be a system where you can play however you want...I
think there will be a wide range of choices. Just like I have been saying.
Famitsu: You mean, use-and-discard type or ability-learning type?
Ito: Well, maybe something like that. (laughs) I really want to
actually play it. I want to find out what type I am.
Famitsu: Are there only two types?
Ito: Those are the two extremes. In between, I feel there will
be many types.
Famitsu: Sakaguchi-san was talking a lot about Zidane liking
girls, is that so?
Ito: I have put that in. (laughs)
Famitsu: How will new and old fans of the FF series feel when playing?
Ito: They might think, "Yes, this is what I've been waiting
Famitsu: Do you mean, that they were able to finally play this
sort of FF again, or that they've come this far?
Ito: Maybe both. There might be some feeling of finally reaching
this point, but it will be more like, so this is what it's like this time.
Famitsu: Since there are a variety of ways you can battle, because
of the different types, will it change things?
Ito: Depends on the amount of players. There might even be a thing
only one player is able to find.
Famitsu: So there will be various types of players. Can a player
change from a use-and-discard to an ability-learner?
Ito: There...might be...questions from the game itself like "Are
you sure?" or "Don't you want to stick at what you've been doing?"
when a player decides to change...
Famitsu: So if one change's one's playing style, there will be
Ito: Yes. Although anything's possible, I want players to discover
their own play style, during the course of the game. To be honest, it's
not a "play style", it's just how you play the game. I want
people to play by keep making choices during the game.
Famitsu: Sakaguchi-san mentioned the chicken-knife/braveblade as
an example; will there be choices like that that trouble the player in
Ito: There will be plenty.
Famitsu: Do you have anything you would like to say as a director
to the fans and players?
Ito: As I too am looking forward to the completion of this game,
please look forward yourselves.
Famitsu: Can even you, who knows the secrets of FF9, be able to
Ito: Yes. Although I know everything, such as what I should do
in this situation, and knowing what item is hidden in a certain place,
I do want to play it. However, I've never played the FF series with the
feeling of a player. So this time, I might even buy it on the release
date, like everyone else. (laughs) But I won't. Or maybe I will. (laughs)
Thanks to Famitsu Magazine (sorry, only available in Japan)
for the interview. Thanks to RPGamer
for the translation.