Final Fantasy IX Sakaguchi Interview: Page I
This interview originally took place in March of 2000.
Famitsu: Final Fantasy 9 (hereon, FF9) has a fantasy feel, right?
Sakaguchi: Yes, it's fantasy.
Famitsu: In the previous interview, it was explained that it [FF]
was going back to its roots. And when you look at the logo, the crystal
is there. It really is going back to the roots of the FF series. Why is
Sakaguchi: Well, I wanted to try it out. (laughs) I said that it
was because it was the last single numbered FF, but, yes, I like the number
Sakaguchi: Because it's "Kabu" (Note: 9 is a good number in a certain
gambling game called Oichokabu)
Sakaguchi: I was thinking it as an end. FF10 and FF11 are going
to be on PS2 as well as PlayOnline. So with those, we were wanting to
concentrate less on the feel of a world but more to use visuals which
would push the hardware's ability. In that sense, because FF9 is the third
in the series on PlayStation, instead of making it by pushing the abilities
of the present hardware, we thought of making the feel of a Final Fantasy
world once more.
Famitsu: As you say, with it becoming PlayStation games, I felt
Final Fantasy changed a lot, even with the setting.
Sakaguchi: You're right.
Famitsu: FF7 and 8 had a cyber feel. But FF9 this time has a fantasy
feel, and crystals will be appearing, and Steiner is a knight. Zidane
and Vivi's ages have also lowered quite a lot. And their sizes have changed...
Sakaguchi: Actually, in FF7's planning stages, there were smaller
characters, about the size of four heads.
Sakaguchi: But when we made it have a sword, it couldn't wield
Famitsu: (laughs) It could be stabbed?
Sakaguchi: Yes. Even when it lifts a sword...[does a action where
the sword stabs into his forehead] and this happens. (laughs) We realized
that this couldn't work and so they became taller.
Famitsu: I see.
Sakaguchi: FF8 became even more realistic as it was favorable
in 3D motion and there was also Naora the art director's direction too...But
this time, with Vivi the black mage, he couldn't hold a sword because
it would get caught in his hat so, we thought "Why not?"...
Famitsu: So it was a logical move.
Sakaguchi: They might move in an anime-like way, and so there might
be restrictions in movement, but there is a certain humor in that movement.
And the humor of the characters too. We wanted to aim for that in FF9.
Famitsu: Then how about the theme of FF9?
Sakaguchi: Maybe I shouldn't say it... (laughs)
Famitsu: (laughs) You don't have to hide the theme. (laughs)
Sakaguchi: It's actually the same as the movie's.
Sakaguchi: I, I shouldn't have said it. Let's stop this. (laughs)
The world and everything else is different in the movie and FF9, but at
the root of it, the themes are the same. It's not directly the same, and
there is quite a difference, but we were writing the scenarios at the
same time, so...
Famitsu: (laughs) You were the scenario writer for FF9 weren't
Sakaguchi: The first stages mind you. In the last stage of writing,
it changed quite a lot because of the cooperation of two people. Especially,
the last half of the game changed dramatically.
Famitsu: Well, there are some things I'd like to ask about the
screenshots released this time...First, there are lots of airships flying
in the sky.
Sakaguchi: Yes, there will be quite a lot in FF9.
Famitsu: What's more, on top of this airship, there is a building.
Sakaguchi: That's the "Theater Ship."
Famitsu: A Theater Ship! That's the name of it? How about this
Sakaguchi: That will appear in the second half. The big airship
that appears in the first half has a theater attached. This lid opens
and becomes a stage. While in the air it will be attached to the side
of the castle and the stage will open. And, everyone watches the play
from the castle. It's a once-a-year event in this town...
Famitsu: So it's not just as a means of transport?
Sakaguchi: That's right. So these people are like a travelling
theater/ circus troupe.
Famitsu: I see. So it's like a circus moving in the sky with the
whole tent. So it's a troupe of actors?
Sakaguchi: Well it's different in reality. The ones inside are
actually bandits who took over the theater ship.
Sakaguchi: Oops. (laughs)
Square Publicity: I will examine you later. (laughs)
Sakaguchi: Ah, you're going to run a check on me. (laughs)
Famitsu: Are you going to cut this out later? (laughs) In Zidane's
profile, he was part of a bandit group, so he's one of them, right?
Sakaguchi: That's right. As one of the playable characters, Zidane
is a bandit.
Famitsu: Huh? Playable characters?
Sakaguchi: Ah, this time, all the leading characters are playable.
Although their backgrounds are all different.
Famitsu: I see. But there are no girls.
Sakaguchi: Ah, there is.
Famitsu: So there are only three revealed so far, right?
Sakaguchi: Yes. There will be 8 in total I think. Well, those that
become part of the party anyway.
Famitsu: So these three were the first to be made.
Sakaguchi: There are many unusual characters...Anyway, because
it's fantasy, it's a world full of different types of beings. The two
characters we've announced this time are human, but the others are different.
They may be mouse-like, or ghost-like...They are all different.
Famitsu: Oh I see. So would you switch characters when the various
beings go into a battle?
Sakaguchi: Switching characters will depend on how the story progresses.
Also, there will be situations where the player will switch characters.
Famitsu: From whose perspective will the player play through the
Sakaguchi: Basically, it's Zidane, but FF9 will be around 40 hours.
So in the length of the game, you will be able to play through different
characters. In one of the first scenes, where a boy is being chased by
a soldier, for 5 minutes you will control the chasing soldier, and for
the other 5 minutes, you will control the fleeing boy.
Sakaguchi: We thought it'd be fun if the player could control the
most interesting character in a scene.
Famitsu: Sounds like fun. So there will be switching of characters
being controlled, but it won't be just separate stories with 8 characters?
Sakaguchi: No it won't. They are not separate stories: the story
will be consistent.
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II of the Final Fantasy 9 Interview with Sakaguchi.