Alright, even though I agree that Chrono Trigger is the greatest game of all time, I believe that Final Fantasy VI has a better narrative, if not one of the greatest game narratives ever. It deftly juggled so many interesting characters and gave (almost) all of them important roles in a grander story, and I can’t recall ever seeing this feat repeated in the video game medium. So I’m thrilled that Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu collected some Final Fantasy VI staff together to discuss the game for its 25th anniversary. Siliconera has provided some translations.
They estimate they made the game in just under a year (pretty amazing), and people regularly slept at their desks in order to keep working. Director Yoshinori Kitase brought a sleeping bag, and Sound Programmer Minoru Akao brought an actual futon mattress.
Amusingly, on the day Final Fantasy VI went gold (meaning the game was finished and ready to be sold), the brunt of the development team went home — but nobody told the sound team, who sat elsewhere. The sound team lingered behind until they finally realized how quiet the office was.
Executive Producer Hironobu Sakaguchi and Kitase go on to talk about the effect Dragon Quest and their rivalry with Enix had on the development of this game. Sakaguchi really wanted Final Fantasy to “surpass” Dragon Quest. There was also content inspired by that series that had to be cut (per Siliconera):
Yoshinori Kitase: “Back in the days of Final Fantasy V, Sakaguchi-san, I remember you saying ‘We’ll at least beat ‘em (Dragon Quest) in the amount of main-numbered titles!’”
Hironobu Sakaguchi: “I figured we couldn’t beat them head on when it came to the games themselves, so yeah [laughs]. However, ever since the very first Final Fantasy, I always felt that we wouldn’t lose when it came down to graphics. Of course we did put in effort into systems and scenarios, but that was one part I used to be confident we could beat Dragon Quest in. Oh, speaking of Dragon Quest, wasn’t there some event that Kitase rejected?”
Yoshinori Kitase: “Huh? What was that again?”
Hironobu Sakaguchi: “No matter how many party members you have in Final Fantasy, you can only move one lead character on the map, right? So when you get members, they kind of fuse into the one representative party member. So the event that was rejected involved a part where four party members attempt to “fuse” into one lead, but then it was like ‘Huh!? We can’t fuse!?’ and had four of them line up instead, kind of a reference to Dragon Quest [laughs].”
Yoshinori Kitase: “Ahh, as expected, I remember saying ‘Okay, now you’re messing around too much!’ and rejected it [laughs].”
As always, it’s both fun and fascinating to get a look behind the curtain at classic games like these. Check out Siliconera for more of the interview.
And if you’re curious about another Squaresoft classic, check out my feature on the development of Final Fantasy IV.