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Crisis Core: Interviewing Yoshinori Kitase

Big in Japan – an interview with Square Enix

In Japan you don’t get much bigger than Square Enix and, at Square Enix, you don’t get much more influential than Yoshinori Kitase – the Director of the monstrously successful and popular Final Fantasy VII on the original PlayStation.

Now as the prequel to the original is released in Europe on the PSP, titled Crisis Core, we sat down with Yoshinori Kitase to talk things through. Kitase-san served as the executive producer of Crisis Core and joining him throughout our interview is Hideki Imaizumi, the producer of the game.

How has life changed after FFVII, what does Square Enix think of the PSP and just why did the game take so long to make and translate for European audiences? We found out...

Bit-tech: How hard did you find it to write a story where the ending is already known to the players?

Hideki Imaizumi: Well, when it comes to building a story around an ending that is inevitable then there is enormous pressure around it, but it’s actually very fun.

It’s kind of like historical figures – we all know how certain people died and lived, but films about them are always difference because they show the story from a different perspective. Everyone knows how Caesar died, but it changes every time because of how it is presented. The challenge here then was to develop a story that seamlessly ties in to Final Fantasy VII and the backstory there. We had a lot of fun doing that.

Crisis Core: Interviewing Yoshinori Kitase

BT: What exactly inspired you to write a prequel to Final Fantasy VII in the first place though?

HI: Well, when you talk about inspiration then obviously the original game was the greatest inspiration. Specifically though, there’ve been several compilation titles though that bring together characters…In terms of this project though it was Zack who was the greatest inspiration.

Zack is the main character of Crisis Core and we felt that because he was oddly such a minor character in the original game, though one who held so much importance to Cloud and had a huge impact on his life, that there was a lot to say about him.

With such huge potential behind Zack, we felt that telling his story would be a great way to enrich the first game.

BT: Why did you choose to develop Crisis Core on the PSP rather than the PS2 or PS3?

Yoshinori Kitase: To be honest, at the time we chose hardware the PlayStation 3 wasn’t even an option. We didn’t even know when it would really be available to develop on when we came up with the concept. When we did start on the game though, we had just happened to coincide with the launch of the PSP in Japan.

We did have a whole lot of familiarity with the PlayStation 2 and could have easily made the game for that, but there was a general interest among the developers to experiment with the new hardware. We just had the motivation to explore new avenues and platforms.

Crisis Core: Interviewing Yoshinori Kitase

BT: Is this the last game in the Final Fantasy VII series or are we to expect more prequels and sequels?

YK: Well, we’ve kind of reached a milestone here in that we’ve got to a certain level of satisfaction and the story has come full circle. Whether it is the final game in the series though we’d really rather not say – we prefer those windows of opportunity left open.

BT: When you say windows of opportunity do you mean a remake? It’s one thing that fans have been very vocal about wanting…

YK: My feelings are that if a remake were to work well then all the core members of the original team must be reassembled, all the artists and designers.

The problem is that, although all of us have an idea of what a remake should be and how to do it, organising such a thing right now is logistically very difficult. All the different members are now involved in very new, very large projects like Final Fantasy XIII and those projects are going to take a while.

Maybe, when all those games are finished then we can look at doing something like that.

Of course, that said we came up with the idea for Crisis Core in just two days. It was a case of ‘this is what we want to do, so let’s do it’. So, you can definitely expect the probability of something spontaneous happening at some point, but it’s hard to predict.