BT:Given how established and popular the Final Fantasy VII universe is, were there any parts or characters which you wanted to go back and look at again specifically?
YK: Nibelheim. It was a huge part of the story in the original game and marked the turning point for many of the characters like Cloud, Sephiroth, Zack in this game and Tifa to a degree too. We really wanted to revisit that place and relay the event from a different perspective.
In fact, we took such great care to do it that we actually reused all the same camera angles as we did in Final Fantasy VII. Even though I was the executive producer, I stepped down to the role of event planner for that section and actually worked that entire section myself too. That was definitely the area we wanted to look at the closest.
BT:The main addition to the game in the European localisation is an added hard mode – why exactly did you think to add that in for European players specifically?
HI: Initially, when we released the Japanese version we didn’t include the hard mode because we wanted everyone to be able to play the game and have it as accessible as possible.
However, we soon found that we didn’t need to try to do that so much and that many more people were in tune with the action basis of the game than we thought.
In fact, people were able to exploit the game and achieve much more than we expected even at a very low skill level. So, once we got ready to move it out into other territories we felt that even more players would be able to do this. To help make the system more challenging then we added the hard mode.
I should warn you though that the hard mode is really very punishing as a result. It’s almost not like playing the same game at all and things take so long to die that it’ll only satisfy the hardest of the hardcore.
BT:The game was originally announced four years ago – why exactly did it take so long to get out the door?
YK: Well, to start with we just announced the game far, far too early. It’s something we promise to work on in the future.
Also, y’see…for E3 2004 we needed to show something of the game off and in building a demo we found we’d really underestimated the game and found it was very similar to the PlayStation 2. The PSP had only just come out and building the demo was such a learning experience that we found we could do so much more with the hardware than we expected.
The downside of that is that we ended up setting an extra hurdle for ourselves and taking longer to make something we felt was better – that’s really all it was.
…and that’s it! We’d like to thank Yoshinori Kitase and Hideki Imaizumi, as well as the rest of Square Enix for taking the time to speak to us at bit-tech.net. If you’ve got any further questions, or if you just outright disagree with any of the above then head to the forums and let us know.