bit-tech:Final Fantasy 11 was pioneering because it allowed players all around the world to play together. Will that be true for Dissidia too? Will Japanese and Western players be able to go head-to-head?
Takeshi Arakawa: We really wanted to let people do that, but the spec of the PSP isn’t really all that suitable to online games in that way. In the end, we had to give up on that idea.
BT:Have western audiences influenced the direction and development of the game at all?
TA: Yes, definitely. Using analysis from our localisation team and some of our subsidiary companies in London and LA we were able to adjust the game specifically for the western audiences. As well as adding an arcade mode and tweaking the battle balance, we also altered the tutorial for the game. In the Japanese version the tutorial takes about one hour to complete, but we thought that would be too long for western gamers, so we shortened it to just ten minutes.
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BT:You mentioned Kingdom Hearts 2 earlier, but were there any other games that influenced you when you were creating Dissidia?
TA: Um, not really. There were no specific games that inspired the team all that much, but one of the games that influenced me personally was The World Ends With You, which I also worked on. The RPG aspects of that game, the wireless battles and using items and things like that, you can kind of see how we transferred those ideas across.
BT:What about with some of the older Square Enix beat-em-ups games, like The Bouncer? Did you learn any lessons from those that you carried over to Dissidia?
TA: Well, Mr Takahashi was the battle planning director for Dissidia and I don’t think he was influenced or inspired that much by any of the fighting games we’ve made before. One thing he did have in mind throughout development though was Advent Children and the big fight that Sephiroth has in that – that was a constant reference point for him.
BT:There are plenty of unlockables in the game, so is the western version going to see any extra content in that way?
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TA: Well, in the Japanese version we have a PP catalogue system that people can use to get equipment with. We’re also going to be giving out passwords that players can use to get very strong characters, but there won’t be new characters or content after the original release, no. There’s not going to be any new downloadable content either.
BT:Finally, as you mentioned before, it’s the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, can fans look forward to any other celebrations?
Yoshinori Kitase: <laughs> Well, in Japan Dissidia was actually released on the 21st anniversary, though it’s the 20th over here. Dissidia is meant to be the sum-up of the franchise so far and we don’t really have plans to do any more celebrations or anything like that, no.
BT:What about a sequel, sometime in the future and when current projects are out of the way?
TA: <laughs> We’ll have to wait and see how popular and successful the game is in Europe first, I think. Obviously we would like to make a sequel, but it’s very much wait and see at the moment.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy is set for a Summer 2009 release in North America, with a September 2009 release in the UK. The game is being published on the PSP by Square Enix.