Hironobu Sakaguchi Clears the Air on Final Fantasy VI

Hironobu Sakaguchi Clears the Air on Final Fantasy VI

The creator of Square-Enix's legendary RPG series shatters a widely believed misconception.

The greatest part of writing about games is just how accessible the most legendary figures can be.

Someone who writes about movies may never get a chance to meet Scorsese, Spielberg, or Nolan, but we're regularly led into rooms where some of the most amazing talents sit, ready to answer our questions. The one downside, though, is that our questions are rarely permitted to stray from the subject of current releases—which can be pretty frustrating if, like me, you happen to help run a classic gaming podcast.

So, when I had the opportunity to speak with Hironobu Sakaguchi about his mobile RPG Terra Battle earlier this year, I knew I'd have the chance to sneak in one question about Final Fantasy, at the very least—so I wanted to make it a good one. At some point in time, it was accepted as conventional wisdom that Final Fantasy VI met with disappointing sales in Japan and moderate success in America, most likely due to its dark themes and unconventional structure. It's a factoid I've heard tossed around plenty of times in the 20 years I've been reading about the game on the Internet, so I decided to go right to the source and ask Sakaguchi himself.

Thankfully, he set the record straight:

"In terms of numbers, [Final Fantasy VI] didn't sell in the States. It actually did very well in Japan. I'm mystified, because I see [Americans] are playing the [mobile] version. I think size of the characters really matters to an American audience, so from Final Fantasy VII onward, we used bigger characters. [I think] that's why Final Fantasy VII took off. But I am kind of mystified [by VI's current popularity in the West], because [Americans] didn't buy Final Fantasy VI back then."

So, there you have it. Not the most groundbreaking news for your Friday, but still, an interesting revelation about a time when video game sales numbers weren't so concrete.

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