Who Would You Put in Charge of Final Fantasy?

Square Enix is creating a committee to make sure that the Final Fantasy franchise reaches fan's high standards.

News by Mike Williams, .

It's safe to say that the Final Fantasy brand isn't as strong as it once was. In the past, Final Fantasy carried a sense of quality that's been somewhat lost recently. That's not to say games like Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 don't have their fans, but the series doesn't have the same widespread appeal as it did in Final Fantasy VII's heyday.

Square Enix acknowledges that the franchise has lost its a way a bit and it has a solution. Japanese Final Fantasy fansite FF-Reunion (translated by Siliconera) reports that Square Enix has formed a Final Fantasy committee to ensure that future Final Fantasy titles live up to the name. The committee of four includes Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn director Naoki Yoshida, Final Fantasy XV co-director Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama, and Final Fantasy VI director Yoshinori Kitase.

Just like everyone has their own 'best Final Fantasy ever,' everyone probably also has an idea of who should be in charge of the franchise. Like dreaming up the perfect cast for a movie adaptation or the best sports team with current athletes, this is a chance for Final Fantasy fans to pick their dream team.

Yoshida has a lot of fan favor behind him right now, being the primary architect behind the successful re-launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Final Fantasy Type-0 director Hajime Tabata and long-time Square Enix producer Yoshinori Kitase are solid choices and have done great work for the franchise in the past. Toriyama is a contentious choice for the fandom; being the director and scenario designer of Final Fantasy XIII, some fans believe he has an extreme focus on Final Fantasy XIII protagonist Lightning.

The interesting omissions include Tetsuya Nomura and Hiroyuki Ito. Nomura is busy directing the upcoming Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III, both huge games for Square Enix, so his time is probably all wrapped up. Ito was the designer behind Final Fantasy IV's Active Time Battle system and Final Fantasy V's Job system and he recently created the concept for the mobile card-battle game Guardian Cross. Ito is mostly likely working on the Guardian Cross sequel, Deadman's Cross. The mobile game isn't that huge, so his omission in the committee seems odd.

My personal ringer would be Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre director Yasumi Matsuno, but he left the company for greener pastures awhile ago. He's currently developing Unsung Story for Playdek, but I'm sure if Square Enix really wanted him they could throw some money his way.

So who would you like to see on Square Enix' Final Fantasy committee? Who do you think could steer the series towards a bright future?

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Comments 23

  • Avatar for curryking3 #1 curryking3 4 years ago
    Deleted October 2013 by curryking3
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #2 curryking3 4 years ago
    The only true answer to this is the one and only Hironobu Sakaguchi.

    Ever since he parted with Squaresoft, the company lost its compass.

    It will forever be a shell of its former self until a visionary leader on par with Sakaguchi, or even Sakaguchi himself, returns to the helm.

    Until then, Final Fantasy is a hollow franchise with little to offer the global audience.

    A far cry from the bombastic tones and inspiring themes of the SNES, PS1, and PS2 FF titles and games like Vagrant Story and Chrono Cross.
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #3 Kadrom 4 years ago
    I want Yoshida to stay on ARR, because he's doing great and seems to really understand MMOs in a way that the rest of the company doesn't. Matsuno would be great, but that ship has already sailed. I don't think he'd agree to direct another Final Fantasy after what happened on 12. So I guess I'd vote for Tabata, because Crisis Core and Type0 were both pretty competent games.

    I agree that the message has become muddled since Sakaguchi left, but Mistwalker's output has been average so I don't know that he's the answer either.Edited October 2013 by Kadrom
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #4 jeremy.parish 4 years ago
    Hajime Tabata's on their committee, so that's good. But it desperately needs Hiroyuki Itoh.
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #5 Shadowfire 4 years ago
  • Avatar for Stealth20k #6 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    There is nobody left at Square who has made a good FF game
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  • Avatar for gekiganwing #7 gekiganwing 4 years ago
    Kenichi Nishi has worked at various companies, including Square for a few years. Some of his games are eccentric (Captain Rainbow, Giftpia, Incredible Crisis), but he might be a good choice.

    Akihiro Hino was a major contributor to games such as Dragon Quest 8-9, Rogue Galaxy, and much of the Professor Layton series. His company, Level-5 Inc, has published a variety of story-heavy games on a variety of systems.

    An out of left field choice: Matt Bozon from WayForward. His company has earned a good reputation for 1) bringing back ailing franchises, and 2) making quality licensed games based on kids' shows -- which are quite rare.
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  • Avatar for arnoleblanc-ringuett #8 arnoleblanc-ringuett 4 years ago
    I would put Akitoshi Kawazu in charge of Final Fantasy. Because I'm an evil troll at heart.Edited October 2013 by arnoleblanc-ringuett
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  • Avatar for Keresky #9 Keresky 4 years ago
    @curryking3 Hironobu Sakaguchi? You honestly think the guy responsible for masterminding that festering turd Blue Dragon is what's needed to salvage the FF franchise?
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #10 curryking3 4 years ago
    @Keresky He also helped create Lost Oddysey, probably the single most inspired JRPG of the generation.

    Despite Sakaguchi's misfortunes of past, I would personally attribute Mistwalker's inability to make a splash because of a lack of experience and funding.

    I don't think it reflects poorly on Sakaguchi's that Mistwalker's games were not runaway successes.

    All that said, I don't think Sakaguchi is necessarily the only person who could rescue Square. And maybe he can't alone.

    I would say simply that Square is in such a creative drought that it would require a person or people of great skill, passion, know-how, and vision to return Square to its former glory.

    I will be honest: I don't think it's ever going to happen.

    But I will also say this: I think that's OK. Square came, and conquered, and unfortunately that time has come to an end. Despite that, we will always have the incredible series of games that came during that time, and I am grateful for those experiences.Edited 2 times. Last edited October 2013 by curryking3
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #11 jeremy.parish 4 years ago
    @Stealth20k Enough with the hyperbole. Kitase led FFVI. Itoh led FFV and did a ton of work on FF Tactics. Yoshida managed to salvage the train wreck that was FFXIV into something genuinely good. Square has plenty of talent; they just need to step back and have a long, hard think about how to keep FF from circling the drain.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #12 Kuni-Nino 4 years ago
    I honestly have no problems with the people in charge now: Toriyama, Nomura, Kitase, Yoshida all seem like smart, capable guys who know what makes good games. Then again, I'm the guy who has only played new age FFs. I started with FFX.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #13 Kuni-Nino 4 years ago
    Sorry for double post.Edited October 2013 by Kuni-Nino
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  • Avatar for Fresh_Paprika #14 Fresh_Paprika 4 years ago
    Well, I don't know about a committee (apart for my love for Nintendo, my finger definitely isn't on the pulse of public opinion), but if we're talking building a dream-team for a project, mine is:

    -Yasumi Matsuno as director, story writer, and battle director, - Yoshitaka Amano as art director. - Akihito Yoshida as lead character designer, - Nobuo Uematsu (no Prog Rock, though. It'll clash with Matsuno's style), Hitoshi Sakimoto and Yasunori Mitsuda as music composers.- Hironobu Sakaguchi and Hiroyuki Ito as producers. -Alexander O. Smith as localization writer and manager

    It's probably not possible, though. It's hard to say if Matsuno wants to do another huge project after what (is rumored) happened with XII. I would love to see Amano's surreal style done right in a game now that the technology could do it justice, but it's probably too strange for the mass public and he might not want to do the huge amount of work needed now. Probably too many freelancers involved in the project.

    But if I have one simple request for Square, it's this: please, less gorgeous super-models for characters, I have a hard time taking them seriously. Old plain people exist, you know, it's no myth, I swear! I would also love if they could bring FFVIII's Junction System back in a more efficient form, of course (no one likes spending an hour drawing). It was rough, sure, but once you get the hang of it, it's so open and flexible. How cool was it that early on in the game you could get Diablos by using Blind and his own Demi spell against him and get him to learn a no-encounters ability and explore without random encounters? It was almost like puzzle design, I loved it.

    FFXV looks really good (visually it reminds me of VIII, which is nice), but it bugs me that even Final Fantasy has a cover system now. I can't tell if it's there because it adds to the battle system or just because that's the way things are expected to be with a giant project these days. More cool-factor than depth. Not to diss current mainstream sensibilities (I felt like such a pretentious douche when I read my "comment" in Jeremy's Breaking Bad article a day after I wrote it. I like the Uncharted series, and Mass Effect 2 was okay), but seeing the semiautomatic "everything is breaking" platforming that Uncharted 2 popularized didn't do me much good either (I'm all thrilled-out with that stuff). I really want to explore a unique world, rewarding efficient exploration like Xenoblade's, I hope it'll offer that. I think it'll be best if they'll invest less in technology and graphics and more in creative, efficient design. But it's just nitpicking. I'm still really looking forward to it.

    I really like gekiganwing idea of letting Kenichi Nishi make a FF (I'm a huge fan of his), but he left Skip because he felt that working in a large company kills his creativity, plus Moon was about breaking RPG convention and turning them upside-down, it's pretty much an anti-RPG. So he probably won't be interested, but it's a cool idea.Edited October 2013 by Fresh_Paprika
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #15 CK20XX 4 years ago
    I seem to recall that at its peak, Final Fantasy was one of the most respected RPG experiments in existence. Emphasis on "experiment". Every game stood on its own. Every game was unique. Every game played a bit differently. Even when people went, "WHAT? They eliminated EXP points AGAIN?!" they still admired the series and what it tried to do.

    So I'm not sure a committee will help the series. Actually it might only make it worse, since such organizations exist to keep things on track, and Final Fantasy was the most renowned when it kept wandering off track to toy with RPG conventions. What they need more than a committee, perhaps, is someone who embraces the only rule of Calvinball: you never play it the same way twice.
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  • Avatar for Clawglip #16 Clawglip 4 years ago
    Uematsu. Because apparently he's not doing anything else...?
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #17 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    @jeremy.parish But they made those games over 15 years ago with teams which no longer exist. Its down the drain, the time for circling happened when they decided to make 13 a trilogy imo
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #18 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    If modern Final Fantasy games have one strength, it's game-play. Every new game has a new and interesting system. Even newer games in the series are often very innovative, like 12. And even maligned entries like 13 have fresh and interesting battle systems that stand apart from everything else.

    I think modern Final Fantasies have two distinct weaknesses: story and music. Up until FF9, the soundtracks were always fantastic under Uematsu's watch. Now, they are a bit more hit and miss... nobody talks about it, but both FF12 and 13 had pretty weak and forgettable music compared to earlier games, although there were still a few amazing tracks like FF13's main battle music.

    And the main problem with the storytelling in more recent Final Fantasies is very much the same problem with a lot of modern Hollywood movies... they feel like they are trying too hard to appeal to too many people, and are too manufactured and tampered with by committees.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #19 CK20XX 4 years ago
    @Stealth20k Actually, if you do your history research, you'll find that it happened far earlier than that. The fall began with the failure of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a film so bad that it was what pressured Hironobu Sakaguchi to resign in the first place. Things haven't been the same since.

    I know that the film killed Square Pictures and nearly killed the merger with Enix, but looking at what's become of Squeenix now, I think Sakaguchi should have been allowed to make that mistake, as big as it was, and try again. So... I think I may actually agree with@curryking3 wholeheartedly, now that I think about it. Would someone at Square Enix please beg Sakaguchi to come back?
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  • Avatar for Macstorm #20 Macstorm 4 years ago
    Naoki Yoshida has done such a fantastic job with FFXIV, that I would trust him with another FF. Especially since FFXIV feels very much like a single-player Final Fantasy. Put him at the helm and let Hiroyuki Ito do his magic with the battle system (still love FFXII's system) and we're golden.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #21 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    @CK20XX Nothing you said was new information to me.
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  • Avatar for easter #22 easter 4 years ago
    Just picked up FFIX for my Vita the other day. Amazing game. It was the one that got away. It's remarkable how well it holds up. The charm and craft of those old Square games distilled into the perfect swansong for the PSOne.

    Try getting 'Jesters of the Moon' out of your head. Just try!

    I don't really have anything to add to the main discussion at hand, because my only experience is with the PSOne generation of titles. I want to say "Yeah, whoever worked on those titles," but it's clearly not that easy, nor what would necessarily move the series forward (or stay on track, such as it were).

    The market's changed, audiences change, so do franchises. Unless you're Nintendo I suppose. I will opine one thing though: the character designs of the new age Final Fantasies (since 10 onward) haven't really appealed to me. Character design is a big thing after all; like someone else said, have Amano's surreal, painterly style come to life as an experiment. His work is much too iconic to be squandered on logo titles only.Edited October 2013 by easter
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  • Avatar for tyetheczar #23 tyetheczar 4 years ago
    Found this thread on NeoGAF detailing why Toriyama and Kitase are "destroying" the brand:

    It's a fantastic, revealing read that proves something isn't right at Squeenix.

    And for the record: Hiroyuki Ito. That's the only answer.Edited November 2013 by tyetheczar
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