Yoshinori Kitase and Hideki Imaizumi, producer and associate producer for the new PlayStation 3 and PS Vita HD remakes of Final Fantasy X and X-2, sat down with Famitsu magazine this week to discuss the project's progress. Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
Discussion about kicking off this remaster project began in 2011, according to Imaizumi. "[Character designer] Tetsuya Nomura and I were recording voices for Final Fantasy Type-0," he recalled, "and one of the actors there also worked on the first FFX. We realized it was just about a decade since we last met, and while we didn't have much free time, we all agreed it'd be nice if we could all do something to celebrate the game. A few days later, Nomura started negotiating with assorted people, and then it was like 'Okay, let's do it!'. Most of our team was busy on FFXIII by that point, though, so we couldn't get to work on the remaster immediately."
"We didn't make the 10th anniversary of FFX," Kitase chimed in, "but 2013 is the 10th birthday of FFX-2, so I guess we lucked out!"
For both remakes, the development team is rebuilding many of the character models from the ground up. "All the controllable characters have been reworked," Imaizumi said. "For the other characters and monsters, we've largely stuck with rearranging textures to improve the quality on them. For the 16:9 support, we've adjusted the camera to have the visuals work in 3D scenes, but the pre-rendered background scenes required quite a lot of redrawing and adding on to get them to look correct."
"Even with the 3D scenes," Kitase added, "if you just extended the image to 16:9, you'd have things like people visible on the sides in story cutscenes, waiting for their 'cue' to enter the scene. I imagine we'll have to work on quashing little things like that right up to the end of development."
When asked about other challenges these remasters present to the team, Kitase brought up a veritable laundry list. "Recreating the original gameplay was surprisingly tough," he replied. 'We have to adjust the gameplay to match with the 2013 HD remaster's visuals, of course, but we're also taking pains to ensure the impression you get while playing is that it's the same; it hasn't gone all different. A lot of people have a lot of emotions tied up with FFX, and satisfying those emotions presents some really high hurdles. There's also the fact that we don't have all of the data from the original development project left. We're working with an external development studio and an internal staff for this project, and our internal programmers are the one handling data salvage and repair. In some ways, it'd be easier to just rebuild some of the stuff from scratch."
Was it always the intention to release the X-2 remaster alongside the original FFX? Yes, according to Imaizumi. "We figured that gamers would like it more if we released both games," he explained. "On a personal level, I'd like to have gamers experience the story of Tidus and Yuna in a complete package. The PS Vita versions of FFX and FFX-2 are being released separately purely for storage capacity reasons."
Square Enix hasn't announced a firm release date for the remasters yet, and Kitase wasn't giving one out to Famitsu, either. "I think we'd like to get it out there as soon as possible," he said. "Final Fantasy had its 25th birthday in December 2012 and now we're kicking off the next quarter-century, so I'd like to keep things exciting. Work on Lightning Returns is proceeding along steadily as well, too."