In late 2014, Matt Leone started a project, quietly, as anyone that knows Matt will understand. It would be about Final Fantasy 7. It would be an oral history, not unlike his Street Fighter piece from earlier that year. I, of course, approved it. What neither of us knew at the time was that it would take over two years before we published it on the site. That it would comprise 35 interviews, many of them in Japanese. That it would include 90 original photographs from multiple photographers. That it would grow to nearly 30,000 words when the final copy was locked.
We published Final Fantasy 7: An oral history in January 2017, the twentieth anniversary of the game’s original Japanese release. It was an immediate success, and the entire team was, of course, proud. So naturally, I wanted it to be even better. I pinged Matt on Slack — the very same day, if memory serves — and suggested we try to turn it into a book. And we did ... or, rather, we are.
Before I get into the background, you should know that book is on Kickstarter right now, and here’s a link, if you’re so inclined:
And here’s a video about the book, featuring Matt himself:
Now, back to the background. I have a, ummm, weakness for beautiful video game books, and in the world of “beautiful video game books,” there’s one publisher whose work stands out in a crowd increasingly full of incredible publishers: Read-Only Memory.
This UK-based publisher, operated by Darren Wall, produced the stupendous history book Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works. Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett called it “one of the best video game books I have ever read.” I had hoped that Darren would be interested in helping us turn our story into a beautiful book, because Polygon is, after all, a digital publisher, and making gorgeous books falls well outside of our collective skill set.
The good news for us was that he was interested! These things can take some time, and we wanted to make sure this new release of the story had enough new stuff that people would still be interested, so it took us a little while to get here. Let’s talk about what’s in this new, extended print release:
- Specially commissioned illustrations
- At least eight new standalone interviews
- A foreword by Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi
500 Years Later: An Oral History of Final Fantasy 7 is being offered in two versions, both hardcover. The £25 version (that’s about $33, or £20 / $26 early bird pricing!) features the entire story in a beautiful 200+ page hardcover with three custom bookmarks. Here are some pictures of it:
The £60 special box set edition ($79 or £50 / $66 early bird pricing) of 500 Years Later is, well, I’ll just let Darren explain it to you:
We are also excited to offer a stunning special box set edition of 500 Years Later, housed in a custom clamshell case with a magnetic closure mechanism. This high spec print object will feature a dense black typographic design, holofoil detailing, and includes a set of illustrated postcards and a folding poster by project illustrator sparrows.
Each special edition will be hand numbered and shipped to you via courier.
Here are some pictures of the box set edition:
You may wonder why Polygon, a digital publication owned and operated by Vox Media, needs a Kickstarter, and the answer is simple: We’re not making this book; Darren and the crew at Read-Only Memory are. And, as their previous Kickstarter-backed projects can attest, they’re quite good at it. We’ve licensed our oral history and the new work that Matt has put into this print edition to them at no cost. Our only reward is some free copies of the book, so our parents can finally understand why we didn’t leave our rooms for a month in 1997.