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Final Fantasy creator Sakaguchi on what makes ‘Fantasian’ a unique mobile RPG

Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy series, returns to the world of epic RPGs Fantastic, an exclusive Apple Arcade launch today. It’s worth celebrating. After spending the last decade exploring the world of mobile gaming with his studio Mistwalker, Fantastic is Sakaguchi’s first narrative RPG since the 2011 Wii title The latest story. And it also looks like something RPG – the backgrounds are taken from hand-built miniature sets, which gives it a diorama-like aesthetic.

Combine it with a unique combat system, which allows you to set up a lag of enemies to fight at once, and Fantastic has the potential to transcend the label of a “mobile RPG.”

; At least it’s far away from Mistwalker’s shutter Terra Battle and Terra Wars games on smartphones, and more that Sakaguchi’s console fans expect. (It even has music from Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu!) While the studio never reached the height of Sakaguchi’s time with Square, the 2007s Lost Odyssey on Xbox 360 and The latest story were both reminders that he can still make a compelling RPG.


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Speaking from his home in Hawaii, via a translator, Sakaguchi tells Engadget that his love of model kits and making things with his hands led to Fantasians unique aesthetics. With Terra Wars, he experimented with bringing the diorama look into play, but it was a fairly simple strategy title. “When I stared at these [miniatures] “Every day, it made me wonder how cool it would be to explore and immerse yourself in this world in a more storytelling experience,” he said.

Fantasian at Apple Arcade


Apart from the diorama effect, Fantastic seems to be an otherwise traditional RPG. You play as Leo, a memory loser who tries to regain his memories in a world ruled by machines. Naturally, you end up diving into a bigger mystery: Why the world is taken over by a mechanical infection. As an Apple Arcade title, you’ll be able to play it on iPhones, iPads, Macs and even Apple TV, with your progress across all devices.

As for his preferred platform to play the game, Sakaguchi says he mostly plays on his Mac with a studio monitor, so he can inspect the game’s 4K textures carefully. “I think it really draws a lot of attention to detail, especially in diorama and handmade nature,” Sakaguchi said.

And while he admits that he would like to see others play the game with its highest resolution, he is also fascinated by touch screen interfaces, as it is almost as if players touch the hand-built background directly. “There’s a lot of this human touch, so I think it’s very synergistic,” he said. In this connection, he would recommend playing on an iPad with a large screen. (This is how I plan to spend most of my time with the game.)

Fantasians The “Dimengeons” system, an alternate dimension where you can save the enemy encounters for a later time, arose almost by accident. While testing the game on a touchscreen, Sakaguchi tells us, he had a character trying to reach a treasure chest in a remote area. He watched as they went through several areas, switched between screens and finally found that it was a rewarding way to explore the game’s surroundings. “Instead of being interrupted by random encounters, we wanted to give players the opportunity to focus on exploring and discovering the game, if they wanted to,” he said.

Fantasian at Apple Arcade

While you begin to be able to store up to 30 enemies, Sakaguchi says you will eventually be able to hold up to 40 or 50 enemies. Of course, you will face a tough match if you are underpowered and choose to take on a large amount of evil at once, so it is a gamble that players must consider. To help during particularly hectic battles, there is also a “gimmick” system that gives the player power-ups, such as increased attack power or extra character rounds.

Unfortunately, not all role-playing games can be like that Chrono Trigger and let yourself avoid enemy encounters completely. But the Dimengeon system sounds like a useful compromise, especially if you only have a few minutes to play and would rather explore the world than get stuck in useless battles.

For a typical review, Sakaguchi says you can expect both Fantastic to take about 20 hours each to complete. (The first part launches today, the second comes sometime later.) If you’re the type of player who likes to explore all the nooks and crannies, you can even reach 30 hours of playing time. You can also expect a slight shift in playing style, with the first part emphasizing a core narrative and characters, while the second will be search-driven.

“The player has a lot of freedom to approach which areas and which missions they want to do,” Sakaguchi said. “We thought it would help the players take a breather after establishing the characters and approaching the second half with a more fresh mind.”

Fantasian at Apple Arcade


As we neared the end of our chat, I could not help but ask Sakaguchi to recreate some of Mistwalker’s previous role-playing games, in particular The latest story, which can only be played on a Wii or Wii U. He has previously said that he was not interested in doing the work himself, so I asked if he would be open to a third-party studio that tackled it instead. “Even if we were to outsource something like that to another studio,” he said, “I think in the end I want to make sure I check everything. I think that would be inevitable. I need to check everything you know my name is going to continue. ”

He also noted that the amount of energy that goes into a remake is almost the same as making a new game today. That is especially true too The latest story, which was developed in SD for the Wii, and had to have its assets upgraded to HD or 4K. “As a personal preference, I want to dedicate that energy and mind to creating something new and original,” Sakaguchi said.

As someone who appreciated the aesthetics of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – a critical and commercial flop that cost Square as much as $ 94 million – I also wondered if Sakaguchi would ever be interested in exploring new narrative avenues, perhaps with a streaming series. “I think there are many interesting opportunities with the new streaming industry, apart from just a straight port of a story-driven experience,” he said. “Perhaps we can almost change the story in real time by looking at the user’s feedback.”

Fantasian at Apple Arcade


His description almost sounds like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Netflix’s other narrative experiments, but as it progressed, it took shape to become even more unique: “I think it could be a scenario where developers can almost act as a game master, and then post content to watch. how viewers react … Then you almost broadcast from the game master’s perspective, which is a whole new media style. ”

Asked if he would be interested in exploring such a project, Sakaguchi laughed and simply said, “I think it’s going to be a lot of work.”

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