The Final Fantasy series has been running for nearly 30 years, spanning 14 mainline entries and a slew of spinoffs. Come September 30, it will celebrate its long-awaited 15th entry, which we’ve been looking at all month alongside our May cover story. There’s no denying Final Fantasy’s legacy, and everybody has their favorite characters, summons, and moments that defined the series for them. While we were at Square Enix’s offices in Tokyo, we talked to many influential people who have worked on the franchise, from Takashi Tokita, who’s been with the series since its beginnings, to Yoshinori Kitase who’s had a hand in some of the most popular entries, like VI, VII, and X. With such a great opportunity, we asked various Final Fantasy developers to share their favorite aspects. Here are their responses.
Current Project: Final Fantasy VII Remake producer
Known For: Director on Final Fantasy VI, VII, VIII, X
Favorite villain: “Considering that I am working on the re-make right now, if I had to bring someone up it’d be Sephiroth. When we were creating him originally, we wanted it to be kind of like a mystery novel. This entity that appears mysteriously, so it would create the impression of this big evil force. That was received well and he has been thought of that representative villain of the franchise. I really like that aspect of him, and also because we’re working on him and revisiting VII for the remake again, it makes me like him even more.”
Current Project: Holy Dungeon (mobile title) writer
Known For: Lead designer on Final Fantasy IV, director on Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve
Favorite characters: “IV is one of the most memorable projects that I’ve been involved in; my favorite would be the children Palom and Porom. In a world where the adults are always contemplating a bunch of things, the children still always remain positive and serve as a light in a dark story. They bring an energy to the situation. In terms of production, I was saved by those characters, so those would be my favorite characters. But they were only in the game for an instant and then they turned into stone. In the sequel we were able to give them more light, make them a little more grown up and put more focus on them.”
Favorite villain: “I like Golbez from IV, but also in terms of Sephiroth, there’s this whole story and drama as to why exactly he turned out the way he is, so I really understand why he’s so popular among fans.”
Favorite opening: “It was actually Final Fantasy I. It was very impactful when you cross the bridge and the adventure begins. You start off playing the game as is, then you cross the bridge and the adventure starts in this whole expansive universe. The opening just starts suddenly. It’s not the best graphics obviously, but the emotion and sentiment I got for getting into this deeper, expansive world, I really liked that. In terms of when Cecil and Kain (in IV) depart part ways in essence in the opening sequence it was partially in an homage to FF I.”
Current Project: Final Fantasy XV director
Known For: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Type-0
Favorite opening: “Final Fantasy VI, because as you start up the game you’re thrown into this world, which is completely different from what you expected, so it’s truly an unexpected entry type into the game. That part is where it stands out for me.”
Favorite character: “I have no idea why because I don't necessarily like him or not like him, but the one that came to mind was Vincent, but it's not Vincent. Rather than Vincent, I would like to bring up Zack, which is one that I created [for Crisis Core]. I don’t really know much otherwise.”
Current Project: World of Final Fantasy director
Known For: Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X event planner, Final Fantasy Type-0 lead writer
Favorite moment: “I like quite a lot of moments. It’s so hard to choose, but what comes to mind is the scene from Final Fantasy VIII where Squall and Rinoa are in the space environment and they have this romantic moment with Fey Wong’s 'Eyes On Me' music in the background. It was a little embarrassing creating it because I was adjusting it frame by frame so that everything would match and be in sync with the track, so I listened to that Fey Wong song numerous times just so I could everything right. From a production standpoint as well, that scene comes to mind.”
Favorite villain: “If I say Sephiroth, I’m sure everyone else is saying that. The villains that stand in the way of the main character in their own unique fashion are always the ones that stay in the memories of the players. It’s hard to [pick] one particular villain, but in terms of impressionable villains, they always seem to be those villains that take away from what players are already emotionally attached to, so VI’s Kefka, VII’s Sephiroth, all of them share those characteristics.”
Current Project: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn director
Known For: Dragon Quest X
Favorite summon: "The Bahamut summons from VII and XIV. The design we used in Final Fantasy XIV where Bahamut came down and with his fire destroyed the old Final Fantasy XIV and created the new A Realm Reborn… We pretty much got that from the Final Fantasy VII summon, where he comes down in his meteor and megaflares. We took that and brought it directly into XIV."
Favorite villain: “Sephiroth. I want him to remain as he is. You look at someone like Cloud and back when he was released, he was a very catchy and unique character, so he had a lot of fans. Because of that, he’s been used in a lot different products since Final Fantasy VII, and his history didn’t end at VII; it’s continued on and he’s evolved. However, with Sephiroth, I don’t think he should change at all. You should keep him where he is, let me him be big and let him be just that. I love Sephiroth’s humanity. He wants to destroy the world like any villain, but he has his reasons for doing it and his reasons are very similar to the trauma regular people have and because of that humanity it made him a very unique type of villain. I also like that he looks very cool and he’s holding a Japanese Katana as well.”
Current Project: Kingsglaive director
Known For: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children co-director, Final Fantasy XIII CG movie co-director
Favorite character: “It may be a little unfair because we’re working on it right now, but King Regis or Luna because I don’t think that characters have been depicted in this depth until now and it really depicts the human struggles and their determination.”
Current Project: Brotherhood anime producer
Known For: Final Fantasy IX, Parasite Eve, Kingdom Hearts II publicist
Favorite character: “My favorite is Cloud from FF VII because of that moment where his identity essentially breaks. I was shocked that this type of thing would be depicted in a game in that given moment in time. It was also really interesting to see Cloud himself recover, rebuild, and regain his strength. But then thereafter through Advent Children, you still see his struggle with his inner self being depicted. So just overall, Cloud and the interesting character that he is, has always been impressionable to me.”
Current Project: Final Fantasy XV lead technical animator
Known For: Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts II battle animator
Favorite summon: "Odin and the reason is really simple: He’s a knight on a horse. How cool is that? I’m not sure if you know of the XI Odin, but there was a game bug, so there was that instant-kill kind of attack, but you could avoid it by healing, so it was fun to dodge it."
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