You can’t help but like Takashi Tokita. Despite being a long-time veteran of the Final Fantasy series (he made his debut with the 8-bit Final Fantasy III back in 1990), he’s remained down-to-earth. Tokita is still with Square, and he still works in the trenches of game design, so to speak, bringing both new games and old to mobile and portable systems. As the original story director for the revolutionary Final Fantasy IV for Super NES, he’s also the main man behind that game’s sequel The After Years, originally released for Japanese mobile phones before being ported to WiiWare and now PSP. I had the opportunity to speak with Tokita about the inspiration behind the original groundbreaking RPG and its follow-ups; and, ever opinionated, he had plenty to say.
1UP: Is the Complete Collection developed by the same the same crew that created the Final Fantasy I & II Anniversary editions for PSP? There’s a very strong similarity visually between the two.
Tokita: We had a completely different team, officially. But the producers are the same.
1UP: So those were used as the starting points for this remake?
Tokita: That, as well as there is a lot of demand for a packaged version of The After Years, so that’s where we started in terms of creating Final Fantasy IV for the PSP.
1UP: And there’s also The Interlude. Can you talk about where the inspiration for The After Years and The Interlude came from, and what made you decide to make a sequel to a self-contained game like Final Fantasy IV?
Tokita: Just packaging The After Years with FFIV didn’t seem enough. We wanted to create some new content for our users and our fans, and so we decided to create something to connect FFIV with something that happens right after FFIV.
As for The After Years, it came about as we were in the midst of producing FFIV for the DS. There was an idea to create something new for a mobile platform. Rather than create a packaged version, which would take one to two years of development, we wanted something ready for players who have played the FFIV DS version to play right after.
1UP: So, it was really meant to be a companion piece to Final Fantasy IV DS?
1UP: The story in Final Fantasy IV was really fairly complete at the end of the game. Did you find it difficult to create a sequel? What was the jumping off point for developing a new story out of what was basically a self-contained story?
Tokita: I guess when I made the original, I was the same age as you. When remaking and coming up with the sequel, we thought that it would be possible to create a sequel if we based it on a change in generations, in a sense. Now, I have my own children, so I saw the connection there. I feel it appeals to new generations and it’ll help appeal to new generations to have a story like this. Like Star Wars, where they had 4-6 initially and then created the first three…
1UP: Yep, I’ve seen ‘em.
Tokita: [laughs] Yeah, so essentially the same concept.
1UP: There always has seemed to be a kind of Star Wars inspiration in Final Fantasy. Is that something that you have deliberately brought to the games, or is that kind of a coincidence?
Tokita: It’s an homage, in a sense, because FFIV has Biggs and Wedge and a Darth Vader type of character in it. We certainly can’t say that it’s a coincidence. Definitely an homage… there have been sci-fi type elements in Final Fantasy since the first installment. But not just to Star Wars, but to the comics and anime and movies that we grew up with. All the interesting elements have been taken form that and compiled into Final Fantasy.