Stuff Meets: Ultimate Fantasy director Yoshinori Kitase

The 18th of December 1987 noticed a then-new gaming title hit the cabinets: Ultimate Fantasy, a legendary role-player created by Hironobu Sakaguchi. It was a average success on the time, however was all the time destined for larger issues. The collection has since gone on to promote over 173 million models worldwide, and change into some of the standard and beloved franchises in gaming.

The franchise now encompasses 16 core titles and lots of extra spin-offs. It has grown right into a merchandise empire. There are Ultimate Fantasy TV reveals and films. Its iconic scores, largely composed by Nobuo Uematsu, are carried out by orchestras and newbie musicians internationally. To toast the collection’ thirty fifth Anniversary we spoke with Yoshinori Kitase, director and producer at Sq. Enix.

Kitase began his profession at Sq. Enix (then Squaresoft) in 1990, and has since both directed, produced or written for tasks together with Ultimate Fantasy V, Ultimate Fantasy VI, Ultimate Fantasy VII, Ultimate Fantasy VIII and Ultimate Fantasy X. One in every of his best successes thus far got here within the iconic Ultimate Fantasy VII. As the sport’s director, he spearheaded improvement on a recreation that will show era-defining for avid gamers of a sure age.

Right here, Kitase seems again on the world he helped create.

I joined the Ultimate Fantasy collection after engaged on the Mana collection. I used to be picked out by [Final Fantasy Director and Creator] Hironobu Sakaguchi to affix the staff from Ultimate Fantasy V onward. Apparently, he preferred an episode involving a Chocobo that I had put into the primary mana recreation, referred to as Ultimate Fantasy Journey outdoors of Japan, so I used to be put accountable for the occasion scenes in Ultimate Fantasy V.

From the primary Ultimate Fantasy recreation, we had supposed to create a novel world with a jewel-like high quality from the start and so requested [Final Fantasy artist] Yoshitaka Amano to do the idea artwork.

However, with the primary artistic staff altering for every title within the collection, every one has been capable of embrace its personal distinctive flavour. I believe that the defining characteristic of Ultimate Fantasy is the way it maintains a constant, ethereal really feel to its worlds and tales revolving round tales of crystals, whereas additionally letting the creators freely use their creativeness to place distinctive concepts into every recreation.

For Ultimate Fantasy VII, as there have been already an awesome many RPGs with conventional medieval European impressed fantasy settings on the market, we have been in search of an concept that felt fully totally different. So as a substitute of rolling inexperienced fields and caves, we went for a dirty metropolis of metal and steam, and as a substitute of a dragon the enemy was a titanic company. Ultimate Fantasy VII began with the intention of making a Ultimate Fantasy recreation with a setting fully totally different to what had gone earlier than.

Historically, the Ultimate Fantasy collection had all the time discarded its former settings and characters with every episode, and began once more from scratch. However with the arrival of 3DCG [3D computer graphics], the depictions of these characters grew to become a lot deeper and extra fleshed out, and so we began to think about the potential for sequels and spin-offs focussed on these characters.

Yoshinori Kitase interview

Ultimate Fantasy VII was the primary Ultimate Fantasy recreation to have these sorts of sequels and spin-offs, which was revolutionary for the collection. Disaster Core was clearly one of many video games that got here out of that considering. It went on to change into the most well-liked of all of the Ultimate Fantasy VII collection spin-offs, exhibiting the struggles of the character Zack Truthful, who was created for the unique Ultimate Fantasy VII.

Characters reminiscent of Cloud, Barratt, Tifa and Yuffie have been all designed by [game artist] Nomura Tetsuya, who labored as a full character designer for the primary time with Ultimate Fantasy VII. When he creates characters, he doesn’t simply concentrate on their look, however works out all features, reminiscent of their private historical past, how they speak, what weapons they carry and even the voice actor who ought to play them.

I must ask him concerning the particular inspirations that led to every of those characters, however personally I like Vincent Valentine rather a lot. Vincent is kind of uncommon within the Ultimate Fantasy collection as a horror themed character, and I proposed the unique idea concepts for him so I’ve a particular attachment.

“My best achievement is having established video games as a media that may inform emotional and dramatic tales.”

There have been many developments by way of character creation. Within the 2D period, and even within the early a part of the 3D period, a creator must use CG instruments to make every part a couple of character 100% digitally. I really labored laboriously with the instruments myself to create Cloud’s animations for Ultimate Fantasy VII.

Nonetheless, by the subsequent recreation, Ultimate Fantasy VIII, we had launched movement seize utilizing actual actors. By Ultimate Fantasy X, we had spoken dialogue with voice performing. Now we even have expertise that lets us seize actor’s facial expressions and transpose them onto the faces of the characters in-game. I believe that involving movement seize and voice actors within the creation course of has positively added extra depth to how characters are portrayed, in comparison with what recreation creators who should not efficiency professionals can do.

My best achievement is having established video games as a media that may inform emotional and dramatic tales. I’m delighted that we have been capable of evolve right into a type of media that depicts deep human drama at scale that may rival movie. My favorite gaming second from the Ultimate Fantasy collection? There are such a lot of that I can’t actually minimize it all the way down to only one, however I want to decide fairly a uncommon selection that’s not talked about rather a lot.


I actually just like the scene in Ultimate Fantasy VI the place Maduin and Madeline are sucked from the Esper World into the human world and the barrier is sealed behind them. That second was really impressed by the ultimate scene in The Godfather.

It’s tough to say what I’m most pleased with, however finally I do have a robust attachment to Ultimate Fantasy VII, with its many spin offs which might be nonetheless being made.

The Ultimate Fantasy collection is about essentially the most expert creators making one thing utilizing one of the best expertise accessible on the time, so I imagine it should proceed to evolve in ways in which no person can think about but. I believe the model we undertake may be very becoming for the Ultimate Fantasy collection, the place every recreation expands the worlds and is imagined freely, with out preconceptions.

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