NEWS - Friday, July 1, 2005

Sakaguchi Speaks

The man who created Final Fantasy has talked more about his programming adventures on Xbox 360 and why he’s so pleased he has chosen Microsoft’s next-gen console as the platform for his new games, Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. Hironobu Sakaguchi was among the original high-profile Japanese developers signed up by Microsoft back in March. He’s a legend at Square Enix after creating the FF series and helping it to make it big in West, and recently came out of retirement to form his own Mistwalker development studio. In an interview with Globe Technology Sakaguchi explained that his close relationships with Xbox’s Japanese head Yoshihiro Maruyama and R&D chief Hiroshi Kawai made him choose to work on the Xbox 360. "Instead of selecting a company or a hardware, I selected these two because I have a personal relationship with them," he said. In fact, Sakaguchi refused to pick between the next-gen consoles on a purely performance level. "Each has weaknesses and strengths. However, these are all considered next generation hardware, so they all surpass certain levels, so it doesn’t really matter for us as game producers." But he did emphasize that his development team has exploited the power of the 360. "The performance and specifications are sufficient for us. We have used the technical advantages 100 percent, and put new ideas into the software. I think the software is the key." That software is Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, two Xbox 360-exclusive RPGs that Sakaguchi thinks will sell equally well in Japan and the West. "With these titles, I put in all of my efforts and experience, so I think they’ll be great games," he said. While he declined to talk about Blue Dragon in any depth (you can catch up on our coverage here, Sakaguchi did offer some tidbits on Lost Odyssey. "The game play experience is basically a traditional turn-based RPG, a bit like Final Fantasy," he said, "but there are new ideas incorporated when playing: you can experience a little bit of real-time action. He also told of how Lost Odyssey’s main character would live for 1000 years, undergoing the Industrial Revolution and the global upheaval it causes. He also promises a more "emotional" aspect that isn’t often seen in games: "It’s more of a human touch, like family and children." The Globe Technology interview finished with a nice flourish - when asked how to create Xbox 360 games that would persuade Japanese gamers to buy the console, Sakaguchi pointed to his games and said, "like these!"

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