Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to the producers behind DeNA and Square Enix’s new social RPG, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper (Free). We had a fairly lengthy discussion about the game itself and Final Fantasy in general. So lengthy, in fact, that we decided to run the interview in two parts. Yesterday, we covered introductions, the genesis of the game, region differences, and a few other gameplay aspects. Today’s portion gets more into hardcore Final Fantasy discussion, which was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
TOUCHARCADE (TA): On a more personal note, what is your favorite Final Fantasy game?
ICHIRO HAZAMA, SQUARE ENIX PRODUCER (IH): Personally, I like Final Fantasy 6 ($14.99). I’ve played it many times.
TA: Ah, that’s a good choice. I’ve played that one a lot, as well.
YU SASAKI, DENA JAPANESE VERSION PRODUCER (YS): I like Final Fantasy 10 the best.
IH: How much have you played it?
YS: Hundreds of hours. I couldn’t count if I tried.
TA: Wow, that’s a lot.
SHONOSUKE TOKUMARU, DENA WORLDWIDE VERSION PRODUCER (ST): As for me, when it comes to the world and setting, I think Final Fantasy 6 is the best one. That said, I think I got into Final Fantasy 7 the most. It certainly shocked me the most.
TA: Interesting. Personally, I liked the story in Final Fantasy 6 the best, but my favorite one to play is Final Fantasy 5 ($14.99).
IH: I enjoy that one a lot!
TA: There’s this great challenge you can play in that game called the Four Job Fiesta where you only use four jobs. It’s very fun!
IH: What? Just four jobs? You don’t change jobs?
TA: Yes, just four jobs. One character, one job, and so on. The jobs are randomly selected. Every combination can clear it.
IH: Really, even with geomancers?
TA: Yes, every combination. You have to be very clever, though. If you get a Berserker…
IH: If you got a Berserker, it would be really hard.
TA: It’s a fun challenge, you should try it! Okay, well, along the same lines, who is your favorite Final Fantasy character?
IH: That’s hard. I like many of the characters. I guess I would have to choose Auron (from Final Fantasy 10).
YS: Yuna (from Final Fantasy 10). I really like Yuna.
ST: My favorite is Locke (from Final Fantasy 6).
TA: That’s a good choice, he’s awesome.
IH: How about you, who’s your favorite?
TA: Hmm, that’s a tough one. Ah, I guess it would have to be Edgar.
IH: Ahh, Edgar. With the drill, right?
TA: I love the chainsaw, with the Friday the 13th mask.
IH: He’s very strong. He also has that special coin that he uses in some scenes. He’s a very interesting character.
TA: Okay, so this is kind of a silly question. I love Final Fantasy 5. I love Gilgamesh. Is there any chance of him joining the party in Record Keeper at some point?
IH: Well, I guess Sephiroth is playable. But he was a little different, because we did get to have him in the party in Final Fantasy 7, with Zack. Gilgamesh is a little different. He’s appeared in many games, but up until now, he hasn’t been playable. You really like him, don’t you? I like him, too.
There’s no plans for it right now, but if it were proposed, I would definitely think about it. He’s pretty popular with fans all around the world.
TA: While we’re getting personal opinions, what is your favorite point of Record Keeper?
ST: I really like all the different music in the game.
YS: The pixel art is my favorite point. I love seeing all of the characters and locations done in pixel art, and it’s interesting to see the way that some of them move.
TA: Yeah, the bosses animate. That’s really cool.
YS: In the old games, the bosses didn’t move. That was something we added.
IH: For me, it’s the battle preparation. I especially like it when I lose a battle and have to go back and plan a new approach. There are lots of things you have to think about before entering a battle. It’s been a while since the last Final Fantasy with a front and back row, for example. You really have to plan your party set-up carefully.
TA: Theatrhythm (Free) had a similar style of having to plan your party carefully. A lot of recent Final Fantasy games allow you to have every character be all-powerful, but Theatrhythm and Record Keeper both require you to make some hard choices about what role each character will play. Personally, I really like that.
IH: It sounds like we have similar tastes!
TA: This question is kind of a two-parter. First, what do you say to the skeptical Final Fantasy fan who might be worried because of the game being a social RPG?
ST: Everyone should try it first and see for themselves that this is a Final Fantasy game, and a real Final Fantasy experience. With this being a social game, I’m sure there will be different reactions, and the game will develop depending on how users react. This is a game where you get to relive the past numbered Final Fantasy games, so I encourage you all to try it out.
TA: Conversely, what would you say to the more casual fan of free-to-play or social games who might be intimidated by the Final Fantasy brand?
ST: First of all, the gameplay itself at the beginning isn’t very difficult, so it’s easy to get into. For the English version, we’ve also added profiles for each of the characters to give you some background details on them, in case you haven’t played the original games they’re from. We’re trying to reach out to new players in that way by providing extra information.
IH: Final Fantasy has spanned so many genres that we wouldn’t have ever thought possible before. Rhythm games, fighting games… they’re all part of the Final Fantasy world. The core numbered series has a very tightly defined history. Final Fantasy is both that core series and the various spin-off titles. Final Fantasy: Record Keeper fits into that picture as a very accessible game that you can play on your smartphone.
Of course, Record Keeper presents Final Fantasy in a form that’s very easy to pick up for fans, but it’s also a very easy way for casual players to enter the world of Final Fantasy. In that way, it presents a new opportunity for the Final Fantasy brand.
TA: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers about Record Keeper? Any message you’d like to give them?
IH: Square Enix has a lot of titles in the mobile gaming sphere, but there aren’t very many titles that have been released to success in the west. I’m hoping that Final Fantasy: Record Keeper will achieve the success that we haven’t quite had so far in the west, especially with our free to play titles.
YS: I’m very happy that Record Keeper is being released worldwide for all the fans around the world. I definitely want everyone worldwide to enjoy this game.
ST: It’s already a big hit in Japan. I hope all of the international Final Fantasy fans give the game a try and see if they like it. I feel it has a lot to offer.
TA: Thank you very much for your time and thoughts. We’re all looking forward to the English release.
I’d like to once again thank Mr. Ichiro Hazama of Square Enix and both Mr. Yu Sasaki and Mr. Shonosuke Tokumaru of DeNA for giving me some of their valuable time, and the various members of DeNA who set up and facilitated this interview, in particular Mr. Simon Currie, who did live interpreting. It was a lot of fun to have some Final Fantasy fan talk with people involved in the actual creation of the games. I hope everyone is enjoying Final Fantasy: Record Keeper as much as I have been.