E3 2012: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy developer interview

ichiro hizama

With Theatrhythm Final Fantasy soon set to grace the Nintendo 3DS across Europe and North America, we sat down with producer Ichiro Hazama to discuss the title.

Nintendo Insider: What was the idea behind the concept of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy?

Ichiro Hazama: I thought that, at least for myself, when I play Final Fantasy games I have great memories of many scenes associated with each piece of music. So I thought maybe many players, especially fans of the series, might share the same opinion as me, and that it would be great to create a new game centering upon the Final Fantasy music.

NI: Had it been intentionally planned to coincide with Final Fantasy’s 25th anniversary?

IH: It was not necessarily planned to develop the game in time for the 25th anniversary, it just happened to be good timing. But, of course, using one franchise cannot be possible with just one or two games. Because of the long history that Final Fantasy offers, this project became possible. I don’t know if it needed to take 25 years, though!

NI: Were the composers themselves, such as Uematsu-san, involved within the project in any way?

IH: We didn’t directly work with the composers of each music, but we did show them the proposal for the game and asked for their approval. As far as I know, all the composers are pleased with the results, which pleases me very much.

NI: How have you found developing for the Nintendo 3DS, and why was the handheld chosen over other touch-based platforms such as iOS?

IH: When I originally made plans for the game I was just focusing on the handheld consoles, and was not paying too much attention to phones or tablets. Now, maybe it is a different story. When we heard that the Nintendo 3DS came with a great [storage] capacity and speaker system, I knew it was the right choice.

NI: To follow on from that, we heard that you had considered the Nintendo DS as the platform for the project a few years ago?

IH: When the DS was available I did have an idea to make a music game, but the [storage] capacity was not enough to contain all of the movies that we wanted to. It was already hard to start with, so we gave up without even proposing anything. So when the 3DS arrived we started brand new project planning, so it wasn’t shifted between platforms.

NI: What were the thoughts behind the chosen character design for the game?

IH: As you can imagine, it is hard to nail down just one particular design that covers the original Final Fantasy through to Final Fantasy XIII. So it was difficult, but at that time there was one mobile Kingdom Hearts title available and in that game we had Final Fantasy characters appearing as guests in this style. When I looked at them, I thought they were really cute and suggested that we use them within Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. [Tetsuya] Nomura approved, and we finalised the idea.

NI: Could you explain the level of involvement Nomura-san had as Creative Director?

IH: He did many things. For example, the title was chosen by him and any decisions related to artwork or design were made by him.

NI: In regards to downloadable content, only new music has currently been made available. Have you considered releasing further characters as well?

IH: That’s such a great idea, although we don’t have any plans yet.

NI: Having already met great success in Japan, would you consider developing further Theatrhythm titles featuring music from other franchises?

IH: I wish that I could do, of course. [laughs] Again, it’s a great idea but it isn’t up to me.

NI: If long-term fans feel hesitant about purchasing the game due to its new direction, what would you say to convince them?

IH: Just play once, and then you’ll see how fun it is. Then you’ll find that you won’t be able to stop playing [laughs]
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is now available worldwide, exclusive to Nintendo 3DS. You can read our review through this link.

[Interview conducted in collaboration with RPGSite]

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