Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Director and Composer Interview

Last month Famitsu interviewed Final Fantasy Type-0 HD director Hajime Tabata as well as composer Takeharu Ishimoto. While most of this information has been confirmed in the recent Active Time Report and “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit that Tabata hosted, I wanted to post my translation of the interviews that was featured in the magazine and online.

Highlights include:

  • Announcement of the Type-0 HD soundtrack which will be printed on Blu-ray music disc with game footage, coming March 2015
  • Confirmation that all previous unlockable content including costumes will be obtainable without DLC
  • Club activities will be coming to FF Agito soon
  • Bonus material for Agito+ for PS Vita will appear in Agito for mobile first

Read the complete translated interviews below and if you share it’s contents or just appreciate my work, please give me a shout on Twitter, thanks!

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Hajime Tabata on Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

– We watched the trailer and Ace’s face looks even braver than in the PSP version.

Tabata: Ace’s original face was a little different both in the game and in the movie sequences. We’ve updated it this time based on the movie sequence model, including his in-game character model as well. Therefore he might look a little braver. Besides that, we made big changes to the lighting system, so that influences the atmosphere considerably.

– As for the output image quality, have you finished adjusting it?

Tabata: Right now we are making the final adjustments, fixing whatever hasn’t been regulated yet. As for character models and textures, we are adjusting them to be as true to their concept as possible. We are fiddling with their expressions where the original version was lacking, in a sense. In particular, we’ve made Rem, Queen, and Deuce even cuter. (Laughs)

– Just the girls! (Laughs)

Tabata: Of course the girls. I said taking care of Khalia and the others afterwards is fine, our first priority is making Deuce cuter! (Laughs)

– Why was Deuce first priority?

Tabata: You might say she’s liable to become instantly less cute when I neglect her. She has the traits of a “cutesy” character, however I really felt there was something off about her face.

– So that’s one of the things you fussed over. Would you say that was a priority?

Tabata: I’d say that the work is a greater priority than even deciding the release date. Fixing up the main characters is a pretty high priority. Which reminds me, when Khalia’s updates were at 40% and Kurasame’s were at about 60%, I felt like Khalia wasn’t really making progress so I raised her priority (laughs). When we split the labor, we gave priority to those who we thought needed the most improvement. We are working in this sort of flexible way.

– You’ve said before that the main workload has been on technical adjustments to the character models and lighting without a lot of physical reworking, so the level of improvement done to the visuals so far is astonishing.

Tabata: We didn’t really rework the way things looked, rather the gameplay that needed to be revised (wry laughter). Thus the feeling you get when you play it is quite different compared to the PSP version. For example, I wanted to make the character Trey a little more popular in the HD version, so we raised his evasiveness and made it so he can move around quickly while preparing his arrows.

– They’ve been powered up then?

Tabata: Yes. Besides him, players thought that Seven’s mobility was sluggish, so we increased her pace. We also increased Ace’s evasiveness, so he can zip around. We’ve aimed to up the specs of all the characters like this.

– It seems like you’ve upped the tempo of battles too.

Tabata: We’ve fine tuned the camera, making it more action oriented. We wanted it to feel good, be easy to use and easy to play with. As a result, the characters move sharply on screen.

– Can you tell us a little more about the camera changes?

Tabata: In the HD version, we made the distance between the camera and the character a little closer than in the PSP version. When we changed it, the camera struggled to get the character and boss on the screen simultaneously, especially when a boss is moving around a lot. In those cases, since the camera’s distance to the character is near, the camera would hastily jerk around and that happened more than we anticipated. To fix that, we’ve made delicate adjustments to things like the acceleration of the camera rotation and figuring out at what distance the camera should unlock and lock on again.

– That seems to have a big influence on the feel of things.

Tabata: Also, we’ve revised the leveling up process to be more balanced. I think that fighting with the characters you like and strengthening them is more fun now than it was before.

– Since the characters are stronger, did you make the enemies stronger too?

Tabata: If we did that, we’d have to revise everything as a whole to keep it balanced, so rather I’d say we are brushing things up on the player’s side. We’ve also added an easy mode, so for instance, enemies that take more than 4 hits to defeat in normal mode can be defeated in just a couple hits instead. So in that aspect, the status of the enemies’ strength was adjusted.

– So if you play on easy mode, you can focus on following the story.

Tabata: Yes, though it won’t be much of a challenge. (Laughs) In the game their is a system feature called “Academy Support” where NPCs come to your aid, but if you use them in easy mode, you can rely on the NPCs to pretty much take care of everything.

– Speaking of which, I remember that an NPC with former Square Enix president Yoichi Wada’s name also comes to your aid in the PSP version.

Tabata: He appears in the HD version as well. By the way, an NPC with current president Yousuke Matsuda’s name has also been added. (Laughs)

– I’d be very obliged if he came to my aid. (Laughs) In the PSP version we were able to change the character’s costumes, will we be able to do so in the HD version too?

Tabata: We’ve included everything. Besides trophies, there are unlockable elements in-game and costumes are awarded as achievements. Since the HD version doesn’t have multiplayer, we made sure you can obtain everything as a single player.

– Will there be any new costumes?

Tabata: There will be. There is a gorgeous costume designed with the HD version’s logo as a motif. I am thinking about revealing it after this.

– Moving on, I’d like to talk about Agito. I started playing it in the 2nd period, in November of 2014, but what has the player’s response been so far?

Tabata: I hear that it’s difficult. The story missions are pretty challenging. The current balance was what we wanted when service first started, but stabilizing service from the 1st period took precedence, that way it could progress with comparative ease.

– Certainly, clearing the 1st period story missions didn’t take much time.

Tabata: I think players were already accustomed to the ease of the 1st period story missions, so the 2nd period ones felt harder. Game-wise, I think it’s gotten interesting and has a lot worth doing. Right now our development is concentrating on making a “club activities” system. One of our goals in the 2nd period is to introduce it.

– I think everyone will enjoy the club activities feature when it’s done.

Tabata: We aim to have a structure where you play the storyline missions by yourself and play the club activities together with your friends. I imagine that club activities are a primary element of academy life. Clubs are kind of like guilds, and competitions will be a special feature.

– This was mentioned before, but will there even be a Blitzball club?

Tabata: I think that we have to construct the club activity structure properly before we start putting in elements like that. Agito was original made with intention of being game you could play reliably, so I don’t want to rush it.

– As for Agito Plus, the sale date has been postponed. Was it due to quality aspects?

Tabata: No, it was due to a problem that the development team couldn’t fix on their own, and because it’s something dependent upon an outside company, we couldn’t do anything but freeze development without a prospect in sight. By the way, the special costumes we planned to offer with Agito Plus as a bonus will be made available in Agito first. We are still considering other special features for Agito Plus.

– Have you decided when those bonuses will be available for Agito?

Tabata: Probably sometime in January 2015. We plan on doing a big update in January, so I think current players can look forward to that. Plus it’s a game with lots to do for new users, so please check it out.

Takeharu Ishimoto on Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

– I heard that you did some revising to the music for the HD release of Type-0, so I wanted to talk to you about that today. You did new arrangements of the original music for the HD release?

Ishimoto: Yes, we did things like fix up the arrangements and mixes. We didn’t want to just reuse the PSP version’s tracks, we wanted to make the music appropriate for a next-gen game. Television speakers these days have good sound quality, so when you play console games on your television at home, you want to hear good sounding music, right?

– Indeed. Was everything revised?

Ishimoto: There were some things that were physically impossible, but we have improved the quality as a whole as much as possible.

– Was that something you suggested?

Ishimoto: Yes, to accomodate are little budget. (Laughs) Of course, changing the media from UMD to Blu-ray has a big effect on the sound quality. And since this is the first Final Fantasy game on next-gen systems, I didn’t want to produce something shoddy.

– That’s right, this is the first next-gen Final Fantasy.

Ishimoto: It’s also my first time working on a game for home consoles. It’s Tabata’s as well.

– That’s surprising to hear.

Ishimoto: On top of that, the original Type-0 never made it overseas, so this time we are giving it our best.

– What’s the feedback been like?

Ishimoto: Being on a Blu-ray disk, I think it sounds good. The song used in the trailer at Tokyo Game Show 2014 was one that’s already been revised, but the people in development said it was an improvement, so I think that most people will hear the difference. Even though it can’t be helped if there are fans who prefer the PSP version, I can say with confidence that I took what I did three years ago and improved it to the b

Ishimoto: est of abilities now.

– What stood out to you most among the arrangements and mixes?

Ishimoto: The music for the original Type-0 was recorded at Sydney Opera House and their staff did the mixing for us. This time for the HD version I did my own mixes which bringing the choruses more to the forefront than before. Now things are finished up to my satisfaction. Besides that, there is some new music too. I didn’t just add another battle theme, it’s a very important, serious song. You’ll hear it when you play the game and it has a lot of impact, so I think it’s well worth mentioning.

– A new song? I’m looking forward to it. By the way, what were your thoughts after revisiting the Type-0 soundtrack?

Ishimoto: Listening to it again, it’s still gloomy. The songs, I mean. (Laughs)

– That’s a theme of this title. (Laughs)

Ishimoto: You can’t really arrange dark music in a an uplifting way.

– Would it bother you if it had changed? (Laughs)

Ishimoto: Well, there was some part of me that was moved to know I made such songs.

– Speaking of the few uplifting songs in Type-0, there’s カラフルフォーリンラブ (“Colorful Fall In Love”) . I heard that you recorded a new version of it.

Ishimoto: We did an English language version with a female vocalist singing in English. The English version of Colorful Fall in Love doesn’t feel lighthearted, I think it’s more grown up. SAWA who also worked on the vocal tracks in The World Ends With You wrote the original Japanese lyrics into English and sang vocals for it.

– Will Japanese fans have a chance to hear it?

Ishimoto: Japanese fans can hear it in the game, but it’ll also be on the Type-0 HD soundtrack we plan on releasing in March 2015.

– Oh! So there will be a Type-0 HD soundtrack?

Ishimoto: Yes. It’ll be a recorded on a Blu-ray music disc and we are in talks to include as much footage from the game as possible. I want to include the game footage as much as possible without being pretentious, so I hope you’ll look forward to it.