Straight from the director of the original version and producer of the remastered version, Yoshinori Kitase!
Please tell us about how FFVIII came to be remastered.
(Kitase) Thinking about how we want all the fans of the original games in the FF series to enjoy them, even though the hardware has changed, we started planning for remasters of FFVII, FFVIII, and FFIX. The releases of FFVII and FFIX both proceeded according to plan. But for FFVIII, the move to a higher resolution on modern hardware really raised graphical quality across the board. We kept tuning the game as much as we possibly could within the limits of the porting process, so that the models and motion capture wouldn’t break down. I believe we achieved a high level of quality that will make fans satisfied.
FFVIII is still a beloved game, even now. What’s your experience with that?
(Kitase) When Mobius FF had its collaboration with FFVIII, Kasumi Ashizawa (a celebrity who endorsed Dissidia) talked to me about how much she loved FFVIII! A lot of celebrities and voice actors that work with us on the series have talked to me about it, and I’m extremely grateful for those experiences.
Are there any other original members working on the FFVIII remaster apart from you, Mr. Kitase?
(Kitase) Hiroshi Harada (originally in charge of the battle system programming, now the director for the remaster) and Tomohiro Kayano (character modeling) are both involved. I believe that the quality of the character refinements is largely due to the involvement of those original staff members.
The previous remastered games were difficult for you because some of the original data had been lost. What sort of troubles did you face with the FFVIII remaster?
(Kitase) We had planned to keep the graphics basically how they were, but on modern hardware. But 20 years have passed since the game was made, and TVs have gone from being CRTs in standard definition, to LCDs in high definition. So those factors made it evident that we needed to upgrade the character graphics. Development was proceeding along just fine right up until it was time to go to master, but then we hurriedly began work on refining the character models. We had to make big revisions to the schedule because of that, but thanks to the efforts of Harada, Kayano, and Nomura (Tetsuya Nomura, who was the original character designer) we have things back to being of very high quality. It was difficult, but it was ultimately the right decision to have made.
Please tell us about any aspects in which your experience with the previous remasters proved to be helpful.
(Kitase) The ease of use features that were so popular in the other remasters will be featured in this one as well, so I hope that people will be able to enjoy the game even more by making use of them.
What about the Chocobo World mini game…!?
(Kitase) I apologize…but you won’t be able to play it in this remastered version. However, the items that you were previously only able to get by playing Chocobo World will be obtainable through a Limit Break of Rinoa’s called Angelo Search. They’ll be easier to get than they were in the original, but please try to get them using Angelo Search.
I’d like to ask you some questions about the original FFVIII. Its development took place amidst the huge amount of excitement from FFVII, which was a world-wide success. What were you aiming for with the next numbered FF game, and what aspects were you particular about?
(Kitase) With FFVII we were aiming to get away from the visual style that had been commonplace up to that point. But with FFVIII we were aiming to get away from the in-game systems that had been commonplace. We had the salary system, traversing the world map by car and bus, traveling by train, upping character stats by recycling cards…those kinds of things. I feel it was a game packed full of that FF spirit to shake things up.
Please tell us any interesting stories you remember about the development of FFVIII.
(Kitase) It was the first game that we used motion capture for the characters in. Since it was our first experience with it, we didn’t really understand what we were taking on. For Squall’s gunblade, something light would have done just fine, like a bamboo sword. But we actually made something heavy, out of metal. Because we felt it feel like an actual weapon. If one of the actors had been hit with it by mistake, it would have been horrible. I still break out in a cold sweat thinking about it now.
Finally, please tell us anything you’d like to emphasize about the remaster, or any messages you may have for readers.
(Kitase) Game play from FFVIII was featured in the movie Charlie’s Angels (2000), and we received an offer to use the gunblade in a major video game-based movie from last year. To be honest, it was a game that heavily influenced the entertainment industry in Hollywood. Being a dramatic tale of witches, having so many personality-filled characters, interesting gadgets such as the gunblade, and a theme song with such an unforgettable and sad melody, all of its components are relevant to the modern FF series. It’s full of high points, so please enjoy the new and improved FFVIII Remastered.