Interview with director Motomu Toriyama, art director Isamu Kamikakuryo, and producer Yoshinori Kitase:
- The gameplay received many improvements. But in relation to the storyline of XIII-2, which was the point you wanted to implement, or improve in relation to the previous?
Motomu Toriyama: We designed the previous game with the intent of having a story-driven structure and the player being led through the game. But the drawback is that the game would seem too linear, and we did receive lots of criticism because of that. In FFXIII-2, we created a player-driven structure instead. The player can make their own selections throughout different areas of the game. For example, the elements of the story can change as the player progresses through the game by choosing the destination of their time travel.
- Why did you opt to make a story with time travelling? What kind of direction do you intend to follow within the context of Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology?
Motomu Toriyama: At the end of FFXIII, Cocoon had collapsed and people needed to rebuild their world. I wanted to depict the process of restoring this world throughout the span of history, and so I had chosen time travel as the center of the story. Also, the aspect of time travel fits in very well with the ability for players to progress by traveling through time and space. In terms of the context of Fabula Nova Crystallis, XIII-2 is a story that sheds the spotlight on Etro, the goddess of the world of death. Since the mythos encompasses a vast history, the players won’t see the big picture just yet, and we still have many elements of the story that need to be told.
- In a few words, could you synthesize the meaning and the main theme of the story of XIII-2?
Motomu Toriyama: The main theme for XIII-2 is “A wish for restoration.” This is depicting the process of restoring the fallen world, and also bringing back Lightning, who is considered to be lost. I hope that portraying the feelings and actions of those who try to recover something lost would create a story about the courage to live.
- The artistic direction of the game is certainly varied. What were the main inspirations to create a world so original?
Isamu Kamikokuryo: When we were deciding on the direction of the graphics, we wanted to go with a dark taste, and a unique one at that, so we took inspiration from works of surrealism such as the art of Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico. There were many desolate sceneries and abandoned buildings in the worldview as well, and so those works were great references when it came to creating the final images; it helped me determine the balance of how far I should pursue a photo-like realism, or an unrealistic fantasy, being deceptive in the imagery.
Giorgio de Chirico
- Do you think FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 will be more well-received than FINAL FANTASY XIII?
Motomu Toriyama: The last installment received a lot of feedback from the fans. We tried our best to improve on many points so that this installment would serve as a response to that feedback. On top of that, we conducted multiple focus groups during the development stage, not only in Japan but also overseas, and applied the comments we received to polish the game. I believe that many of the players will accept these results as a completely new FF game.
- Apparently the most criticized point of FINAL FANTASY XIII, the linearity, is not present in XIII-2. Can you quote other things that are present in FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 that were not in the original?
Motomu Toriyama: In order to wipe away the linearity of the game, XIII-2 offers side quests from the beginning. Among those side quests are mini-games that are independent of the main story. We hope you enjoy these elaborate mini-games that are very characteristic of the FINAL FANTASY franchise. Also, another major feature of this game is all of the downloadable contents that will continue to become available after the release of the game. The DLCs are designed to expand the world and story of XIII-2 further. We haven’t announced all of what we are going to be releasing, so we hope you look forward to updates in the future.
- Do you think that playing most of the time with only two characters will prejudice the experience of the game as a whole?
Motomu Toriyama: In XIII-2, we included a number of features that would make the Paradigm Shift system more beneficial in strategic situations. One of them is the ability to choose from over 150 types of monsters and have them join in battle. These monster allies each have their own abilities during battles, and by growing them, their characteristics can be strengthened. Because the player-side characters are fixed, it actually makes the battle system more flexible. In terms of the story, many of the major characters from the previous game will be making an appearance in some form, so I’m sure fans of each character will be pleased with that.
- Uncharted 3 and Assassin's Creed Revelations came out in Brazil with menus and subtitles in Portuguese. Is there any possibility of a FINAL FANTASY game being released here with these options?
Yoshinori Kitase: We have always had localization support in Japanese, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, and with FFXIII and XIII-2 we have expanded to Chinese and Korean, bringing the total number to 8 languages. We are currently already close to maximum capacity by having development in all languages at the same time, but we do recognize South America as a market that we as a company should be looking into, and so we would like to consider the possibility.