Final Fantasy XIII-2 is out in Japan next month, with a UK release following in February. Swapping out Final Fantasy XIII's notoriously linear campaign for a time-travelling hub system, the game's an intriguing proposition to put it mildly, and we were eager to pick producer Yoshinori Kitase's brains following our latest hands-on. Here's the resulting chat. Check our hands-on and most recent preview for more.
So Final Fantasy XIII-2. It's the second time you guys have returned to a series within the main canon. Why go back to Final Fantasy XIII in particular?
As you know, we took a long time to make XIII, and obviously we took years and years to create the in game universe and set of characters so we generally felt through the development of XIII that it'd be nice to tell the stories about what happens to these characters after the end of XIII. But obviously with no actual plans.
And XIII was released back in March 2010 worldwide, since then we have enjoyed great commercial success of over 6.2 million copies worldwide, so that was one factor among things obviously. Because we had established the basis of game making with XIII with the know-how, the technology, everything else like that so we knew that we would be able to make use of it and we can make a game in a much shorter space of time to turn around so we put those things together to decide to make a sequel.
Would you ever remake some of the earlier games in the series simply because you like the setting?
In the transition between XIII to XIII-2, it was quite easy because obviously we kept all the data and the engine - we had just finished using them so it was almost like they hadn't gone cold. The technology was already warm and ready to use, so it was quite good. Also within the team, we still had a feel for the game, it was still new to us, still lingering with us, so we were ready to move on to the sequel.
But if we were to take one of the past Final Fantasy titles and make a sequel to it, I think that would be a lot more challenging because when they were on PlayStation and PlayStation 2 their actual game volume was a lot bigger, kind of. Graphically they weren't as advanced as they are now, but there were lots of towns and worlds and cities and whatever. So if we were to recreate the same kind of game - sequel or not - with the same volume, but give it a much higher level of graphical quality, it would us take three times, four times, even ten times longer to make such a game. So making a sequel for an old game would be a lot more challenging.
I imagine that must be especially true with games like Final Fantasy VII which had pre-rendered 2D backdrops. Turning those beautiful static shots into 3D environments would be difficult. Is that the main thing that's holding you back?
We have experimented - Advent Children is a film sequel to Final Fantasy VII, if you like - and we know that the hundreds of fans would like to see a hi-def version of Final Fantasy VII. But if we were to achieve the modern graphical quality at the same time putting in exactly the same world and everything, I think it would take ten times longer as compared to the time we took to produce XIII, for example.