HD graphics? We don’t need no stinking HD graphics, says Mistwalker boss and legendary Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi.
“To be honest, I think that the HD images which have become mainstream in the TV industry are, for me personally, still rather over the top for the world of video games,” Sakaguchi said during a recently-translated Iwata Asks.
“There’s a tendency for developers to allow all their energy to be diverted into maintaining the high quality of the graphics.”
Sakaguchi’s opinions regarding graphics echo recent comments from Civilization designer Sid Meier. But when it comes to The Last Story, Mistwalker’s most recent title, Sakaguchi was both limited and enabled by the comparatively less robust hardware of the Wii, noting that he had the freedom to make graphics a secondary concern. Not to say the game isn’t spankingly beautiful:
“I was really averse to allowing the quality of the graphics to drop just because we were working on Wii, which doesn’t have HD graphics,” the director said.
“I do really think that, in the end, what we’ve created can hold its own against other hardware.”
As one of the primary creatives behind the Final Fantasy series – first as a director, and later as producer, right up until the tenth game – Sakaguchi has a reputation a storyteller first-and-foremost. Despite that, when asked what he wanted fans to anticipate with The Last Story, he gave an unusual reply.
“What I really want the player to look out for is this fast forward function,” he said. “It’s my favourite feature. It’s amazing.
“It’s true, you can fast forward [dialogue and cut] scenes. It’s different from just being able to skip the whole scene and interrupt the flow of the story. What I like about fast forward is that you can still see the subtitles and follow the story. It was something I was determined to do.”
That said, Sakaguchi has other aspects to be proud off, and said that the game’s setting has a unique appeal.
“The player is going to spend a lot of time in this city, so I wanted them to like it,” he said. “Even with just a single city, there is a world with its own feel.
“With a location that’s familiar to the player, they can pick up on even the slightest difference. It has the advantage of making it possible to communicate even very subtle nuances. For example, early on one of the passers-by will barge into you with their shoulder and say: ‘Hey! What are you doing?’ But then when the hero has become a little more established, they’ll say: ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry!’ That’s a really nice feeling. But it’s such a huge place, with so much going on, that even I still find myself getting lost down some out-of-the-way backstreet.”
The Mistwalker team filled the city with tiny details – a woman doing laundry, people dancing, buskers, and revelers seated on a fountain. Sakaguchi encouraged artists to add these touches, but staff were inspired to fill in the blanks themselves.
“I’m sure that if the staff are trying to impress and surprise each other, and just having fun with it, the city will be much better for it,” the director added.
The Last Story arrives on European Wiis on February 23, with a US release on the cards if international sales meet expectations – and Xenoblade Chronicles succeeds.