Final Fantasy XIII Composer Departs Square Enix

By Ishaan . January 20, 2010 . 1:22am

http://www.siliconera.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/hamauzu.jpg According to a report citing “multiple industry sources” at Square Enix Music Online, Final Fantasy XIII composer Masashi Hamauzu has taken his leave from the game’s publisher, following his work on the soundtrack for the international version of the game.

 

The report additionally states that Hamauzu’s departure is the third in an ongoing exodus from Square Enix’s current team of composers, and that more members of the team are expected to follow suit in the coming months.

 

Especially in the case of Square Enix, this isn’t really a new phenomenon. Some of our readers are no doubt aware that famed composers Yoko Shimomura and Nobuo Uematsu were once in the employ of the company until their respective departures in 2002 and 2004. While Uematsu’s involvement in Square Enix projects has been relatively limited (his next sizable project in collaboration with them is Final Fantasy XIV) , Shimomura has continued her work on the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and will also be involved with the music for both Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday.

 

For those interested, a partial list of projects Masashi Hamauzu has been involved in is as follows: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, Unlimited SaGa, Musashi Samurai Legend, Sigma Harmonics.


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  • Aoshi00

    Good, I think Haumazu has been kind of wasted recently in FFXIII and Sigma Harmonics, great music in lackluster S-E games. I hope he gets to compose music for actually “good” games, so the soundtrack would be more memorable.

    • You never did tell us what you thought of FFXIII. I’m very curious to know. :)

      • Pesmerga00

        “Dons psychic helmet”

        He didn’t like it much. Too linear, so-so story.

        LOL :P

        • Hey, he pooh-pooh’d Crystal Bearers (which everyone knows could be the worst game on the planet and I’d still like it) and seemed to like XIII, at least initially, so I’m curious why he changed his mind!

      • Aoshi00

        I think I’ve said more than enough in other threads lol.. I don’t want to influence others w/ my biased opinions, but my verdict: I don’t like it.. It’s not bad by any means since the battle system is quite fun once things started get going (which took a while), but in the dept of story and char, leaves a lot to be desired.. extremely linear path (even compared to FFX), virtually no towns, bad pacing, too many uninteresting cutscenes (usally I love cutscenes in all games even the long ones in MGS4). I’m only 33hrs into the game, but I don’t think my opinion would change.. kind of disappointed since I was very hyped for this. The story and its execution was the biggest letdown for me because I just couldn’t get into it at all.

        • 311

          I can second this, I finished it around 68 hrs and Im a little over 100 hrs now (due to the side-quest missions) and I felt the emptiness and much to be called memorable moments in this FF entry. Now Im still debating on FF Versus XIII since this one was only a pretty cutscene/movie game, but that is my opinion Ishaan, I guess ppl should try it since no ones opinions are the same but I liked very little of the game.

          • Aoshi00

            I’ve easily put in over 100 hrs in Lost Odyssey too when I imported it, too bad XIII didn’t grip me like that… I don’t remember I ever stopped playing any FFs (except XI & XII maybe), they were always a thrillride from beginning to end. Versus might be all movies and no substance again, for now it just looks “cool”, you know like the Twilight “vampire” movies.. chances are I would still buy it, get suckered by S-E’s eye candies..

          • Tofuuu

            i’m very scared now because i bought the PS3 for the sole purpose of playing Final Fantasy XIII hahaha

            I mean, i haven’t played any other final fantasies since X-2 with the exception of the DS ports and a few roms here and there. But even while X-2 received fairly mediocre reviews plot-wise and did okay combat-wise (seems to be the same case with XIII), i enjoyed playing it a thousand times over quite a bit just to get that 100%.

            I just hope my standards aren’t as high as your’s hahaha or my $400 investment in an 80GB PS3 (especially when at the end of the summer the $300 120GB PS3 was released) will be quite literally for naught =P

            (example of a bad game investment on my part: gamecube lol i only have TWO GAMES on that system = Ikaruga + SSBM)

          • Aoshi00

            I wasn’t trying to trash XIII or anything, believe me it was not my intention to be critical. I’m not one of those people who say FF 1-6 are great and 7-12 aren’t, I pretty much enjoyed all of them other than the online game, and I’m split on 12. I actually cared more about the characters of X-2 because they were an extension, and it was interesting to see Spira 2 years later after Sin was defeated, even though many didn’t like the direct sequel and its campy Charlie’s Angels heroines setup. If you bought the PS3 solely for FFXIII, I would say this game is not a system seller at all, even though it moved many units in Jpn, I think S-E deceived us w/ the FF brand, this game could be much more and was rushed out. But at this point, PS3 has tons of other games worthy playing, like Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted, etc. And there’s Yakuza 3 coming, I’m not sure if you’re only into RPGs. One the whole, I enjoyed X-2 (I know I’m in the minority) much more than XIII. XIII is not well received in Jpn currently, many fans feel buyer’s remorse.Again, I’ll just list the pros and cons, pros — Interesting and fast battle system that keeps you on your toes, but it took a long while to finally get started (like when you can choose the leader and set up a party), excellent music except a few tracks have too many remixes that feel rehashed, good graphics. Cons — bad execution of story, bad pacing of story (just to be clear I understand Jpn perfectly), shallow characters (again I’m not the jaded type that goes “oh pretty emo boy w/ big sword”) that you feel hard to care about, restrictive environment (linear and “narrow” paths), gameplay might not suit everyone, no towns and not much interaction w/ locals unlike most RPGs, etc… I’m not so conceited to think I can influence anybody’s view, but that’s my honest feelings about the game, those who know me know my broad taste in many genres.. I think people should try all the games themselves (so in a way I feel bad saying all these if I make anyone feel less excited), but if you trust someone it’s good to hear what they say for reference right? I wish I could be singing nothing but praises for this, but that’s before I played this game. Finally, sry for the rambling, hope it’s of help in some way haha..

          • Tokyo Guy

            It’s interesting how many people don’t care for FF13 and can have a calm discussion, yet on other sites, there are hundreds of fanboys attacking anyone who dares complain. I though FF13 was a total disappointment really. Prior to the release I had posted comments about how the story seemed totally nonsensical from the previews and promotional movies. While it made sense in the end, I found it horribly shallow and utterly lacking in character development, much as FFX did. Basically Snow, Vanilla, and Fang were developed and the others were just supporting cast members, including Lightning of all people. I never once got the feeling she was the main character despite Square trying so hard to market her as such. I also found the game to be horribly linear despite the “open ended” area towards the end. The fact that the game has only 1 real side quest is shameful, as I for one do not think that killing 65 different marks is enough “extra content” for a game of this nature. I mean come on here, Final Fantasy 12 had that AND tons of other stuff to boot. It’s like the entire game revolves around fighting, and thus the lack of towns and all other elements that make a traditional RPG what it is. I also think the absence of towns totally destroyed the feel of the game. Many people fail to realize that in addition to serving as hubs to buy new stuff, towns flesh out the game world. It’s ironic that it took a game “without” any towns to actually realize this. Equally disappointing was the fact that the player had absolutely no control over the AI battle members whatsoever. So late in the game you would have these difficult monsters and you wanted to use a certain magic on them (i.e. De-Protect) but the AI sequence would only cast that magic after casting 2-3 other spells first. Or in a similar situation, you would want the AI to cast Haste on the characters first, yet it cast Protect or Shell or whatever else. I understand the idea that the AI would automatically select the magic/order for the given monster, but sometimes it was just plain idiotic. Why would Protect be a priority given that casting Haste, at least on the caster, would allow him/her to cast protect on the other members that much quicker? Why couldn’t the Gambit system have been integrated, if only as an option for those who wished to change the AI? Or at the very least, an option to manually turn off the use of certain spells. I also found it extremely tedious in nature that you could basically only target one PC for support magic. I don’t know, it just truly bothers me that the world had to wait so long for the game only for it to disappoint so much. I’m sure that there are many who will love FFXIII and think it’s the best installment ever, but chances are it will be the same people who loved FFX and thought as much before. But still, on an objective note, even if one plays FF13 and loves it, how much better would the game have been/be if some of my complaints were indeed not present? The fact that the dev. staff have mentioned about the mass extent of deleted content would serve to indicate that the game COULD have offered far more.

          • Aoshi00

            Your assessment of XIII is certainly true, I didn’t go into so much details because I tried my best not to spoil. The AI was definitely hit or miss, the nature of the battle system just doesn’t let player have full control of everything unlike XII’s gambits. I know you’ve mentioned you didn’t care for the characters before, I gave the game the benefit of the doubt and didn’t want to have any assumption until I actually play it. Plus I loved X, and I thought XIII would be in line w/ X (the design just evokes images of VIII and X), even though they are similar in some ways, XIII just didn’t feel engaging at all. So I don’t think one has to like one game to like the other, or necessarily has to like both. X was one of the best for me, right after VI and VII, in terms of how memorable the story and characters were. XII on the other hand was not very memorable even though it has many good things going for it. The way I rate my favorites is simple, years from now would I still remember fondly the story and the affection I felt for its cast, the same goes for my fav movies/manga/anime. Yep, it is sad indeed, I’ve always known towns and its inhabitants are important and what bring the world in an RPG alive. I still find it hard to believe they actually throw all of that out the window, it’s like “the hell w/ towns, who needs them”. What I think is S-E did not set their priorities right, they spent all the time on the HD graphics being first next gen FF and battle system, story and characters took a back seat, and yet it was difficult to appreciate the graphics due to the lack of interactivity and lackluster story (I just watched Avatar I thought Pandora was amazing, the whole time I was mesmerized by its lush environment, it’s like a combination of FFX, Aliens, and Panzer Dragoon, whether one likes the “Dancing w/ Wolves” like story, I like it) . I truly think if the towns weren’t omitted, I would’ve liked the game much more, and Cocoon and Gran Pulse would be much more fleshed out. Also towns are breathers for you to relax, learn about the world and just immerse in it.. Hearing the developers say they left out things on purpose doesn’t help either, just proves that they ran out of time (I didn’t buy at all the 360 ver. dragged it down), it was just laziness, or resources being used elsewhere.Just to add, I loved Lost Odyssey, chars, story, gameplay, etc. Who could forget the magical yet industrial world, the countries of Uhra, the icy Gohtza, Numara, they were just cool locales.. what in XIII, caves, mountains, forgettable places somewhere in Cocoon…

          • 311

            You mainly hit a home run with this comment i normally dont like to “trash” a game since a lot of ppl haven’t played it but yea you are absolutely correct with the disappointment of FF XIII. FF VI has and will always be the best in my RPG repertoire.

    • Tokyo Guy

      I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Sigma Harmonics in particular, though it was indeed an utter failure.

      • Aoshi00

        I just thought the murders and how you solve them (the evidence gather and deduction) were very random, battles were boring, right left, right 180 degrees, cards, running around w/in confines of a cramped mansion was not fun either. The trailer made it look so much more interesting, I was under the impression there would be lots of cool Taisho era locales like Sakura Taisen. Anyway, my point was if it’s a good soundtrack used in a bad game, it’s hard to like that soundtrack.. if the game is good, every single piece of music would evoke the image of a certain scene in a game. FFXIII certainly didn’t do that.. they used an awful lot of remixes too.. compared to X’s OST which was done by 3 people including Uematsu and Hamauzu, and listening to it totally reminds me of so many scenes in the game.

  • [The Hunter] Doomrider

    Bring Uematsu back for the next FF (not XIV), without his “Blue Dragon” style. I love his “old” style of music!The standard battle themes for… basically every FF were so cool! That and the boss themes. Especially “The Extreme” from VIII, it’s just…. wow

  • thebanditking

    Well another one bites the dust, I really think that S-E will lose more people as time goes on. Especially as they put more focus on Western expansion. While some see Wada’s commitment to Western development as “forward thinking” its not a strategy that works out in the end (Capcom learned pretty quick). Personally I think most of the comments he makes would be offensive to the hard working teams at S-E, and the pressure to do well in the west will likely push out more talent as this continues. S-E is really becoming less and less like themselves, and with them focusing on releasing junk like “Western developed Final Fantasy’s” and Kayne and Lynch they are going to alienate their fanbase. I know Wada’s plan is to change their image to one like EA and Ubisoft, but I just dont see them making the transition very well.

    • Hraesvelgr

      The reason SE’s “Western expansion” is failing is because they don’t seem to know how to make games that are appealing to Western audiences, outside of Final Fantasy, which is still pretty much heavily Japanese (less so than some other games, but still). Last Remnant was supposedly made with a Western audience in mind, but after playing the game, I really couldn’t see it. It was still very much a JRPG. As for Nier Gestalt, it may bit a bit of a departure from your average Japanese game, with an older, gruffer main character, but it stills looks pretty Japanese from the screens and even the general art direction. The main character looks to have somewhat “Asian” features in certain screenshots. To be fair though, neither version of Nier looks to be particularly good/interesting…

      The Western focus in games works for Capcom because they actually seem to have some knowledge of what the audience wants. With how much Square Enix has failed at that, I think they should really just stick with making games that the Japanese market would be more interested in.

      • I think Capcom’s biggest advantage is that their games have always been more action-oriented, right from the ’80s, so they’re in a very good position as far as appealing to both Eastern and Western tastes goes.

        I do think Wada’s head is in the right place, but beyond development, Square need to start acting like a global developer/publisher if that’s what they want to be.

        • cowcow

          Capcom and Konami also codevelop their games with American companies

      • thebanditking

        See this is the problem, people seem to think there is something wrong with a Japanese style game. I think the Japanese developers are still head and shoulders over the Western ones in terms of art direction, story, and music composition. Sure there are some fantastic western devs out there that prove they can measure up to anything Japan can put out (Naughty Dog, Epic, Isomniac, Sucker Punch, Ubi Montreal, Viceral Games) but these guys are the exceptions not the norm. For every Uncharted we get 2 or 3 terribly boring/bland games like G.R.A.W and Call of Duty that stick to their stuck in the mud design conventions just as much as the JRPG market. Capcom appeals to western gamers because they stick to thier Japanese roots, there is nothing western about Dead Rising, Resident Evil, Lost Planet, Street Fighter or DMC. Then you look at their recent Western release Dark Void which is nothing but a watered down Gears of War with a jet pack. You can bet that if Capcom was making a new Breath of Fire it would be amazing.

        I am going to be blunt here, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect suck, just like KOTOR and Jade Empire did on Xbox (I really did try and like them though). They are boring and rely on cheap marketing tactics like sex scenes/mini games to be their big selling points, but at their base they all have bad combat that is just as stale as the JRPG’s turn based combat. They also take place in either the middle ages or space, and feature stories that seem like they were written by high school english students and most just end up borrowing from western staples like Star Wars, Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings.

        Until the Western RPG category has games euqal to Chrono Trigger, Skies of Arcadia, Final Fantasy 4, 6, 7 or Vagrant Story, Breath of Fire or Xenogears, then they are just not as good. Im not saying that all these new JRPG’s are so perfect or equal to the originals but play Resonance of Fate and tell me that Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect are better from a game play stand point.

        • Aoshi00

          Personally I like both JRPGs and WRPGs, I think both have their appeals, just in different styles, hence called J & W.

          Resonance of Fate looks pretty uninteresting at this point. If we’re talking strictly about characters, story, dialogue option, I think I would go for Mass Effect, and I suck at shooters. That’s how much ME’s RPG elements attracted me.

          • thebanditking

            I think you and I are on the same page, though i must admit the way my other comment is written it does seem a bit ignorant/rude so I am sorry for that. It just angers me to hear people complain and bash Japanese dev teams and the JRPG market, especially considering the Western RPG has just as many overused and predictable design mechanics and story senarios. I think both should continue to do what they do best, so that fans of each can still be happy. If Western RPG’s dont have to change to suit the JRPG market then why should the reverse happen? For me personally I still feel that after playing all the games I mentioned before that the Western RPG still has not had its magnum opus, that proves the genre to me. Though I will be the first to admit it when it does.

          • I think you touched upon an interesting point here. Rather than borrowing elements from each other (although, this certainly isn’t a bad thing), maybe what both genres need — as a starting point for evolution — is to focus more on what made them appealing in the first place.

            In the case of JRPGs, this would primarily be characters, story and music; in the case of western RPGs, loot-whoring, customization and multiplayer perhaps? While I like WRPGs, I completely agree that the sci-fi / medieval mold is overused. If you’re going to rely on those, don’t rub my face in it…Diablo II is still a great example of how to not let the setting get in the way of the fun.

          • Aoshi00

            Yeah, I think Jpn dev should just keep on doing what they do best, instead of being forced to add element that they “think” the West might like, it’s counter intuitive. I’m sure they are constantly under pressure, w/ the brass seeing the bigger piece of pie in the US market.. I definitely agree w/ you the oldies like Chrono Trigger and such would stay as classics forever because they were beyond good. I like the Sci-fi setting a lot (not so much the star wars games), so I think that’s something the west does btter. The world (how about the whole galaxy) in Mass Effect is just immense, compared to say that just happened in FFXIII.. while I thought FFXII’s world map was actually too big, XI MMO big.. I’m beginning to like the narratives in Western games a lot, though most of them resolve around FPS, which is sadly not my forte. I like games w/ cover systems where I can take my time to aim and shoot instead of run and gun. One thing I appreciate is the amount of effort that goes into a game, even though Jpn dev is more stylish, you can’t help but feel they’ve been getting a little sloppy sometimes, like focusing on just the battle system or graphics and neglecting a coherent and gripping narrative, which I think is fatal to an RPG.. I guess I’m just not one of those people who like story-less RPGs.

  • csmzs

    i guess this is what happens when you slowly start to whitewash the company.

  • Vanilla

    Following what people have been saying about SE’s western expansion, I have to agree. What I don’t get is how SE thinks it can keep going strong when it’s forgotten why it even has a fanbase in the first place and can’t attract a western one. If I wanted to play a “western” style game, I wouldn’t be going to SE and if I wanted to play a JRPG…I’m not sure if I’d go to SE anymore.

    Hopefully Hamauzu will return with some freelance work for SE. He’s not exactly my favorite composer, but I’ve heard quite a few things from him that I’ve liked.

  • Tokyo Guy

    With respect to the actual topic though (i.e. not my FFXIII impressions posted elsewhere in this topic) I can’t quite say it’s surprising he left. There has been a mass exodus of talent from Square since the start of the current millennium with Sakaguchi leaving, and then so many others following suit. I wonder if it has to do with the company’s thinking. I’ve met a few foreign employees who work/worked for Square Enix Japan and their comments have been quite negative, ranging from the company not giving a dime about what the foreign staff have to say (even when it directly relates to overseas strategy) to having outright horrid management. As I don’t work there I am obviously not in a position to clarify these opinions personally, but they are in-line with others I’d heard in the past relating to overworked/low salaries and other such gripes. As others pointed out, Capcom has a good idea of how to market itself in the West, but companies like Konami and Square really don’t. Konami has been more successful recently with Silent Hill for example, and one might even cite the upcoming PS3 Castlevania as evidence in it’s attempt to change. Square on the other hand, still seems to be thinking in a traditional Japanese sense, that it knows what’s best for the rest of the world without listening to what the world wants.

    • I’ve heard the same sentiments echoed with regard to Square consulting their foreign staff…at least, up until now. I’d expect that to change going forward. Or at least, I hope it does.

      To Konami’s credit, they did try with the design of MGS4 (cutscenes aside). It seems like KojiPro weren’t hesitant to borrow western elements for that game.

  • sagaofgustave

    obviously Hamauzu is one of the best japanese game composers of all time, along with Uematsu and Shimomura. I think his work on SaGa Frontier II is some of the finest game music ever crafted… so his work on FFXIII will be equally appealing to me and might even enhance the gameplay/ battle mechanics…..but i think all true FF O.G.s know that FFXIII is not a TETSUYA NOMURA game, he didn’t do the battle direction, he didn’t produce it or direct it, he didn’t write the story or develop it… so it could never be as good as Versus XIII… i think this is why he designed the characters for XIII as emotional, soft-type characters hardly measuring up to past heros like Squall, Cloud, Cecil the Dark Knight, or even Ramza… but I digress… Nomura and Shimomura(parasite eve soundtrack :)) are teaming up for Versus XIII, he’s doing everything practically and we are all in for a treat….. look out for Akihiko Yoshida-sama’s phenomenal art direction in XIV…. a must have… thank yu

    • sagaofgustave

      ambiguity: Im not inferring that Nomura created Cecil the Dark Knight or Ramza…he didn’t… but he designed lightning and the rest of her happy-go-lucky teamates as soft, anti-heroic, whiny :( types in an attempt and providing gamers with a higher contrast between XIII and his own personal VERSUS XIII dark-type, action-driven bad-ass protagonists, with more to be revealed I’m sure

    • Tokyo Guy

      Well as others have said, FF13 had a good soundtrack, but some of the tracks are just plain poor, and they are re-used or remixed too often. Unfortunately save for 1 or 2 tracks on the whole, the game totally fails to aspire to the brilliance that was Saga Frontier 2’s music. 13 is more like Musashi 2.

      • sagaofgustave

        Interesting, I absolutely agree… Did you like any aspect of the soundtrack to Musashi Samurai Legend? For instance, White Whale of Heaven is a nice piece where Hamauzu explores his synth techniques with Kenji Ito. Obviously Brave Fencer Musashi had a superior soundtrack… but I digress.

        I have not imported XIII, so I will ask you: Is the soundtrack at all a part of the action or storyline? Does it enhance the gameplay significantly like let’s say for instance the music of FF Tactics, VII, VIII, or non-FF’s like Parasite Eve or SaGa series?

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