Takashi Tokita Interview On Creating New IP & Focusing Less On Focus Groups

By Spencer . April 1, 2011 . 3:38pm

His name may not be as recognizable as other Square Enix staff, but Takashi Tokita has been working with the company when it was known as Squaresoft in the Famicom days. He worked on Rad Racer II and designed Final Fantasy IV. He spearheaded Live A Live, was the Director on Parasite Eve, developed The Bouncer and most recently finished Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.

 

Earlier, we discussed why Nanashi no Game, a horror game for the Nintendo DS, didn’t make it to North America and Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection’s new Interlude storyline. In this portion of our interview, we discussed Tokita’s future plans and how he wants to push the envelope with quirky characters.

 

image Let’s talk about some of your other games, like Parasite Eve. Since you designed that game what are your thoughts on The 3rd Birthday?

 

Takashi Tokita: I have not worked on The 3rd Birthday or Parasite Eve II either. For me, Parasite Eve is a game that I created and passed on to other developers to grow the franchise.

 

What are your thoughts on the Nintendo 3DS and NGP?

 

For 3DS, the network features have been strengthened and I think that is key. For NGP, their main rival is going to be smartphones. What they need to do is make the most out of portability and speed of the network.

 

Aside from Nanashi no Game, were there any other titles canned by focus groups?

 

[Laughs.] Hanjuku Hero was also canceled by focus groups. In fact, I have had a lot of titles that focus groups have indicated that may not do well. A lot of times there are missed opportunities to start new IP because of focus groups.

 

Do you feel like the focus groups are right?

 

Instead of focusing too much on the global market it’s best to make something fun and trust that will be accepted. I think that we worry a little bit too much. I feel like now, especially if we make them downloadable titles, it can ease sales concerns and might allow us to bring some titles that push the envelope.

 

How do you as a game creator want to push the envelope for an RPG or any genre?

 

What I love to do is mix impossible things and put them together. In terms of movies, I love Tarantino films. Creating absurd combinations can result in a unique and interesting game.

 

Out of all the titles you developed, which one best fits that goal?

 

The PlayStation 2 version of Hanjuku Hero, Hanjuku Hero Vs. 3D. It has a lot of really weird stuff in it.

 

Hanjuku Hero Vs. 3D’s opening video

 

How did Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light come about? Was it always a Final Fantasy game or did you design it as a new IP [intellectual property]?

 

[Laughs.] I thought we could call it Final Fantasy Gaiden and out of that we could create a new IP.

 

If you got a chance to create a new IP what kind of characters would you have?

 

Hmm… I want to create the type of characters players have never seen before, far out, eccentric characters. [Laughs.]

 

Square Enix is launching many new IPs now. Are you working on a new IP too?

 

Yes, there is one I am currently working on.

 

Can you tell us what system it’s for?

 

It’s too early! [Laughs.] I’m proposing the game to the company, so it’s over a year away. We’ll have more information at the next GDC.

 

[Laughs.] It’s a good thing that we’re telling you this now, so there is an expectation this game is coming and it will push the marketing and production teams to create it. We can connect users and fans through Facebook to get backing for it!

 

image

 

Adding a brand like Final Fantasy, for example, to The 4 Heroes of Light makes fans of the existing series curious about a title. In this market with so many titles out there, do you think starting a new IP is risky?

 

There is high risk when you are creating a packaged game aimed at new consumers. In terms of downloadable and social games, I think there is a lower risk there and opportunities.

 

The After Years was a downloadable game for mobile phones and after all the chapters were released they were compiled for WiiWare and later as a retail title*. I think this new business model can become a standard for the company and the industry. It’s kind of similar to manga being released as chapters and then compiled into novels or a TV series being shown on TV and then later released on DVD. That’s a possibility as a new business model.

 

[Editor's note: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is sold as part of Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection.]

 

If you missed previous other parts of this interview check these posts:

- Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection interview where we discuss the "Interlude" episode and the original Super Nintendo game.

- Tokita’s thoughts on a Live A Live remake.

- What inspired Nanashi no Game and why it didn’t make it to North America.


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  • Code

    Shame Egg Monster Hero didn’t get localized omo; Hanjuku Hero series has always looked fun and energetic, and that’s the kind of stuff we need more of now a days omo;

  • Zanasea

    You’ve been writing “Takahashi Tokita” for a while but I believe it’s “Takashi Tokita” actually.

    Looking forward to his next game!

  • Dimentionalist

    I’m happy they’re moving away from focus groups.

  • http://twitter.com/Bakkerrs Bakke

    Finally! I totally agree. No more focus groups!!!

  • four_black_hearts

    Somebody at Square Enix still cares?

    • Aiddon

      yes, mostly because he still has talent. And after the trainwreck of Third Birthday he should take the PE franchise back.

      • Skua

        First time I’ve heard that said of Tokita. Amongst fans, he was easily the most criticized director at Square.

        At any rate, Parasite Eve was never really his in the first place. He got the title of director fairly late in development after the original guy quit (political struggle between different camps on the team. Parasite Eve was a troubled project that got slapped together in a rush), so it would be incorrect to say that he created the game. Considering that Tokita never participated on a sequel, it’s probably safe to say that doesn’t feel much attachment to the title.

        A similar division happened on The Bouncer, which ended the relationship between Square and Dream Factory.

        • Aiddon

          he’s no Matsuno, but he’s actually good at his job (Bouncer notwithstanding). And yes, I know Tokita wasn’t the creator of the PE game series, that was Sakaguchi (though as we know Sena did the novel). At the very least he was an adviser for PE2, so he obviously had SOME kind of attachment to Aya. All in all, he’s one of the few good elements at Square’s swiftly draining talent pool.

  • Suicunesol

    Yeah, no more focus groups.

  • z_merquise

    This is the kind of game developer I really wanted to see. I hope he can really influence a lot of people in his company to produce games that they really wanted to create and not forced by the “higher-ups”.

    Wish the best of luck to Mister Tokita and to his team.

  • JustaGenericUser

    Glad to see he’s moving away from focus groups. Hopefully he’ll re-release some of the canned games as PSN/XBLA/Wiiware/etc. titles.

  • makotozenshou

    he laughs quite a lot..

    • Ren

      Look at any japanese when interviewed, they laugh a lot. Look at any column of Iwata asks and you’ll see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

    … Wait, does he actually have any say on what the marketing managers do?

  • cjeromek

    I like the idea of releasing games in episodes as downloads then compiling them. Sam & Max do this but if an RPG can do this and do a steady pace of releasing episodes every week I would stand behind it. If they do this for a new IP hopefully the chapters will be as long as the ones in Resonance of Fate. I’d buy the downloads and entire thing on disc just to show my support.

  • PrinceHeir

    hope to see his new game soon :P

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