Final Fantasy VI Took Just One Year To Make Says Director Yoshinori Kitase

By Ishaan . August 6, 2013 . 6:11pm

Work on Final Fantasy VI began immediately after Final Fantasy V wrapped up in 1992, and development took just one year, says the game’s director Yoshinori Kitase.


Speaking with Edge Online, Kitase explains that Final Fantasy VI was meant to be a game where every character had a leading role. Thus, a number of designers had input regarding the game’s large cast of characters, from series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi to Soraya Saga, who worked as a field graphic designer on the game, to Tetsuya Nomura.


Making multiple characters the “lead” and switching between their different stories came with its share of difficulties, however, Kitase recalls. “Maintaining a careful equilibrium between all the characters was probably the greatest challenge I faced,” he says.


“However, I ended up so involved with each personality while scripting the scenarios that there were points where, looking back at the game today, it’s clear that I somewhat lost this balance. For example, as the scenes featuring Celes and Kefka progress, these characters [while not actually playable] became far greater and more influential than originally intended when development began.”


Additionally, overcoming the technical limitations of the SNES proved to be another challenge, and while Final Fantasy VI launched on time and within its intended budget, a period of crunch was required toward the end of development. Most of these technical hurdles arose from managing memory, which had to be done manually, since the task couldn’t be entrusted to computers at the time.


“It’s maybe strange to say [this], but I miss the limitations of making games in those days,” Kitase admits. “The cartridge capacity was so much smaller, of course, and therefore the challenges were that much greater. But nowadays you can do almost anything in a game. It’s a paradox, but this can be more creatively limiting than having hard technical limitations to work within. There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI.”


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  • epndkempot

    It takes forever to forget Kefka’s laugh

  • konsama

    This is awesome, and really interesting about my favorite FF game. Each character story was really good despite the huge cast it had, and Gau and Cyan stories almost made me cry when i replayed the game when i was older and understood the story better.

    For me that was the peak of the franchise.

    • Pyrotek85

      Yeah normally I don’t like it when a cast gets too big since each character tends to get less time, but I think they handled it well. FFIX was the same way to a lesser degree, with the cast split up in separate groups for a good portion of the game.

      • Blazkn

        Yeah, too bad Amarant didn’t get any love though… :/

        • Nanaki

          Amarant did have character development, but most of the scenes that actually showed it were optional. He didn’t have much relation to the plot however unfortunately. He reminded me of Shadow in a way.

          • Pyrotek85

            Yeah he kind of reminded me of the optional characters some games have, where their presence or absence changes little or nothing in the main story dialogues.

          • Blazkn

            The only relevant scene focused on Amarant (after he joins the party) that I remember is that flashback showing him and Zidane in Treno.

            But it has been ages since the last time I played FFIX, maybe I’m forgetting something…

        • Pyrotek85

          I came to like most of the cast quite a bit but he never interested me, probably because of what you mentioned.

        • Raltrios

          Agreed. Amarant wasn’t developed enough for me to feel much for him. Hell, I hardly used him in battle because of that, only swapping him in to keep his levels up.

  • Göran Isacson

    I wonder.. what could have been, if Celes and Kefka didn’t gradually grow to be one of the games biggest focal points. Were they perhaps just the inevitable result of a story NEEDING some kind of focus in order to proceed? What was the original plan, and would it have been half as emotionally affecting as what we got… or would it perhaps have been TWICE as affecting? Interesting to consider, even if I’m oh so happy with what we got.

    • Yause

      Square games never had much of an original plan. The whole idea was for the design to evolve organically as different members of the team pitched ideas and expanded on each other’s work. Creatively, Sakaguchi barely did any work – his concepts were wafer thin – a particular ethic that would hurt Mistwalker early on (basically, he stayed in Hawaii and visited the teams every other week to see what was happening. The heavy lifting was left to the respective development studios).

      You may remember Yasumi Matsuno describing Square as a democracy, whereas he’s a believer in a singular vision.

      This culture is partly why Square Enix struggles so much today. The role of the director wasn’t that of a “creator” but rather a design manager who brought many disparate pieces together. Those promoted to the position were either close friends of Sakaguchi or good players in politics. While they may have excelled at particular development roles, such as scenario or battle design, they were never creators in the traditional sense.

      • Göran Isacson

        Hmm, interesting. It may also explain why Matsuno had such difficulties working with Square in his games, if he believed in doing things the way HE wanted it probably rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

        So what you’re saying is that there aren’t many people in SE with a strong vision for a game or an auteur-esque desire to have their fingers in every piece of the pie, but mostly a lot of people good at one thing who just hope others can pick up their slack? I dunno if that would be THAT much of a drawback, I mean how many other big series out there have people like that? Take Mass Effect, I’ve never gotten the impression there’s one singular person behind that series, and yet it’s gotten to be one of the biggest franchises in this gen.

      • Vyse Legendaire

        What you’re saying is true. The early FF games and the ones regarded as classics are primarily so because of their diverse, somewhat unfocused, but highly inspired boiling pot of ideas. We’re talking FF VI, VII, VIII, IX, Xenogears, etc. Now it seems that the energy and initiative has been sapped out of the franchise as its left to stagnate in derivative purgatory.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    I agree… limitations can really bring out people’s best.
    I wonder how long it took Uematsu to compose the whole OST. I suppose definitely a lot more time compared to FFVII.

    • LaserVision

      Yeah, I remember reading somewhere about the rumors that FFIX was so exhausting that it was one of the reasons he had a smaller contribution to FFX.

  • Barrylocke89

    There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI.

    I was always fond of this particular way of thought, in many aspects of things. Sometimes restrictions can lead to real interesting work.

    More on topic, it’s also really interesting comparing the development times of old were so short compared to now.

    And I feel like the “all main characters” premise had mixed results. Terra, Locke and Celes managed pretty well, and characters like the Figaro twins and Setzer had pretty solid character arcs too. But some seemed to fall a bit flatter. Cyan really didn’t have much stuff outside of the visits to his hometown for instance.

    • PoweredByHentai

      Flower is a good example of developers working within strict limits:

      • Testsubject909

        Not sure why someone downvoted you.

        • PoweredByHentai

          Because people are retarded and don’t like to be proven wrong.

    • I agree with that. I think they had an interesting vision, but you could tell that with the later characters, they were starting to get lazy. The initial characters you meet are interesting and well-developed, but the rest of them barely get any attention or development.

    • Rogerrmark

      Half of the cast was bad developed,yes Probably the lack of memory.

  • bVork

    I’m honestly not surprised. Final Fantasy VI is a hilarious technical mess, with a combat system that is fundamentally broken and lots of really visible bugs. It makes me wish they took a little more time at the end to double-check their code.

    The fact that it is still one of the greatest JRPGs ever says a lot about the quality of the rest of the game.

    • Pyrotek85

      There’s actually a rather large fan made patch that fixes a load of bugs that can be applied to the SNES ROM. I haven’t tested it myself but I’d like to give it a shot on my next playthrough.

      • Testsubject909

        There’s also an increased difficulty mod out there called Dancing Mad I believe. And boy, I saw a playthrough of it and damn does it look difficult as all hell.

    • It’s actually funny, because FFVI is when the series really started to get so much more praise and popularity, but it’s also when the series started becoming hilariously easy and broken. And yet despite that, it’s still a great game.

      • Morricane

        At least it took some effort to be able to one-shot the final boss, unlike in later titles :)

        • Testsubject909

          *dual casts Ultima with an economizer*

          2MP per 9999 (edit x2) damage against everything on screen.


          Joking aside. Loved Final Fantasy 6.

          • Morricane

            Well, I did dual wield Illumina and Atma Weapon with Offering…8×9999 damage. But requires some amount of lvl grinding for at least one character haha. :)Definitely of the RPGs for the lonely island.

  • ”There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries”
    goodness me never thought id see the day when a dev would say this, and i couldn’t agree more

    • Godmars

      Well you’re not talking about a PC dev who could regularly expect their audience to upgrade their system.

    • Raltrios

      As much as I hate limitations, I have to admit that they’re a huge help…

      • Testsubject909

        When movies were first censored, it sparked creativity and a variety of filming techniques were born from that newfound limitation.

  • ZekeFreek

    And he’s just telling us this… now?

    • Testsubject909

      Must’ve come out of some interview.

      • ZekeFreek

        yeah probably…

  • Suicunesol

    You guys should read the whole edge article. It’s awesome.

  • benhofb

    Damn, one year for FFVI and then seven for FFXV… Boy have times changed.

    • LightZero

      Technically 5 and counting. FFXV wasn’t in development until 2008. But it goes to show how technology change and have stressful it can be. Hence most jrpg developers gravitated towards handhelds.

    • Lemon

      Your post got me thinking…if FFXV is taking so long to develop, just how high have the development costs for it accumulated to? Considering that Hitman and Tomb Raider sold millions and was still deemed as performing ‘below expectations’, I shudder to imagine just how many units must FFXV sell to be considered a success to SE in its current state.

  • Eric Harris

    I wish more games of today had the magic of games like Final Fantasy VI. Yes there are some, but they are few and far between because of large budget and insane development time due to graphics, voice work, animation, and so on. I kinda envisioned games today from back then to be different than they are. I imagined similar development times just prettier graphics. Instead we have games that are more like Hollywood movies than they are “Final Fantasy VI’s”. Anyone agree with that sentiment?

  • Shane Guidaboni

    Ah, every time I see modern news about FFVI I always think it’s about a remake. Let down, but still really interesting.

  • RazeXI

    Wow, only one year to make one of the best Final Fantasy’s out there? hot damn that’s amazing

  • Pockystix

    would explain the gigantic bugs in the combat. . .

    still, art from adversity

    • Testsubject909

      Well, that’s why there’s version 1.0 and 1.1

      Personally I like it better with the bugs. 255 Atma weapons FTW.

  • AndyLC

    Every single FFVI character could carry their own trilogy.

    • Testsubject909

      Which is to say. To anyone who’ll play Final Fantasy 6 for the first time.

      Once you reach the latter half of the game. If you still have Shadow. You can find more backstory to him through sleeping. His dreams will show the way.

  • Sydney Losstarot

    Omg! He just said the same thing my film teach said to me, the ” There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries” part is what stood out.

    Also, the “Final Fantasy VI was meant to be a game where every character had a leading role. Thus, a number of designers had input regarding the game’s large cast of characters” part… I hope the take the same approach on a future Final Fantasy title. Finally! Kitase gets a +1 from me. Hopefully FF13-3 is good enough that I will appreciate Kitase more that I have recently. I am hoping for good things among the cheese of the storyline.

    • They actually did do the every character had a leading role thing again with Final Fantasy XIII. It was interesting, but some people feel it didn’t work because the characters were annoying. I thought that way at first too, but after starting another playthrough, the characters are starting to grow on me.

      • Sydney Losstarot

        hmmm, I might have a change of heart for FFXIII, you have got to admit it though, FF13 story is cheesy and convoluted as hell. I bang my fists and tell people that I am Snow all the time. I hated FF12 at first, but loved it when I replayed it. I appreciated the battle system in ff12 more once I started to play grindy rpgs after I played 12. I wish there were more games with a battle system like ff12 and Xenoblade.

        • LightZero

          Most FF are cheesy. FFVI itself had cheese. I can never get that criticism to be quite honest. Jrpg always had it. It was never a few concept.

        • Most JRPGs are really cheesy and convoluted to be honest. Even FFVI has its confusing moments. There are things that happen in the game that really don’t make any sense, but at the end of the day, it’s just a video game and nothing worth analyzing to death.

          • AndyLC

            *terra falls down a hole*

            Yeah, they really had to cut a lot of exposition out to cram in everything else into an SNES cartridge.

          • Testsubject909

            Hey! It was glorious!


          • Testsubject909

            “nothing worth analyzing to death”.

            Aaaaand you’re wrong.

            The rest was fine. That last bit? Wrong.

            It’s not even a matter of opinion. If anyone can draw something of worth by analyzing the game, you’ve been proven wrong.

            Someone did just that, on just one thing, the song Dancing Mad. And there’s tons left from FF6 that you can analyze and that I’m certain many have already done.

      • Testsubject909

        There’s a variety of reasons why it didn’t work. Not just the characters.

      • AndyLC

        XIII get’s a bum rap on the internet, but I’ve met lots of folks who enjoyed it, particularly the little sisters of my friends, they see Lightning as a cool big sis character to look up to.

        • Testsubject909

          It gets a bad rap for understandable reasons and you can find some good analytical reviews of the game that breaks down exactly what are the large amount of flaws that validates the bad rep it gets.

          But there’s worse games out there.

          Also after the existence of Twilight. I’m a bit on the wary side in terms of trusting the opinion of young girls and women… At least until I can evaluate exactly what their intellectual levels are.

  • LaserVision

    Ahh.. nothing like remembering the days when Final Fantasies came out on time.

    • Testsubject909

      That said. Immediately after Final Fantasy 6. Final Fantasy 7 suffered multiple pushbacks.

      Anyone have memories of that? You, a young kid, going to game stores and hearing that Final Fantasy 7 was pushed again for X amount of months for the nth time?

      • LaserVision

        Not for me, actually. I played FFVII super late, well into the PS2’s lifecycle. I couldn’t have afforded to buy games at launch anyways.

  • Kitase’s last sentence echoes something I’ve been saying for years. Creativity thrives under limitations. If you’re making a movie or a piece of art and everything goes 100% the way you’ve envisioned it, you’ve most likely failed as an artist. I only say this because being creative is about being spontaneous and clever enough to make all of your ingredients work, even if you don’t have the best tools available. And I’ve been in community theatre, so I’ve seen firsthand how creativity can work despite limitations. Oftentimes we didn’t even have a set or props, but we still made it work, and we had more fun because of it. Is something going wrong? Make it look like it’s going right. Can’t put every thing you want in it? Put all of your best ideas in and leave out the rest.

    Compare that to David Cage at the PS4 reveal who basically insulted the work of older silent film directors because according to him, they were too limited. No, they weren’t limited in any way. They were simply made to work. Creating emotional, engaging work is much, MUCH more than just creating nice graphics, something that I wish more game developers, including Square-Enix even, would realize.

    • DCBlackbird

      I’m not at all putting down Kitase but I believe he himself acknowledges how much stronger his work was in his earlier days compared to now where…… his games are considered pretty good compared to others because they aren’t anything very new, while back then VII was something inconceivable.

    • Morricane

      Yeah, even if the only limitation you have is a deadline (e.g. time constraints), they definitely are for the better.

      For example, I guess no musician would ever release music without it and keep on tinkering on his tunes for ever and ever…:)
      Simply for the fact that artists usually are too self-conscious regarding their own works and always see room for improvement.

      • RisukuAozora

        Only limitation is a deadline? Not always: Sonic 06 is the biggest proof of how deadlines can kill a game too.

        • Morricane

          Hm? In what way?

          • RisukuAozora

            Let’s just say planning out too much stuff and not having the time to fine tune things already in the game is the biggest offense that game had to offer.

    • Testsubject909

      Which is something I’ve stated when Ubisoft was arguing that a lack of limitation increases creativity and that limitations prevented any creativity.

      It really put them under a negative light in my eyes.

  • DCBlackbird

    I love this final fantasy it’s one of my favorites….. but this fact here…… I know yuppies will use this against it :(

    • Lusankya

      Rushed game, would not buy. 1/10

      • DCBlackbird

        I was too late!!!!!

    • amagidyne


      • DCBlackbird

        what I call the stereotypical know it all kids

  • SetzerGabbiani

    This is the game I identify with when one speaks of Final Fantasy. I enjoyed the previous and future iterations, but this was my pinnacle. The story, masterful score, colorful characters, battle system, and that damn tear-jerker ending, which STILL makes me misty-eyed even while watching it on YouTube. True 16-bit perfection, when games did so much with so little.

    I hope all this talk of Final Fantasy VI is leading up to a full-scale remake.

    • Testsubject909

      Indeed. To specify. Full scale remake or don’t touch it at all.

  • SlickRoach

    Man this takes me back to the whimsical and awe-inspiring nature that made me fall in love with FF games in the first place. This and IX (where the series hit it’s peak for me) have to be some of my favorite games of all.

  • michel

    Amen to that.

    And what a game…

  • Demeanor

    This game screams for a remake. I get goosebumps if I think about what Sabin’s moves or the old man’s katana skills or Terra’s transformation could be with modern day technology. ‘Course, it would take a ton of work.

    • epy

      Be careful of what you wish you, lest you want a repeat of the awful treatment they gave to FFV in that subpar iOS port.

      • DrakeClawfang

        Honestly, if it’s the same FF6 as on the GBA but the graphics are up to the level of the PSP ports of the other games or FF5’s iOS, I’d take it.

        • Testsubject909

          Actually I’d argue that the best version to carry over would be the SNES version. The superior localization despite not being a 100% accurate translation (sometimes sacrificing some accuracy in translation is best overall).

          And uncut (no scene removed due to controversy in Japan at the time of the GBA version’s release). Would be the best to go with.

    • Testsubject909

      Considering the existence of the Romancing SaGa remake on PS2… I’m always wondering why Squeenix can’t remake it’s SNES games with the same respect it gave Romancing SaGa. Romancing SaGa which if I remember did not have sales anywhere near as high as the Final Fantasy series.

      So they really have zero excuse.

  • Maybe I should play FF6 in the future, but I don’t know which version is the best… the GBA version?

    • epy

      It really depends. The GBA version has the better translation (though less charming) and also has the extra sidequests. However, you’ll be wasting one of the best soundtracks in the history of gaming because the GBA’ sucks. Also the SNES version looks better for obvious reasons.If you own the original SNES version, I would really recommend going into snes rom hacks. There’s stuff out there to apply the GBA translation and font, remove the censorship and bugs/glitches and other miscelaneous stuff that would leave you with the superior version.

      Whatever you choose, play it. You’ll see why some fans are disgruntled with the latest efforts of the franchise.

    • Testsubject909

      The SNES version is the superior version.

      The PS1 version, even the emulated version via PSN, has loading problems and small touches that can be seen as actually taking away from the overall experience (such as battle transition, odd but since you’ll see it often, you need something more interesting. The SNES one is more interesting.)

      The GBA one has some censorship since a scene in the game became controversial due to some events happening in Japan at the time of it’s release.

      The SNES one has Ted Woolsey’s translation which provides some levity and gives greater contrast of humor and drama which is well needed and creates many memorable moments. It’s not the most accurate translation but it is easily the best localization.

      I highly suggest you experience the SNES version… Maybe purchase one of the copies and emulate the SNES version since it’s technically legal since you already own a copy of the game? I need some clarity on how legal emulation works.

  • komiko12

    FFVI took one year to develop and it became known as one of the best FFs all time. Meanwhile, the later entries the series took many years to develop but didn’t exceed the success FFVI had.

    • I dunno, FFVI took a lot of years to even be noticed by the mainstream public. It took the GBA remake to be that huge. That’s when everyone hopped in on the search for older copies, like the PSX Anthology. And even then…

      • Testsubject909

        By mainstream public, I think you mean the post-FF7 public right?

        • I talk about the post-FFX public, which forms the majority of today’s fanbase.

  • Vyse Legendaire

    ““It’s maybe strange to say [this], but I miss the limitations of making games in those days,” Kitase admits. “The cartridge capacity was so much smaller, of course, and therefore the challenges were that much greater. But nowadays you can do almost anything in a game. It’s a paradox, but this can be more creatively limiting than having hard technical limitations to work within. There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI.””

    This coming from the guy responsible for the atrocities known as the FF XIII franchise.

    • Testsubject909

      Just saying this: Final Fantasy 13 was filled with behind-the-scene problems that you cannot pin down unto one person.

  • FF6 was one of the first Final Fantasy games I played and to this day I still consider it the best. It was the first game that actually made me care a great deal about all the characters I had in my party or came across. Also it made cry…a lot.

    • Testsubject909

      Final Fantasy 1 was the first Final Fantasy I played. I also played Legends 1 and 2, as well as Final Fantasy 2(4) and Mystic Quest prior to having played Final Fantasy 3(6).

      To date, Final Fantasy 6 is still my favorite Final Fantasy. The original SNES Ted Woolsey translation version to be specific.

      • The Ted Woolsey one is the first one I played, I got emulated versions of both since I don’t on the SNES original anymore, but I await the day there is either a (3)DS remake, a PSP hi-res remake with the best elements of the first three versions that came out, or a full blown 3D-remake for the PS3, PS4 PSP, or Vita.

        What I’m trying to say is I really want this game, and it’s an injustice there have been no other remakes for it yet on a more recent gaming system.

        • Testsubject909

          From what I understood, Final Fantasy 6 did not sell that well in Japan… Which is a shame. But still you can see a lot of love for Final Fantasy 6 no matter which country you’re in.

          And additionally. You can find fans of the game who’re… of good reputation shall we say?

          Such as a reputable composer.

          And from Japan… There’s Hyadain.

          • Pyrotek85

            I’m kind of surprised FFIV seems to get all the attention of the 3 SNES titles, I thought both V and VI were better.

          • Testsubject909

            I don’t know myself. I’m guessing it’s the story of Cecil and maybe in Japan it’s the more popular SNES FF?

      • Bacon_n_Lettuce

        I always hear a lot of debate over which translation is better (GBA vs SNES), though to this day I still don’t really know what the differences between them are. Is the GBA version significantly worse off than the original? (as I have the GBA version, but haven’t gotten to it yet).

        • Testsubject909

          The GBA translation is more accurate, as I’ve stated somewhere below, but that also means it’s at times more dreary and at times lack a bit of humor and some memorable funny lines such as “Son of a submariner!”. A more accurate translation doesn’t always mean a better translation, which is why I stated that FF6 on the SNES is the better localization.

          Basically, it’s like the new FF4 translation. It loses some of it’s charm by losing translations such as “You Spoony Bard!” and the likes.

          The GBA one also has a scene censored as I’ve stated. It’s nothing major, it’s basically a torture scene of sort, but that missing does remove a bit from a character you’ll have in your party.

          I still highly suggest the SNES over the GBA… Also I can’t testify for myself but I hear it has some background image issues with the final boss location.

          But the SNES translation does one one big mess-up in terms of it’s translation, and it’s really the only notable mess up. It’s where the translation obviously refers to a male character as a she.

          Only happens once, but when it happens you notice it. Aside from that, the rest is amazing. As for the Opera sequence, you’ll get entirely different lyrics pending which translation.

          • komiko12

            To be clear, subsequent releases of FFIV still have that “you spoony bard” line. It was too iconic to be omitted.

          • Bacon_n_Lettuce

            Good to know! I guess I’ll eventually play both of them, since they sound pretty different. And I didn’t see your previous comment below until now, but thanks for the info anyway!

  • Testsubject909

    For that last bit. Ubisoft (paraphrasing here) “We can’t be more creative unless we increase the horsepower we have on today’s gaming platforms”.

    It’s challenging these limitations that enables some very creative thinking…

    And man… One year? One year’s work made a lifetime of memories? Wow…

    Also, I can certainly see the idea of attempting to make every character a lead. They are all unique and well fleshed out, developed on their own time and each with their own spotlights, moments and… Memorable themes. The whole bunch of them!

    I mean hell. Combine them all together and we have the ending theme, where all their themes comes together. That massively lengthy ending to Final Fantasy 6, one of the most enjoyable and rewarding endings of the SNES era you will ever find, easily lasts a comparable amount of time to today’s more cinematic endings with a whooping 21 minute long medley of all the character’s individual themes, ending moments and… just listen.


    It’s just highly improbable we’ll ever see something quite like Final Fantasy 6 is it?

    Also. Review for fun.

  • Best FF I’ve ever played.

    Every character was really well written.
    nobody truly felt like the protagonist since they all are!

  • Yan Zhao

    Took only one year to make one of the greatest Final Fantasy games ever.

    Why cant they do it again? Oh right, lets blow all the budget on pretty graphics instead of good gameplay, scenarios, and mechanics.

  • crooger

    I wish those guys are the ones making The FF XV now…

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