How Final Fantasy V Was A Turning Point In Tetsuya Nomura’s Career

By Sato . March 13, 2014 . 1:02pm

While many may consider Final Fantasy VII to be Kingdom Hearts creator Tetsuya Nomura’s early career-defining title, the designer said to Famitsu magazine in a recent interview that he believes that it was actually his work on Final Fantasy V that helped put him where he is today.


Famitsu starts out by mentioning that Nomura joined Square as a designer.


“Yes, but at the time it was near the development deadline for Final Fantasy IV, and it seemed like nobody had time for a new guy like me. When I asked ‘what can I do to help,’ they would tell me ‘just go ahead and work on the debugging with the kids,’ so there I was, helping out on the debugs while wearing a suit,” reminisces Nomura with a laugh.


“It was my first day on the job, and I decided to wear one, just in case,” he adds with another laugh. “After that, I still helped out with debugging and got more training. My work as a designer didn’t start until Final Fantasy V. “[Hironobu] Sakaguchi then said, ‘we’re going to divide into teams!’ and the names of staff members were written on a whiteboard, along with the three titles of Final Fantasy, SaGa, and Mana.”


“My name was written under the Final Fantasy team, and I was taught the basics by Tetsuya Takahashi [Xenogears director, current head of Monolith Soft].”


Famitsu asks if he has any more memories he could share from that time, and if there were any influences that still have an impact on him today.


“Hiroyuki Ito who was in charge of the battle system taught me the basics of making your own game,” answers Nomura. “This wasn’t used for the game, but he told me things like ‘just make magic spells easily obtainable through money,’ or ‘it’s okay to just allow enemies to all be hit by pressing a single button’ and ‘don’t stick to existing concepts, but it’s okay to use some ideas from them’.”


While on the subject, Famitsu asks if Sakaguchi and [Yoshinori] Kitase often communicated with the other creators in a similar manner.


“Since I was like a minion, Sakaguchi was like a godly figure to me,” Nomura recalls. “Kitase was part of a section that handled events, so he didn’t have much to do with the design team, but he did talk to us frequently. During the development of Final Fantasy V, I would go to his desk and have him listen to a bunch of my ideas.” Nomura adds with a laugh, “I think he may have thought that I was a little annoying.”


Now that Nomura is part of the core of Square Enix’s present day Final Fantasy titles, Famitsu asks if he feels that he has inherited the series from the earlier days.


“Personally, I think that it was Kitase who ‘inherited’ Final Fantasy from Sakaguchi,” comments Nomura. “I think I can say so, since I’ve been watching them from those days. So, if anything, it’s safe to say that [Final Fantasy] is inside Kitase.”


Nomura then goes on to talk about how it was actually Final Fantasy V that he considers to be the turning-point of his career. The reason being, the production style at the time had Hironobu Sakaguchi decide the main point, while everyone else carried around their ideas in their own plan books. Using his own plan book, Nomura was able to better introduce himself to Sakaguchi and Kitase.


Famitsu asks what kind of things he had in his book.


Nomura shares, “There were a lot of things, but for example, in the planning book for what kind of jobs I had in mind for Final Fantasy V, there were things like a ninja with a dog, a gambler who fought with dice and cards, and other illustrations. Everyone else used computers to type things out for their main plan books, but in order to have more impact, I wrote all the notes by hand and included plenty of drawings.”


“I believe that having studied advertisement also worked out in a positive way,” he continues. “After a while, whenever it was time to turn in our plan books, Sakaguchi and Kitase would say ‘Where’s Tetsu’s plan book?’ as they started looking forward to it each time.”


Famitsu notes that his past interest in drawing manga during his days as a schoolboy may have played a big role in making things turn out the way they did.


“Perhaps so. However, in the end, those ideas weren’t used for Final Fantasy V, but when we started on Final Fantasy VI, they were used for Shadow and Setzer. After that, it was a great experience for me, to have something I arranged go out there in the world. I believe that being in that position is what may have led my being appointed to Final Fantasy VII.

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  • Nice Boat Quatro

    Nice so Setzer and Shadow were created by Nomura. I see Nomura has a thing for hand to hand fighters. Another good reading. Will he talk about FF7 next?

    • Anime10121

      Didnt know about Shadow, but the info about Setzer was divulged at the least, as early as KH2 (its one of the main reasons he made it in)!

  • Anime10121

    So the guy was taught by the best Square had to offer, Takahashi and Ito…seems legit :P

  • new_tradition

    I thought FFVI was his turning point since he did the designs for those characters, but I guess brainstorming during FFV must’ve helped.

    It’s interesting to hear about Square during it’s more humble beginnings. I certainly love the company that it is now, but that past perspective is fascinating o.o

  • Yan Zhao

    Ahhh, back when SquareSoft made good games. How I miss those days.

    • Rogerrmark

      Because Nes FFII and III are the best thing in the world, right?

      • Ima let you finish but the SNES FInal Fantasies were the best Final Fantasies of all time

        • Rogerrmark

          I was kinda ironic, lol.

          The remake of FFII (Firion/Emperor) for PS1/GBA/PSP is very good, but original was sooo…meh.

          • Guest

            i loved the game at the time man…

          • Sydney Losstarot

            Lol, I still remember ditching school in 5th grade to play the English patched rom of FF2 on a NES emulator and being yelled at and dragged to school. Those were the good old days when a Final Fantasy game was more anticipated than they are now (for me at least.)

  • rpgmaniac

    Nomura has work in the past with the best JRPG creators ever like Sakaguchi & Takahashi those 2 btw is my favorite JRPG developers because they made my 2 all time favorite games FFVII & Xenogears, but although he work with the best doesn’t mean he has the skill & the talent to create something of such legendary status like FFVII & Xenogears, some ppl might find him a legendary figure because they like KH series for me KH is nothing special & doesn’t draw my interest at all for me those games can’t be called JRPGs they play more like an action game with lot’s of platforming they r nothing like FFVII or any other old school JRPG, so for me this guy haven’t create any JRPG that make me acknowledge his skill the only noticeable thing he did for me was that he draw the characters from FFVII that’s it, so I don’t trust him at all like some others that praise him blindly & say that FFXV is gonna be the next FFVII because Nomura is behind it I mean how can u spout such nonsense when this guy never did any successful “real” JRPG in the past? :/ anyway let’s w8 & see but I would advise to everyone else other than Nomura fan boys to not expect too much.

    • Impressionnant

      XV can’t be any worse than VII.

    • kaimo

      he isn’t toriyama. That’s reason enough to expect XV to at least be better than the overlong saga of lightning.

    • Noctis.orG

      FFXV will be better than VII & Xenogears… combined.

      Seriously though.. if not for Nomura, VII won’t be a legend as we know it.

      • Anime10121

        Better than VII I can believe (as VII isn’t THAT great a game to begin with) but better than Xenogears…I hope you’re kidding. I like Nomura, really I do, but I dont see Nomura surpassing Takahashi’s peak…

        • Daigure

          VII did a lot more for the genre than people give it credit for. Even if it’s not the BEST RPG, it would be selling it short not to call it one of the most influential.

          • Anime10121

            Never said it wasnt influential, nor did I ever say it was bad. Do I think VII is ZOMG greatest FF EVAR?! No. But I do however believe it was a good and a fun Final Fantasy.

      • Skeptika Crediblus

        You just jinxed it. Now it will be for the Wii-U only.

    • pimpalicious

      Real time combat doesn’t make a game not a real RPG. You’re the one spouting nonsense in that regard.

      However I’m not hyped about FFXV because of Nomura as I’m not a huge fan of his. I’ll wait and see how the game is progressing before I judge one way or the other.

    • godisdead

      TWEWY would like a word with you… That was one of the best JRRPGs made in recent memory.

      • God

        Damn you! You made me remember how we never got a sequel…

    • Daigure

      Nomura did more than draw the characters, he created a good deal of them and co-wrote the script with Sakaguchi.

  • 1Truth

    Glad to see Nomura showing some love for Hiroyuki Ito. That man needs to direct FFXVI.

    • Noctis.orG

      Everyone likes Hiroyuki Ito, it’s just SE that doesn’t let him direct another FF anymore, what a waste of talent. But yeah, here’s hoping he’s directing XVI already..

      • 1Truth

        Provided that Hiroyuki Ito is directing, I honestly wouldn’t mind if Agni’s Philosophy turns into FFXVI. Agni could be the true successor to Terra, much like how Lightning was the successor to Cloud.

    • Sylveria Shini

      FF16.. estimated launch day July 7th, 2025

      • 1Truth

        I’m expecting FFXVI to be announced at E3 2015 and released worldwide in December 2017, as that’s the 30th anniversary of FF. That would be epic! :)

    • Slickyslacker

      Hell, I wish they would let Junji Ito onto the production team.

  • I’m glad he had Takahashi to learn under, and thank goodness for Ito~. x’D
    That’s cool to hear, and while I liked Nomura growing up, I’ve learned to appreciate him a lot recently.

  • Slickyslacker

    You know, a lot of prominent figures in the gaming industry wanted to become manga artists when they were younger.

    Miyamoto being one notable example.

  • SpardaCastle

    Wonderful! Remake FFV for 3DS then eh?

    • JuhRo

      Wait, that’s not what Bravely Default is?

      • Not really :V

      • alixraen

        Haha, no. Just because it has ‘teh job systemz’ doesn’t equate the two. BD can’t hold a candle to FFV.

        • Kelohmello

          Hahaha, to me I think the opposite.

        • Sydney Losstarot

          Haha, my thoughts exactly.

          • Lucky Dan

            and you young ones missed FFIII where the job system was first implement.

  • Hard to believe that these might have turned out differently if their names were put in a different order

  • Lalum

    My favorite FF.

  • Daigure

    Shadow Boss fight in KH3, plz.

  • Ash_Riot

    “Famitsu asks what Ito is doing nowadays, Nomura replies: “waving a magic broom in the cellars.”

  • Guest

    final fantasy V was his turning point? the game wasn’t bad but I mean compared to like VII because that got him huge publicity.

    • DaiRaiOh

      Did you not read the article?

    • Lucky Dan

      What you didn’t like playing a pimp in FFV?

  • xxx128

    2D RPG’s > Textured Polygons

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