Instead of being built for multiplayer parties, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is designed as a single player epic with a well established, gravity bending hero named Layle. To find out why the formula was changed, we interviewed Akitoshi Kawazu, Producer, about taking the Crystal Chronicles series in a new direction.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers looks different from the game we first saw at E3 2006. How has the game evolved over the past three years?
Akitoshi Kawazu, Producer: To be honest, when we first revealed the title in 2006 we weren’t certain at all whether we would be able to achieve exactly what we had envisioned for this game. But much was accomplished during the three-year development period. Realistic and exhilarating character portrayal, open fields that add a sense of freedom to gameplay, and a solid integration of event scenes and gameplay, are just some of the things that were successfully incorporated into Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers.
The Crystal Bearers seems to be a real departure from the Crystal Chronicles series. Layle is a hero at the start of the game, there isn’t a strong multiplayer focus, and in Japan, a Bon Jovi song is being used for commercials. Why all of the changes?
Our main objective in developing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles titles has always been to create Final Fantasy games that anyone can enjoy. We approached the GameCube and DS versions as action-RPGs, and in consideration of the screen size and the respective hardware’s visual capabilities, the characters were of a super-deformed, miniature design.
In developing for Wii with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, we wanted to take a completely different approach. Utilizing the hardware to its fullest enabled a new type of action adventure, and the resulting game became very different from the existing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles titles. In order to clearly convey this difference, we changed the look and sound of the commercials, and even considered removing the Final Fantasy name from the title.
In past interviews The Crystal Bearers was described as an "open world" game similar to Grand Theft Auto. Could you elaborate on this and the kind of freedom players have?
In many games, the main character’s powers can only be used in a specific stage or situation. However, in this game players are free to use Layle’s gravity-controlling abilities whenever they want. Not only can this power be used to defeat monsters and fly airships, you can also use it to collect treasures or make people trip. That’s what heightens the freedom and openness of this game.
From playing the game it seems like The Crystal Bearers has a lot of gameplay styles. One second you’re dropping out of an airship firing a machine gun and the next you’re escaping chocobo knights. What inspired all of these playable events? Which one is your favorite?
We included many different styles of playable events to add an element of surprise, and to ensure that players are constantly encountering new experiences. My favorite playable event is the ball. It’s part of a hero’s job to be smooth in whatever they do, even outside of combat.
Was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers designed for the West? What elements of Western game design influenced the final product?
We definitely designed the game with a global audience in mind. Ever since I played games like Wizardry and Ultima, I have personally enjoyed and have been influenced by Western games. With Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, one of our main goals was to offer as much freedom as possible in gameplay.
In some of the trailers, it seems that you can discover new reactions by getting objects to interact with each other. Can you tell us more about this system?
Simply hitting two inanimate objects together will make one or the other fly in the opposite direction. If it’s an NPC you hit, they may become confused, or just angry once they find out you’re responsible for disturbing them. If the target is a monster, the reactions become more complex: depending on the monster’s status or what you throw their way, one of many different things could occur. Sometimes, the objects you throw at monsters merge with them, creating an even more powerful enemy.
Some reactions are easy to come across, but others can’t be discovered unless you use some strategy, so I would recommend experimenting with different methods. These reactions are part of what makes this game so fun.
What do you think is the next step for the Crystal Chronicles series? Will it go back to its multiplayer roots or a deeper single player storyline?
The Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles multiplayer games for GameCube and DS has many fans, so we would like to continue creating new entries in that direction. On the other hand, the open field game system for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has many possibilities for further evolution, so I would like to spend some more time with it as well. But there’s only one of me, so I’m not sure which project I will be able to take on next.