Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is an extraordinary game. This spin-off introduced a whole new control method and means of connecting with friends while enjoying all the trappings a Final Fantasy game could provide. Now, in 2020, it’s among titles treading new ground. The Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition release is adding in cross-play between consoles and mobile devices, while also adding cut content and new features. Siliconera had an opportunity to ask Ryoma Araki, the game’s director, more about how the project came together and how all of its new elements came to be.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: How did you get into game development? What has your experience been like with Final Fantasy and the Crystal Chronicles series as a whole?
Ryoma Araki: I started as a CG designer, but I was interested in content creation and decided to join the game industry; since then, it’s been 20 years or so. For the Final Fantasy series, I took part in the development of Final Fantasy XII. For the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series, I’m taking part in the series for the first time with this remaster.
How did you get from a version of the game controlled by Game Boy Advances to the build we have in the Remastered Edition? What needed to be redesigned?
Araki: The fundamental experience that can be obtained through the game has not changed from the original, but in remastering the game for the current era, we worked to support online features and consolidated information, among other things, to reorganize and rebuild the UI and system related aspects.
This title is a remaster, but in actuality, there are many areas that have been reworked and added, so much that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say more than half of the game has been remade.
One of the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition features is Mimic, which lets you “become” other characters. How did the idea for this feature come about and was it complicated to implement?
Araki: Actually, it isn’t something that came to mind specifically for this title; the idea had been gestating for some time as a system that can be enjoyed as a bonus feature without breaking the game’s universe, and it just so happens that we decided to implement it in this game. The work required to implement the system did end up being quite complicated, as it wasn’t something that existed in the original game.
Which person or people do you like Mimic-ing the most?
Araki: Personally, I think Amidatty and Tristan are my favorites. However, all characters are extremely unique, so I definitely want you to play them all.
How difficult was it to create and implement the new male and female character designs and keep them consistent with the original ones? Were there any unexpected challenges making things work?
Araki: I think many people have fond memories of the original character designs, so rather than try to emulate those original designs exactly, we requested the new character designs to have a smidge of playfulness. We didn’t make any detailed requests and completely entrusted the designer with this task, but I feel our intentions were well-captured in the resulting designs.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition includes both songs from the original game and new tracks. The game’s soundtrack is highly regarded, even beyond fans of the game itself. How did you determine where the new songs should fit?
Araki: Kumi Tanioka’s music for this title is focused around period instruments. It creates a unique atmosphere unlike others and I personally like it very much myself.
In adding high-difficulty dungeons, we made the request to add new songs as well. That said, the additional tracks aren’t limited to the high-difficulty dungeons, so I would love for everyone to keep their ears open and discover them while playing the game.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is the first Square Enix game to have cross-play across multiple console and mobile platforms. What did the team learn from this experience and how could these lessons affect future games?
Araki: We learned that development becomes quite the task when dealing with so many platforms (haha). I believe it’s quite difficult to deliver cross-play across multiple platforms at launch, but I think Square Enix is a company that should take on such challenges. In the future, I hope this will become a standard, not only for our company’s titles, but also for the industry as a whole.
There were multiple delays along the way while getting the game ready for players. What is the situation like when it comes to a title needing more time at Square Enix? How does the team respond, and what sort of response did you see from potential players?
Araki: I was reprimanded by a lot of important people!
That said, reintroducing this title to the world while maintaining a solid quality is what’s important. The team continued to do their best with the impression that the necessary time to reach our goal had been secured.
We did feel regretful towards players who have been waiting for the game’s release, but all-in-all, we feel they have kindly waited for this game with warm and encouraging words. We have nothing but gratitude towards those who have looked forward to this game for so long.
How difficult was it to create and prepare the Lite Version alongside the full game?
Araki: The Lite version allows you to play many elements from the full game, so the full game needed to, more or less, take shape before creating the Lite version. The timing in which we branched off the development data was quite late and overlapped with the height of production for the full game, so looking back, simultaneously working on the Lite version was a challenge for our development team.
Balancing could be an issue in a game where, ideally, you have a full group of people helping you out and each playing their part. This was particularly an issue in the original release, often leaving players stuck at a too-high difficulty when friends joined in and left. How did you handle the balance for the remaster?
Araki: In this game, players can join part-way, so even if a party member leaves, you can matchmake with a new member in the midst of the game, meaning there will be fewer instances where you’ll be stranded in high-difficulty maps. Whether or not a new caravan comes to help depends on your luck, so it may be one of the true pleasures of this journey to advance through the dungeons while hoping you’ll be lucky enough to encounter a caravan.
This original Crystal Chronicles entry led to multiple spin-offs, like Ring of Fates, Echoes of Time, and The Crystal Bearers. Now that the remaster has introduced this world to a whole new audience, is there any sort of “dream” game you’d like to release next?
Araki: Through this game, I wish for more people to get to know the world of Crystal Chronicles. It would really make me happy to see the love for the series spread among players.
As far as my “dream” game goes, I’d love to take some time to think about it after this game releases while situating myself in a place with a nice climate, perhaps somewhere along the West Coast.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and both Android and Apple iOS devices worldwide on August 27, 2020. The PS4 version’s pre-order comes with a theme.