Theatrhythm Final Fantasy comes out in North America tomorrow with songs from Final Fantasy all the way up to the still unreleased Final Fantasy Versus XIII. We caught up with Ichiro Hazama, producer, and asked him why Final Fantasy XIV was absent and how they settled on the Kingdom Hearts Mobile / Final Fantasy Brigade art style for the 3DS game.
How did you get the Final Fantasy Versus XIII song "Somnus" available as downloadable content? It must have been tough since the game, although it was announced six years ago, hasn’t come out yet.
Ichiro Hazama, Producer: A fan like yourself, who have heard the song before would be pleasantly surprised with a Versus XIII tune in the game. The music was announced earlier [through a trailer] and many people have heard the song already. It wasn’t anything too secretive.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is commemorated as a 25th anniversary title, so we wanted to be a little bit playful by adding this song. When we asked Nomura-san he casually approved it saying, "let’s do it" and that’s how we got it in.
Yeah, while this is a 25th anniversary title, there aren’t any songs in for Final Fantasy XIV, which is available for PCs, or spinoff titles like Final Fantasy USA (aka Final Fantasy Mystic Quest in Japan).
When you look up the collection of music in Theatrhythm, songs were collected from the mainstream Final Fantasy titles. We didn’t use spinoffs or anything like that and because of that USA was not included. Versus XIII is part of Fabula Nova Crystallis, the Final Fantasy XIII family, and we put music from every single game in that series into Theatrhythm.
In terms of Final Fantasy XIV, I personally thought that they were not ready to be incorporated into it. This was just my opinion, but they are changing the game. Maybe in the future, when they are ready, we may add songs from XIV.
Will DLC be the same in North America?
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but we also don’t have a plan to just do all of those DLC songs for Japan only.
In Japan, it looked like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy sold beyond expectations since stores had to restock the game right away. As the game’s producer, how did you feel about this?
As a producer, I felt sorry for fans who were waiting for the game because it was sold out. Some people had, in a worst case scenario, had to wait two weeks so the only feeling I felt was sorry.
In an Iwata Asks interview, you mentioned you had the idea for Theatrhythm after working on Advent Children when the DS first came out, but the hardware wasn’t powerful enough. How has the concept for Theatrhythm evolved?
It didn’t evolve from that time because it wasn’t possible on DS. I had to stop thinking about making it. In my mind, I was always warming up the idea, but we didn’t move forward with development. When 3DS was available and we had a talk with Nintendo, I thought with this we can resume planning and that’s how development resumed.
Did you always settle on the Kingdom Hearts Mobile art style or did you test other designs for the Final Fantasy characters before choosing the cutesy art style?
From the beginning, we were discussing how to present characters from the entire Final Fantasy franchise. When we saw the designs of the Final Fantasy guest characters in Kingdom Hearts Mobile we thought this is going to work.
It’s interesting that you used the gods from Dissidia in Theatrhythm. Are Chaos and Cosmos now overarching gods for the entire Final Fantasy universe?
[Laughs.] I didn’t feel that ambitious when I was planning Theatrhythm! The only titles that cover the Final Fantasy series from the first game to XIII are Dissidia and Theatrhythm. Nomura, the creative director, thought it would be great to use the artwork from Dissidia. Did you notice the logo has the gods on it? I worked on the Dissidia: Final Fantasy games too and because I worked on those titles, Nomura and I wanted to continue using those gods.
Do you view Theatrhythm as a series now? What series would you want to work with… Manarhythm? Theatrhythm… Hitman?
[Laughs.] Personally, I hope this will be come a series, but Theatrhythm Hitman will probably be really far off. There are many series that I would want to work on for Theatrhythm. Dragon Quest has a lot of music and Kingdom Hearts would be wonderful to do if it’s possible. I’m not to familiar with the Eidos collection, but Tomb Raider has a long history so it must have a great collection of songs. That might be fun.
Can you tell us what you want to work on next?
In my career, I used to work on merchandise. I worked on movies like Advent Children, then I worked on social games in Japan. Theatrhythm is something new too. It’s a music game for the Final Fantasy franchise. If I can do something new that nobody has done that would be very exciting.