Hiromichi Tanaka is the producer of the stunning Final Fantasy III remake that's finally making its way to Europe this Friday. The game's already been a hit in Japan and the US and Square Enix is expected more of the same when it launches across Europe.
If you haven't been playing the import version for months already, then you're in for a surprise. We've clocked up over 50 hours and can honestly say it's been a pleasure, even though we've nearly chucked the DS out the window or at the wall a few times. We've love to be big and say that we got over the whole 'Random Battle' thing ages ago, but we haven't...
During a whirlwind tour of Europe ahead of the game's release, we caught up with Tanaka for his take on the DS remake.
What were the biggest challenges of bringing Final Fantasy III to DS?
Tanaka: The biggest challenge for us were the graphics because 15 years ago when we released the original version we were limited by the colours we could use. Nowadays it's so different, which is why we thought we should make new graphics for the game.
The graphics are fantastic. How did you manage to squeeze so much out of the DS hardware?
Tanaka: If you try to use both screens it will take 50 percent of the machine's power for each screen so we decided to concentrate on one screen for some parts of the game. For example battle scenes and the dungeons only use one screen so we can use 100 percent of the machine's power on one screen. That's how we've managed to make the game look so good on the DS.
Were you pleased with the game's reception in Japan and America and how well do you think it will be received in Europe?
Tanaka: At first we thought it would sell about 300,000 copies in Japan but we sold millions and in America it sold half a million, so that was very surprising. It is a completely new game for Europeans (Final Fantasy III was never released over here) so we're very happy to have this opportunity to release it and we hope you enjoy it.
We want to keep Final Fantasy III very traditional but at the same time making new fans happy. The old fans want to stick to their old version and don't want it to be changed too much but we didn't want it to be old fashioned. So with this new hardware we tried to keep a taste of the old version but present it in a new way.
Are you surprised with the success that the DS has around the world?
Tanaka: Yes. The Game Boy was very successful but this time it seems that the DS is doing better than the consoles this time round and that is very surprising to me.
One thing we've noticed from a publisher's point of view is that the top titles are always Nintendo's. From a third-party point of view it's still challenging making a game that will compete with the games that Nintendo makes.
Do you feel you have to make use of the Touch Screen because it's there? Could you get away with making a game that didn't use it?
Tanaka: It is possible to enjoy games without the Touch Screen but if you are going to make a game for DS you might as well use it and make the most out of the platform. When it came to making Final Fantasy 3, one thing we decided to do at the beginning was to use the Touch Screen from the start to the end.
What plans do you have for Final Fantasy and Wii? Surly using the Remote is the perfect way to cast spells and summons?
Tanaka: That's exactly what we're trying to do with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on Wii.