Interviews

Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Interview: CVG speaks to Square producer Yoshinori Yamagishi

With its UK release recently pinned for June, Square Enix's other gorgeous RPG, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, is finally almost upon us.

CVG took a drive down to historic Greenwich in London yesterday to go hands-on with an English-language version of the game and chat with the game's producer, Yoshinori Yamagishi.

The Last Hope's the fastest selling 360 game in japan - is this a sign of the console finally having been accepted?

Yoshinori Yamagishi: Obviously, the success at the moment is limited to Japan and I've heard it has recorded the highest ever sales records over there. But I believe that whatever the platform, that is thanks to the fans that have been waiting for the latest Star Ocean game.

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Why was the 360 chosen as the platform for such a traditional Japanese-style RPG?

Yamagishi: The reason why we chose this platform is because 360 offered the specs for this type of game first amongst the current-gen consoles. Xbox was out first, so we went with that.

What makes Star Ocean stand out from the many other traditional RPGs out there?

Yamagishi: The main difference is that this game has completely real-time battles, as opposed to games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in which you have to enter commands and battles aren't completely done in real time.

How do you think the RPG genre will evolve as a whole in the coming years, and how will the rise of MMO's effect that?

Yamagishi: Generally speaking, when we look at the broader picture - at worldwide RPG gamers - I would expect that there will be a shift from the common RPG towards more action-orientated RPGs, like FPS-style RPGs.

Do you mean games like Fallout 3?

Yamagishi: You might consider Star Ocean and Fallout to be different types of games, but the main thing about an RPG is that a lot of emphasis is placed on the storyline.

Our game, along with a lot of RPGs made in Europe and America, has got a really action-focused element to it, so we expect it will appeal to western gamers as well.

Square puts out a fairly astonishing number of RPGs from a range of franchises. How does the company as a whole ensure that its own products don't have a negative effect on each other? Are there development criteria in place?

Yamagishi: When it comes to the actual release of products, obviously we have to make sure that there aren't any clashes. So there are strategies in place. This is good for the gamers too - nobody would like to have two of their favourite games release on the same date. So we try to reduce the financial burden on our fans.

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But when we come to develop games it's not really something we're concerned about. We just make what we want to make.

The differing tastes of Japan and the West is a focal point for new RPGs. Final fantasy is very Japanese in style - why has it made it so big in the west where other traditional J-RPGs have failed?

Yamagishi: I'm not part of the FF team so I can't say in detail, but my personal view is that FF has a really magnificent storyline and beautiful visuals. I guess this is something every RPG fan wants. It's not just with games - it's the same in films and everything else. FF has those key elements, and it's universal, and that's why I think it does so well across Europe.

How are you expecting Star Ocean to do in the west?

Yamagishi: I haven't any exact figures in mind, but if it does anywhere near as good as any FF title, I'll be pleased. It's my motto to set my targets quite high.

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