With Mistwalker’s first release available on the shop shelves of Japan, we sit down for a quick chat with the man who masterminded Blue Dragon
. Hironobu Sakaguchi was also the mastermind responsible for Square’s Final Fantasy
series, having already co-founded Squaresoft in 1983. After resigning from SquareEnix (as it had become) in 2000, Sakaguchi-san went on hiatus before returning to the game industry. He founded Mistwalker, which had financial backing from Microsoft. One of Japan’s most revered game industry figures, Sakaguchi-san is a man of many visions. This week, we spoke with him about some of those visions…
SPOnG: Even though the Xbox 360 isn’t at all popular in Japan, you’ve chosen to develop games for the format. Why is that?
Well, after leaving Square I took a break for two and a half years, and then started everything again. Although I’d broken free from a company, I realised that I wanted to collaborate again with the most talented creatives I’d associated with previously. So, initially I thought, wouldn’t it be great to make something with Toriyama-san [Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball
and artist on many Square and Enix titles], Inoue-san [Takehiko Inoue, a famous Manga artist], Uematsu-san [Nobuo Uematsu, legendary Final Fantasy
soundtrack composer], and people like them…
At that point I hadn’t considered what hardware we should work with, but we soon had the concepts for Blue Dragon
and Lost Odyssey
. Around that time I had a meeting with Microsoft’s Maruyama-san, and that was a turning point. I’d worked with Maruyama-san at Square, and. I was also encouraged by the presence at Microsoft of Final Fantasy XI’s
main programmer, and other ex-Square employees.
SPOnG: Do you think Xbox 360 will ever become popular in Japan, though?
There’s some really strong 360 software coming from Western developers, and it’s impressive to see the worldwide market share that Microsoft has. I think that at some point in the future those trends will have an effect in Japan, yes, but for the Xbox brand to become successful here it’s essential that Japanese game makers participate in this war and keep on facing forwards.
SPOnG: As far as Blue Dragon goes, what do you think of the reaction from game fans and magazines? How did you feel about Famitsu’s 37/40 rating and review?
It had been such a long time since I last worked on a game, that I was really anxious before Blue Dragon
’s release. Even though I gave my all during the development process, I was always worried about how people might react to what I was doing. After all that anxiety, though, to receive such praise was really a great feeling. It makes me determined to keep putting all of my energy into future projects.