When Apple unveiled its Apple Arcade sport subscription service in March 2019, one of the crucial intriguing titles to be proven off was Fantasian.
Developed by Mistwalker, the Japanese indie studio headed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Fantasian was initially teased as a diorama-filled role-playing sport (RPG) “that shouldn’t exist” throughout a quick 30-second part of a bigger Apple Arcade sizzle reel.
But quick ahead two years and we’ve really seen little or no of the sport, outdoors of what may very well be gleaned from occasional footage shared to Twitter by Sakaguchi and, in a single case, even Apple CEO Tim Cook himself.
That’s all altering, as Mistwalker is lastly pulling again the curtain on Fantasian, which ought to show extra pleasantly acquainted than followers of the 58-year-old legendary designer’s work may need anticipated from the Apple Arcade sport.
Speaking by way of a translator, Sakaguchi tells MobileSyrup of a time about three years in the past when he replayed Final Fantasy VI with some outdated colleagues with whom he made the sport. Waxing nostalgic, he notes that the expertise was like “flipping through old diaries” that introduced again fond reminiscences of “the passion [that] the team really poured” into these older titles.
“It reminded me how much I really loved this genre and wanted to make a game like this again.”
With Fantasian, Sakaguchi says he wished to seize “the essence” of basic RPGs like Final Fantasy VI, which — whether or not he’d admit it — are broadly regarded to be a few of the biggest the style has to supply.
“I think [it] comes down to, for example, when you see around the corner in a town, ‘Oh, is there an alleyway over there? Let me go check it out. ‘Oh, I went to the end of it and I found a treasure chest,’” he says. “There’s some reward — that joy of exploring — when it comes to an RPG.”
A handcrafted world
Naturally, Fantasian could have the type of exploration, cities, non-player characters (NPCs) and turn-based fight that you just’d count on from the sort of sport.
But Sakaguchi has additionally made certain to create the memorable tales, characters and worlds that outlined his earlier works.
“It comes down to the setting, and in Fantasian, we really set out to make a very unique world [that’s] constructed by this multidimensional setup with a human realm and, on top of that, a machine realm.”And what a novel world it’s. As beforehand talked about, Mistwalker has taken actual dioramas and scanned them into Fantasian to create the sport’s worlds. To assist with that, the studio enlisted a wide range of consultants from Japan’s “Tokusatsu” particular results business, who’ve themselves labored on world-renowned initiatives just like the Godzilla movies, Ultraman and Attack on Titan.
The dioramas give the sport a shocking and distinct visible type that’s harking back to what Sakaguchi and his group created with the pre-rendered backgrounds of the groundbreaking 1997 PlayStation RPG Final Fantasy VII.
“We wanted to make sure that it didn’t seem like a chore or grind to have to fight a bunch of monsters at once”
“We were trying to explore and push the boundaries with what’s possible in terms of visual expression,” says Sakaguchi of the choice to make use of the dioramas. He notes that the sport options inside and exterior environments comprised of greater than 150 extremely detailed dioramas, starting from a big, ornate airship to a small moss-covered hut and even a bed room with a divider outfitted with actual practical hinges.
At the guts of those outstanding dioramas is a narrative about an amnesiac named Leo who units out to get well his reminiscences and find his lacking father. In retaining with JRPG custom, Leo will ultimately type a ragtag get together consisting of such vibrant characters as a pair of robots, a princess and an airship captain. All the whereas, Leo’s quest will unravel the thriller surrounding a mechanical an infection that’s slowly overtaking humanity.
“For me, the characters, of course, are also very important, and there are a lot of different relationships and perspectives that they bring to the table,” explains Sakaguchi, who penned Fantasian‘s story. “Seeing those interact with each other, and their journey together — and departure, in some cases — is really touching and moving for the audience.”
Charting new paths
While Mistwalker has expertise with cell sport growth, specifically by way of its Terra collection, these video games have largely been departures from Sakaguchi’s signature console RPGs.
This made Fantasian a considerably totally different beast altogether, as the sport’s standing as an Apple Arcade title meant that Mistwalker needed to develop and optimize the title for iOS, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. In different phrases, the developer labored to make sure that a Final Fantasy-esque expansive RPG may scale up and down between lower- and higher-end Apple gadgets.
“We developed for a wide range of devices, even up to the highest-spec Mac, and we made the game render in 4K, which would almost feel like we’re developing for one of the cutting-edge console platforms,” says Sakaguchi. “And a challenge in that was actually getting the screen resolution and ratio right to make sure whatever the size, whatever the ratio, the experience is still what we intended for. There was a lot of adjusting that had to happen on the UI side to really optimize that experience.”
On the opposite hand, Sakaguchi says the sport being an Apple Arcade really lends itself properly to the diorama aesthetic.
“This game is going to be played across iPhones and iPads — many tactile-based interface devices. And to me, there is this interesting synergy — it’s almost poetic — that there are these handcrafted dioramas that are literally made by human hands, and through the glass, you’re touching them with your hands,” he says.
“It’s almost like feeling like you’re touching these handcrafted dioramas yourself as you manipulate and move the characters through the worlds.”
Shaking up the system
On high of giving Fantasian its personal distinctive visible aptitude, Sakaguchi says the addition of the dioramas really helped inform the event of a few of the sport’s mechanics.
In specific, one in all Fantasian‘s standout mechanics is the “Dimengeon” system, a mashup of “dimension” and “dungeon,” which really deviates from the normal JRPG system. Like many video games within the style, Fantasian options random enemy encounters that happen within the wild, however the place it differs is that you just even have management over once they can occur. With Dimengeon turned on, you’ll be able to banish enemies to a different dimension to battle them later suddenly.
It’s a daring tackle a basic JRPG staple, and in response to Sakaguchi, it’s one which’s been made for 2 key causes.
“As we were testing some of these environments, and walking around and exploring them before there were any other random encounters, it actually was really, really fun,” he says.
“We were using a tactile-based interface, where you place pins on the map to direct the characters where you want them to travel to, and one time, I placed a pin a few levels below me where there was a treasure, and just watching the character kind of explore the diorama was a really fun experience. We wanted to give the player the option to not have that interrupted with the random encounters to encourage that joy of exploration.”
Further, Sakaguchi hopes that this may add a welcome risk-reward ingredient when deciding to battle fewer or larger numbers of enemies and obtain their spoils accordingly.
“We wanted to make sure that it didn’t seem like a chore or grind to have to fight a bunch of monsters at once, so we [added] power-ups to alter how the battles unfold,” he provides. “It’s really satisfying for the player to watch as they wipe out and purge these hordes of enemies.”
An particularly private venture
To additional add to Fantasian‘s basic JRPG really feel, Sakaguchi enlisted longtime good friend and collaborator Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary composer of Final Fantasy, in addition to such Mistwalker titles as Lost Odyssey, The Last Story and Terra Battle.
All informed, the 2 have been collaborating for round 35 years, but it surely virtually didn’t occur with Fantasian.
“Before we approached him to work on Fantasian, he was going through some health issues, and there were concerns if he was going to be able to compose everything or if was it even possible for him to work on this,” mentioned Sakaguchi. But finally, Uematsu pulled by way of to compose the sport’s complete 60-piece orchestrated soundtrack.
It’s an particularly essential collaboration for them, says Sakaguchi, because the work required to compose and orchestrate complete soundtracks may show too tough for Uematsu going ahead.
“I think he kind of hinted that Fantasian is maybe the last game that he does from end to end in terms of scoring an entire soundtrack,” remembers Sakaguchi. While he notes that Uematsu will doubtless proceed to do particular person compositions for video games — like final yr’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, for which he wrote the primary theme “Hollow” — Fantasian “might be his last record.”
If Fantasian is to be their final full collaboration, although, Sakaguchi says he’s very happy with the top end result.
“On a positive note, he poured his heart and soul into it. For me, when I heard it, it almost made me tear up a little bit, because it was a very big moment in both of our careers.”
Fantasian is “coming soon” to Apple Arcade. The subscription service prices $5.99/month in Canada.
Image credit score: Mistwalker