Final Fantasy’s creator is back with a classic RPG made of incredible handcrafted dioramas

Fantasian has all the things you’d count on from a new Hironobu Sakaguchi expertise. The creator of the Final Fantasy sequence is as soon as once more making a roleplaying sport that takes place in a lush fantasy world, options turn-based fight, and facilities on a globe-spanning quest. There’s even a new soundtrack from famed composer — and frequent Sakaguchi collaborator — Nobuo Uematsu.

However what makes Fantasian distinctive is clear from a single screenshot: the sport world has a distinct vibe as a result of it’s constructed from tiny, handcrafted dioramas. “We actually needed to seize that contact and really feel, and distinctive attraction, that is solely present in these dioramas,” Sakaguchi says.

Fantasian is developed by Mistwalker, a studio Sakaguchi based in 2004, and is presently listed as “coming quickly” to Apple Arcade. He says the idea started round three years in the past when he and a few collaborators replayed Final Fantasy IV for the primary time in years. “Taking part in that sport jogged my memory of how a lot I actually adore that classic RPG style, and renewed my curiosity in it,” Sakaguchi explains. “It made me wish to go back to my roots.”

The premise of Fantasian, in the meantime, even appears like classic Final Fantasy. Right here’s a snippet:


The story begins in a realm ruled by machines, wherein Leo causes a large explosion at a hybrid magic-tech manufacturing unit, leading to his reminiscence loss. Following the one reminiscence left to him — a imaginative and prescient of a younger girl — he is transported to a dusty frontier city referred to as En. There, he is reunited with the lady from his reminiscence, Kina.

In an effort to get better Leo’s reminiscences and discover their very own destinies, the 2 set off on an journey collectively. Throughout their travels, Leo’s previous is revealed little by little as are the various layers that make up the sport world. Inside this multi-dimensional universe, the steadiness of “Chaos and Order” turns into a key issue within the wrestle for these realms and the machinations of the gods who want to management them.

The creation course of from idea artwork to in-game.Photograph: Mistwalker.

Mistwalker has launched a number of RPGs through the years, together with titles like Blue Dragon and The Final Story; in 2014 the workforce expanded to cell with the Terra Wars sequence. Sakaguchi says his purpose with every new sport, courting back to Final Fantasy, is to introduce some sort of innovation. Within the case of Fantasian, new options like a mechanic that allows you to banish enemies to a different dimension to battle later so that you could discover with out interruption, in addition to fight abilities based mostly round aiming, are key promoting factors.

However the obvious innovation is the way in which the sport appears to be like — and it was a lot of work. Each house you’ll discover in Fantasian, together with each inside and exterior places, is really a hand-made diorama. There are greater than 150 of them in whole, created by a workforce that included artists who labored on franchises like Godzilla and Assault on Titan. The method begins with idea artwork, after which the artists begin constructing props and different parts of the diorama. As soon as accomplished, the set is photographed, became a 3D mannequin, and transported into the sport engine, the place it will probably then be enhanced with results like lighting or fog.

Sakaguchi says that the method was “very tedious” and compelled the designers to method their creations otherwise in comparison with a conventional online game. “It’s a must to be very aware and intentional with the way you assemble the atmosphere, as a result of not like 3D CG the place I can add one other path or modify an atmosphere afterward, you don’t actually have that flexibility,” he says. It additionally took the workforce a whereas to search out a 3D scanning technique that would present the fashions with sufficient nice particulars.

Whereas he admits that “I used to be sweating a few occasions throughout improvement,” Sakaguchi says that the painstaking course of was essential to realize the look he desired. “You can argue, properly, for those who needed to make dioramas, you possibly can do a diorama-esque visible utilizing all 3D fashions, and taking part in with the textures, or lighting, or shading maybe. However as an alternative we opted for a far more analog methodology,” he explains, including that the workforce needed to be “actually cautious” with post-processing, in order to not spoil the impact.

The handcrafted feeling was additionally well-suited to Apple Arcade, the place many gamers can be controlling the sport through touchscreens. “There’s an attention-grabbing synergy between touching one thing with your fingers and palms by the display screen that has been created by these artisans by hand,” Sakaguchi says.

Fantasian can be playable on iOS, Mac, and Apple TV, and Sakaguchi says that, other than the contact controls, the sport hasn’t been tailor-made particularly to Apple Arcade. As an alternative, the purpose was to create a console-like expertise for cell units. He describes the sport as “a actually complete RPG expertise.”

Classic-style Japanese RPGs are having a resurgence of kinds, thanks partially to veteran creators both returning to or sticking by what they love. Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii began in 1986 and is nonetheless going robust, for example, whereas comparatively new sequence like Bravely Default are designed explicitly to convey lapsed followers back to the style. It’s a related story for Sakaguchi.

“Let’s be trustworthy, I’m within the latter chapters of my sport improvement profession, and every sport can take years to go from conception to launch,” he says. As a result of of this, he’s tackling initiatives that convey him “real pleasure” to work on. “I personally get pleasure from taking part in these sorts of video games, and that is what brings me back to it,” he says of his long-standing connection to fantasy RPGs.


Sakaguchi is additionally well-known for creating expansive universes, ones that usually develop past simply a single sport. It began with Final Fantasy and continued by to Terra Battle, which has already seen a sequel and spinoff, with extra deliberate. Proper now, that isn’t the purpose for Fantasian, which has been designed as a standalone expertise, in response to Sakaguchi.

No matter mission comes subsequent, Sakaguchi and the workforce at Mistwalker have to unravel a minimum of one drawback first — determining what to do with Fantasian’s 150 painstakingly crafted dioramas.

“That’s really one of the largest challenges we’re dealing with proper now, making an attempt to determine the place to retailer these items,” he says. “I actually don’t wish to should throw them away.”

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