Today, July 7th, marks the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy IX. While it may not have reached global recognition the way VII had, it’s a common theme that IX has managed to touch the hearts of those who’ve played it. 

In the first in a series of special interviews from the Final Fantasy Portal Site, insight was given on what it meant to be “returning to roots” as well as favorite characters, enemies, minigames, and moments in the development. This time these come from Kazuhiko Aoki, who worked on event design and scenarios for the game. 

 

FINAL FANTASY IX celebrates its 20th anniversary on July 7! As an FF Portal special commemorative feature, we interviewed creators involved with the original development of FFIX: Mr. Kazuhiko Aoki, Mr. Toshiyuki Itahana and Mr. Hiroyuki Ito.

We bring you lots of content you can only read here, including memories of when FFIX was being developed, the creator’s feelings about the game and more!

In our first interview we spoke to Mr. Kazuhiko Aoki, who handled event design and scenarios for FFIX!

FFIX is sometimes introduced with the phrase “returning to roots.” Where did FFIX sit in the minds of the development team?

Aoki:

The slogans “returning to roots” and “return of the crystal” were there from the start. That’s why the setting of the game also has a medieval fantasy theme.

―It is true that compared to the science fiction elements of FFVII and FFVIII, FFIX made a sudden return to classic fantasy. There were even references to past FF titles, like character and vehicle names. Were those concepts also planned to be included from the beginning of development under the theme of “returning to roots”?

Aoki:

There were some things that were planned from the beginning, and then there were other elements that came about from those in charge of each part of the game during the creation process.

The newborn chocobo, named Bobby Corwen…smash those names together and you get Boco.

The foundation is 10%, and the remaining 90% comes from individual creators putting their own ideas and heart into a project. I think that’s the creation process of not only FF, but all games from SQUARE ENIX.

―Each main character of FFIX carries their own background story into the battles they face.

Do you have a favorite character? Please tell us your reasons as well, if you have any.

Aoki:

I did my best not to have any favorites, so as not to be biased toward any specific character.

There were backstories we wanted to elaborate on more, but sadly had to give up on due to time and data constraints.

At the time I wished I could have developed how Zidane is afflicted by the difference in social status between him and Garnet a little more. Illustrating the breakdown of relations with the nobles in Treno due to their disapproval of Zidane and Garnet’s relationship, Zidane butting up against the social confines he faces and the incredible power Garnet holds as royalty, and how Zidane gets back up on his feet despite all of that – I felt that would have done a lot to help further portray him as a character.

 
The rest of the interview discusses some interesting dialogue about NPCs, the reasons behind character designs, memorable pieces of dialogue, and other fascinating tidbits. Make sure to check out the full interview at the Final Fantasy Portal site for all the details.

You can also read about what we thought of Final Fantasy IX’s much later Nintendo Switch release, and grab it from the eShop today. More interviews will be coming sometime soon.

 

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.

Ricky Berg