Final Fantasy XIII-2 Roundtable: Art and Music

We picked the minds of the upcoming JRPG's composers and art director about their contributions and thought processes.

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After play-testing what seemed to be almost an entire day's worth of Final Fantasy XIII-2 last September, GameSpot also attended a roundtable discussion in Square Enix's Tokyo office in Japan. The targets for our inquisition were all involved with the aesthetics of the game: art director Isamu Kamikokuryo, and composers Mitsuko Suzuki and Naoshi Mizuta.

From our preview, it may be easy to presume that the game uses different types of art styles that could potentially look like a mess, but Kamikokuryu said otherwise. He said that even with Cocoon falling and the world close to ruin after the events of FFXIII, he was very careful in expressing the serious tone of the story and the world when compared to the prequel's beautiful but manufactured setting.

Kamikokuryu said that the character designs are built from the scenario and setting. Specifically, both of the new designs for Lightning and for Serah are reflected within the environments where they begin their journey, while, at the same time, the art team is making it as over-the-top beautiful, cute, and cool as possible. For Serah, he said that she was cute and girly in the prequel, but now she is a little more tough and battle ready.

A lot of purple and pink was used in the game's art direction.

Even so, he said that the balance between making a female character appealing for both genders of gamers was tough for him and his team. "We don't necessarily go into the design wondering what would appeal to both male and female gamers," he said, "but more of what design would end up the most memorable in their eyes and mindset. With Serah being more active in FFXIII-2, we wanted to maintain her natural feminine qualities, while still making sure that she looks like she can go into battle."

Gamers might recall from trailers and in-game footage that purple and pink have been used extensively as the main colors in the game. Kamikokuryo recalled that at the beginning, when he, Tetsuya Nomura, and the rest of the team were figuring out the main color scheme of the game's art style, the word "pink" was used a lot. As far as purple goes, he had learned recently how to use it in a good way and how to express it onscreen.

From there, the art team came to the conclusion that the colors fit very well with the environments and atmosphere. "There are instances where the line is blurred because these characters are not meant to be hyperrealistic and have a mysterious appeal to them," said Kamikokuryo. "The characters were meant to be a mix between realism and fantasy. If the end product is distinct from other titles, we've succeeded."

When asked about the possible problem of music styles clashing, Suzuki and Mizuta said that the direction given by director Motomu Toriyama was to craft something different with their team. This led to the decision of having three main composers creating the game's soundtrack together. They couldn't reveal how many songs from the prequel will be in FFXIII-2, but the majority of them will be in the game. The vocal tracks used weren't intentional at first by the music team, but when looking at the project overview, there was a lot of direction to insert verbal tracks into various areas of the game. This resulted in them being a little more creative and including a lot of their ideas into the game.

Speaking on behalf of composer Masashi Hamauzu, Suzuki said that his specialty is doing orchestra sounds that instill grandness. To make that work alongside his free-flowing style and Mizuta's structured and calculative style, he said that they had to balance and incorporate the soundtrack styles into each of the game's scenarios without coming off as a jumbled cacophony of sound. He felt that the collaboration had been quite natural.

No Chocolina pics for now, so you'll have to settle for Caius and Lightning staring angrily at each other.

When asked whether there was a set process in creating different Final Fantasy titles while maintaining the core elements of the series, Kamikokuryo, Suzuki, and Mizuta said that the direction their respective teams went for was to create something brand new. "If anything, it was one of the titles where we didn't have to worry about what we've done in the prior series."

Of course, the big elephant in the roundtable room was the inclusion of Chocolina in the game being either a stroke of genius or a fluke on the developer's part. Kamikokuryo said that the inclusion of the scantily clad vendor was nonchalant and harmless, but once she was integrated into the game, she was a stark contrast to the game's tone. "If gamers were to find it surprising and shocking, then it was a job well done on our part." Speaking of chocobos, Suzuki teased that there will be one specific chocobo that is classified as "off the wall," and gamers will be shocked to hear its theme music.

Despite the potentially clashing ideals of the game's aesthetics, the developers seem to have done an admirable job so far in making it all work for FFXIII-2. Time will tell if fans will feel the same way, though, when the game comes out in Japan on December 15, and in North America on January 31, 2012.

Discussion

33 comments
20years
20years

ok great . but put it in lesser disks this time (on 360)

Albaficas
Albaficas

hippiesanta Compared to all the others FF'S except ff10-2,14 yes it does suck Thats why its the worst ff to date.

Albaficas
Albaficas

The good thing about this game is that its coming soon Means that finally we gonna have more news about sony next exclusive game VERSUS wich is ofc the best FF comin this gen. 13 was the worst in the series,i expect less sales for 13-2 now that ppl played 13

Albaficas
Albaficas

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

KH-mixerX
KH-mixerX

@Sirbobislost: Umm, yeah it is optional. The option is right in the configuration menu if you look. And being attacked while you choose your actions isn't any different from the majority of the FF titles that exist. With exception some of earlier ones and FFX, the enemy always had the ability to attack you while you chose your own attack. It's okay not to like that, but if you criticize XIII for it, then you have to direct that criticism at the rest of the series as well. The only problem with FFXIII's combat system is that many people failed to learn how to use it properly. And in their ignorance, they overly simplified it. Which gave life to the bogus "mashing X" and Auto-Battle Button" arguments.

calvinsora
calvinsora

And on a separate subject, the developers for XIII Versus are obviously NOT the same as the developers for XIII-2. Them making this does not impede Nomura in any way, shape or form.

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

Two red flags have gone up in my head: "over-the-top beautiful, cute, and cool " - 'cute' and 'cool' clash together. A cute character cannot be in a cool scene because coolness has been removed by their mere presence. "insert verbal tracks" - No. No no no! Bad! In my opinion, songs make bad game soundtracks. Music adds to a scene, and music adds to words, but a song DIStracts from a scene. I had two main complaints about FF13: the lack of a very cool main character, and the flower-field music everywhere. All the main characters had deep personal issues, attempts at humor were ill timed, some essential character development was only revealed in the codex, and Vanille sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard; Sid was cool, but he was minor! Where's my Barret, Locke, Edgar, Auron, and all the other cool characters?! And why did the music suggest adventure through summer flower fields when exploring the ruins of the broken wall in Cacoon? Overall, I think that it was good to play, but I felt that essential character traits and music were poorly handled, and based on this interview, I have little faith in XIII-2. Where's Versus?!

Dennarai
Dennarai

Where's Versus? Squeenix! Stop making these crappy versions and release the one that actually might be good.

TBoneTony
TBoneTony

Well I may as well wait for what may be my final ride into the final fantasy universe unless if Squaresoft ever decides to finish Final Fantasy Verses XIII Still pissed that there has been no release of that game yet.

sulaymanqazi3
sulaymanqazi3

if u think ff13 is bad, then you should leave.

franzito
franzito

I don't have great expectations on this one. Besides, Mr. Mizuta IMO is a rather average composer whose compositions tend to be bland and forgettable. And FF XIII-2 OST has 4 CDs... Why not calling back Junya Nakano?

toddx77
toddx77

I bet SE made this instead of finishing Versus because all the casuals and new FF fans couldn't handle a real FF game like Versus is going to be lol.

RAGEofSTUNTS
RAGEofSTUNTS

Can we get full games like XIII Versus first before we start blowing money on dlc/expansions?

bad_fur_day
bad_fur_day

Are SquareEnix trying to kill Final Fantasy or what? They're doing a good job.

Thegamer16
Thegamer16

Will some one put me in a medically induced coma, and wake me up on January 31?!

calvinsora
calvinsora

This is becoming one of my most anticipated games of next year. Right after Bioshock Infinite, of course.

VaanXPenelo
VaanXPenelo

Wow, if they keep telling us all this stuff, what's to look forward to in the game itself?

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

Interesting. I've always loved the way Japanese games have such excellent art direction. I've only rarely seen Western games manage to come close (The Witcher 2 came close, and Gears of War had the right idea but wasn't quite as imaginative as I would've liked). Here's to the amazing art direction of Japanese games, and to the hope that Western developers will learn a thing or two from them.

GreyMarine
GreyMarine

The only thing that makes XIII bad is the Victory Battle theme. I mean, WTH? I want the old FF Victory Theme!!! Other than that, The battle, the art, the story, is F@CKING FANTASTIC !!! WHY IGNORE????

IAMSHAWN
IAMSHAWN

@Sirbobislost First thing I did when I got the game was switch default from auto-battle to abilities. They're gonna keep attacking you either way since you have to wait for the atb to fill up. And if you cant pick your moves before that happens, It's not that battle system that sucks... it's you.

roboccs
roboccs

@hippiesanta: I agree. XIII was fun. While I'll say it wasn't as great as some of the earlier FF's, it is still fun in its own way. I liked the characters, the music was pretty good, and no matter what others say, I love the battle system. It is intense, you have to actually think and strategize while being attacked so it makes it even more intense, and when you beat a tough boss or enemy, you feel pretty good about it

hippiesanta
hippiesanta

FF13 didnt fail as many people claim.

stick2zero
stick2zero

Just Change the Battle system for this one. Paradigm shifting is kind a gay to me!

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@KH-mixerX Its not really optional while I'm selecting my attacks the enemy is still attacking so I'm punished for my choice so it's hardly optional is it? I'd also like control of my party members as well all this automatic stuffs alright but they could of added a mode for people who don't like that Besides combat wasn't the only problem with ff13 it's just one that would of made me overlook the rest

banana23man
banana23man

when i heard that ff13-2 was coming out and changes are gona be made, i made myself play ff13 just so I can give SE another chance when FF13-2 comes out. I only managed to get past the 1st hour before taking out my psp and continuing my 50 hours long save game of ff7 (only on my 1st disc).

KH-mixerX
KH-mixerX

@Sirbobislost: Y'know using the auto-attack button is entirely optional right? You can even go into the configuration menu and select an option that makes it so the default spot for the cursor to start on is below the auto-attack button. The whole auto-attack criticism is completely flawed and weak. Besides, is hitting the auto-attack button in FFXIII really so different from hitting the attack button in any other FF?

Glacius-V
Glacius-V

I have lost faith in what used to be an epic company.I feel this will be fail outside of the art itself.I hope I eat those feelings come Jan 31. I would really like my faith restored in what used to be my favorite franchise.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

First FF game ever ive got nearly no interest in buying due to FF13 unless there's been some major overhaul to the combat system (getting rid of the auto attack button would be a good start) I doubt I'll ever get it........ok maybe when its half price And WTH has happed to versus?!?!?

NoLifeGamin
NoLifeGamin

*sigh* Final Fantasy wasn't really the same after Nobuo Uematsu stopped composing epic music for the franchise