Gamespot recently had the opportunity to interview Yoshitaka Amano, concept artist for the Final Fantasy series, about his work with Square past and present, and about his projects outside the Final Fantasy universe. In the interview, Amano speaks about his initial involvement with Square's hit series, his approach to drawing for Final Fantasy IX, and his plans for future jobs. Excerpts from the interview are below. Head over to Gamespot for the full interview transcript.
GS: How did you initially become involved with the video game industry, and what are some games that you're working on?
Yoshitaka Amano: Well, the first one was Final Fantasy - I think it was in 1985, maybe. It was a new [genre] to be involved with, and Final Fantasy just happened to be the first game that I worked on. It was a new media for me, and it sounded interesting, so I decided to do it - not as work, but for fun. I had no expectation to be paid for it, because it was such a new thing. I just wanted to try it. To be honest, I still am not quite familiar with this industry. Currently, I am working on FFX, a game for Agent 13, and my original story, Hero.
GS: How were you involved with the development of Final Fantasy IX?
YA: I did the concept illustrations for the characters and the environments. The creation of my work and the production of the game happened simultaneously.
GS: Despite the success of FFVII and FFVIII, Square decided to go back to the character style of previous Final Fantasy games with FFIX. Do you have any insight on the thinking behind the decision to go back to the series' roots in designing the characters in this latest game?
YA: I was not involved in the decision making. It was Square's policy. I was talking to Mr. Sakaguchi, and he mentioned that it was a part of this big "stream" called Final Fantasy. It is a part of the world of Final Fantasy.
GS: Which style do you prefer? The more realistic look of FFVIII or the look of the FFIX characters?
YA: With Final Fantasy VIII, Square tried to challenge the PlayStation technology to its limits, and with Final Fantasy IX, they wanted to get back to the original style - the idea is that Fantasy is something that cannot be explained by science. But speaking of my images, I liked working on both Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX.