DengekiPS: Many people are surprised that you're using spoken dialogue in Final Fantasy X, can you tell us how you came to this decision?

Kitase-san: Our staff was divided on the issue.

Nojima-san: The truth is, Mr. Kitase wanted to begin incorporating spoken dialogue from Final Fantasy VII.

Kitase-san: I thought it would be natural to use real voices for the characters, but we never had time to record dialogue before.

DengekiPS: But Final Fantasy X will include all spoken dialogue?

Kitase-san: Yes, but we had to also decide whether to include subtitles in English or Japanese, and how much town's people would speak.

DengekiPS: So how did you decide to balance everything, and what did the staff think of the final results?

Kitase-san: Well, we couldn't have everyone speaking, including shopkeepers. [laughs..] Obviously, important events will have all spoken dialogue, but voice is also used in a variety of places. Everyone has been listening to the recorded samples from the beginning, so the voices aren't really a surprise to the team. What we did was stay away from using pop-icons for voice actors, we didn't want people to associate the characters with other people. Since we used traditional actors and this was their first time voice-over work, it was a difficult process.

DengekiPS: What about you Mr. Nojima, what did you think of the voice acting in relation to the scenario writing you've done for FFX?

Nojima-san: I think the addition of voices really has an influence on the game. Hearing lines spoken instead of reading them can change the way things are perceived. So we had to revise the storyline several times.

DengekiPS: Will players be able to turn off the voices or skip through them?

Kitase-san: Except for a few areas, you can skip over the voices. You can also turn them off completely in the game configuration.

DengekiPS: We understand the world maps will be completely 3D in Final Fantasy X, does this mean there will be no real view-change when walking into towns?

Naora-san: Yes, this time we decided to go completely polygonal. There's no real 'world map' equivalent in Final Fantasy X. In previous games, icons represented towns and places and the game would load these places separately as you entered them. In Final Fantasy X, towns and places are rendered as-is on the field. There is a subtle change when you enter dungeons and towns, but the transition process is far less noticeable than the map system.

DengekiPS: This new system has been called 'Active World,' how will it affect camera usage?

Naora-san: Until now, everything was prerendered so the action could only be viewed from one angle. Because Final Fantasy X is totally polygonal, the camera changes its perspective and corresponds to the movements of the characters. You can't control the camera yourself, but the system automatically selects the best angle.

DengekiPS: Getting back to the voice dialogue for a second, will the 'Facial Motion System' make spoken dialogue look more realistic?

Kitase-san: Yes, the animation staff suggested this. If we were going to add voices, we had to add facial expression also, they said. [laughs..] Using the capabilities of the PlayStation2, we can do facial expressions and voices all in real-time.

DengekiPS: Does this mean all sequences will be rendered on the fly?

Kitase-san: No, not quite. I'd say event sequences are split 50/50 between realtime and FMV. For large scale events, FMV just works better. The realtime events are perfect for when we want something to occur without interrupting the flow of the game.

DengekiPS: In some of the screens you've released so far, we see 'Shin' (spirits, Gods) have a deep connection to the game?

Noora-san: Right, we have Shin that represent earthquakes and typhoons and they appear frequently in the game. Players should think of them as a recurring theme in the game. On the Final Fantasy X logo for example, we have Yuna and the embodiment of a 'Shin.'

DengekiPS: Will players be able to summon these 'Shin'?

Kitase-san: Yes, but there are certain qualifications the player must meet. Aside from Yuna, there will be other characters than can summon 'Shin.' I can't go into specifics about that yet though.

DengekiPS: You've said previously that 'Ultimate Summon Spells' can be used to destroy some 'Shin,' can you explain this?

Kitase-san: For magic users, ultimate summon spells will be the things you really search for. Yuna is the only one who can use them. On your travels, Tidus is essentially her bodyguard.

DengekiPS: How did you come up with the character models for Tidus and Yuna?

Nomura-san: In the past, we've had characters on the fringe that were really cool. For Tidus, I wanted someone completely different from Cloud or Squall, a mischievous type. For Yuna, I wanted her to resemble Rinoa from VII because of her innocence and honesty.

DengekiPS: The characters look much more Asian this time, don't they?

Nomura-san: Yes, I was asked to make them look that way. I did try to vary the characters, so they don't all look the same. In the case of Tidus, I really wanted him to stand out from the others. He's a blitz-ball player, which is like a mixture of basketball and soccer. It's played with teams of six, and you pass and score goals like normal sports. It's similar to rugby as well, so there's an element of violence to it. [laughs..]

DengekiPS: Will we actually be able to play Blitz-ball in Final Fantasy X?

Kitase-san: Yes, it's a mini-game and very easy to play. The sport itself does carry over into the storyline, and other characters are blitz-ball players, so it's fairly central to the game.

DengekiPS: You mentioned before that Final Fantasy X is intentionally more Asian influenced. How does this relate to sound?

Kitase-san: We explained the storyline and ideas to Mr. Uematsu, and it will be somewhat Asian influenced as well. We're still not sure whether the sound will be 5.1 channel compatible, but Mr. Uematsu is working hard to finish the music. As you know, Rikki has been chosen to perform the theme song.

DengekiPS: Lets get back to the storyline for a minute, can you give us any more details?

Nojima-san: One of the main themes is travel. We want players to completely explore the world, and we wanted to create something that loosely resembled contemporary life, but was also entirely unique. Final Fantasy X has a strong Asian influence also because all the previous titles in the series have been more European styled. The world looks vaguely similar to some places in Southeast Asia because that's the style we were going after. Particularly the way Western culture and Asian architecture are juxtaposed.

DengekiPS: Interesting, can you tell us what the world in Final Fantasy X is like? Is it made up of many islands like Asia?

Nojima-san: The world is similar to previous Final Fantasy games in the sense that there are separate countries with leaders. Unlike Final Fantasy VII and VIII though, the world hasn't progressed to a mechanical age. There are different races and castes of people. Tidus and Yuna are from different castes, and that factors into how they react to one another in the story. Things that are natural for Yuna are totally foreign for Tidus. This happens so frequently in the game, that you'll keep hearing Tidus say; 'What the..?' [laughs..]

DengekiPS: The one thing we really haven't seen are combat scenes. Has the system been changed much?

Tsuchida-san: It will utilize the same 'random encounter' battle system as previous Final Fantasy games. Similarly, the screen will change when you go into battles. For bosses though, you move directly into battles with no real change. Summons will still play a large part during battles as well.

DengekiPS: How many players can you have in your party?
Kitase-san: It's hard to explain, and I can't go into specifics yet. But normally, you can have three characters in your party. During battles however, you can have other characters join you.
Tsuchida-san: On the PlayStation 2 we could have included as many characters as we wanted per party. But in battles, when you have to put in commands for all of them, it slows things down. So we've adopted a system that lets you call other characters in whenever you need them.

DengekiPS: What about magic, what can we expect?

Kitase-san: Final Fantasy VII had a more realistic atmosphere, so magic became more complicated. But in Final Fantasy X, we're going completely the other way. The magic will be much more 'fantasy' styled this time around.

DengekiPS: What about limit break techniques?

Tsuda-san: Yes, they're also included. I think limit break techniques can also help express the personalities of certain characters. In Final Fantasy X we've specialized limit breaks into elemental and magic categories.

DengekiPS: Tidus will use a weapon called the 'water blade.' Can we surmise that it will have special water abilities?

Tsuchida-san: Yes, Tidus does have a strong connection to water. But we didn't give each character their own element per say.

DengekiPS: Tidus and Yuna seem destined to become romantically involved. Will the choices of players factor into the storyline at all?

Nojima-san: To some extent, yes. It's important to pay attention whenever the game prompts you to make choices. [laughs..]

DengekiPS: Will series favorites like Chocobo and Sid appear in X?

Kitase-san: Everyone asks that! [laughs..] Chocobo will appear as a form of transportation, and it's safe to say Sid will make an appearance as well.

DengekiPS: And the airship?

Nojima-san: Yes, but it will appear in a completely different form.

DengekiPS: Okay, any final words to your fans?

Kitase-san: With Final Fantasy X on the PlayStation 2, expect a leap like when we went from the Super Famicom to the PlayStation!

Core Magazine