Final Fantasy VI on the Super Nintendo marked a grand change in direction and tone for the series. The shift wasn't as noticeable out West, which didn't receive the second, third, and fifth games and thus didn't have much of a foundation to build expectations on. Japanese players, however, were surprised to find a steampunk world drastically different than the pure fantasy settings they'd been accustomed to, along with a greater focus on individual characterization.
As part of its "The Making Of" feature series, Edge magazine interviewed Yoshinori Kitase, FFVI co-director in charge of event planning. He explains that each of the character vignettes were conceived by various team members and he helped tie them together -- Kitase himself fleshed out the stories for Celes and Gau. He also goes into detail about how the team decided on having each of the principal cast be a lead character in turn, giving players an opportunity to hop into their shoes and learn their backstories one by one.
Despite the demanding debug phase towards the end, development of Final Fantasy VI lasted only one year, and it was able to launch on schedule and within budget. My favorite nugget comes straight from Kitase: "I miss the limitations of making games in those days. The cartridge capacity was so much smaller, of course, and therefore the challenges were that much greater. But nowadays you can do almost anything in a game. It's a paradox, but this can be more creatively limiting than having hard technical limitations to work within. There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI."
The Square of today could definitely learn a thing or two from its younger self, wouldn't you say? Check out the full article below for more wonderful insight.
The Making Of: Final Fantasy VI [Edge Online]