The Art of Final Fantasy

  • Posted March 25th, 2008 at 10:30 EDT by

In light of the US release of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII for PlayStation Portable, PSU thought we’d delve further into the bowels of this illustrious series, and scrutinize a particular element that has become virtually synonymous with Final Fantasy as a series; art direction. Indeed, from the perspective of Isamu Kamikokuryo, Art Director at Square-Enix, expression through art is what impels the Final Fantasy universe as a whole.

Final Fantasy has always been identified by its distinctive artistic expression through environmental detail and character appearance. It is what separates itself from the profusion of other videogames and their innovations. While it may be a great joy to look at, a lot of thought is placed upon this aspect that many may not distinguish. For instance, Isamu Kamikokuryo has taken trips to New York City to observe architecture both new and old, visited the Grand Canyon for its evocative scenery and ventured Italy to view ancient ruins. All these elements have been put to use on future Final Fantasy projects, such as the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII compilation, which he is currently working on.

For Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII, it took nearly a year of pre-production solely centralized inside the art department. Surely it can be concluded that the art of Final Fantasy is something to be undertaken with only the most refined level of care and responsibility. As a result, I would like to take the time to highlight some of the inner details to the art of Final Fantasy through the perception of Isamu Kamikokuryo.

In terms of visuals, what is the initial thought that springs to mind when you hear or read the word, “Final Fantasy”? Perhaps it could be the ultramodern clothes, the profligate hairstyles, or the dazzling environments. Who knows, perchance it could be all those I just outlined. Either way, many individuals would probably conclude that there is essentially a distinctive “Final Fantasy look”. Kamikokuryo, however, insists this is not the case, as each instalment receives many changes in terms of the art direction taken. Just think of the modern design of Final Fantasy VIII compared to the more renaissance design of Final Fantasy XII.

Personally for me, the fashion is something that has always stood out. Being the fashion enthusiast that I am, I utterly adore the direction that many of the Final Fantasy games have taken in this field.

Regarding this particular aspect, Kamikokuryo explains:

“When you look at the games in the past, there are some limitations on expression. So you have to let the user expand their imagination. We take in some trends from fashion, to make it more entertainable for the game user. So people who like games enjoy the game and people who like fashions will enjoy the clothes.”

Kamikokuryo presents an appealing outlook on each character’s fashion, something of which can be noted with much of the Final Fantasy games from FFVII and beyond. No Giorgio Armani here, but the wardrobe of an individual character is more than just sheer design; it is almost an expansion of the character’s personality itself.

Beyond the fashionable aspects in Final Fantasy resides something that numerous gamers have associated the series with – namely, its breathtaking CGI sequences. Whether it is the heartbreaking FFVII scene where Aeries loses her life to Sephiroth, the touching ballroom dance sequence in Final Fantasy VIII, or the dark and gritty trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, CG has always played a significant role in many of the most recent Final Fantasy titles.

Kamikokuryo explains the how the CG teams working closely with the in-game art teams to ensure that the experience is gratifying:

“The CG and in-game teams are separate, but in a natural way we want the two to work together and be in harmony with another. The CG section also works on some high end visuals and visual expressions so there are not ceilings for that, no limitations.”

There is a notion that CG graphics and in-game graphics is beginning to narrow. This can be seen in all games from many developers as the technology improves, it is coming ... (continued on next page)

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