I was doing some research on Final Fantasy IV for my Legends of Localization stuff today and came across something pretty interesting.
It’s somewhat common knowledge among Final Fantasy fans that what we know as “Final Fantasy IV” was originally “Final Fantasy V”, and the real FFIV was planned for the Famicom. But it was supposedly only at the initial concept stages when it was canceled. If you’ve never heard this before, there’s a great article that touches on the subject over at Lost Levels.
First, here’s a portion of an interview from the August 1991 issue of “HIPPON Super!”:
–There’s something I’ve been wanting to ask about IV’s development; about the FC version of IV that was canned…
Sakaguchi: Ah, yes, that. (laugh)
–Was it a completely different project?
Sakaguchi: Yes. It was actually stopped while only at the initial concept stage, though.
–But when the FC version was canned, were any ideas brought over to this SFC version?
Sakaguchi: Yes, of course. We couldn’t just let the good ideas go.
–I think fans will be relieved to hear that. But it was completely different story-wise, wasn’t it?
Sakaguchi: No, the story wasn’t completely finished, so it wound up being canned while in an unfinished state.
That fits in with what else I’ve heard before.
But a few years later, in a “Dengeki Super Famicom” interview about FFVI’s development, this is what he said:
–Crystals are the symbol of FF, but I hear they won’t be in this new FF?
Sakaguchi: Yes, that’s correct. It takes place in a world where civilization has reached mechanization, and much of what was in previous FF worlds has been tossed out. That said, the world still has that European Middle Ages vibe to it.
–Will this be the last FF on the Super Famicom?
Sakaguchi: Hmm… Probably. This one will sort of sum up 1 through 5. I have no doubt it will be the pinnacle of FFs so far. But this is just one stop along the tracks. I’m sure there’ll be a 7 and 8 down the line, and this one will serve as the bridge.
–This is a bit of an old topic, but when you were developing 4 for the FC, you were developing 5 for the SFC at the same time, right?
Sakaguchi: A painful question… (laugh) 4 on the FC… When development was canceled, I told many game magazines in interviews that it had only been at the initial concept stage and that the story was never finished. I said there was nothing to it (laugh), but that was a big, fat lie. It was actually some 80% done. But I was filled with regret and answered with a lie as if dragging my tail between my legs.
–Do you still have the data/files for it?
Sakaguchi: I don’t really know much about that sort of thing, but I think we still have it.
I don’t actually OWN this issue of the magazine (and I don’t have an exact issue number at the moment) but if this is true then it’s extremely interesting. I’d love to see what it was intended to be like and how later games might’ve borrowed stuff from it.
Who knows, given that unfinished versions of old Square stuff have been leaked out in the past, maybe something relating to this will get out someday. I can only hope.
UPDATE: Doing some online sleuthing it looks like it might have been this issue of Dengeki Super Famicom:
In the corner it says it includes an interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi. It’s issue number 6 it looks like.
I actually found this on Yahoo Auctions Japan here but it’s over $40, yikes. I wish I could afford it 🙁
UPDATE 2: I finally bought this issue, but alas it wasn’t the issue I was looking for after all. I’m still on the hunt for a Dengeki Super Famicom issue and/or bonus insert that includes interviews about FFVI’s development…