Tag Archives: polygon

How the art of Final Fantasy character designer Toshiyuki Itahana influenced the series

Square Enix character designer Toshiyuki Itahana is the artist responsible for the round, cute chocobo design Final Fantasy fans see everywhere. The small chocobo who headlines the Chocobo Dungeon spin-off games is easily identifiable by his big eyes and fluffy feathers, as opposed to the sleeker, pointier chocobos we see in other games.

Itahana was the character designer for not just the chocobo spin-off games, but for the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles games, Final Fantasy 9, and Final Fantasy Explorers. His style is noticeably cuter and less edgy than the designs that players might think of when thinking about Final Fantasy. (I’m looking directly at you, Cloud and Squall.)

With Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy! recently releasing for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, we talked to Itahana via email about how he came up with this iconic design, the influence it had on other games, and why chocobos were picked to be the focus of the spin-off series.

[Note: The interview below was done using a translator provided by Square Enix and has been edited for clarity and style.]

Polygon: When you first started designing characters for the chocobo spin-off games, what did you originally plan to do? How did the current designs deviate from what you initially had planned?

Toshiyuki Itahana: All the chocobos that appear in the Final Fantasy mainline series seem to tend toward a sleek design, so I mulled over how to stylize these characters when I went to translate them into a so-called roguelike game, where they would move around the spaces on a square grid. Making them too round ran the risk of destroying the perception of that stylish chocobo. So I had initially tried drawing a more monster-like chocobo with a sharper beak, but the design didn’t turn out in a way that would help it become a beloved protagonist. Thus, while I made sure to incorporate chocobo’s characteristic elements, like the beak, crest, and talons, the final design ultimately ended up being the round, cute chocobo we have now.

The storylines of Chocobo’s Dungeon 1 and 2 were written by Mr. Kazuhiko Aoki, who was also the producer of Chrono Trigger. The story itself takes place in a very soft, lovable game world, so I think the round design matches it very well.

Chocobos have always been fairly cute and lovable since the beginning but your designs have managed to make them even cuter. Even more fearsome monsters like Bahamut and Behemoth have been made much more lovable. How did you go about tweaking these designs in a way that made them all recognizable, but still cute?

Thank you for asking such a flattering question. Generally, I keep the silhouette of the original design while enhancing the characteristic qualities. By designing them this way, even if these characters’ looks were to become more round and cute, I tried to ensure that players would still be able to recognize immediately, so they know “Oh, it’s this character!”

Aside from that, in order to give even the monsters a rich array of facial expressions, I make their head and eyes a little larger to allow them to emote better. I think that may be why they’re perceived as being cute. I learned how to do this sort of thing when I previously worked at a company within the Bandai Namco Group, which is famous for its toys.

Were there any other Final Fantasy characters considered to be the star of the spin-off series, or was it always chocobo?

In the case of Chocobo’s Dungeon, the initial concept was to create a game using the chocobo, who we knew and loved from the Final Fantasy series. As such, our considerations involved chocobos from the start. However, chocobos can’t speak. So our approach was to get a moogle ready as a partner who could take on the role of communicating the chocobo’s feelings to other characters in the game as well as the player.

The setup of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon, which served as the basis for the present Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy!, is that the protagonist is actually Cid, a character known from the FF series, and Chocobo is his partner. But Cid in Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon was apparently a bit too laid back because the story ended up being centered on Chocobo. [laughs]

Cid introduces himself and Chocobo in Chocobo Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy!
Cid a bit less cute than Chocobo is.
Square Enix Co., LTD.

The style you coined when designing for the Crystal Chronicles games looks like it influenced later Final Fantasy work, like the remakes of FF3 and FF4 for DS, though you didn’t directly have a hand in those games. The chocobo from the spin-off games even seems to make a cameo appearance in Final Fantasy 14. When designing these characters, did you think that it would have the impact on Final Fantasy as a series as much as it does now?

I hadn’t been very conscious of this, but I do think there have been titles with super stylized designs that have kindly used my work as reference, such as Final Fantasy Explorers.

Additionally, with art design staff who worked on Final Fantasy 9 and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles participating in the development of World of Final Fantasy, for example, design directions are being forged anew, using past experience and know-how. As such, I would venture to say that the range of direction, even when considering only games with super stylized designs, will widen even more moving forward.

With regard to Alpha from Final Fantasy 14, it turned out that the scenario staff member on the Final Fantasy 14 team was a Chocobo’s Dungeon player back when it was first released. When the plan came about for Omega to appear in Final Fantasy 14, apparently they had suggested that Chocobo should join because the character who has defeated Omega the most times in the history of Final Fantasy characters was Chocobo from Chocobo’s Dungeon! I was very happy to hear that story. It was a moment where I was glad I had continued on with the super stylized chocobo series.

Chocobo gets a sweet outfit in Final Fantasy 14.
Chocobo, as he appears in Final Fantasy 14
Square Enix Co., LTD.

Source: Polygon.com

Jax, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao confirmed for Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat veterans Jackson “Jax” Briggs, Kung Lao, and Liu Kang are coming to Mortal Kombat 11, according to a new story trailer for NetherRealm Studios’ fighting game.

That video, fittingly set to Ice Cube’s “Check Yo Self” (with a little bit of Vince Staples’ “Blue Suede”), shows younger versions of Jax, Kung Lao, and Liu Kang squaring off against future versions of themselves. In the case of Jax, it’s alongside his daughter, Jacqui, against an older and wiser Jax. But in Kung Lao’s and Liu Kang’s cases, they’re up against evil revenant versions of themselves.

Johnny Cage gets in on the beat-yourself-up action, trading broken bones and pithy quips. Kung Lao and Liu Kang show off some variations on old fatalities. A major showdown between Liu Kang (bad guy version) and Raiden (good guy version) appears imminent with the whole Kombat crew on the sidelines. And NetherRealm looks like it’s having a hell of a lot of fun with Mortal Kombat 11’s time-twisting storyline.

Mortal Kombat 11 is headed to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One on April 23.

Source: Polygon.com

No Man’s Sky getting PlayStation VR support

No Man’s Sky launched as a first-person game back in 2016, and this summer, players will be able to enter its cosmic expanse themselves: Support for PlayStation VR is coming to the game, Sony announced Monday during its first State of Play livestream.

The virtual reality support will be part of the free Beyond update for No Man’s Sky, which developer Hello Games announced earlier this month. It’s unclear how extensive the VR functionality will be — there’s no word yet on whether it will be possible to play the entire game in VR. The gameplay footage from State of Play, which you can view above, referred to a PSVR “mode included” in the game.

Hello Games’ Beyond update will also introduce a significant expansion of the game’s existing multiplayer functionality, which the studio described as a “radical new social and multiplayer experience which empowers players everywhere in the universe to meet and play together.” Beyond will be the “most ambitious chapter so far” in No Man’s Sky’s history, according to Hello Games.

No Man’s Sky debuted on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, and was later ported to Xbox One. There’s no word yet on whether support for VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift is coming to the PC version.

Source: Polygon.com

Five Nights at Freddy’s announced for PlayStation VR

Sony held a State of Play livestream news event today, and for the debut presentation, the gaming company unveiled a slew of virtual reality games coming to PlayStation VR. One of the spookier options, Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted, is slated to release sometime spring 2019.

In this version of the game, you’ll try to fend of haunted animatronics and scenarios from the original games — as well as new situations exclusive to the virtual reality version. In the debut trailer, you could see enemies coming toward the camera and performing their signature jump scares at the player. Also worth noting: Based on the footage, it seems that the player has to physically look around for tasks such as handling the camera. Likely, this detail will make looking back and forth between scenes all the more intense.

Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted is being developed by virtual reality studio Steel Wool Studios.

Source: Polygon.com

Marvel’s Iron Man VR coming to PlayStation VR in 2019

Marvel’s Iron Man VR is coming to PlayStation VR in 2019. The announcement was made today during Sony’s inaugural State of Play streaming presentation.

The trailer for Iron Man VR is mostly comprised of a combat sequence that takes place in mid-air. Tony Stark’s plane is ambushed by unknown forces. With the help of his digital assistant, FRIDAY, he leaps from the crippled vessel, dons the Iron Man suit, and goes into action. Players can clearly be seen using their hands to attack enemies with the Iron Man suit’s iconic hand blasters. The trailer also includes cutscenes clearly labeled as “not actual gameplay.”

According to Mavel’s own blog post on the announcement, Stark “confronts ghosts from his past — powerful forces who seek to ruin him and everything he stands for [alongside] iconic allies and Super Villains as they jet around the globe on a heroic mission to save not only Stark Industries, but the world itself.”

This particular Iron Man suit is called the Impulse Armor, and is a brand new design from illustrator Adi Granov. The Marvel post also includes an animation that appears to show some of the flight mechanics and maneuverability that the final game will offer players.

The game is in development by Camouflaj, and is a significant change in tack for the studio. It’s previous title, République, was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2012. The third-person stealth adventure was originally released episodically, before recently being ported to VR.

No price point was given for the game. The release window is listed as 2019.

Source: Polygon.com

No, you don’t have to restart your Sekiro game due to Dragonrot

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has an interesting system for death in which you’re allowed to resurrect yourself without losing experience or sen, but doing so does comes at a price.

Resurrecting yourself decreases your chances of recovering your Skill Experience and sen when you respawn at a Sculptor’s Idol through Unseen Aid, and it also increases the chances you’ll be given a Rot Essence item, each of which comes with a character’s name attached. Surprise! That character is now suffering from Dragonrot, and you can’t move that NPC’s story forward while they’re sick.

It’s very easy to abuse the resurrection ability early in the game before you know better, and it takes a while to learn what to do about it — so much so that you may be tempted to restart your game if you incur too many Rot Essence items. A few of us here at the office almost restarted, and it’s a popular conversation online.

But fear not! The condition isn’t fatal, and curing it isn’t very complicated. You can find instructions in our guide to Rot Essence and Dragonrot. Restarting your game out of frustration isn’t the answer, as much as it may seem like an easy way out in the first few hours of the game.

You’ll be constantly incurring Rot Essence as you die and resurrect throughout Sekiro, which means you’ll be periodically using items called Dragon’s Blood Droplets to cure everyone, but be aware that supplies are limited, so you’re going to need to use the item strategically. If you think you’re going to die often in the next hour or so, you may want to hold off on using your Dragon’s Blood Droplet.

But that’s just something to consider as you play, and it’s a world away from restarting completely. Dragonrot is curable. Your save game shouldn’t suffer just because you get frustrated early in the game.

Source: Polygon.com

All the games confirmed for Apple Arcade, a new subscription service coming this fall

Apple Arcade is a new subscription service coming this fall. During a live, on-stage presentation the hardware and software giant said Arcade will include over 100 new and exclusive titles when it launches. While pricing has yet to be unveiled, we do know the names of some of those titles.

A press release, posted shortly after the event, also says that Apple is doing more than just curating a selection of the best new titles. They’re also helping to develop them.

“Apple is not just handpicking the games in Apple Arcade, but also contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring the games to life,” Apple said in the press release. “Made by some of the most critically acclaimed game developers in the world, Apple Arcade games will entertain customers with incredibly fun gameplay and immersive stories, while capturing imaginations with original art and music.”

Many more new titles are clearly in the works. During the presentation Apple showed a list of at least 32 different developers and publishers, including Disney, Devolver, Cartoon Network, and Platinum Games.

Source: Polygon.com

PlayStation State of Play livestream: watch it here

Sony Interactive Entertainment will broadcast the debut episode of State of Play today, a new show that promises updates and announcements on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR games. State of Play sounds like Sony’s take on a Nintendo Direct or Inside Xbox — a video-heavy digest of news and trailers untethered from a major gaming event like E3 or Gamescom.

PlayStation State of Play will kick off today, March 25, at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, and can be viewed on PlayStation’s Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels. You can watch it above, via YouTube.

What can we expect from today’s episode of State of Play? Well, we’re just a month away from the release of Days Gone on PlayStation 4, so it’s likely Sony will give Bend Studio’s zombie game some attention. Perhaps we’ll hear more about other upcoming PlayStation exclusives, like The Last of Us Part 2, Death Stranding, and Ghost of Tsushima, but considering how little pre-show hype we’ve heard, don’t count on those games featuring. Instead, we may get some updates on Sony Interactive’s upcoming PlayStation VR slate, which includes Blood & Truth, Everybody’s Golf VR, Trover Saves the Universe, and Ghost Giant.

Source: Polygon.com

Apple Event: All the news on Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus

Everything we know about Apple’s gaming and TV services

Apple’s March 25 event at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Cupertino, California, campus featured a host of announcements about Apple services. The company lifted the lid on its long-awaited streaming television platform, Apple TV Plus, and unveiled a subscription service for iOS-exclusive games, Apple Arcade. Both of them will go live in fall 2019 as monthly subscriptions, although Apple did not announce pricing. There wasn’t much beyond a sizzle reel when it came to footage of Apple TV Plus shows. But the company did trot out entertainers such as Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, J.J. Abrams, Kumail Nanjiani, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, and Big Bird to discuss projects such as Amazing Stories, See, The Morning Show, Little America, and Little Voice.

Source: Polygon.com

World of Warcraft players will be able to strip down without losing stats

Part of the fun of World of Warcraft is getting to customize your own character. There’s ton of gear in the game, ranging from class themed item sets to individual pieces of leveling gear. Players have a transmogrification system that allows them to replace their existing gear with a new aesthetic, while keeping the sweet, sweet stats. World of Warcraft’s customization options are limited compared to other, fashion forward MMOs like Final Fantasy 14, but Battle for Azeroth has introduced many new ways to dress up a wider variety of dollies. The newest addition will be the ability to hide the chest slot, as well as eventually every slot … except pants. You have to wear pants.

In a Developer Q&A, Blizzard stated that players would be able to hide their ‘chest’ slot in future. There’s already the ability to hide a cloak, belt, or helm. Now, players will be able to rock a more Conan inspired look on their Orc barbarian, or show off their Lightforged Draenei, Nightborne, or Demon Hunters’ tattoos. This was a good start, but a post confirmed that more changes would be on the way. In response to a post reading “So why not let us hide EVERYTHING!”, a community manager wrote:

Okay! Done.

Except for the pants.

I spoke to the development team just now, and they are determined to make this a set of changes that give players ways to hide every slot.

Except pants.

We’ll let you know as soon as we have details on how that’s going to come about in a future update to the game.

This change expands the transmog system dramatically, because less can be more. I have countless pairs of bracers that are hidden by gloves, and I’m looking forward to showing them off. Battle for Azeroth has also brought race-specific Heritage Armor, replaced class-specific armor with Alliance and Horde themed faction sets, and the developers have also announced an intention to make more ‘silly’ gear transmoggable.

Overall, this announcement — and the pleased community reaction — is a reminder that less is more.

Source: Polygon.com