Final Fantasy’s Creator Has Claimed That Western Video Games Are Not His Inspiration

In March, Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida expressed his opinion that the name “Japanese role-playing game” (JRPG) is “discriminatory,” sparking a heated discussion about the origins of JRPGs and the term itself. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the developer of Final Fantasy, recently spoke on a panel on the decline of the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) in the 2000s and how he no longer finds Western games inspiring.

The panel discussed the canon of Japanese video games from the first appearance of Dragon Quest in 1986 to recent successes like Final Fantasy XIV, as reported by IGN. Sakaguchi claimed that Japanese video games were so successful in the ’80s and ’90s because Japanese creators were so proficient with home consoles like the NES and PS.

“At the time, people in the West saw pixel art and three-heads-high characters as something for children,” Sakaguchi said. “It was frustrating that our games were struggling there, as we wanted to find a way to expand our business. That finally happened when we incorporated CG for Final Fantasy VII.”

Final Fantasy's Creator Has Claimed That Western Video Games Are Not His Inspiration
                               Final Fantasy’s Creator Has Claimed That Western Video Games Are Not His Inspiration

During the PS3 era, Sakaguchi said, the differences between console and PC development began to blur, making it difficult for Japanese developers to keep up. Moreover, he mentioned that Japanese ones influence many Western games. However, he doesn’t see it the other way around.

“In the West, children often get their room from a very young age, while in Japan, the whole family sleeps together in the same room,” said Sakaguchi.

“I think that such small cultural differences can be felt through the games we make today. Even when Western games became mainstream, I didn’t feel the need to be inspired by them. I believe that cherishing my Japanese cultural background attracts people towards my games in the first place.”

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Igavania-style games like Hollow Knight, according to fellow panelist Koji Igarashi (famous for directing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night), have become one of the most popular genres in the indie industry. He joked, “Please leave my field,” before adding that he should consider Metroidvania creators his buddies because they all work together to improve their craft.