Final Fantasy Directors Discussion

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Keyblade Master
Oct 28, 2013
Final Fantasy is a large and long-standing franchise. A franchise with many people behind it. Like films, out of the many people that assist with its creation, the director receives the most credit and, in some cases, the most backlash. So I want to know what the folks here think about the directors that have created the various FF games over the years and brought the franchise to where it is today. In addition, to also voice where they want to see the series go and who they believe could bring it there.

To save you from having to do too much searching, I've complied a simplistic list with all the directors and their FF-related projects while working at Square-Enix. If I missed anyone or anything, be sure to let me know so I can make the necessary changes.

Hironobu Sakaguchi
  • Final Fantasy
  • Final Fantasy II
  • Final Fantasy III
  • Final Fantasy IV
  • Final Fantasy V

Hiroyuki Ito
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Final Fantasy IX
  • Final Fantasy XII
  • Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System

Koichi Ishii
  • Final Fantasy XI

Motomu Toriyama
  • Final Fantasy X (Event Director)
  • Final Fantasy X-2
  • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2
  • Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Naoki Yoshida
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Hajime Tabata
  • Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-
  • Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-
  • Final Fantasy Type-0
  • Final Fantasy XV (Co-director)

Takayoshi Nakazato
  • Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-

Takashi Tokita
  • Final Fantasy IV DS
  • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light

Yasumi Matsuno
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Final Fantasy XII

Yoshinori Kitase
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy VIII

Tetsuya Nomura
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
  • Final Fantasy XV (Co-director)

Toshiyuki Itahana
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

Kazuhiko Aoki
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

Squirrel Emperor

Sep 26, 2013
Hironobu Sakaguchi should be credited for directing Final Fantasy VI as well.

1UP: From there, you took a much bigger role with FFVI. Can you talk about what you wanted to accomplish with this game?

YK: With FFVI, my role was similar to what it had been with FFV, except that the volume of the game grew once again exponentially. So the team of people working on the event scenes and scenario side grew to about four or five. And, of course, Sakaguchi was the director and had primary control overseeing those aspects of the game as well. But he'd also become very busy at that time after becoming vice-president of the company and had a lot of other projects going on. He couldn't put 100% into FFVI, so I took charge of more of those event scenes.
Likes: APZonerunner


Network Boss-man
UFFSite Veteran
Site Staff
Jul 25, 2013
Solihull, UK
Hiroyuki Ito I think is the strongest director they have, though as FF9 and FF12 prove, he needs to be paired with somebody who has strong story sensibilities - Sakaguchi and Matsuno in those cases. If you do, he will consistently make the best games in the series, IMO.

I also think it's time to not let Toriyama direct another FF game. I like Revenant Wings and XIII, but please, no more...
Yep. I think after LR he'll get his break. I think it'll be good for him (and Kitase) to maybe get the light to make something original now, break away from FF expectations and conventions. It isn't good for the devs to be stuck in one creative zone for years on end either.

I think its time for Square to find new people with creative ideas and respect for the huge history of FF like Yoshida
Also Ito should direct FFXVI ;)
Couldn't agree with these two posts more. I actually asked Series Producer Shinji Hashimoto about new staff a few months ago:

RPG Site: A question about talent; it's 16 years since Nomura-san stepped into the spotlight with FF7, longer for Kitase-san and so on -- but I feel like we haven't seen as many new young bucks coming up into the FF series in the last five to ten years. Do you internally have your eyes on developing young talent within the FF and KH teams? Do you have an idea who the next Tetsuya Nomura might be at this point?

Hashimoto: I just want to make sure - we have loads of other talent within Square Enix already! [laughs] However, because they're still junior or are quite young, there has been no opportunity to introduce them, to put them in front of the public just yet. Please be assured that there are loads - and you will probably see them soon!

Of course, at E3 this year and Japan Expo this year, we've seen that so many people still appreciate Final Fantasy and still appreciate Kingdom Hearts... that is very, very unique proposition we've got as a company.

That's why we need to treat these two big IPs very carefully, with staff we present, too - they're very important.
So he says they exist. I hope we see some great new hot property developers Square has been nurturing behind the scenes in the coming years for this console gen.


Keyblade Master
Oct 28, 2013
I also would like to see some fresh blood in the directorial chair. That or see Square-Enix give someone like Tabata a fair shake at a mainline title. His addition to the XV Team is what got me hooked.
Nov 29, 2013
I'd like to think that having new blood for a direction at times can be better than the alternative. Naoki Yoshida saving FFXIV by revamping the story to be more in line with Final Fantasy, as well as reinventing the gameplay is an example. Non-related to FF, I believe Ashraf Ismail did a great job on Assassin's Creed IV, and it felt fresh compared to the disappointment that was Assassin's Creed III.

Even though Nomura's the director for the Kingdom Hearts series, FFXV is his first mainline title in Final Fantasy. He's already clearly steering it in a different direction than what you would typically expect from Kingdom Hearts. Character designs, for instance, are unusually simple for a man like him, which makes you wonder what's he's going for with this game. It's a new experience, and the rush of creativity is different than a seasoned veteran would have. We humans thrive when we are faced with the unknown and are allowed to adapt using all the tools we've gathered. Having a goal, a burning passion, and the diligence to work hard is ultimately more powerful than talent.

If people think always having the same team to work on something is good, then I can only point out at Sonic the Hedgehog as an example of how the same people can actually hold a franchise back. Look at how the franchise fell after Sonic Adventure 2 and how it slowly climbed back up when unknown names took the helms of Sonic Unleashed and beyond.