Ten years is a very long time. Ten years ago in 2006, the Xbox 360 had been out for a year and both the Wii and PS3 were released. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare released the following year, thus starting the boom of first person shooters. The original iPhone didn’t even release until 2007; instead, the newest portable Apple device was the iPod 5G. NASA also launched their New Horizons space probe to perform a flyby of Pluto, which it just completed in October 2016. Ten years is not only enough time for the gaming landscape and smartphones to change completely, (as well as for NASA to launch a space probe to Pluto), it is also how long it took to finish the development of two very special games: Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian. Final Fantasy 15 began development back in 2006 as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy – a trilogy of games based upon the mythos of crystals being linked to deities. The three games were Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII, though over the next few years this changed significantly. Of the three games, the one most important to this discussion is Final Fantasy Versus XIII, as it was initially named.
As Final Fantasy Versus XIII, it began as a spin-off title that was darker in tone and allowed the development team to take a different approach. The development was led by Tetsuya Nomura, famous as lead director for the much-lauded Kingdom Hearts series. Then disaster struck as the game unexpectedly met with severe difficulties during development, and over the following six years it sadly only appeared in small fragments. The decision was then made to shift the game from the PS3 to the PS4 and Xbox One, so they switched from their original game engine to their newly-designed engine, Luminous Studio.
Then, at E3 2013, came the monumental moment where the game was publicly announced as Final Fantasy 15, rebranded as a mainline entry in the franchise. The development team was changed and reshuffled, with Hajime Tabata taking over as director, and development started from scratch. Amazingly, after multiple delays, the game was finally released last Monday and from reviews and my own impressions, it is fantastic!
The Last Guardian is another extremely interesting game. It started development in 2007, just after the release of the PS3, by Team Ico, the minds behind Ico and the critically-acclaimed Shadow of the Colossus, considered to be one of the best games released on the PS2. The Last Guardian was planned to release early in the PS3’s life and was shown off in both 2009 and 2011, though after this, word on the game ceased completely.
Over the next few years, many assumed the game to be dead, buried because of its incredibly troubled development. The game was considered to be progressing extremely slowly by Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony, and other studios were brought in to improve the code and game performance. The decision was then made to switch to the PS4 and even more teams were called to help adapt the code to suit the PS4.
Another major factor was the decision of Team Ico, specifically the director Famitsu Ueda, to leave Sony in 2011, due to “a sense of crisis” on hearing about the game’s delay. Many left to join other companies and work on other games. Despite leaving and forming a new studio, genDESIGN, Ueda still remained as the main developer of the game and worked alongside Sony to finish development.
Four years later at E3 2015, the gaming landscape was shaken when the game was officially announced to be coming to the PS4 in 2016. The rumours that it was dead were silenced and after the announcement the excitement was palpable. The game will release this Friday and much like Final Fantasy 15, early reviews are very positive.
E3 2015 was dubbed “The E3 of Dreams” by the former team of GameTrailers, currently Easy Allies, and I must say I agree. Final Fantasy 15 and The Last Guardian were both stuck in development hell for almost 10 years, and looking back it is a miracle they are being released at all, proving that dreams really can come true.