Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII[a] is a science fiction role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles and later for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Released in Japan in December 2009 and worldwide in March 2010, it is the thirteenth title in the mainline Final Fantasy series. The game includes fast-paced combat, a new system for the series for determining which abilities are developed for the characters called "Crystarium", and a customizable "Paradigm" system to control which abilities are used by the characters. Final Fantasy XIII includes elements from the previous games in the series, such as summoned monsters, chocobos, and airships.

The game takes place in the fictional floating world of Cocoon, whose government, the Sanctum, is ordering a purge of civilians who have supposedly come into contact with Pulse, the much-feared world below. The former soldier Lightning begins her fight against the government in order to save her sister who has been branded as an unwilling servant to a god-like being from Pulse, making her an enemy of Cocoon. Lightning is soon joined by a band of allies, and together the group also become marked by the same Pulse creature. They rally against the Sanctum while trying to discover their assigned task and whether they can avoid being turned into monsters or crystals at the completion.

Development began in 2004, and the game was first announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2006. Final Fantasy XIII is the flagship title of the Fabula Nova Crystallis collection of Final Fantasy games and is the first game to use Square Enix's Crystal Tools engine. Final Fantasy XIII received mostly positive reviews from video game publications, which praised the game's graphics, presentation, and battle system. The game's story received a mixed response from reviewers, and its linearity compared to previous games in the series was mostly criticized. Selling 1.7 million copies in Japan in 2009, Final Fantasy XIII became the fastest-selling title in the history of the series. As of 2017, the game has sold over 7 million copies worldwide on consoles.[2] The Microsoft Windows version has sold over 746,000 copies according to SteamSpy. A sequel, titled Final Fantasy XIII-2, was released in December 2011 in Japan and in February 2012 in North America and PAL regions. A second sequel, titled Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which concludes Lightning's story and the Final Fantasy XIII series,[3] was released in November 2013 in Japan and in February 2014 in North America and PAL regions. In September 2014, Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy XIII series has been widely successful and has shipped over 11 million copies worldwide.[4] In November, 2018, the series was added to Xbox One backwards compatibility.[5]

Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII EU box art
Developer(s)Square Enix 1st Production Department
Publisher(s)Square Enix
Director(s)Motomu Toriyama
Producer(s)Yoshinori Kitase
Programmer(s)Yoshiki Kashitani
Artist(s)Isamu Kamikokuryo
Writer(s)
Composer(s)Masashi Hamauzu
Series
EngineCrystal Tools
Platform(s)
ReleasePlayStation 3
  • JP: December 17, 2009
  • WW: March 9, 2010
Xbox 360
  • WW: March 9, 2010
  • JP: December 16, 2010
Microsoft Windows
  • WW: October 9, 2014[1]
iOS, Android
  • JP: April 10, 2015
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

Gameplay

The player directly controls the on-screen character through a third-person perspective to interact with people, objects, and enemies throughout the game. The player can also turn the camera around the characters, which allows for a 360° view of the surroundings.[6] The world of Final Fantasy XIII is rendered to scale relative to the characters in it; instead of a caricature of the character roaming around miniature terrain, as found in the earlier Final Fantasy games, every area is represented proportionally. The player navigates the world by foot or by chocobo.[7] Players may save their game to a hard disk drive using save stations, where the player can also purchase items from retail networks or upgrade their weapons.[8] An in-game datalog provides a bestiary and incidental information about the world of Final Fantasy XIII.[9] The Final Fantasy XIII Ultimate Hits International version of the game, released in Japan, also contains an "Easy" mode option.[10]

Battle system

Final Fantasy XIII battle
The Final Fantasy XIII battle system, with the "Paradigm Shift" option, the Active Time Battle (ATB) bar filling beneath it with five slots and two actions queued, and the three active characters' health and roles displayed. The enemy's name and damage percentage are shown in the upper right corner.

As in Final Fantasy XII, enemies are integrated into the open field and can be approached or avoided by the player. When the player's character touches an enemy, the screen transitions from the regular map to a separate battle screen similar to those used in previous Final Fantasy titles.[11] A maximum of three characters may be used in battles, which use a variant on the series' traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system first featured in Final Fantasy IV. Under this system, the player selects an action from the menus, such as Attack, Magic, and Item. Unlike previous games in the series, the player only controls the lead character while the remaining two characters are controlled by the game's artificial intelligence (AI). Each action requires a specific number of slots on the ATB bar, which continually refills to a set maximum number of slots. The ATB bar gradually increases in size throughout the game from two slots to six.[12] The player may select less than the maximum number of possible actions, or may stop the filling of the ATB bar and perform as many actions as can be done with the current ATB amount. The player may select an autobattle command, which fills the ATB slots with actions chosen automatically. Actions cannot be performed outside of battle, and the characters' health is fully restored after each battle.[12]

Each enemy has a meter, called a chain counter, consisting of a percentage starting at 100 which increases when the enemy is struck by attacks or spells. Attacks by different roles have different effects; some raise the chain by a larger amount while others give the player longer before the chain counter resets. The amount of damage performed by an attack is multiplied by the chain percentage before it is applied to the enemy. When the chain counter reaches a preset amount, different for each enemy, the enemy is placed into Stagger State. In this mode, the enemy has lowered defense and may be launched into the air.[13] The Paradigm system allows the player to program six different roles which the characters can then assume to perform certain formations in battle in response to the specific conditions. The roles consist of Commando, a warrior-type role; Ravager, a black mage-type role which uses damage-dealing magic; Medic, a White Mage-type role which can heal and remove negative status ailments; Saboteur, which uses magic to weaken enemies by inflicting negative statuses; Synergist, which uses magic to strengthen allies by giving positive statuses; and Sentinel, which has protective and defensive abilities similar to a paladin.[14] Each of the characters can initially take on only three roles, but the player has access to all of them later in the game (although the other three roles are limited in their abilities for those players which choose them). The player can select which roles the controlled character and the AI characters are using both outside and during battle, which is the only way that the player can control the AI characters during battle.[14] The player can only choose from specific sets of paradigms that the player has set up beforehand outside of battle.[13]

Each leader or controlled character can summon a specific Eidolon into battle.[12] These summoned creatures include series staples Odin, Shiva, Alexander, and Bahamut, and newcomers Hecatoncheir and Brynhildr.[15] When summoned, the Eidolon stays in combat while the characters accompanying the summoner leave the party.[16] While an Eidolon is summoned, the player can trigger a feature called Gestalt Mode, in which the Eidolon transforms into a different form and performs different attacks while the summoning character rides them.[17]

Crystarium

The Crystarium is a leveling system consisting of six crystals and resembles the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X.[18][19] Each crystal in the Crystarium represents one of the six Paradigms, and is divided into ten levels. Each level contains various nodes that supply bonuses to health, strength, or magic, or provide new abilities and accessory slots. These nodes are connected by a semi-linear path. The player may advance down the path by acquiring Crystarium Points, which are awarded after defeating enemies.[20] The full Crystarium is not available to the player at the beginning of the game; at specific points in the game's plot, the player gains access to new crystals or levels.[21]

Synopsis

Setting

Final Fantasy XIII is set on the world of Gran Pulse (often simply called Pulse). Central to the story is Cocoon, a massive artificial sphere that floats above Pulse's surface and is ruled by the Sanctum, a theocratic government. The two worlds are controlled by fal'Cie /fælˈsiː/, mechanical beings with godlike power. The Cocoon fal'Cie are responsible for keeping Cocoon floating, as well as providing light and water to the people that live inside. Each fal'Cie handles a specific task.[22] The fal'Cie have the capability of marking the humans that live in Pulse and Cocoon as their servants. These servants, called l'Cie /ləˈsiː/, are branded with a symbol representing either Pulse or Cocoon and are given a "Focus"—a task to complete.[23] If the l'Cie complete their task in time, they are transformed to crystal and according to legend gain eternal life; otherwise they become mindless monsters called Cie'th /siːθ/.[24] The l'Cie are not explicitly told their Focus, but are instead given visions that they must interpret.[25]

Several hundred years before the events of the game, a battle known as the War of Transgression took place between Pulse and Cocoon. During the battle, l'Cie from Pulse attacked and ripped a large hole in Cocoon.[26] Eventually, the l'Cie completed their focus and were turned to crystal. The hole was patched with material lifted from Pulse, and Cocoon's citizens have since lived in fear of another invasion; this fear is used by the Sanctum to remain in power.[27] The Sanctum oversees two military branches: the Guardian Corps, responsible for keeping order on Cocoon, and the Public Security and Intelligence COMmand (PSICOM), the special forces in charge of dealing with any threat related to Pulse.[28] The fal'Cie have given the humans advanced technology, including flying airships and mechanical creatures, and a form of magic also exists. This magic is normally only accessible to l'Cie, fal'Cie, and various monsters in Cocoon and Pulse, though distilled chemical forms can be used by normal humans through the use of Manadrives.[29]

Characters

The six main playable characters of Final Fantasy XIII are Lightning, the main protagonist of the game, a former soldier and older sister to Serah;[30][31] Snow Villiers, Serah's fiancé and leader of NORA, a paramilitary group;[32] Oerba Dia Vanille, the game's narrator and an exile who is later revealed to be a l'Cie from Pulse;[33] Sazh Katzroy, a civilian pilot and father to a young boy, Dajh; Hope Estheim, a young boy who is struggling within the relationships he shares with his parents;[34] and Oerba Yun Fang, a l'Cie from Pulse who is working with the Sanctum's Cavalry branch.[35] Other characters include Galenth Dysley, the ruler of the Sanctum and main antagonist;[36] Cid Raines, a Sanctum Brigadier General in the Cavalry who does not trust the government;[15] and Serah Farron, Lightning's younger sister and Snow's fiancée.[31]

Plot

Final Fantasy XIII Cast
The playable cast of Final Fantasy XIII. From left to right: Sazh Katzroy, Snow Villiers, Hope Estheim, Lightning, Oerba Yun Fang, and Oerba Dia Vanille

In Cocoon, the citizens of the town of Bodhum are being evicted, or Purged, after coming in contact with something from Pulse.[37] Over the course of the game, the player is shown flashbacks of the events of the previous thirteen days, which began when a fal'Cie from Pulse was discovered near Bodhum. Lightning's sister Serah had found the fal'Cie from Pulse and been changed into a l'Cie by it. Lightning and Sazh derail a Purge train bound for Pulse in an attempt to save Serah. As Snow leads his resistance group NORA to rescue the Purge exiles, several of them are killed. Heading to the fal'Cie Anima to save Serah, Snow is joined by two of the exiles: Hope and Vanille. The two parties meet at the fal'Cie, and find Serah just as she turns to crystal. Anima then brands them as l'Cie and they are cast out into a different part of Cocoon. During this transformation, the newly crested l'Cie all have the same vision: a monster called Ragnarok.[38] Arguing over the ambiguous nature of the dreamed Focus, the party finds Serah in her crystallized form; Snow remains with her as the others leave.

Snow meets Cid and Fang, two members of the Cavalry, after he is captured and detained aboard the airship Lindblum. Meanwhile, the others flee from PSICOM before getting separated by an airstrike; Hope and Lightning travel to Palumpolum, while Sazh and Vanille travel to Nautilus. In Lightning's scenario, she unintentionally supports Hope's goal of killing Snow to avenge his mother's death.[39] In Vanille's scenario, Sazh discusses how his son Dajh was turned into a l'Cie by a Cocoon fal'Cie and was taken by PSICOM to discover his Focus.[40] In Palumpolum, Lightning attempts to dissuade Hope from going through with his revenge and meets Snow and Fang. Fang reveals that she and Vanille were l'Cie from Pulse who were turned into crystals; they were turned back into humans 13 days earlier, sparking the Purge.[41] Hope attempts to murder Snow, but after being rescued during an airstrike, he decides not to go through with it.[42] The four then flee the city with Cid's aid. In Nautilus, Vanille reveals herself to Sazh as a l'Cie from Pulse, and indirectly the reason that Dajh was turned into a l'Cie.[33] Sazh and Vanille are then captured and detained on board the airship Palamecia.

On the Palamecia, the other members of the party reunite with Vanille and Sazh before they confront Galenth Dysley, the Sanctum's Primarch, who is the Cocoon fal'Cie ruler Barthandelus in disguise.[43] Barthandelus tells the party that their Focus is to transform into the beast Ragnarok and slay the sleeping fal'Cie Orphan, who keeps Cocoon afloat above Pulse. Slaying Orphan will result in the destruction of Cocoon. The party flees and learns from Cid that the fal'Cie believe that Cocoon's destruction will summon the Maker, the creator of the worlds. The fal'Cie cannot harm Orphan themselves.[44] Vanille and Fang reveal to the party that they were involved in the War of Transgression centuries earlier, and that their Focus then had been the same: to transform into Ragnarok and attempt to destroy Orphan.[45] The party flies away to Pulse and journeys to Oerba, Vanille and Fang's hometown, where they hope to learn how to remove their l'Cie marks. The town is deserted, and they find no living people on the surface. The party is unsuccessful in removing their marks, and Barthandelus confronts them again. The party learns that Barthandelus has made Cid the new Primarch to create chaos in Cocoon to force the Cavalry to attack Cid and Orphan in a coup d'état.[46]

The party infiltrates Cocoon and heads towards Orphan but soon discover that the Cavalry have been turned into Cie'th. The party defeats Barthandelus, but Orphan awakens and merges with Barthandelus, then compels Fang to finish her Focus as Ragnarok while the others are seemingly transformed into Cie'th. The party reappears in human form, preventing Fang from transforming. The party defeats Orphan[47] and escapes Cocoon, which is now falling towards Pulse. As the rest of the party turns to crystal for completing their Focus, Vanille and Fang remain on Cocoon and transform into Ragnarok together to prevent a collision between Cocoon and Pulse. The rest of the party awaken from their crystallization on Pulse and find their l'Cie brands gone; Lightning, Hope, Snow and Sazh reunite with Serah and Dajh.

Development

Motomu Toriyama - Game Developers Conference 2010
Director and scenario designer Motomu Toriyama at the 2010 Game Developers Conference

Development of Final Fantasy XIII began in February 2004, shortly after the release of Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission in Japan.[48] At the time, the project was internally referred to by the codename "Colors World".[49] Over the first year, director Motomu Toriyama and scenario conceptor Kazushige Nojima conceived ideas for the plot. Nojima thought up the crystal mythology that became the basis for the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, including concepts such as the fal'Cie and l'Cie. Toriyama then created a story premised on this mythology. He wanted to portray "characters at the mercy of a predetermined, unjust fate" who "belong together but collide heavily". In order to achieve this, each of the story's thirteen chapters was made to focus on different protagonists. Chapters seven and eight were to mark a turning point in the interpersonal relationships of the party.[50]

In March 2006, when the structural part of the narrative started to come together, lead scenario writer Daisuke Watanabe joined the team. Toriyama gave him a rough outline of the first eight chapters, which included several cornerstone scenes that needed to be kept, like when party members were separated or reunited. He told Watanabe what he wanted to express with the scenario, and asked him to flesh out the story and to strengthen how the points in his outline connected.[50] For example, Toriyama's rudimentary instructions in the document would say "Snow and Hope reconcile".[50][51] Watanabe had to decide about how the scenes with this reconciliation would play out, then write the scenario that way. To emphasize what the story tried to express, Watanabe adjusted the personalities Toriyama had given to each character. For example, he felt that the party should not have a "reliable and calm leader type" at the beginning of the story, in order to more accurately show the confusion and unease after the protagonists transform into l'Cie. Toriyama has said that one of the storytelling challenges was the despair of the characters and the many points at which they are seemingly cornered. He mentioned the scene where Sazh tries to commit suicide as one such example: Although Toriyama felt it was "almost a little too dark", he wanted to include something like it in the game. In contrast, he said that lighthearted elements such as Sazh's Chocobo chick helped maintain a good balance.[50]

At the beginning of the development, the game was intended to be released on the PlayStation 2.[52] In May 2005, however, after the positive reception of the tech demo of Final Fantasy VII, the team decided to move the game to the PlayStation 3 and developed it with the new Crystal Tools engine, a seventh generation multiplatform game engine created by Square Enix for its next generation games.[53][54] Square Enix believed that developing a new engine would speed up development time later in the project, though it would initially cause a delay in the game's development. However, the delay was longer than originally anticipated as the engine had to accommodate the requirements of several other games in addition to XIII.[55] Another factor in the platform move was the delayed release of Final Fantasy XII, which came out a very short time before the release of the PlayStation 3.[56] A PC port was considered during development, but was decided against due to how Square Enix saw the video game market situation at the time as well as additional complexities that Square Enix did not have experience with related to the PC platform, such as security issues.[57] Final Fantasy XIII was first shown at the 2006 E3 convention.[58] The trailer shown was an artistic concept that did not represent the final concept for the game, since at the time there was no playable form of the game.[55] Announced alongside the game was Final Fantasy Versus XIII, later retitled as Final Fantasy XV, and the PlayStation Portable game Final Fantasy Type-0, originally titled Final Fantasy Agito XIII, the three of which form the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy series.[59] Square Enix explained that although all three games are thematically linked, they are not directly related in terms of story.[60]

The developers for Final Fantasy XIII were divided into multiple areas, with each developer or team focusing only on a specific task such as developing a specific in-game area or modeling characters.[55] Each physical area of the game was developed separately; after an initial design was approved, teams were assigned to a specific location and filled in details without reusing assets from other areas.[61] Several of the game's developers had worked on previous installments of the series. Director Motomu Toriyama had worked on Final Fantasy X and X-2; producer Yoshinori Kitase had worked on V through VIII and as the producer for X and X-2; main-character designer Tetsuya Nomura had performed the same role for VII, VIII, X, and X-2, and battle-system director Toshiro Tsuchida reprised that role from Final Fantasy X.[62][63] As XIII was the first Final Fantasy game for the PlayStation 3, the development team's internal goal was for the game to have the same "gameplay and craftmanship" impact that Final Fantasy VII and X had as the first games of the series on their respective consoles. They aimed to sell five million copies of the game.[55] Toriyama wanted the game to be "the ultimate single player RPG".[64]

Tsuchida's concept for the battle system was to maintain the strategic nature of command-based battles. The system stemmed from a desire to create battles similar to those found in the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.[65] Magic points (MP), which had been a part of the battle system in previous Final Fantasy titles, were removed in the game's battle system as Tsuchida and the other designers felt that it gave players an incentive to not use their most powerful magic attacks due to the MP cost, in turn making battles less interesting. The Paradigm system was designed early in the battle system's development, with the intent of making battles rely on quickly changing strategies and feel fast-moving. Originally there were only five roles, but the Saboteur was later added as the designers felt that its abilities were missing from the game and did not fit with the other roles. Together with the maximum of three characters in a combat situation, the groupings of enemies were designed to force the player to switch Paradigms to keep them engaged in the battles.[66]

Toriyama wanted Lightning to be a new type of female character with an athlete's body and a less feminine nature than some of the previous female characters of the series.[52][67] His guideline to Nomura was to make her "strong and beautiful", and she was intended to be reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife.[52][68] Fang was initially meant to be a male character, but the gender was changed to coincide with the updated character designs during the latter part of development.[69] The graphics capabilities of the PS3 and Xbox 360 compared to previous consoles allowed Nomura to use more complex elements in the character designs than before, such as Lightning's cape and detailed facial features.[70] This in turn meant that the art team had to do much more work for each character or area than in previous games.[71] Nomura did not take an involved role in the creation of the non-playable characters.[70]

Unlike previous games in the series which were more inspired by Asian locations and culture, Final Fantasy XIII was intended by the art team to be reminiscent of the United States. Pulse was based on landscape photographs the team took from across the country, and Cocoon was intended to be a "melting pot" of different ethnicities.[71] The setting was also given a science fiction aesthetic to make it stand out more in comparison with other entries in the series.[72] Art director Isamu Kamikokuryo revealed that many additional scenarios such as Lightning's home, which were functioning in an unreleased build during development, were left out of the final version due to concerns about the game's length and volume.[73] Kamikokuryo said the content they cut was, in itself, enough to make another game.[73] According to Toriyama, the cuts were made in "various stages of [the game's] development", and that some of the content was removed just before the game's completion.[64] The game, unlike previous titles in the series, includes no explorable town areas; Toriyama said in an interview that the team was unable to make them as graphically appealing as the rest of the game and chose to eliminate them.[48] Toriyama intended to have a piece of downloadable content available for the game that would include a new area, weapons and quests, but was forced to cut it as well due to quality concerns so late in the project and difficulties with the different systems for extra content on the two gaming consoles.[74]

A playable demo of Final Fantasy XIII was included in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete, released on April 16, 2009.[75][76] Toriyama stated that the release of the demo, which was not in the original development schedule, helped the team recognize a shared vision for what the game should look and feel like, a problem which had been plaguing the development team up until then. It helped the team prioritize the work that still needed to be done, which increased the development speed for the remainder of the project. The game was intended to appeal to both Western and Japanese audiences, and focus groups from both regions were used. The English localization began while development was still in progress to lessen the delay between the Japanese and worldwide releases.[55][77] The game was initially going to be released solely for the PlayStation 3, but an Xbox 360 version was announced late in the game's development cycle. The Xbox version, due to technical limitations, runs at a lower resolution (720p maximum) than the PlayStation version and is spread across 3 discs.[78]

Music

Masashi Hamauzu composed the game's soundtrack; his previous work on the series was as a co-composer for Final Fantasy X and as the main composer for Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII.[62] The game was the first main-series Final Fantasy game to not include any compositions by original series composer Nobuo Uematsu. Although Uematsu was originally announced to compose the main theme of the game, this role was taken over by Hamauzu after Uematsu signed on to compose the soundtrack to Final Fantasy XIV. The score features some pieces orchestrated by Yoshihisa Hirano, Toshiyuki Oomori, and Kunihito Shiina, with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.[79][80] The song "My Hands", from British singer Leona Lewis' second album Echo, was chosen to replace Final Fantasy XIII's original theme song, "Kimi ga Iru Kara" by Sayuri Sugawara, for the game's international release.[81] Square Enix president Yoichi Wada later said that it would have been better if the American branch of the company had produced a theme song from scratch, but a lack of staff led to the decision of licensing an existing song.[82]

Music from the game has been released in several albums. Square Enix released the main soundtrack album, Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack, on four Compact Discs in 2010.[83] The album sold 16,000 copies the day of its release.[84] Square Enix released selections from the soundtrack on two gramophone record albums in 2010: W/F: Music from Final Fantasy XIII and W/F: Music from Final Fantasy XIII Gentle Reveries.[85][86] An album of arranged pieces from the soundtrack, Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack -PLUS-, was also released by Square Enix in 2010, as was an album of piano arrangements.[87][88] For Life Music published a single of the theme song for the Japanese version of the game, "Kimi ga Iru Kara" (君がいるから, "Because You're Here"), in 2009.[89]

Versions and merchandise

Final Fantasy XIII Launch
Art director Isamu Kamikokuryo (left) and producer Yoshinori Kitase (right) at the Final Fantasy XIII London Launch Event at HMV in March 2010, which was hosted by Alex Zane (holding microphone).

The game was released in Japan on December 17, 2009, and in North America, Europe and Australia on March 9, 2010. Alongside the release of the game in Japan, Japanese alcoholic beverage distributor Suntory released the "Final Fantasy XIII Elixir" to promote the game.[90] On the same day, a Final Fantasy XIII PlayStation Home personal space was made available for free in Japan until January 13, 2010, along with a costume and personal space furnishings;[91] they were released to the Asian, European, and North American versions of PlayStation Home on March 11, 2010.[92] On December 18, 2012, the game was re-released as part of the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box Japanese package.[93] It was re-released again on November 21, 2013, as part of the Lightning Ultimate box, a Japan exclusive edition which includes Final Fantasy XIII and its two sequels.[94]

The game was released bundled with consoles in different regions. The game was bundled in Japan with a limited-edition white PlayStation 3 with a pink color print of Lightning on the surface of the console,[95] and with an Xbox 360 with the silver strip on the hard drive emblazoned with the Final Fantasy XIII logo in the western release. A limited quantity of themed Xbox faceplates created by Nomura were made available through a select few retailers in Europe, North America, and Australia. PAL territories received a limited collector's edition of the game for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with the Final Fantasy XIII Original Sound Selection "best of" soundtrack CD, three Eidolon art prints, a Brand of the l'Cie decal and The World of Final Fantasy XIII, a hardback book featuring character artwork, CG-rendered artwork, and environments from across the game production.[96] Square Enix published three Ultimania books: the Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania and the Final Fantasy XIII Battle Ultimania on January 28, 2010, and the Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Ω on September 30, 2010.[97] The Battle Ultimania provides a description and analysis of the new battle system and its components, and developer interviews.[98] The Scenario Ultimania describes the main scenarios in the game, profiles on the characters and areas in Cocoon and Gran Pulse, developer interviews, and details on each location.[99] The last guide, the Ultimania Ω, includes voice actor and additional staff interviews, the complete story of Final Fantasy XIII including additional character profiles, a collection of artworks and illustrations, and additional dissections of the story and background.[100]

While the game was released on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in western regions, the game was a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Asian territories.[101] This was changed in late 2010 when Square Enix announced that the Xbox 360 version would in fact release in Japan, despite many statements to the opposite.[102] It was later released for Microsoft Windows via Steam, along with its two sequels.[1] Final Fantasy XIII was the first game in the series to receive an official release in Chinese and Korean.[103] This was the first edition of a Final Fantasy game in which Japanese voice-overs could be enabled. An international version of the game for the Xbox 360 called Final Fantasy XIII Ultimate Hits International was released in Asia on December 16, 2010.[104] The game includes an "Easy" mode option, and features the English voices. It comes with a bonus booklet titled Final Fantasy XIII Corridor of Memory that contains content that was previously left out of the original version of the game and a short story epilogue titled Final Fantasy XIII Episode I.[10]

Final Fantasy XIII was released for iOS and Android devices via cloud streaming in Japan on April 10, 2015.

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
MetacriticPS3: 83/100[105]
X360: 82/100[106]
PC: 65/100[107]
Review scores
PublicationScore
1UP.comA−[108]
CVG9.2/10[109]
Edge5/10[110]
Eurogamer8/10[14]
Famitsu39/40[111]
Game Informer9.25/10[112]
GameSpot8.5/10[113]
GameSpy4.5/5[114]
IGN8.9/10[115]
OPM (UK)9/10[116]
Play7.9/10[117]

Final Fantasy XIII sold over one million units on its first day of sale in Japan,[118] and had sold 1.7 million copies for the PlayStation 3 in Japan by the end of 2009, and 1.9 million by the end of 2010.[119][120] Square Enix had anticipated high initial sales for the game and shipped close to two million units for its launch.[121] The game sold more than one million copies in North America in its release month. In March 2010, Square Enix stated that Final Fantasy XIII was the fastest-selling title in the franchise's history.[122] By April of the same year, American game sales for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 reached an estimated 800,000 and 500,000 units respectively.[123] According to Media Create, female gamers accounted for nearly a third of the game's Japanese fanbase.[124] As of July 2012, a combined total of 9.7 million units has been sold on consoles for both Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2.[125] As of January 2013, the game had sold 6.6 million copies worldwide.[125] In September 2014, Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy XIII series has been widely successful and has shipped over 11 million copies worldwide.[126] As of 2017, the game has sold over 7 million copies worldwide on consoles.[2] By April 2018, the Windows version has sold over 746,000 copies according to SteamSpy.[127]

Final Fantasy XIII received generally positive reviews. Review aggregator website Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version 83/100 based on 83 reviews,[105] the Xbox 360 version 82/100 based on 54 reviews,[106] and the Microsoft Windows version 65/100 based on 6 reviews.[107] It was rated 39 out of 40 by the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.[111] Dengeki praised the game for the battle system, stating that the battles are by far the most exciting in the series, and concluded Final Fantasy XIII deserved a score of 120, as 100 would not be enough.[128] The game was voted as the second best game of 2009 in Dengeki Online's reader poll,[129] and in January 2010, it was voted the best game ever in Famitsu's reader poll.[130] The game received a Best RPG of the year award nomination at the Spike Video Game Awards, but lost to Mass Effect 2.[131] It won the "Future Division" award at the Japan Game Awards 2009 and later won a Game Designers Award at the Japan Game Awards 2010.[132]

Universal praise was given to the technical milestones achieved by the game's graphics and presentation. Edge felt that Cocoon in particular was an "inspired setting [...] blessed with a vibrancy and vivid colour that often leaves you open-mouthed".[110] GameSpot called the art design "magnificent".[113] Further praise was given to the pre-rendered animation sequences[109][133][134] and the almost seamless transition of visual quality between these and the realtime gameplay.[133] Many also appreciated the game's soundtrack,[109][113] with Masashi Hamauzu providing "a score with catchy hooks and blood-pumping battle melodies", according to Wired.[134]

The battle system of Final Fantasy XIII received widespread praise. The increased pace of battles was appreciated, with several reviews describing it as "thrilling";[14][109] Edge's description of the battle system summarized it as "among the genre's finest".[110] 1UP.com said that "Despite the fact that two-thirds of your party is AI-controlled, FFXIII's battles may be the most involving the series has ever seen."[108] The story got a mixed reception, with Wired remarking that the plot was "a little more human and less esoteric than in previous games".[134] 1UP.com felt that the story was "hardly world-class writing", but that the writers clearly knew the medium well and had attempted to avoid clichés.[108] Reviewers felt that the characters worked well together,[108][113] and that the interactions among them as the game progressed made up for shortcomings in the story.[14]

Linearity

While critics generally praised Square Enix's attempt to revitalize the Final Fantasy series formula, many reacted negatively to the linear nature of the game, especially in the first ten chapters on Cocoon,[108][135] an issue which many felt was compounded by the large reduction of towns, free-roaming capabilities, and interaction with non-player characters.[136] GamePro described the gameplay as "a long hallway toward an orange target symbol on your mini-map that triggers a cutscene, a boss fight, or both,"[136] and 1UP.com criticized the linear aspect as the game's "biggest shortcoming", and felt the first section was "superficial."[108] Edge and others awarded the game especially lower scores as a result of these aspects, with Edge in particular lowering the score they awarded the game to a five out of ten primarily due to the game's linear nature.[110]

In contrast, reviewers from GamesRadar and Computer and Video Games appreciated the linear nature; the former stated that "the streamlined, focused structure eliminates potential tedium without dumbing anything down",[13] while the latter felt it was "a clever move",[109] and kept the player from being "[bogged] down with mundane number crunching, [and] finicky and repetitive leveling-up."[109] Many negatively noted the gradual unfurling of the player's abilities over this first part of the game, from battle gameplay to selecting the party leader.[14][108] Combined with the game's linear nature, some reviews went as far as to describe these chapters as "boring" until the world of Gran Pulse was revealed.[110][134][135] Edge noted that while it did not do enough to make up for the opening chapters, at Gran Pulse the game "hits a sweet spot" as the narrative offers "hunting side-quests and the simple joy of exploring to see what visual marvel is around the next corner."[110]

Response to criticism

After release, director Motomu Toriyama felt that the lower-than-expected review scores for a main Final Fantasy series game came from reviewers who approached the game from a Western point of view. These reviewers were used to games in which the player was given an open world to explore, he said, noting that this expectation contrasted with the vision the team set out to create. He noted that it "becomes very difficult to tell a compelling story when you're given that much freedom".[137] Yoshinori Kitase stated that they "didn't really intend to work within the RPG template," but "wanted to create a new game, even a new genre." He stated that "in a lot of senses FFXIII is more like an FPS than an RPG."[138]

Toriyama and Kitase later said, in July 2011, that the biggest complaints about the game were that it was too linear and that there was not enough interaction between the player and the world, which they described as a lack of towns and minigames compared to the previous Final Fantasy games. They also named the amount of time it took to access all of the gameplay elements as a common criticism, saying that people interpreted it as a "lengthy tutorial".[139]

Yoichi Wada, then-president of Square Enix, made his thoughts about the reception of the game known to Gamasutra. He said "some value it highly and some are not very happy with it".[140] He added, "Should Final Fantasy become a new type of game or should Final Fantasy not become a new type of game? The customers have different opinions. It's very difficult to determine which way it should go."[140]

Windows port

Square Enix released a Microsoft Windows port of the game in October 2014, where it was met with a more critical reception than the original versions. PC Gamer's Samuel Roberts, when reviewing the port, criticized not only the original gameplay, but heavily criticized the quality of the port itself, decrying the low resolution, limited graphical options and low framerate. He was especially critical of the time taken for the port given that an unofficial patch was produced by modder Peter Thoman within a day of release that fixed many of the issues.[141] Michael McWhertor of Polygon also noted a similar critical response by consumers.[142] A patch was released by Square Enix in December 2014, which was noted by Thoman as adding only the graphical features that his external patch had, with no other additions or performance improvements.[143]

Sequels

At the Square Enix First Production Department Conference held on January 18, 2011, Square Enix announced that they were developing a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, entitled Final Fantasy XIII-2, which they intended to build on the game's story and characters while taking on board the criticism and other feedback about the original. It was released on December 15, 2011, in Japan, January 31, 2012, in North America and February 3, 2012, in Europe, for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.[144][145] Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase returned to their respective roles as director and producer. The game begins three years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII, and features Serah and newcomer Noel as the main protagonists. XIII-2 is the fifth sequel game in the Final Fantasy series, after Final Fantasy X-2, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Most of the team returned again to create a second sequel entitled Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, meant to wrap up the story of Lightning and the Final Fantasy XIII universe.[146] The game was released in November 2013 in Japan and in February 2014 in North America and Europe.[147] Toriyama stated in the Ultimania Omega companion book prior to XIII-2's announcement that he hoped to write a story "where Lightning ends up happy", though at the time Square Enix had no plans to make a sequel.[74]

Notes

  1. ^ ファイナルファンタジーXIII (Fainaru Fantajī Sātīn) in Japanese

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External links

Characters of the Final Fantasy XIII series

Final Fantasy XIII - a role-playing game released by Square Enix in 2009 - revolves around the struggles of a group of humans over a predestined fate. The game's two sequels, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, build on the first game's story and mythos. In video game publications and among the staff at Square Enix, the three games have come to be referred to as the "Lightning Saga", and the core concepts they contain are drawn from the mythos of the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries. The visuals of the original characters were designed by Tetsuya Nomura and Nao Ikeda, while many later characters were created by other designers, including Hideo Minaba, Yusuke Naora and Toshiyuki Itahana. Their original stories were created by Motomu Toriyama and written up by Daisuke Watanabe.

The series' central characters are Lightning, a former soldier and the core character in all three games; Serah Farron, Lightning's sister; Snow Villiers, an optimistic young man engaged to Serah; Hope Estheim, a young man who develops a strong bond with Lightning; Sazh Katzroy, a former airship pilot; Oerba Dia Vanille and Oerba Yun Fang, two women who inadvertently set the first game's events in motion. Three further characters appear in XIII-2: Noel Kreiss, a hunter who sets out to change his bleak future; Caius Ballad, a man from Noel's past who wishes to bring about a predestined apocalypse; and Paddra Nsu-Yeul, a seeress reincarnated through history. In Lightning Returns, two more are added: Lumina, a doppelganger of Serah; and Bhunivelze, the main deity of the Final Fantasy XIII universe.

The characters in the games have been the basis of several pieces of merchandise produced by Square Enix, such as statues, action figures, apparel, and jewelry. They have been subject to mostly positive reviews; most observers favorably compared the characters to those in the previous games and praised the voice acting, however some critics have stated that the plot line of the characters have been confusing when introduced. In XIII-2, the shift to new or secondary characters and the change in importance and story role of the previous game's main cast grated with some reviewers, while others applauded the new characters' development and interactions. In Lightning Returns, the characters' stories were often criticized for being underdeveloped, or simply included for the sake of ending their stories.

Crystal Tools

Crystal Tools is a game engine created and used internally by the Japanese company Square Enix. It combines standard libraries for elements such as graphics, sound and artificial intelligence while providing game developers with various authoring tools. The target systems of Crystal Tools are the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and the Wii. This was decided with the intention of making cross-platform production more feasible. The idea for the engine sprang from Square Enix's desire to have a unified game development environment in order to effectively share the technology and know-how of the company's individual teams.

Crystal Tools entered development in August 2005 under the code name White Engine. It was intended for the then PlayStation 3-exclusive role-playing game Final Fantasy XIII. The decision to expand Crystal Tools' compatibility to other game projects and systems marked the official project start for a company-wide engine. Development was carried out by the Research and Development Division headed by Taku Murata, which was specifically established for this purpose. As Square Enix's biggest project to date, the creation of Crystal Tools caused substantial problems in the simultaneous production of several flagship titles; various critics cited the engine as the primary cause of significant delays in the release of Final Fantasy XIII.

Daisuke Watanabe

Daisuke Watanabe (渡辺 大祐, Watanabe Daisuke) is a Japanese video game writer employed by Square Enix. He is mostly known for his work on the role-playing video game series Final Fantasy and the action RPG series Kingdom Hearts.

Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy

Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy is a series of games within the Final Fantasy video game franchise. It was primarily developed by series creator and developer Square Enix, which also acted as publisher for all titles. While featuring various worlds and different characters, each Fabula Nova Crystallis game is ultimately based on and expands upon a common mythos focusing on important crystals tied to deities. The level of connection to the mythos varies between each title. The series title translates from Latin as 'The New Tale of the Crystal'. Each development team was given the freedom to adapt the mythos to fit the context of a game's story.

The series, originally announced in 2006 as Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII, currently consists of seven games across multiple platforms. Final Fantasy XIII, designed as the series' flagship title, was released in 2009. The creative forces behind the series include many developers from previous Final Fantasy titles, including Shinji Hashimoto and Motomu Toriyama. The mythos was conceived and written by Kazushige Nojima. The first games announced for the series were Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XV (as Versus XIII), and Final Fantasy Type-0 (as Agito XIII). All three games went through delays. After Final Fantasy XIII and Type-0's releases, their respective teams used ideas and concepts from development to create additional games. For later games, other studios have been brought in to help with aspects of development. Final Fantasy XV was distanced from the series brand for marketing purposes despite retaining thematic connections.

Seven titles have been released as of 2016. The series is complemented by works in related media, including companion books, novelizations, and manga. Final Fantasy XV notably expanded into a multimedia project, spawning a feature film and an original animated webseries. Individual games have generally received a positive reception, although opinions have been more mixed over various aspects of the three Final Fantasy XIII games. Reception of the mythos' use in the released games has also been mixed: while some critics called it confusing or too similar to the lore of the main series, others were impressed by its scope and use. Retrospective opinions on the series have also been mixed.

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy XIII-2 (ファイナルファンタジーXIII-2, Fainaru Fantajī Sātīn Tsū) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Released in 2011 in Japan and 2012 in North America and PAL regions, it is a direct sequel to the 2009 role-playing game Final Fantasy XIII and is part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries. A port to Microsoft Windows was released on Steam in December 2014 followed by iOS and Android in September 2015. XIII-2 includes modified features from the previous game, including fast-paced combat and a customizable "Paradigm" system to control which abilities are used by the characters, and adds a new system that allows monsters to be captured and used in battle. It features a heavy time travel element, allowing the player to jump between different times at the same location or different places at the same time. Lightning, the protagonist of the original game, has disappeared into an unknown world. Her younger sister Serah Farron, a returning character, and a young man named Noel Kreiss, journey through time in an attempt to find Lightning.

Development of Final Fantasy XIII-2 began around March and April 2010 and lasted about one and a half years. The game was unveiled at the Square Enix 1st Production Department Premier in January 2011. Many of the key designers remained in their roles from the previous game, and developer tri-Ace was hired to help with the game's design, art, and programming. The development team wanted to exceed Final Fantasy XIII in every aspect while making the story's tone mysterious and darker than the previous game. The game builds upon the Paradigm Shift battle system used in Final Fantasy XIII and includes a less linear overall design.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 received highly positive reviews from Japanese critics and generally positive reviews from Western video game journalists. Though praised for its gameplay, lack of linearity, and graphics, the game's story was criticized as weak and confusing. During the first week of sales in Japan, the game sold 524,000 units, becoming the fifth-best selling game of 2011 in Japan, and sold 3.1 million copies worldwide by January 2013. It was released digitally for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in June 2013 along with a Japan-only re-release including downloadable content. A sequel, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, was released in November 2013 in Japan and February 2014 in North America, Europe and Australia. In September 2014, Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy XIII series has been widely successful and has shipped over 11 million copies worldwide. In November, 2018, the series was added to Xbox One backwards compatibility.

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix as part of the long-running Final Fantasy series. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016, and for Microsoft Windows in 2018. The game features an open world environment and action-based battle system, incorporating quick-switching weapons, elemental magic, and other features such as vehicle travel and camping. The base campaign was later expanded with downloadable content (DLC), adding further gameplay options such as additional playable characters and multiplayer.

Final Fantasy XV takes place on the fictional world of Eos; aside from the capital of Lucis, all the world is dominated by the empire of Niflheim, who seek control of the magical Crystal protected by Lucis's royal family. On the eve of peace negotiations, Niflheim attacks the capital and steals the Crystal. Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir to the Lucian throne, goes on a quest to rescue the Crystal and defeat Niflheim. He later learns his full role as the "True King", destined to use the Crystal's powers to save Eos from eternal darkness. The game shares a thematic connection with Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of games linked by a common mythos which includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0.

The game's development began in 2006 as a PlayStation 3 spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Tetsuya Nomura served as the original director and character designer. After a development period of six years, it was changed to the next mainline title in the series in 2012; Nomura was replaced as director by Hajime Tabata, and the game shifted to eighth generation platforms. Due to the changes, the story needed to be rewritten and some scenes and characters were repurposed or removed. The setting of Final Fantasy XV was "a fantasy based on reality", with locations and creatures based on elements from the real world.

To supplement the game, Square Enix created a multimedia project called the "Final Fantasy XV Universe", which includes a few spin-off games, as well as an anime series and feature film. Gameplay and story-based DLC is also set for release up until early 2019. Upon release, Final Fantasy XV was well received by journalists. Praise was given for its gameplay, visuals, and emotional weight, while reception towards its story and presentation was mixed. By November 2018, the game had sold over 8.4 million copies worldwide.

Lightning (Final Fantasy)

Claire Farron, better known by the codename Lightning (ライトニング, Raitoningu), is a fictional character from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. She first appeared as a playable character and protagonist in the role-playing video game Final Fantasy XIII, in which she features as a resident of the artificial world of Cocoon. After her sister Serah is declared an enemy of Cocoon, Lightning attempts to save her. She and others are then chosen by the fal'Cie, a divided race of demigods who rule the worlds of Gran Pulse and Cocoon, to destroy Cocoon. Lightning reappears as a supporting character in Final Fantasy XIII-2, acting as protector of the Goddess Etro. She is the sole playable character in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, wherein she sets out to save her world, which is destined to end in thirteen days. Outside the XIII series, Lightning has been featured in multiple Final Fantasy games and had cameo appearances in other video games.

Lightning was created by Motomu Toriyama, the director and scenario writer of XIII, and designed by Tetsuya Nomura, a regular character artist for the Final Fantasy series. Their idea was to create a strong female protagonist who was adept at combat and less feminine than previous Final Fantasy heroines. Aspects of her early design and personality were later altered, or transferred to other characters. After XIII, Lightning's design was revised several times to reflect her role and development in each game, particularly in Lightning Returns. Her name in Japanese, Éclair Farron (エクレール・ファロン, Ekurēru Faron), was originally a placeholder. Because of its similarity to the name of a pastry, her first name was changed to "Claire" in other countries.

Lightning has received mixed commentary from critics—much of it relating to her cold personality, which was compared to that of Final Fantasy VII's protagonist Cloud Strife. She was criticized for her relative absence in XIII-2. Her role in Lightning Returns met with mixed reception: some critics saw her as underdeveloped and unlikable, while others found her better developed and more human than in previous games. Lightning later appeared on lists, compiled by video game publications, of the best characters in the Final Fantasy series and in video games as a whole. She has been received favorably in polls of public opinion by Famitsu, Square Enix, and other organizations.

List of Final Fantasy video games

Final Fantasy is a video game series developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). The first title in the series, the eponymous Final Fantasy, premiered in Japan in 1987, and Final Fantasy games have been released almost every single year since. Fifteen games have been released as part of the main (numbered) series. Sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and related video games have been published, as well as numerous titles in other media forms. Each game in the main series takes place in a different fictional universe rather than serve as direct sequels to prior games, although some titles have received sequels, or prequels, set in the same universe.

Most of the games have been re-released for several different platforms, many of which have been included in bundled releases. The series as a whole is primarily composed of role-playing video games, but also includes massively multiplayer online role-playing games, third-person shooters, tower defense games, and tactical role-playing games. Final Fantasy games have been released on over a dozen video game consoles beginning with the Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as for personal computers and mobile phones. The series is Square Enix's most successful franchise, having sold over 100 million units worldwide as of June 2011, across both the main series and its spin-offs. Final Fantasy's popularity has placed it as one of the best-selling video game franchises.

List of Square Enix companion books

Dozens of Square Enix companion books have been produced since 1998, when video game developer Square began to produce books that focused on artwork, developer interviews, and background information on the fictional worlds and characters in its games rather than on gameplay details. The first series of these books was the Perfect Works series, written and published by Square subsidiary DigiCube. They produced three books between 1998 and 1999 before the line was stopped in favor of the Ultimania (アルティマニア, Arutimania) series, a portmanteau of ultimate and mania. This series of books is written by Studio BentStuff, which had previously written game guides for Square for Final Fantasy VII. They were published by DigiCube until the company was dissolved in 2003. Square merged with video game publisher Enix on April 1, 2003 to form Square Enix, which resumed publication of the companion books.

Both the Perfect Works and Ultimania books have focused primarily on Square and Square Enix's role-playing video game franchises, such as the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series; over 45 of the 75 books are for games related to the Final Fantasy series. Sometimes, multiple books have been written per game or revised editions have been published years afterwards. One of the books, Final Fantasy IX Ultimania Online, was solely published online as part of an experiment by Square Enix with online content delivery; another for Final Fantasy XI was planned, but the idea was abandoned as unsuccessful and all subsequent books have been published traditionally. The Ultimania series had sold over 10 million books by July 2007. All of the books have been released solely in Japanese, but in October 2017 Dark Horse Books announced that they would be publishing English translations of the three-volume 2012 Final Fantasy 25th Memorial Ultimania as Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive, for release starting in June 2018.

Masashi Hamauzu

Masashi Hamauzu (浜渦 正志, Hamauzu Masashi, born September 20, 1971) is a Japanese composer, arranger, pianist, and lyricist. Hamauzu, who was employed at Square Enix from 1996 to 2010, was best known during that time for his work on the Final Fantasy and SaGa video game series. Born into a musical family in Germany, Hamauzu was raised in Japan. He became interested in music while in kindergarten, and took piano lessons from his parents.

Hamauzu was hired by Square as a trainee, and his debut as a solo composer came the following year when he scored Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon. He has collaborated with his friend and fellow composer Junya Nakano on several games, and has worked closely with synthesizer programmer Ryo Yamazaki on most titles since SaGa Frontier 2.

After Nobuo Uematsu left Square Enix in 2004, Hamauzu took over as the leading composer of the company's music team. He was the sole composer for Final Fantasy XIII. He has also become a renowned piano arranger, and has arranged a number of albums, including Yasunori Mitsuda's Sailing to the World piano score in 2006. His music incorporates various styles, although he mostly uses classical and ambient music in his pieces. In 2010, Hamauzu left Square Enix to start his own studio, MONOMUSIK.

Motomu Toriyama

Motomu Toriyama (鳥山 求, Toriyama Motomu) is a Japanese game director and scenario writer who has been working for Square Enix since 1994. He initially worked on cutscenes in Bahamut Lagoon and Final Fantasy VII. Toriyama started directing with Final Fantasy X-2 and has continued doing so with large-scale projects such as Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Since 2003, he has been directing his own team of scenario writers at the company. He is currently directing Mobius Final Fantasy and is a member of Square Enix's Business Division 1, and part of the Final Fantasy Committee that is tasked with keeping the franchise's releases and content consistent.

Music of Final Fantasy XIII

The music of the video game Final Fantasy XIII was composed by Masashi Hamauzu. Former regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu did not contribute any pieces to the soundtrack. Music from the game has been released in several albums. The main soundtrack album, Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack, was released on four Compact Discs in 2010 by Square Enix, the developers and producers of the game. Selections from the soundtrack have been released on two gramophone record albums, W/F: Music from Final Fantasy XIII and W/F: Music from Final Fantasy XIII Gentle Reveries, both in 2010 by Square Enix. An album of arranged pieces from the soundtrack, Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack -PLUS-, was also released by Square Enix in 2010, as was an album of piano arrangements, Piano Collection Final Fantasy XIII. The theme song for the Japanese version of the game, "Kimi ga Iru Kara" (君がいるから, "Because You're Here"), was released as a single by For Life Music in 2009.

The soundtrack received good reviews from critics, who felt that it was Hamauzu's best work to date and an excellent mix of material and genres which took the series' music in a new direction. The "Plus" album received weaker reviews, primarily due to its perceived lack of tracks that were significantly different from those in the original soundtrack album, while "Kimi ga Iru Kara" was considered bland and disappointing. The "Piano" album's reception was split between critics who felt that the tracks did not deviate enough from the original pieces and those who felt that the straightforward arrangements were sophisticated. Music from the game was played at a live orchestral concert in Stockholm, Sweden, and was added to the permanent rotation of the international Distant Worlds concert series, while tracks from the piano album have been played in concerts in Japan and Paris.

Music of Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix in 2011 as the sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. The music of the game was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki. It was intended to sound different from the music of previous Final Fantasy titles, featuring more musical styles and vocal pieces. Since the release of the game, Square Enix has published the 2011 four-disc soundtrack album, Final Fantasy XIII-2 Original Soundtrack, as well as an album of arrangements and alternate versions of tracks from the game, Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack PLUS, in 2012. The theme song for the game, "Yakusoku no Basho" (約束の場所, The Promised Place), was released by singer Mai Fukui as a single in 2011, and the English version of the song, sung by Charice Pempengco and included in the non-Japanese versions of the game, was included on her 2012 album Infinity.

Reviews of the soundtrack album were positive, with critics praising both the variety of styles and quality of the pieces. Several critics noted Mizuta's work as possibly his finest to date. Reviewers of the game were more mixed, with some feeling that some of the styles of music did not match where they were played in the game. Critics were also mixed in their opinions of the arranged album, feeling that several of the pieces were simply inferior versions of the original tracks. Both of the albums and the single sold well enough to place on the Japanese Oricon charts, with the original soundtrack album reaching a peak of #13 and remaining on the charts for eight weeks.

Reno Wilson

Roy "Reno" Wilson (born January 20, 1969) is an American actor, comedian and voice artist. He is best known for his role as Howard in the sitcom The Cosby Show and Officer Carl McMillan in Mike & Molly. He is also known for providing character voices in the Transformers film series.

Tetsuya Nomura

Tetsuya Nomura (野村 哲也, Nomura Tetsuya, born October 8, 1970) is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix (formerly Square). He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has helmed the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was also the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Vincent Martella

Vincent Michael Martella (born October 15, 1992) is an American actor, voice actor and singer. He is best known for his role as Greg Wuliger on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, and for the voice of Phineas Flynn in the Disney Channel and Disney XD original animated show Phineas and Ferb. He is also the voice of Hope Estheim in the 2010 video game Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

Yoshinori Kitase

Yoshinori Kitase (北瀬 佳範, Kitase Yoshinori, born 23 September 1966) is a Japanese game director and producer working for Square Enix. He is known as the director of Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X, and the producer of the Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII series. Kitase is an Executive Officer at Square Enix, the Head of Square Enix's Business Division 1 and part of the Final Fantasy Committee that is tasked with keeping the franchise's releases and content consistent.

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