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Sakaguchi Hironobu

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Author, Film, Game.

(1962-    ) Japanese Game designer and film director, inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2000. Sakaguchi's first game was The Death Trap (1984 Square, PC88, PC98, FM7), an illustrated text Adventure in which the player must escape from a deserted island, released only in Japan. His fame rests, however, on the Console Role Playing Game Final Fantasy (1987) and its many successors (see Computer Role Playing Games). When Final Fantasy was released, its developer, Square, was on the verge of bankruptcy; the title is a reference to Sakaguchi's suspicion that this would be his last game. In the event it sold well, and he went on to create a long line of sequels, which are linked by common themes and gameplay styles rather than by a shared setting or continuing characters. Sakaguchi's Final Fantasy designs are much influenced by his interest in film and Anime narratives; they are filmic in the sense of having strongly linear plots, with much use being made of emotionally significant set pieces in which events occur according to a predesigned script (see Interactive Narrative). This approach, focusing on the development of designer created characters through an involving and visually appealing story in which the player enacts the action scenes, has been highly influential on the design of other Japanese Console Role Playing Games.

Sakaguchi later directed an actual film inspired by the underlying ethos of the Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001). This, however, was a commercial failure, proving markedly more popular with Anime enthusiasts and Console Role Playing Game players than with the mass market. Sakaguchi left Square after the release of the film to found his own development studio, Mistwalker. This company has created several Science and Sorcery Console Role Playing Games based on Sakaguchi's designs, including Blue Dragon (2006 Mistwalker, XB360), Lost Odyssey (2007 Mistwalker, XB360) and ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat (2007 Mistwalker, NDS), which has only been released in Japan. These games have generally received mixed reviews; the best regarded is Lost Odyssey, a story of amnesiac immortals in a fantasy world undergoing a magical analogue of the industrial revolution. More recently, Mistwalker has released The Last Story (2012 Wii) directed by Sakaguchi, a well received Sword and Sorcery epic which is sometimes reminiscent of the less sf-like entries in the Final Fantasy franchise. [NT]

see also: Chrono Trigger; Survival Horror.

Hironobu Sakaguchi

born Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan: 25 November 1962


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