'Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age' Producer Explains New Features in Remaster

Final Fantasy 12 The Zodiac Age Poster - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Square Enix
The remastered version of the 2006 cult hit promises more challenges and an upgraded battle system.

More than a decade after its initial release on the PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy XII has returned with a new a remastered game that boasts new features, updated graphics and unique challenges not found in the original 2006 title.

Hiroaki Kato, producer for Square Enix's Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, explained what fans can expect from the new release for the Namek vs. Saiyan podcast, hosted by The Hollywood Reporter's Patrick Shanley. "The original FFXII was a game that we developed making full use of the abilities of the PlayStation 2 hardware, to its maximum capacity," said Kato. "This time, we were able to improve expressiveness, as well as implement functions that will make adventuring more comfortable and enjoyable, using modern technologies and utilizing the abilities of the PlayStation 4 hardware."

Kato, who has been with Square Enix since 2001 and has worked on a number of titles under the Final Fantasy banner, broke the improvements down into three separate categories: improved visual expressiveness, improved sound expressiveness and improvement to play experiences. "We have greatly reduced the loading time in this title, allowing for a more light-footed adventure, and added an auto-save functionality," explained Kato. "Not only will this allow for a more casual play style in which you can pick up and play, no matter the amount of time you have at that moment, but this will also make it easier to restart even if you’ve suddenly encountered a strong enemy and were defeated."

It is not just improvements to load times and audiovisual technology that sets Zodiac Age apart from the original release, however, as new features to gameplay have also been added for the remaster. "The greatest system changes are the enhancement to the character growth system, the 'License Board,' that we have used in the original FFXII. The content of the License Board in the original FFXII was the same for all characters, but in this version, we have created 12 jobs, such as Knight, Monk, Black Mage, and corresponding License Boards for each," said Kato.

In addition to the new jobs system, familiar to fans of the series for its inclusion in many earlier entries in the long-running franchise, is a reconstruction of the game's battle design. "We have enhanced the strategies against monsters, items sold at shops, items found in treasure boxes, and the overall enjoyment of exploring the map," said Kato.

What else is new? Kato also explained a new game mode called "Trial Mode" for the new release. "Trial Mode is where players can use the characters they’ve raised to battle through a total of 100 stages," Kato explained. "The strength and combination of enemies differ from the main game, and at times you may see an unexpected character make an appearance, too. Remaining HP, MP and status effects are carried over to the next stage."

For hardcore fans of the original game that challenged the title's hardest-to-beat monster, Kato also had some exciting news. "There will be opponents that are stronger than Yiazmat!" he promised. 

As to whether more remasters/remakes of other Final Fantasy titles are on the docket for the future (the already-announced Final Fantasy VII notwithstanding), Kato said, "There may be a possibility that staff of the original titles in the series, or those staff that love Final Fantasy, will start a new project if we receive a large request for it from the fans."

As for seeing the series make its way to the big screen, Kato held a similar sentiment. "Some of the staff in our company may realize this as well, if there is a large request for it from the fans," he said. Kato seemed excited by the prospect — even though he would likely not be making any films himself. "I personally will devote myself to developing games, but as a fan of the franchise, I would love to see Final Fantasy on other media."

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age will be released for PS4 on Tuesday.