Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase

Back in January we were invited to see the earliest build of a Final Fantasy title ever shown outside of Square Enix.

The media tour that ventured around the world with director Motomu Toriyama and producer Yoshinori Kitase at the helm was quite extravagant. The pair showed off a brief look at the game in motion, while also touching on a few questions before leaving us pondering for more. Of course, if you haven’t read our extensive three part look, please do so – the information provided during the event painted a fairly clear picture of what fans can expect to be playing when Lightning Returns launches later this year.

That said, we received a chance to follow up with both Kitase and Toriyama on the subject of their latest project – bringing forth a handful of new questions and answers that might hopefully spark a greater conversation.


Nova Crystallis: Many people have noticed a similarity to Assassin’s Creed in the jumping, climbing and so on – plus Lightning’s new design sort of evokes those games. Was that deliberate, and was that or any other western series an inspiration?

Toriyama: In this installment, we wanted to improve on the freedom of moving around in the field, so we added various actions that Lightning can take that would make the most use of the structure in a three-dimensional map. The aim was not really about upping the action elements, but more about providing a wider range of traveling methods so that the player can efficiently move around in a world that has a limited amount of time. The design of Lightning’s new costume is based on the white-and-red color scheme from Final Fantasy XIII, and it’s an outfit that represents her role in this installment as the “Savior.” As such, we didn’t take any inspiration from other titles.

Nova Crystallis: Have the producers or any of the development staff been playing any other games recently that reflect some of the decisions made for this game?

Toriyama: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had a large impact in terms of the expansiveness and depth of the world in an open-world RPG. For the first time in [the Final Fantasy XIII series], we looked at the open-world environment and came up with the “World Driven” concept to realistically depict the passage of a 24–hour day and the lives of the people who populate that world. The player will have to think about how they will spend their valuable time in the 13 days until the end of this world.

Nova Crystallis: You’ve chosen to do away with much of the world of the two previous games, building something new. Can you explain this decision?


Toriyama: The world in this installment originates from the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2 when the realm of death, Valhalla, flowed into the land of Gran Pulse and began to head towards destruction. Visually, the world is completely different, but the settings still hold true to the crystal mythos (Fabula Nova Crystallis) that continues from Final Fantasy XIII. In other words, whether you are a fan of the Final Fantasy XIII world or you are coming into contact with this world for the first time, you will be able to enjoy this world.

Nova Crystallis: What do you think has changed about the vision of Fabula Nova Crystallis since its announcement in 2006?

Kitase: The video game industry is constantly changing drastically, and so the project details and schedule are always fluid.
However, the plot that is the basis of this project has not changed at all. We still have the “Fabula Nova Crystallis” script from 2004, and even with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the latest installment in 2013, we hold fast to the guidelines laid out within this script.

Nova Crystallis: When did project enter in development for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII?

Toriyama: In terms of development, we started soon after the global release of Final Fantasy XIII-2. As for planning and brainstorming, we always had a concept of “expanding” the worldview and story of Final Fantasy XIII since we first kicked-off the Final Fantasy XIII-2 project; while we weren’t fully decided on whether or not to make this a trilogy (at the time of Final Fantasy XIII-2 kick-off), we did want to create some sort of conclusion to the Lightning Saga that began with Final Fantasy XIII.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is due out Fall 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

About the Author

Erren Van Duine As a self-professed Final Fantasy fan, Erren created Nova Crystallis in 2009 as a place to collect the latest information on her favorite series. As owner and Editor-in-Chief, she also spends her time as a freelance illustrator.