Artwork from Fantasian

The Director and Composer of ‘Final Fantasy VII’ Made Another Game Together Three Years Ago?!

For many, 2024 has been the year of Final Fantasy VII. Again. I, personally, have become an obsessed monster, living and breathing Cloud Strife and thinking far too much about his dating options.

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Girl drama aside, a huge part of my obsession with FF7 has to do with Nobuo Uematsu’s score. General consensus has it that it’s is arguably the best in gaming, period. So, imagine my shock when I learned this week that Uematsu and Hironobu Sakaguchi—the creator of the Final Fantasy series and producer of every FF game through X-2—worked on another game together. And that it came out only three years ago.

Before the June 2024 Nintendo Direct, I had never heard of Fantasian before, and that’s probably because it was originally released where a North American millennial would never notice: as a mobile game.

The history linking Final Fantasy to Fantasian

After Hironobu Sakaguchi created Final Fantasy, it seemed like he could do no wrong. He produced every FF game through X-2, and came up with the story for all of them through VII. Not content to merely create one of the most influential gaming franchises of all time, Sakaguchi is largely responsible for the creation of Chrono Trigger and produced other wildly influential games, like Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Mana, and Xenogears. In short, the guy’s a big deal.

However, no one’s perfect. Sakaguchi bit off more than he could chew by producing and directing Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. The film was an incredibly expensive loss for then-SquareSoft, costing them the modern equivalent of $91 million. The fallout eventually caused Sakaguchi to leave now-Square Enix in 2004. He immediately started his own company, Mistwalker.

Despite not having a costly flop weighing on his shoulders, legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu also left Square in 2004 to live the freelance life. Similar to Sakaguchi, Uematsu composed the score for every Final Fantasy game through XI. Uematsu also collaborated on the score to Chrono Trigger, another game Sakaguchi was involved in. Suffice it to say, they have a robust working history together.

Uematsu would keep contributing some music to Final Fantasy throughout the years, including writing the main themes for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Rebirth, but he also continued to work with Sakaguchi, writing music for the many of Mistwalker’s games, including Blue Dragon, Terra Battle and Terra Battle 2, and then in 2021, Fantasian.

So, it’s not like Fantasian is the first time Sakaguchi and Uematsu have collaborated since Final Fantasy XI. But still, it would be nice if—like in the trailer for Fantasian during the June 2024 Nintendo Direct—more people made a point to accentuate these things.

The collaboration is also notable for one further reason: in 2018, Uematsu went on hiatus and was hospitalized for overwork. While he’s continued writing main themes, both Sakaguchi and Uematsu have remarked that Fantasian could very well could be the last full-game soundtrack he ever creates.

So what’s Fantasian?

With all that buildup, it seems like Fantasian is buzzworthy, right? Upon its 2021 release, it even garnered an 80/100 on Metacritic. But if you haven’t heard about it until now, it’s probably because, upon release, it was an Apple Arcade exclusive.

And who plays Apple Arcade games? Especially multi-hour JRPGs? Sure, phone games are way more popular in Japan than they are here, but still. No wonder it went over most people’s heads.

Fortunately, that changed when an enhanced version called Fantasian Neo Dimension was announced during the packed June 2024 Nintendo Direct. The new version, rather sweetly, is being produced with the help of Square Enix. Given how gorgeous the Apple Arcade version looks, a further enhanced version is bound to be a real treat. The backgrounds are all hand-crafted dioramas, after all. Hand-crafted!

But it’s not just a Switch release. Fantasian is getting the full console treatment, with simultaneous releases on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Steam, and Xbox Series X|S. In winter 2024, everyone will finally get the chance to play this thing on a platform where they’re not also getting texts and spam calls.

Fantasian follows Leo, a man so beautiful and feminine that he even gives Breath of the Wild / Tears of the Kingdom Link a run for his money. So even before you say “multi-dimensional journey” or “solve the mystery behind a strange mechanical infection,” I’m in. Considering the credentials of who’s involved, I’ve been in this whole time.

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Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.