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Hironobu Sakaguchi

Hironobu Sakaguchi
Hironobu Sakaguchi in 2015 (16102150083) (cropped).jpg
Sakaguchi at the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2015
Born (1962-11-25) November 25, 1962 (age 58)
OccupationFounder of Mistwalker, Game designer, Game producer, Game director, Author, Writer
EmployerSquare (1983–2003)
Mistwalker (2004–present)
Notable work
Final Fantasy
AwardsAIAS Hall of Fame Award (2000)[1]

Hironobu Sakaguchi (坂口 博信, Sakaguchi Hironobu) (born November 25, 1962) is a Japanese video game designer, director, producer, writer, and film director. He is best known as creator of the Final Fantasy series, having conceived the original concept for the first title Final Fantasy and also having directed several later entries in the franchise, and has had a long career in gaming with over 100 million units of video games sold worldwide. He left Square Enix and founded the studio Mistwalker in 2004.


Early years

Sakaguchi was born in Hitachi, Ibaraki, Japan. Originally planning to become a professional musician, he played in various bands and booked local concert venues during his secondary education, selling tickets to the concerts himself.[2] Sakaguchi studied electrical engineering while attending Yokohama National University, but dropped out in 1983 mid-semester with Hiromichi Tanaka.[3]


While at university, Sakaguchi's programming studies led him to desire the new Apple II computer which had recently been released. Since he could not afford one, he instead purchased a knockoff in the Akihabara district, which, although cheaper than an actual Apple II, was still expensive. Realizing that he needed funds to buy software for his computer, he began to seek a part-time job to earn the necessary income.[2] This search then led to Sakaguchi becoming a part-time employee of Square, a newly formed branch of Denyūsha Electric Company founded by Masafumi Miyamoto.[4] At this point, Sakaguchi still dreamed of becoming a professional musician, but felt that working for a company like Square would provide him with needed programming experience in the meantime.[2]

When Square became an independent company in 1986,[5] Sakaguchi became a full-time employee as the Director of Planning and Development.[6] After working on several Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games that failed to become major hits, Sakaguchi began questioning if he had chosen the right career path and if he was qualified to be a game writer.[7][8] He then pitched the concept for a role-playing video game called Fighting Fantasy, and assembled a small team to realize this project of his.[7][9] Among others, Sakaguchi's thoughts about quitting the game industry and going back to university – had the game not sold well – were a reason for the title being changed to Final Fantasy.[8][9][10] The game was released in Japan for the NES on December 18, 1987, and was successful across Japan. Under Sakaguchi's supervision, Final Fantasy developed into an expansive franchise, spanning from stand alone stories to spin-offs to direct sequels. In 1991, following the release of Final Fantasy IV for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, he was honored with the position of Executive Vice President.[6] The last Final Fantasy game he directed was Final Fantasy V, becoming the producer for future installments of the franchise. In 1995, he became president of Square's North American division.[6] His final role as game producer was for Final Fantasy IX. In an interview at the time he described it as his favorite Final Fantasy.[11] He later went on to serve more as an executive producer of the series, as well as many of Square's other games, including Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve and Kingdom Hearts. The Kingdom Hearts series would later go on to feature a character named Master Eraqus, who was designed to physically resemble Sakaguchi and match with Disney's Yen Sid. In May 2000, Sakaguchi received the Hall of Fame Award of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.[6]

Time as film director

A long time proponent of bringing together the story-telling vehicle of film and the interactive elements of games, Sakaguchi took the leap from games to film when he made his debut as film director in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, an animated motion picture based on his world-famous Final Fantasy series. Despite some positive reviews, the film was a box office bomb, losing approximately 94 million dollars.[12]

Resignation from Square

Sakaguchi at the Tokyo Game Show in Tokyo, Japan in 2006

Sakaguchi voluntarily stepped down from his post as an executive vice president at Square. This event also reduced Square's financial capital. Square later merged with its rival, the Enix Corporation, which led to the creation of Square Enix in 2003. In 2004, Sakaguchi founded Mistwalker with the financial backing of Microsoft Game Studios.


Sakaguchi founded Mistwalker, which began operation in 2004. In February 2005, it was announced that Mistwalker would be working with Microsoft Game Studios to create two role-playing video games for the Xbox 360. Still, the company remains independent from console exclusivity. Sakaguchi released the works Blue Dragon in 2006, and Lost Odyssey in 2007 on the Xbox 360, and ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat on the Nintendo DS. He was developing an action-RPG, titled Cry On, until the project was canceled in December 2008.[13]

Later he began working on a new "large scale project" on which Sakaguchi commented: "I'm betting a lot on this project."[14] This game was announced in January 2010 to be The Last Story, a co-production with Nintendo for the Wii.[15] It was revealed in an interview on Nintendo's website that Sakaguchi is the director of The Last Story, which marks his first time as director of a game since Final Fantasy V.[16]

In 2016, he announced the formation of a new video game development company located in Tokyo. The proposed name of the studio is "Dawnwalker".[17]

On 27 March 2019, Sakaguchi announced Fantasian, a Japanese role-playing game, exclusively for Apple Arcade.[18] The game will be released in two parts. The first part was released on 2 April 2021.[19] Sakaguchi has stated that he was inspired by playing Final Fantasy VI with some old colleagues, saying "It really reminded me how much I love this classic RPG game genre," and even from the Final Fantasy days, we've carried on this spirit of innovation and pushing the boundaries in terms of the status quo."[20] The game's graphics are distinctive for their extensive use of more than 150 handcrafted miniature dioramas which were 3D scanned in order to create the game's environments.[21] The gameplay also features the 'Dimengeon' mechanic, "which allows players to send previously encountered enemies into a separate dimensional dungeon to streamline combat and maximize uninterrupted exploration of the beautiful locations."[22] Fantasian's soundtrack was composed entirely by Nobou Uematsu, best known for his work on the Final Fantasy series' soundtracks, while some of the game's in-game dioramas were created by Dragon Ball series creator Akira Toriyama.[23] Speaking about future projects, Sakaguchi stated: "My next step is probably to kind of take a step away, maybe rest a little bit, and kind of see where we are. I'm not saying that it is it, but if this were my retirement project, I think that that would still leave me feeling pretty whole. I felt I didn't really leave much on the table with Fantasian and not that it is but, yeah, that's kind of my sentiment right now."[24]


Hironobu Sakaguchi has been credited, in some capacity, with the following games.[25][26]

Year Title Platform Direct role(s) Other credit(s) Ref.
1984 The Death Trap NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, FM-7 Design
1985 Will: The Death Trap II NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, FM-7 Design
1986 Cruise Chaser Blassty NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Sharp X1 Design
King's Knight Nintendo Entertainment System Design
1987 3-D WorldRunner Nintendo Entertainment System Design
Rad Racer Nintendo Entertainment System Design
Nakayama Miho no Tokimeki High School Family Computer Disk System Design
JJ Nintendo Entertainment System Design
Final Fantasy Nintendo Entertainment System Director
1988 Final Fantasy II Nintendo Entertainment System Director
1990 Final Fantasy III Nintendo Entertainment System Director
1991 Final Fantasy IV Super Nintendo Entertainment System Director
1992 Final Fantasy V Super Nintendo Entertainment System Director [16]
1993 Romancing SaGa 2 Super Nintendo Entertainment System Executive producer
1994 Final Fantasy VI Super Nintendo Entertainment System Original story Producer [27]
1995 Front Mission Super Nintendo Entertainment System Supervisor
Chrono Trigger Super Nintendo Entertainment System Design Supervisor [28]
Seiken Densetsu 3 Super Nintendo Entertainment System Special thanks
Romancing SaGa 3 Super Nintendo Entertainment System Executive producer
1996 Bahamut Lagoon Super Nintendo Entertainment System Supervisor
Front Mission: Gun Hazard Super Nintendo Entertainment System Supervisor
Super Mario RPG Super Nintendo Entertainment System Production supervisor
Treasure Hunter G Super Nintendo Entertainment System General producer
Tobal No. 1 PlayStation Supervisor
1997 Final Fantasy VII PlayStation Original story Producer
Bushido Blade PlayStation Executive producer
Tobal 2 PlayStation Supervisor
Final Fantasy Tactics PlayStation Producer
Einhänder PlayStation Supervisor
1998 Xenogears PlayStation Executive producer
Bushido Blade 2 PlayStation Executive producer
Parasite Eve PlayStation Concept Producer
Soukaigi PlayStation Supervisor
Brave Fencer Musashi PlayStation Executive producer
Ehrgeiz PlayStation Supervisor
Chocobo's Dungeon 2 PlayStation Producer
1999 Final Fantasy VIII PlayStation Executive producer
Chocobo Racing PlayStation Executive producer
SaGa Frontier 2 PlayStation Executive producer
Legend of Mana PlayStation Executive producer
Front Mission 3 PlayStation Executive producer
Chrono Cross PlayStation Executive producer
Parasite Eve 2 PlayStation Executive producer
Chocobo Stallion PlayStation Executive producer
2000 Vagrant Story PlayStation Executive producer
Driving Emotion Type-S PlayStation 2 Executive producer
Final Fantasy IX PlayStation Scenario Producer
The Bouncer PlayStation 2 Executive producer
2001 Final Fantasy X PlayStation 2 Executive producer
2002 Kingdom Hearts PlayStation 2 Executive producer
Final Fantasy XI PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows Executive producer
2003 Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Game Boy Advance Executive producer
Final Fantasy X-2 PlayStation 2 Executive producer
2006 Final Fantasy XII PlayStation 2 Special thanks
Blue Dragon Xbox 360 Scenario, lyrics Supervisor
2007 ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat Nintendo DS Executive producer
Lost Odyssey Xbox 360 Scenario, lyrics Supervisor
2008 Blue Dragon Plus Nintendo DS Scenario
Away: Shuffle Dungeon Nintendo DS Scenario
Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow Nintendo DS Scenario Executive director
2011 The Last Story Wii Director, designer, scenario, lyrics [16]
2012 Party Wave iOS, Android Director, Music Surfing
2014 Terra Battle iOS, Android Producer
2017 Terra Battle 2 iOS, Android Producer
2019 Terra Wars iOS, Android Producer
2021 Fantasian iOS Scenario Producer

See also


  1. ^ "D.I.C.E Special Awards". Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Parkin, Simon (January 2018). "Never-Ending Story: The Untold Legend of the World's Greatest RPG". Edge. No. 314. pp. 56–91.
  3. ^ Castaneda, Karl (March 5, 2006). "Sin & Redemption 6". Gaming Vision Network. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  4. ^ Fujii, Daiji (January 2006). Entrepreneurial choices of strategic options in Japan's RPG development (PDF) (Report). Faculty of Economics, Okayama University. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 8, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2008.
  5. ^ Szczepaniak, John. "Before They Were Famous". Retro Gamer. No. 35. Imagine Publishing. p. 76.
  6. ^ a b c d "Hironobu Sakaguchi/Chairman and CEO". Square USA. Archived from the original on May 11, 2000.
  7. ^ a b Gifford, Kevin (December 21, 2011). "Hironobu Sakaguchi on Final Fantasy I's Roller-Coaster Development". Archived from the original on March 28, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Fear, Ed (December 13, 2007). "Sakaguchi discusses the development of Final Fantasy". Develop. Intent Media. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  9. ^ a b "『FF』はどのように世界に広がっていったのか? 坂口博信氏と浜村弘一ファミ通グループ代表が"国際日本ゲーム研究カンファレンス"にて語る". Famitsu. May 24, 2015. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Kohler, Chris (July 23, 2009). "Why's It Called 'Final Fantasy'? Uematsu Explains". Wired. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  11. ^ "Interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi". IGN. April 5, 2000. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Duffy, James (August 2, 2006). "Movies that were Box-office Bombs". Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  13. ^ "". December 25, 2008. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  14. ^ "レゴ – mistwalker". Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Luke Plunkett (January 29, 2010). "Final Fantasy Creator Working On Wii Game". Kotaku. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  16. ^ a b c Iwata, Satoru (August 17, 2010). "Iwata Asks: The Last Story". Andraisang. Archived from the original on August 20, 2010.
  17. ^ Jarvis, Matthew (June 21, 2016). "Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi set to open new development studio". Develop. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  18. ^ "Mistwalker Announces Fantasian Game for Apple Arcade Service". Anime News Network. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  19. ^ "'Fantasian,' from the creator of Final Fantasy, arrives on Apple Arcade". Engadget. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  20. ^ Brown, Shelby. "Apple Arcade: Fantasian is Final Fantasy creator's returns to nostalgic roots". CNET. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  21. ^ Webster, Andrew (March 2, 2021). "Final Fantasy's creator is back with a classic RPG made of incredible handcrafted dioramas". The Verge. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  22. ^ Palumbo, Alessio (April 2, 2021). "Fantasian, The New JRPG Made by Final Fantasy Creator, Is Out Now on Apple Arcade". Wccftech. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  23. ^ "Final Fantasy Series Creator Talks Uematsu's Involvement in Fantasian". Siliconera. March 3, 2021. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  24. ^ March 2021, Gerald Lynch 26. "His Final Fantasy? JRPG legend Hironobu Sakaguchi talks Apple exclusive Fantasian, next-gen gaming and an iconic career". TechRadar. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  25. ^ "". Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  26. ^ "". crunchyroll. June 21, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  27. ^ "The Making Of... Final Fantasy VI". Edge. No. 251. Future Publishing. March 2013. pp. 124–127.
  28. ^ V-Jump Festival 1994 (VHS tape). Japan: Shueisha. 1994.

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