Final Fantasy VII was a major moment in the Final Fantasy franchise. Probably the biggest moment the series has had to date. It was a huge breakthrough for the franchise, and forever turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. In a Famitsu interview with developer Kazushige Nojima, we learn just how much the success of Final Fantasy VII impacted the creation of Final Fantasy VIII.
Final Fantasy VII was a huge success outside Japan. So right from the start of Final Fantasy VIII’s development, one of our main objectives was making something that would be popular overseas. We didn’t have this in mind at all when making FFVII. So I changed my way of writing. For example, in Japanese, you can make a character speak without revealing their gender. You can use that, and make a reveal later about how that character was actually a woman. This isn’t possible in English as the translation will always use either “He” or “She”. Another example would be jokes. Until then, I only thought about Japanese players, so puns were not a problem. But I heard the translators had a lot of trouble with that when translating FFVII. So we tried our best to write FFVIII‘s scenario in a way that would be easier to translate.
With the bonus I got with FFVII, I bought a PC and started browsing the net. I was curious about what players thought of Square’s games so I started reading FFVII bulletin boards. The negative remarks which came back the most where “there’s too many flashbacks” and “the story is too sad”. Taking this into account, I decided to write for FFVIII a story where none of the main characters would die. And I really like using flashbacks, giving puzzle pieces to the players. And then make the players realize what really happened later on. Trying to have less falshbacks is how I thought about the story trick with Laguna’s parts. These scenes makes you believe they’re happening at the same time, but you only realize later on they’re actually flashbacks.