Final Fantasy III is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and in honor of that milestone, Square-Enix has shared a new interview with some of the team that worked on the game. The feature includes comments from dev Hiromichi Tanaka, who reveals that Odin was the first summon ever created for the series. Check out details on Odin's creation below.
When the battle field is made into one area, there’s a visual difference between the player side and the monster side, with Mr. Amano’s monster designs on one end and Mr. Ishii’s character pixel art on the other. We wanted to place something monster-like on the player’s side too, to create a visual that pits monster versus monster, and so from that I suggested including summons. The first one we created was the Zantetsuken-wielding Odin.
Odin’s visual design came from a picture that happened to be in Mr. Amano’s illustrations of a man riding a horse which looked close to the design we wanted. I can’t remember exactly why we decided he uses Zantetsuken; there were even people on the development team saying, “Doesn’t Odin always use a spear?” [laughs]
Getting into the technical side of things, before FFIII when we were making Rad Racer, at that time we were developing for cathode ray tube screens, so to animate the road turning we would integrate scrolling by individual scanlines. Using the same technique, for Odin’s attack we realized perhaps we could shift the scanlines in the middle of the display and make it look like the screen is splitting in half. I figured we could slide the top and bottom parts of the monster to make it look like it’s been cut into two pieces. That’s why the place where monsters sit on the battle screen is only black, while the location graphics were put up top. To do that kind of visual on NES we couldn’t use layers, it had to be one big sprite image. So if the monsters were displayed with a background behind, that would have been split into two as well. We made the background black to avoid that.