interview by PSX IGN

Interview conducted by Dave Zdyrko of PSX IGN

NOTE: This interview has been edited to include only answers by Nobuo Uematsu.

Interview

PSX IGN ("PI"): How many tracks did you create for Final Fantasy IX?
Nobuo Uematsu ("NU"): Around 160, but about 20 of them weren't used, so there should be about 140 in the game.

PI: Where did you get the ideas -- did you have anything particular in mind?
NU: I didn't try to pattern the songs after any particular piece of music. Like many composers, most of my compositions are influenced by the music I've listened to throughout my life. Originally, I was shooting for subtle, classical-sounding tunes that fit the general setting and feel of the game, but I figured sticking to just one genre would be boring, so I tried to mix everything up.

PI: Do you have a favorite
NU: Melodies of Life.

PI: In what kind of atmosphere did you create your music for FFIX?
NU: All I need is a piano.

PI: Do you work on the music at the same time the game is created, or do you come at the end of the creation, watch the game, and create music that the game inspires?
NU: it's sort of like playing catch -- it can go both ways. I create music that fits the events in the game, but sometimes, the event designer will adjust a game event to fit the music I've already written.

PI: With Final Fantasy IX, several of the tracks were already arranged with fully orchestral tracks, with future Final Fantasy games like X and XI do you see yourself going with fully orchestral soundtracks or will they continue the trend of having a mix of orchestral and synthesized stuff?
NU: I've never thought that it was absolutely necessary to have fully orchestrated music for the entire soundtrack, but this trend kind of started when Mr. Sukiyama started to use classical music for Dragon Quest, so I think that it came out around at that time. I'm not really a person who can compose classical music completely so the way that I use the orchestra is kind of rough in some ways, so I don't think it's really important for me to use orchestra for the entire soundtrack. Once it's really possible for us to record live music, we'll likely be able to start using rock bands and other types of music. In fact, I've already been working on that in some other projects right now.

PI: With Final Fantasy IX already a huge success in Japan, do you feel any need for it to be successful in America or any other country outside of Japan? Do you even care how well it does elsewhere? Despite giving Final Fantasy IX U.S. this front cover, they do actually want it to do well.
NU: Of course we're hoping for our success in the States, of course we care about it. Not just the States, but for Europe and we hope that people in Africa can also enjoy it. I believe that there are common values that we can all share. And hopefully that will be borderless and regardless of different people in different countries, we believe that we can share those values. Games are still considered to be in the sub-culture category, coming under movies, coming under manga or comics or animation, especially in Japan. So, hopefully we'll be able to establish our own position that can be established as a culture. Even in Japan, I don't think that the game culture is established. So, probably the users are kids in school, even adults, I'm not sure up to which age they are. For example, my father will watch movies but games don't appear in his life at all, I think that that's sad. Even though we can create something really good, our parents wouldn't be able to understand what we do.

PI: Would you say that the same is true with women? It seems that women in the States play far less games than males, is that the same in Japan and does Final Fantasy attract more women gamers than other videogames?
NU: I receive more fan mail from the females.

PI: The character designs in FFIX have returned to more of a cartoony look, what are some of the reasons for doing that?
NU: We wanted it to fit the scenario. For VII and VIII, the characters are probably more realistic and of course it's easier to get that more realistic feel from realistic characters, but with the technology now, it's still possible to get that realistic sense with comic-like characters.

PI: Do you have any plans to make games based on the Final Fantasy movie?
NU: We don't have any at this time and it's not very likely

PI: Are any members of the teams that worked on the Final Fantasy series working on the movie?
NU: Some of the staff that were on the FFIX team moved there, so there might be some input there. But, we haven't had any input on the movie.

PI: Is there a reason why there isn't voice acting in the Final Fantasy games? And will there be any in future games?
NU: It would be easier for me, and the music staff. Because with voice, we wouldn't have to use the music to create the drama, now the voice and sound effects would create the real-life atmosphere. So it would be a lot easier for the music staff. So, hopefully that will happen soon.

PI: How was the advanced audio power of the PS2 affected the creation of music in FFX and has it changed the way that you compose the music? Not only in terms of gameplay and graphics could a PS2 Final Fantasy be improved, but also in music...?
NU: In terms of composing music, I don't think that anything is going to change. I just think that we're going to create music that matches the scenes. But with DVD and the 5.1 output, I think that the sound effects will be more realistic. So, instead of the music, sound effects would create more impact.

PI: Will the music still be synthesized or will it be streamed because of the DVDs?
NU: Of course with streaming, it would be possible to use live recorded music, but I'm not really particular about having more live music than the synthesize music. What's more important is to make sure that the flow of the game is not interrupted by the live music. Of course, the quality of the sound would increase with live music, but the time lags to when the music starts would be an unnecessary time lag that the users would have to experience. So, hopefully we won't have to interrupt the flow of the game, as that is what's most important.

PI: From a music and graphics standpoint, what system is the team most excited about making Final Fantasy games for?
NU: Whatever hardware or equipment that is selected is what we'll work on. We're pretty flexible, believe it or not. Game Boy is something that I would like to make something for. In the past we had Final Fantasy Legends, which was created to complete the game in six to eight hours. It was created like because an average flight from Narita to Hawaii was about six to eight hours. It was very fun to do. Even though the music was very limited, only three notes, the game was only in black and white and the game was limited, the game was fun. And even though we have the advanced hardware and equipment now and the CG and the sound quality is very good, the people are forgetting about fun, which is what people really need. Of course, it would be better to have high quality music and graphics, but we need to make sure that the users enjoy the game and I think that some of the producers are ignoring that.

PI: Dragon Quest VII is finally out and is selling well, what is your take on this old-fashioned RPG?
NU: Did it come out? LOL Actually, I was talking about this with Mr. Minaba a moment ago and even though I haven't really played it fully yet, the map and battle jump is very quick and doesn't create any stress for the users and maybe Square could really learn from that.

PI: Some of the tracks in FFIX are remixed tracks of earlier FF themes. Were the remixed tracks your choice or were you told to remix old tracks to give us more nostalgia?
NU: I wanted to remix some of the older songs. Some of the character and location names were the same, so I thought that it would cool to use something from the past series.