- "I don't have what it takes to make an action game. I think I'm better at telling a story."
- —Hironobu Sakaguchi
Hironobu Sakaguchi (坂口 博信, Sakaguchi Hironobu?) is a Japanese game designer, director, and producer who is widely known as the creator of the Final Fantasy series. Born on November 25th, 1962, in Hitachi, Ibaraki, he joined Square Co., Ltd. (presently Square Enix) in 1983 as part-time worker after dropping out of his university mid-course. He left the company in 2002. He currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Sakaguchi started his career at Square Co., Ltd in 1986 as director of planning and development. He was promoted to executive vice president in 1991 and eventually ascended to president of Square LA Inc. (now Square Enix) in 1995. Sakaguchi is the creator of the original Final Fantasy. Contrary to popular belief, the name "Final Fantasy" does not refer to the situation with Square, but was in fact given because the game was intended to be his final work.
Neither proved to be the case, since Final Fantasy was a huge success. He was the director and producer of Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy IV, and Final Fantasy V. He also produced Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy IX. In 2000, Sakaguchi was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking work on the Final Fantasy series. He was the third person to be inducted, after other gaming icons Sid Meier and Shigeru Miyamoto.
- "After switching over to the Famicom (NES), there was a time when I wasn't happy with anything I was creating. I thought of retiring from the game industry and I created Final Fantasy as my final project. That's why the title includes the word 'final' but for me, the title 'Final Fantasy' reflects my emotional state at the time and the feeling that time had stopped. They say that technologically, it's good to keep going, and each time, we give it our all and expend out skills and energy until we can go no further; this is what I consider to be the "final fantasy". The stories and characters change each time. This is because stories tend to limit a world and I think by changing these aspects and creating new material for each title, we try to show our full potential. In a way, you can say that it serves as a type of challenge for us."
- —Hironobu Sakaguchi in "Beyond Final Fantasy"
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. However, the movie was the second-biggest animated box office bomb in cinema history, losing over $120 million dollars and leading to the closure of Square Pictures.
Sakaguchi stepped down from his post as an executive vice president at Square. This event also reduced Square's financial capital. Square then merged with their rival, Enix Co., Ltd., which led straight into the present day Square Enix in 2003. Sakaguchi then resigned his position at Square, and founded Mistwalker with the financial backing of Microsoft Game Studios.
In 2001, he founded Mistwalker, which began operation three years later in 2004. In February 2005, it was announced that Mistwalker would be working with Microsoft Game Studios to produce two computer role-playing games for the Xbox 360. Still, his company remains independent to console exclusivity.
Apart from Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, Sakaguchi also produced ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat for Nintendo DS, and has at least three more games planned for DS and Nintendo's Wii, one of which being The Last Story, announced in 2010. News blogs reported an exchange on Twitter made between him and Takashi Tokita, where he told Tokita and the other employees to "stop rehashing Final Fantasy". Tokita responded with "We're planning to!"
|Final Fantasy||Director, Writer, Original Concept|
|Final Fantasy II||Director|
|Final Fantasy III||Director|
|Final Fantasy IV||Director|
|Final Fantasy V||Director|
|Final Fantasy VI||Producer|
|Final Fantasy VII||Storyline Planner (with Tetsuya Nomura), Producer|
|Final Fantasy VIII||Executive Producer|
|Final Fantasy IX||Producer|
|Final Fantasy X||Localization Executive Producer|
|Final Fantasy X-2||Localization Executive Producer|
|Final Fantasy XII||Special Thanks|
|Final Fantasy Tactics||Producer|
|Final Fantasy Tactics Advance||Executive Producer|
|Final Fantasy Anthology||Executive Producer|
|Final Fantasy Chronicles||Executive Producer|
|Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring||Supervisor|
|Vagrant Story||Executive Producer|
|Chocobo Racing||Executive Producer|
|Chocobo's Dungeon 2||Producer|
|The Last Story||Director|
- The Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep character Master Eraqus, whose name is an anagram of Square (in the same way as the Disney character Master Yen Sid), is said to be designed after Hironobu Sakaguchi.
- Between all Final Fantasy games, Sakaguchi said that Final Fantasy IX is his favorite.
- Garland from the first Final Fantasy is Sakaguchi's favorite villain in the series.
- Sakaguchi makes a cameo appearance in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.