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Yoshinori Kitase

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Yoshinori Kitase.

Yoshinori Kitase (北瀬 佳範 Kitase Yoshinori?, born 23 September 1966) is a Japanese game producer and former game director who has been working for Square Enix since April 1, 1990. He is known for being the event director of Final Fantasy VI (1994), directing Final Fantasy VII (1997) and Final Fantasy VIII (1999), and producing Final Fantasy X (2001) and Final Fantasy XIII (2009). Yoshinori Kitase also works as a game designer.

He became a producer when Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, chose him to be producer of the mainline Final Fantasy games developed by Product Development Division 1. Kitase chose Motomu Toriyama to be his successor as director, and Kitase now serves as producer of Toriyama's team, which develops mainline Final Fantasy games. Although Kitase no longer directs games, he supervises the development of games created by Toriyama's team, and has final say on their stories and gameplay.


After Kitase played Final Fantasy he considered a switch to the game industry as he felt it had potential when it came to animation and storytelling. Despite having no software development knowledge Kitase applied at Square and was hired in April 1990. In the ten years to follow, he gathered experience as an "event scripter", directing the characters' movements and facial expressions on the game screen as well as setting the timing and music transitions. He has compared this work to directing film actors.[1]

Final Fantasy V was the first mainline Final Fantasy game Kitase worked on and collaborated with Hironobu Sakaguchi on writing the event scripts. While Sakaguchi conceived the story and was in charge of the scenario text, Kitase lightened it up by adding humor.[2]

Final Fantasy VI began planning in December 1992. Sakaguchi could not be as intimately involved as in previous instalments due to his promotion to Executive Vice President of the company in 1991. Thus, amid development, he stepped down as director and became the producer. Although he was credited as director (with Hiroyuki Ito), Kitase remained as the event director, his task to create a cohesive narrative by uniting the story premise provided by Sakaguchi with the individual ideas for character episodes provided by all members of the development team. The scenario for Final Fantasy VI was written by five people, among them Kitase. The parts Kitase personally came up with were the Opera "Maria and Draco" scene, Celes Chere's suicide attempt, and Kefka's appearances.[2][3]

Final Fantasy VII began planning in 1994, after the release of Final Fantasy VI. It was intended to be another 2D project for the Super Nintendo, but Kitase was concerned the franchise might be left behind if it did not catch up to the 3D graphics being used in other games, and full production began after the completion of a tech demo called Final Fantasy VI: The Interactive CG Game for Silicon Graphics' Onyx workstations. Final Fantasy VII was Kitase's proper directorial debut, as he was only the event director on Final Fantasy VI. The scenario of Final Fantasy VII was written by Kazushige Nojima and Kitase based on the story ideas by Sakaguchi and Tetsuya Nomura. Final Fantasy VII was released worldwide to high sales and universal critical acclaim, and elevated Kitase to being revered as one of the great RPG directors in the video game industry.[4]

Final Fantasy VIII began planning in 1997, during the English localization of Final Fantasy VII, and marked the first time Kitase worked on the game design, while the battle system mechanics were designed by Hiroyuki Ito. The story was conceived by Kitase with the character profiles provided by Nomura and the actual scenario written by Nojima.[5]

Final Fantasy X began planning in 1999. Kitase tried to expand the definition of the word "fantasy" beyond that of a medieval European setting, leading to South-East Asian influences for Final Fantasy X. Kitase was originally the director, but at some point during development he stepped down and became the producer.[6][7]

Final Fantasy X-2 began planning in late 2001 in response to the success of Final Fantasy X, particularly fan reaction to the Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm video. Kitase served as producer, while choosing Toriyama to succeed him as director of the mainline Final Fantasy games developed by his production team. Kitase has explained the objective in creating Final Fantasy X-2 was to embrace the concept of change as the game's theme and establish a more upbeat atmosphere than with its predecessor.[8][9]

Final Fantasy XIII began planning in February 2004 under the codename "Colors World". Kitase served as producer with Toriyama as the director. The development team's goal was to have the same level of polish and craftsmanship as with Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X, which were both the first mainline Final Fantasy games released on their respective consoles.[10] Leading up to the Final Fantasy XIII's release, Kitase said in an interview, "I'm convinced it will be the best Final Fantasy game."[11]

Final Fantasy XIII-2 began planning in April 2010 and development lasted for around 18 months. Many of the key personnel from Final Fantasy XIII remained in their roles: Kitase was the producer. For Final Fantasy XIII-2, Kitase intended to address the criticisms of the first game with the sequel by adding the Historia Crux system and numerous side-quests. Although Kitase was explicitly responding to the criticism, himself and his production team saw the changes and additions as making the sequel in line with what players hoped a Final Fantasy XIII sequel would be, rather than backing away from the changes the first game had brought to the series.[12]

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII began planning in May 2012. One of the key story concepts behind the game was the "rebirth" of Lightning as a character; this was cited as the main reason the game was not called "Final Fantasy XIII-3", alongside Kitase's desire to attract new players to the series. Lightning was made a darker and more vulnerable character, partly because Kitase felt her previous stoic attitude might have alienated earlier players.[13][14]

Game DesignEdit

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Yoshinori Kitase created a game design called the "Interactive Movie RPG" for Final Fantasy X that prioritized the player getting attached to the story and characters over getting attached to the gameplay. The goal is achieved by streamlining many gameplay elements seen in console RPGs and emphasizing the story and character development through voiced in-game movie event scenes. For Final Fantasy X, Kitase decided to make the world more linear so the player would constantly move forward and see the event scenes. If the game was made with a world map the pacing of the story would have been affected due to the player being able to wander off the main path.

Kitase's main inspiration when creating the "Interactive Movie RPG" game design was his love for cinema and the well-received Midgar sections of Final Fantasy VII. Before the player reaches the world map in Final Fantasy VII, the game is linear with constant event scenes the player takes part in. The player cannot deviate from the beaten path and miss these event scenes. As a result, the pacing of the Midgar parts of Final Fantasy VII feels cinematic. Kitase wanted to replicate this feeling with Final Fantasy X.

Final Fantasy XIII was designed by Yoshinori Kitase to use a modified version of the "Interactive Movie RPG" game design, making it more linear and streamlined to add emphasis to the story and character development. Kitase decided to remove towns, shops, mini-games and other aspects not central to the story and character development.

In an interview conducted at E3 2006, where Final Fantasy XIII was first announced, Kitase hinted towards the game design changes he would be introducing by stating players will say, "Is this really FF?" when they play the game.[15] When the game was released, Yoshinori Kitase defended the game design choices saying it was important for the player to be engaged with the story and characters before allowing them to be let loose with the gameplay.[16]

Works Within the SeriesEdit

Game Release Work
Final Fantasy Adventure 1991 Game Design, Scenario Writer
Final Fantasy V 1992 Event Planner, Scenario Writer (with Hironobu Sakaguchi)
Final Fantasy VI 1994 Event Director, Scenario Writer (with Yoshihiko Maekawa, Satoru Tsuji, Tsukasa Fujita, and Keisuke Matsuhara)
Final Fantasy VII 1997 Director, Scenario Writer (with Kazushige Nojima)
Final Fantasy VIII 1999 Director, Game Design, Base Story
Final Fantasy X 2001 Producer, Game Design, Base Story
Final Fantasy X-2 2003 Producer, Base Story (with Motomu Toriyama)
Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- 2004 Producer
Final Fantasy VII Tech Demo 2005 Supervisor
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children 2005 Producer (with Shinji Hashimoto)
Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- 2006 Producer, Original Concept
Final Fantasy V Advance 2006 Supervisor (with Hiroyuki Ito)
Final Fantasy VI Advance 2006 Supervisor (with Hiroyuki Ito)
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- 2007 Executive Producer, Game Design, Event Planner (with Takefumi Terada, Masaki Kunikata, and Akiko Ishibashi)
Dissidia Final Fantasy 2008 Producer
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete 2009 Producer (with Shinji Hashimoto and Ichiro Hazama)
Final Fantasy XIII 2009 Producer, Game Design, Story Supervisor
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy 2011 Special Thanks
Final Fantasy Type-0 2011 Producer
Final Fantasy XIII-2 2011 Producer, Story Supervisor
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy 2012 Special Thanks
Final Fantasy All the Bravest 2013 Special Thanks
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII 2013 Producer, Story Supervisor
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster 2013 Producer
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call 2014 Special Thanks
Final Fantasy VII G-Bike 2014 Executive Producer


  • Yoshinori Kitase's favorite game in the series is Final Fantasy VII and his favorite character is Cloud.[17]
  • Yoshinori Kitase has stated his favourite Final Fantasy X scene is the ending. Specifically when Yuna attempts to run into Tidus's arms.[18]
  • Yoshinori Kitase is a fan of first-person shooters.[19]
  • Yoshinori Kitase has said there's a rivalry between the mainline Final Fantasy teams within Square Enix. He added this acts as motivator for him, as he tries to surpass the mainline Final Fantasy games made by other teams.[19]
  • Tetsuya Nomura, director of Final Fantasy XV and creator of Kingdom Hearts, stated he considers Yoshinori Kitase one of his four "seniors" and an influence on his game direction.[20]

External LinksEdit


  2. 2.0 2.1
  6. Studio BentStuff. Final Fantasy X Ultimania Omega (in Japanese). Square Enix. pp. 191–193, 476.
  10. Studio BentStuff. Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania (in Japanese). Square Enix. pp. 496–499.
  14. Studio BentStuff. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania (in Japanese). Square Enix. pp. 736–737.
  19. 19.0 19.1

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