Exclusive interview: Final Fantasy X-2

With Final Fantasy X-2, the first ever true sequel in the seminal RPG series, still jostling for position near the top of the charts, we decided to have a natter with its director, Motomu Toriyama, to find out everything you wanted to know about the game - but were afraid to ask...

As summoning fantastical beasts has been an integral part of the Final Fantasy experience, do you think fans will be happy about the lack of Aeons in FFX-2?
In the world of FFX-2, the power of the Aeons has been lost due to the events at the end of FFX and so, from the very early stages of development, we were aware that we had to base the battle system in X-2 on something other than the summons we usually rely on. This is where the idea for the new Spherechange system came from, since it provides something appealing both visually and in terms of gameplay, and is a feature which brings an interesting new element to the game system. The FF series has always been about introducing new elements to both the system and the visuals with every title and, as such, we felt that fans of the series would enjoy the novel Spherechange system just as much as the summon-based systems of earlier instalments.

Why were Yuna and Rikku chosen to be playable characters in the sequel rather than the other characters from FFX?
Although FFX-2 is the first ever sequel in the series, if you simply stick to the same old formula, you run the risk of losing any freshness that the game might have, so we decided to try a number of things in FFX-2 that we hadn't been able to do in previous FF games. One of these things was basing the story solely on female characters and telling a (relatively) light-hearted story while doing so. In order to do this, we used Yuna, heroine of FFX, as the main focus of the story and let Rikku, her happy-go-lucky friend, go along with her, accompanied by their new companion Paine.

Was it a conscious decision to make all the playable characters female?
It's not uncommon for women to star as main characters in Hollywood movies and we looked to films like Charlie's Angels and Tomb Raider for inspiration. But in a way, these stories seemed to be using tough, almost 'macho' women to fill the same type of roles usually played by men. With FFX-2, we took ideas from movies such as these as a starting point but tried to base the story around cuter, more feminine characters. Visually speaking, in offering various outfits for the characters, the Spherechange system is obviously a more female-oriented feature. Little touches like the movements of the characters as they try to bear the weight of the large swords used when the Samurai dressphere is equipped, and the group's lively reaction to such a serious event as an important treasure of theirs being stolen, help to keep the atmosphere light-hearted and reinforce the cuter aspects of the game's three heroines. The opportunity to portray female main characters in this way provides a new, and often amusing, form of expression, which is really what swung the decision to make a title with three female playable characters.

Do you see the new dress-up system as the game's equivalent to 'Limit attacks' seen in previous games or as something completely different? And do you see future games adopting a similar approach rather than the more usual 'Limit attacks'?
The closest thing to the Spherechange system in previous FF games was the job changing system in Final Fantasy V. The main difference is that job changes were activated from the menu and could not be performed during battles but, in FFX-2, Spherechanges take place in realtime during the battle sequences and the order and type of changes performed can have a direct effect on the course of a battle. Because of the visual appeal of the different outfits, and also the tactical aspects of the different dresspheres, it is a system which allows the player a great deal of choice in terms of their own particular playing style. As far as future FF titles are concerned, the battle system changes every time, so as to similar features appearing in future games, your guess is as good as ours!