Final Fantasy 8's director drew inspiration from the Wizard of Oz

Final Fantasy 8 Remastered
(Image credit: Square)

A new interview with the creators of Final Fantasy 8 has revealed a surprising source of inspiration for the game: The Wizard of Oz. 

During the 23 minute look at the classic JRPG, which was posted on PlayStation's YouTube channel, the original game director, Yoshinori Kitase, shed light on the game's design and how the Judy Garland classic helped inspire him. 

"While visually, it presents as near-future sci-fi," Final Fantasy 8's director Yoshinori Kitase says, "I wanted the base of the story and the world to be centered in fantasy, so I included sorceresses." 

Kitase explains that this aspect was inspired by one classic fairytale in particular. "In fact, I wanted to channel a bit of the essence of The Wizard of Oz, and that was what inspired me when I was creating the fairytale-esque fantasy base of 8." 

In the game, Edea, the evil sorceress who resides in the eastern region in a city called Esthar, is the main antagonist of the game, while a good sorceress resides in the West. In hindsight, that inspiration was pretty clear. 

With Final Fantasy 8 finally getting a remastered re-release back in September, Yoshinori Kitase is joined by producer Shinji Hashimoto, and art director Yusuke Naora in the video, as the team take a look at the game's development process and influences.

The 23-minute-long mini-documentary offers some fantastic insight into how the team approached following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy 7, and how they drew inspiration for some of the game's key elements. 

There's a lot of interesting facts to unpack from the mini documentary, including art director Yuskue Naora revealing how they went to location shoots in real schools to create detailed environments, as well as the challenges the team faced in keeping the proportions of the characters the same throughout the game, and how the Triple Triad card game minigame was created. 

If you missed the original and it's remaster, Final Fantasy 8 is set on a fantasy world with near-futuristic aesthetics. You follow the story of Squall Leonhart who's a member of Balamb Garden Military Academy's elite mercenary force known as SeeD. When the realm comes under threat by an evil Sorceress named Edea, Squall sets out to fight against the Sorceress with his fellow Garden allies and resistance member Rinoa Heartilly. 

Final Fantasy 8 holds a special place in many players hearts thanks to its story and memorable characters, and if it has a part of yours, the entire documentary is an illuminating watch that's well worth setting aside some time for. 

Want more from the world of Final Fantasy? Read about how the Final Fantasy 7 remake is everything you want it to be

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.