As part of the PG team navigated the crowded halls of E3 last week, we learnt about an intriguing free-to-play mobile game called Final Fantasy VII G-Bike.
With Square Enix taking the familiar biking mini-game from Final Fantasy VII's Golden Saucer and mixing it with realistic 3D graphics reminiscent of Advent Children, it'd be an understatement to say that we were interested in learning more about this one.
Thankfully, we had the opportunity to interview producer Ichiro Hazama about this game while 'grilling' him about Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call.Pocket Gamer: One thing we've noticed in looking at Japanese and Western games is that Japanese smartphone gamers tend to play with one hand (or one finger). Was G-Bike designed with a Japanese audience in mind, or was it made for more global gaming?
Ichiro Hazama: You're right that a lot of Japanese players prefer the one-handed style. But think about it: you'll probably hold your phone in a portrait orientation if you're playing with one hand.
But with G-Bike, it'll usually be in a landscape position, so you won't be able to easily hold it and play it in one hand in this orientation.
I can't say that it was designed for Western users specifically, but I wanted to make sure as many people as possible could enjoy its gameplay system.
How did you decide on the idea for G-Bike?
Since there are a lot of popular mini-games and mini-game sections in various Final Fantasy titles, what made you pick this one?
In terms of the concept of utilising the G-Bike mini-game, that was an idea from our partner CyberConnect2.
I'm sorry - this is the first time I've got this question, so I'm answering it honestly.
I actually preferred the snowboarding game (also from Final Fantasy VII) - but if you think about it, we'd be creating a game where we have realistic 3D graphics.
So, Cloud would be in full 3D graphics, with his shoulder pads and his armour, on a snowboard going down a slope. It kind of seems a little... surreal.
We thought long and hard, and wound up going with the G-Bike idea.
There would've been a lot of different ideas, and I'm sure there might be opportunities for (Final Fantasy) mini-games to be realised as individual games in the future. But, for example, going back to mini-games from Final Fantasy VII - Cloud also shot some hoops.
If we had him in full 3D graphics, shooting hoops, it wouldn't really make a lot of sense.
The overall goal for G-Bike was to make a fun game that people can play anywhere, but did you see this as a way to connect only with existing fans of Final Fantasy VII or to introduce new players to the Final Fantasy franchise?
This may sound kind of greedy, but I want to go for both existing fans of Final Fantasy VII AND to reach out to new players.
But first and foremost, it's very important that this game resonates with fans of Final Fantasy VII, so I definitely wanted to incorporate that element of nostalgia and things that are reminiscent of the original title.
At the same time, because this is on a mobile platform and it's free-to-play, it's very easy for new players to get started on it.
And through this platform, we're hoping to get new players interested - not only in the original Final Fantasy VII, but also in the movie, Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, and things like that.