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Hironobu Sakaguchi (坂口 博信 Sakaguchi Hironobu) (born November 25, 1962) is an industry figurehead, having co-founded Square with Masafumi Miyamoto in 1983 and later moving on to establish his own independent games venture, Mistwalker.
As legend tells, Square's first games failed to achieve the success needed to keep the company afloat. With no other options, the pair decided to conclude their venture into the games industry by creating one final game with the company's final remaining funds. They called it Final Fantasy. Released in Japan for the Famicom on December 18, 1987, Final Fantasy became an instant hit in Japan and abroad. Sakaguchi considered the venture absolved and further development continued. Final Fantasy developed into a successful franchise under his watchful eye, and now spans from stand alone stories to spin-offs and direct sequels. After directing every title in the flagship series through Final Fantasy V, Sakaguchi took on the role of executive producer for the series along with producing many of Square's other game projects. His final role as producer of the series was with Final Fantasy IX, which he has gone on record to say is his favorite title in the series1.
Foray into Film
A long-time proponent of bringing together the story-telling tradition of film and the interactive elements of games, Sakaguchi took on the directorial role on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, an animated motion picture loosely based on previously established Final Fantasy themes. Unfortunately, the movie was a catastrophic financial failure (in fact, the second-biggest animated box office bomb in cinema history) losing over $120 million and leading to the closure of Square Pictures. The upset, for which Sakaguchi was personally held responsible, affected Square's financial capital and may well have precipitated the merger with rival role-playing game creator Enix. As a consequence, feelings towards Sakaguchi's tenure at Square are somewhat mixed.
Career After Square
In 2000, Sakaguchi became the third person inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame. After voluntarily resigning from Square, he founded the game development studio Mistwalker with the financial backing of Microsoft Game Studios. In February of 2005 it was announced that Mistwalker would be working with Microsoft to produce two role-playing titles for the Xbox 360 game console. Nevertheless, despite Microsoft's financial backing, Mistwalker remains independent of console exclusivity (Mistwalker has since developed titles for Nintendo DS and Wii in addition to Xbox 360).
[Sakaguchi's] development team pours 120% of their energy [into the project]... Having been drained of energy, there is a strong feeling that this may be [Sakaguchi's] last work.
Will The Last Story do what Final Fantasy, some 25 years earlier, could not? Will it spell the end of Hironobu Sakaguchi's gaming career once and for all?
Update: According to The Magic Box (July 18, 2010), Sakaguchi has responded, saying his comments have been misconstrued. Here are his actual comments:
The energy poured into this project by the development team and I are 120%. I'm hoping you can understand that, however on the other hand, I feel worried and nervous like sending my child on a trip alone. Emotionally it feels like this is my last work, while pouring everything I have gotten into this project. Never regret, but now "I’m enjoying"; furthermore, aiming towards completion. The sense of "This is it" relaxes my shoulders, its pleasant feeling to conduct an orchestra by the sense of my intuition.
Last but certainly not least, Nintando has launched an official site for Metroid: Other M.
So there you have it, January 29 has just past and is no where NEAR close to being forgotten; what a glorious day for us gamers.
On a different note, three of those titles are exclusively for the Wii. Could it be that Nintendo is vigorously fighting for the hardcore gaming demographic? Have they finally responded to the clamoring bitter gamerholics of yore? I think so!