Final Fantasy is, I think it's fair to say, a little stuck in the mud. Sales of the past few iterations haven't been terrible, but a vocal minority of fans remain decidedly unconvinced by the focus on Lightning, heroine of Final Fantasy XIII and the upcoming spin-off release, Lightning Returns.
Is this the sort of situation that might benefit from a sprinkling of outsider perspective, to clear the air? Could Square Enix even hand the franchise off to a Western developer, following in Capcom's footsteps? Or would that be a recipe for Lost Planet 3-style disaster? Aoife spoke to Lightning Returns director Motomu Toriyama and gameplay director Yuji Abe for more.
The answer, in brief, is that the publisher's open to the idea but has nothing to announce for the moment. "Obviously, Square Enix bought out Eidos a number of years ago, and now we have direct access to American development teams," observed Abe. "That's certainly been discussed within the company, the possibility of say, Eidos or maybe someone else to look after or maybe take on the Final Fantasy series.
"And we obviously haven't decided anything concrete, but if we find the right team of developers, the right people who really wanted to do it, and we had the right game, then yes, certainly we'd think about it."
"The whole thing about the Final Fantasy series is that for every iteration, for every game we do, we have a very different game," chimed in Toriyama. "So the development team is also different very time, so that there's different ideas and different concepts driving it.
"So obviously within that framework, having a very different type of team could work. So if we got the right team of people, it could produce something very interesting in the end."
In fairness, I'm quite tantalised by what I've heard of Lightning Returns. Unfortunate talk of boob physics and the slightly desperate-feeling trumpeting of unlockable retro costumes aside, this could be a solid little action-RPG. Have a look at the latest gameplay demo, below.
As for Eidos - the developer's made a name for itself of late as the inheritor of classic videogame properties, having put Deus Ex back on the map. The Montreal team's next release is Thief, which isn't quite as majestic as it could be just yet.