As I have mentioned many times before, I am a huge fan of the game series "Final Fantasy". That was also the incentive for me to start with this series of articles. I will be telling the story about this great development studio regularly over the coming weeks from its beginnings to the present day. So if you are also a big fan of this game series, read on and let yourself be guided behind the scenes by these ambitious software developers.
Square Co., LTD. - How it all began
It was 1983 when young Masafumi Miyamoto graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo. His father owned a large energy company called Den-Yu-Sha, but Miyamoto was not really interested. Miyamoto actually wanted to start his own women's fashion label, but it never happened and he started working as a developer in his father's company within his own game development area. So Square was born. Even if many people in Europe think that the company would be called Squaresoft, you have to know that this was just the brand name.
At that time, many games were developed by only one programmer, but Miyamoto was convinced of a different concept. Why not simply divide up the individual competences? Why not just get graphic designers, story writers and programmers on board and work together on a project?
To find employees, Miyamoto opened an Internet cafe-like place where aspiring programmers could demonstrate their skills. In this way, the two students Hironobu Sakaguchi and Hiromichi Tanaka and several others found their new jobs in this young and aspiring company, even if only part-time at first.
Right Hiromichi Tanaka, left Hironobu Sakaguchi
The first game
One of the very first games that probably few people know was "The Death Trap". "The Death Trap" was a classic text adventure of its time, but with impressive graphics to visually underpin the well-written story, giving the game enormous added value. Initially Square didn't want to develop for the consoles, so this title only appeared for computer systems of that time and only in Japan.
Square's second and third works
For their next two titles, Square continued to develop only for computer systems. Both titles were also published only in Japan.
The first title after her debut appearance was to be a direct sequel to her first game, called "Will: The Death Trap II", which appeared in 1985. This game was also a classic text based adventure game, but besides pictures illustrating the story, animations were also used.
Unfortunately, the first two games were not a big success.
Next Square tried another genre, which was well established in Japan in manga, the Mecha Manga genre.
I would see "Cruise Chaser Blassty" as one of the first attempts to gain a foothold in the roleplay genre. The story was set in the distant future and the player could play a Mecha from an ego perspective. The Mecha was customizable and the combat system was reminiscent of role-playing combat systems. Also remarkable about this title was that Nobou Uematsu contributed some titles of music here for the first time.
What to do if you don't make a profit
For a long time Square stuck to developing only for the computer systems of that time. However, the financial failure forced the young company to rethink and they tried to keep afloat via system ports on the Famicom system (the Japanese NES). One of the most famous ports was probably the game "Thexder", which was a run and gun shooter, comparable to the later "Metroid Prime"[6}.
All good things come in four
Alpha was launched in 1986. Another attempt to publish a successful text adventure title. The technique is based on the sequel "Will". In this game, humanity has already left Earth and is on a long journey to its new home, but a revolt breaks out halfway. We take on the role of the female character "Chris", who tries to clarify everything. This game also contains music written by Nobuo Uematsu and is sometimes sexually very provocative.
Here, too, there was no commercial success. The opening to other systems and also the porting of numerous titles could not bring the company to desired success. Nevertheless, in September 1986 Square isolated itself from the parent company of Masafumi Miyamoto's father and the independent company Square Co, LTD was formed.
In the valley of despair
All attempts to achieve economic success have so far more or less failed. They had experimented a lot and missed a clear line within the company. Hironobi Sakaguchi also began to doubt whether his decision to become a game developer was the right one. Nevertheless, despite the resistance within the company and his own doubts, he maintained his vision of at least publishing one great role-playing story. We're talking about "Final Fantasy", which was originally called "Fighting Fantasy", but due to the bad situation of the company and after Sakaguchi's acceptance it was supposed to be his last game. Hence the name "Final Fantasy", as it should be his last project, and "Fantasy" because of the genre behind it.
A look into the future
Believing more firmly in his idea would save the company and lead it to worldwide economic success, even Hironobi Sakaguchi probably did not see it coming. You can tell by the name you choose for your game. But the development of "Final Fantasy" was not a good start either. However, this is the subject of my next article.
I hope you had fun and had some deep impressions behind this great company. I look forward to your thoughts and opinions in the comments. See you soon, Tooxaj!