Sakaguchi: HD Visuals Can Affect The Gameplay Experience

Sakaguchi: HD Visuals Can Affect The Gameplay Experience

I’ve always said that Iwata Asks is one of the best insider sources on the web, and Iwata’s latest interview with Hironnobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, reinforces that fact. After discussing development of his latest title ‘The Last Story’, Sakaguchi claimed that working with the limited technology of the Wii has actually been a liberating experience.

“Even if you compare the visuals to other hardware,” he claims, “there’s no disadvantage what-so-ever.”

Sakaguchi also mentioned that working with HD visuals can actually end up detracting from the overall quality of the game.

“To be honest,” starts Sakaguchi, “I personally feel that the HD visuals that are now the trend are still too much for a game world. You end up putting all your effort into preserving the quality of the visuals.”

Apparently working on the Wii has allowed Sakaguchi to work on prototyping fresh gameplay ideas more efficiently, which has resulted in a better gameplay experience.

We’re sceptical – Sakaguchi is clearly not going to discuss the limitations of Nintendo’s tech in front of the President of the company. But that being said, there is validity in the statement. You could argue that Final Fantasy XIII is the perfect example of a game that sacrifices gameplay mechanics for visual fidelity.

But can’t we have both?


  • In a way, I agree, but in a way, I don’t.

    The problem is the developers. They either focus on graphics or gameplay or story, rarely any combination of the three.

    COD is record-breaking, but won’t be remembered as the BEST game in 10 years, games like Fallout and Super meat boy will.

    In a sense, this guy is right, but also, art direction is a very powerful tool, so it may not have the best graphics, but things can still look good!

    I don’t know whether any of the above made sense… XD

    • The problem is budgets, time and money.
      HD visuals require much more time to get right, and that means more money. It is also much harder to fudge things in HD, it all shows.

      It is going to be increasingly difficult for non-stylised games to get made, as the time and skill levels required as graphics quality improves is pretty much exponential.

      • that and I’d also add that it’s more sluggish development because it takes so long to do anything. So for example, you spend 6 months developing awesome HD graphics for the jump mechanism. The director (auteur..?) tries it out and thinks “Hmm this would be better if it was a swim mechanic”. Then it’s another 6 months to make the swim mechanic graphics. Maybe that’s not the best example but at least it illustrates what I’m saying.

  • Not that I even own a PSP, but go and have a look at games like Persona, Disgaea and God Eater: Burst. They’re visually very attractive despite the “inferior” hardware. Same deal with DS; Pokemon does a lot with a little, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Rift of the Grimoire and that upcoming steampunk-timetravel RPG all look amazing, too.

    I mean, Lost Odyssey and FF13 look amazing, but the gameplay just isn’t there.

    Keep in mind, of course, that this holds more promise -outside- of the RPG format. Look at some of the XBLA/indie games, and how innovative they are.

    • Persona 3 is the 3rd port, the amount of reused assets is huge not to mention stuff like brainless fillers such as 100-floor randomly generated dungeons nor hyper-level bosses which require hours of grinding only degrade the game overall and gameplay department. Personally i am not impressed with any game you have mention it beside GE:B.

  • I agree that pushing toward *more realistic* visuals can be detrimental. I disagree that HD is bad. HD is just higher fidelity.

    To make a comparison that’s relevant to the space Sakaguchi himself operates, compare JRPGs Tales of Vesperia and Star Ocean 4. The former has a simple, attractive cel-shaded presentation and the latter tries to go all high-detail 3D. Vesperia’s presentation probably cost a whole lot less money to put together because it wasn’t as interested in detail, and honestly it looks better as a result.

    The other thing is that the high-detail approach dates much faster than a more stylized, artistic approach. A more striking artistic style will last longer. Go back to a game like Wind Waker and the presentation still is striking and engaging, but grab one of the games of the same vintage that was celebrated for high-quality, high-detail graphics and it will look old and tired alongside a more modern iteration.

  • No doubt there are games out there with great visuals and sub-par gameplay, but he’s basically saying that every game out there with good visuals has suffered because of the effort that goes into making the game look good, which is obviously not true.

  • Honestly, from everything I’ve seen about The Last Story, I have a feeling that the proof will be in the pudding. The game visuals look outstanding despite their standard definition. The gameplay looks innovative and rich. Can’t wait for this game to be released.

  • I disagree. If you end creating a great looking game but mess with the gameplay, is not HD’as fault… is fault of the gameplay design.

    Both FF13 and Lost Odyssey are great looking games, but just one of them have the gameplay right… so don’t blame the HD, blame your gameplay designers or anyone said that we wanted FF13 with such gameplay… come on.

  • Hideo Kojima made something that was so close to being perfect. The game Metal gear solid:4 has all 3 elements done right, nice visuals, powerful story and the right game play. The only sacrifice was due to limited space which meant lowering the graphical content and cutting out some of the story.

  • I Agree with the developer HD is way too much demand 4 a video game world u spend all ur time polishing visuals instead of a balance on the whole 3,Story,Gameplay,Graphics,I also remember him saying he could have made 2 wii games thats how much focas went into gameplay/graphics also he says if u put Last Story next to ps3/360 there is no disadvantage meaning same poly counts,Same level of textures and HDR ect AA all this is present to the same degree as 360/ps3 and going off trailers i thought the first trailer was the PS3 so it even looked HD to me anyways the game gets localized in 2011 and details are at year end.

  • This is what i think with MH3tri that game has amazing depth that i think no ps3/360 game has and i also think Capcom new HD visuals in that game are too demanding ie why this developer is RIGHT ON THE MONEY lost planet is a basic game wrapped in HD visuals most of the big HD games are shallow and reviews prove me right.

  • Absolute garbage. The key word here is HD. HD or High definition aka resolution is simply clarity.

    The PC has had high resolution graphics for over a decade that far surpassed standard def TV (or have we all forgotten what PC gaming actually once was?) and it just hasn’t had an impact on the quality of games at all.

    It’s a completely mute and illogical argument, its technological pace and raw processing power that evolves games.

    ‘HD’ and Graphical capabilities are not one and the same thing and hence some nice marketing spin for Sakaguchi to keep Nintendo happy and give a nice big push to the Wii (which his new game just happens to be debuting on!).

  • I think Sakaguchi’s right. HD really a problem in making GOOD games which have all three: gameplay, story and media (graphics and music). the only problem is… games with HD really attracts buyers,,, and it all comes back to the problem for developers: making quality games or making money???

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