The Long Path to Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

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The Long Path to Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

This is the story of a world called Ivalice.

The origin of Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age begins with the original Final Fantasy XII which was released on PS2 in 2006. This game had the honor of receiving many awards with its unique game system that granted players great freedom and strategic ability, and by its graphical expressiveness that utilized the hardware’s capability to the fullest, in the world called Ivalice that inherited the genes of Final Fantasy Tactics.

The core members from the original development team got together this time to develop Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age, but the first thing that we thought was “to not only improve visual and sound expression, but also to reconstruct the game design itself so that the players can experience a new Final Fantasy XII as a modern game.”

We created this game as a new game for PS4 by devising multiple mechanics based on the Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System that was only released in Japan in 2007. It featured a more comfortable gameplay experience for our players, including changes to the growth system and the battle design where different strategies can be used compared to the original Final Fantasy XII. I’m sure that this experience will surpass the memories of those who played the original Final Fantasy XII. For those playing for the first time, this will be an experience like never before.

In this blog I’ll focus on three points:

  1. World views and new key art.
  2. New and recreated visuals and sound.
  3. Reconstruction of the game design, and a new future.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll write Final Fantasy XII as FFXII, Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System as FFXII IZJS, and Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age as FFXII TZA.

World Views and New Key Art

Ivalice… Where the Story Takes Place
“A story of a time when magick commonly existed, and when soaring airships filled the skies.”

Ivalice, where this story takes place, is a land of swords and magick that sprawls beneath skies where large airships fly. While large cities with skyscrapers flourish, these are still turbulent times and many countries have perished in war. This is a world where hope and ambition of swirls between those that fight for freedom and those that fight for duty.

In this world of Ivalice where many races — such as Humes, Bangaa, and Viera — live, there are times when the differences between those races stirs war. There are also times when those who have the same thought work together hand in hand, crossing any national boundaries. These ways of life weave the grand history of Ivalice.

Vaan, a boy whose family was taken by the devastation of war, and Ashe, a princess whose homeland was destroyed. The wishes and hopes of these two will change the fate of many people, and even entire countries.

New Key Art
We have asked Akihiko Yoshida, who was the main character designer for the original FFXII, and Isamu Kamikokuryo, who was in charge of the art direction for the original FFXII, to create new key art for us that will symbolize that world and story of Ivalice.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age, Art

The key art drawn by Akihiko Yoshida is a group illustration with the main characters of the story. The story revolves around the battles between the Resistance (the side that the player is on) and the Imperial Army during the time of war, and the layout of this artwork expresses the relationship between those characters.

The key art drawn by Isamu Kamikokuryo is set in The Imperial City of Archades, the capital and base of the Archadian Empire. Isamu Kamikokuryo drew a piece of art set in the same location when we developed the original FFXII, so this illustration is an homage to his own past, thinking about the time that we were creating the original FFXII.

I believe that thinking about the meaning behind these pieces of art while playing the game will add to your enjoyment of the world and story of Ivalice.

We actually have another piece of newly drawn key art for this title that we have yet to reveal, so please look forward to it!

New and Recreated Visuals and Sound

Improved Visual Expressiveness
When creating the HD version of the visuals, we were careful to preserve the unique graphical texture of Akihiko Yoshida’s character illustrations while enhancing the expressiveness with modern technology.

And so, not only did we increase the resolution of the character models, but we have also strived to improve the textures such as the skin, hair, cloth, leather, metal, and any other material.

We have also improved the expressiveness of light and shadow by implementing modern lighting technology. The world inside the game can now be enjoyed with a greater sense of atmosphere and depth as we have enhanced the natural blur (depth of field) and soft lighting (ambient occlusion).

Oh yes, the resolution increases even more if you play this title on a 4K compatible TV with a PS4 Pro, so please try it out if you have the environment to do so.

Improved Sound Expressiveness
We have re-recorded all tracks (Approximately 100!) with live performances, at the hands of Hitoshi Sakimoto who was also the composer on the original FFXII.

When we first started developing FFXII TZA, we thought that having two types of tracks — the PS2 internal sound source version and the Original Soundtrack version released as a CD — was enough. However, when I mentioned to Hitoshi Sakimoto about that, he said “re-recording with live performances would be more effective as a modern game,” and I was tricked into doing so by that too-good-to-be-true offer.

As a result, it was definitely the right decision to re-record the tracks! I’m confident that the sustaining sounds and lingering emotion unique to live performance has further enhanced the sense of presence and immersion in FFXII TZA.

We have even asked Hitoshi Sakimoto to compose new tracks (Eight!) for boss battles and maps, so I would love for his fans to look forward to that as well.

We of course have included the original tracks from FFXII as well. You will be able to switch between the two versions anytime from the configuration menu.

We have also devised the following improvement to sound expressiveness aside from the tracks:

  • We have fully included both Japanese and English voices, and those can be switched anytime from the configuration menu.
  • We have strived to playback the voices in high definition, which will make the characters’ lines sound clearer than ever. This should help you to feel the details and nuance of each cutscene even more.
  • The sound for FFXII was compatible with Dolby Pro Logic II, but this title is now compatible with 7.1ch surround sound.

Reconstruction of the Game Design, and a New Future

The FFXII International Zodiac Job System — the base for this game — was reconstructed from the original FFXII by Hiroyuki Ito, who has been in charge of the battle design in the numbered FF titles. And so, in FFXII IZJS (and subsequently in FFXII TZA), the battle design is different from FFXII with a different strategy and has incorporated a new character growth system, in which you can enjoy an even more refined adventure.

I had always thought “I want Western players to enjoy playing FFXII IZJS, one that has a different play experience from the original FFXII one day!” I’m now able to fulfill that dream with the release of FFXII The Zodiac Age. I realize that this was only made possible because of all of the fans that have loved the game called Final Fantasy XII. Thank you very much!

And this game isn’t just a simple port of the FFXII IZJS, but we have also applied many improvements to it that will enhance the joy of character growth, battle, and exploration, the highlights of an RPG.

New Character Development: The Zodiac Job System
The greatest change in this title is the enhancement to the character growth system, the License Board, that we used in the original FFXII. The content of the License Board in the original FFXII is the same for all characters, but we have created 12 jobs (like Knight, Monk, and Black Mage) and corresponding License Boards for each. The player can now choose between two jobs per character and develop each character from there.

Armor and weapons that can be equipped, and abilities such as magick and skills that can be used will be different per job, so you can enjoy the performances and strategies that differ per the combination of jobs that the player decides to use, such as compensating for the weakness of certain jobs, or specializing in magick attacks.

Similarly, the strategy of the gambit system will deepen by combining two jobs.

Improvements That Make a More Enjoyable Adventure

  • We have greatly reduced the loading times, allowing for a more light-footed adventure.
  • We have added an auto-save functionality aside from the ability to save at a save crystal, which was present in FFXII.
  • We have incorporated a double speed functionality that will increase the speed of movement throughout the entire game.
  • We have included a useful feature that overlays a location map on the screen with a push of the L3 button. This allows you to seamlessly check your current location and destination, even in a complex map.

New Trial Mode
The Trial mode is where players uses the characters they have raised to battle through a total of 100 stages. The strength and the group combination of the enemies differ from the main game, and at times you may see an unexpected character make an appearance, too.

The remaining HP, MP, and status effects are carried over to the next stage; while you can power through the first part, you will notice as you progress that it’s not as straightforward even at maximum level, and you won’t be able to continue winning by just using the same gambit patterns.

You’ll need to think about strategy with each stage, while managing your remaining HP and number of items, which will make for a very thrilling battle.

This mode allows the player to thoroughly enjoy the intrigue of planning your strategy and the exhilaration of when that strategy is executed successfully as planned — which is what makes the gambit battle so appealing. I would totally recommend you take on the challenge!

Approaching the End
The content introduced here is just a little part of what you can experience.

Final Fantasy XII has various adventures packed into the game, aside from the main scenario. Going on Mob Hunts to defeat “marks” (with a bounty on their heads) that threaten the daily lives of the people, battling legendary Espers, exploring dungeons like the Necrohol of Nabudis, and so on. The more you play, I’m sure you’ll be able to make new discoveries in the field, and the enjoyment of raising your party members and expanding the breadth of your battle strategies.

I hope you spin your own tale of adventure by utilizing the new Zodiac Job System, improved and bolstered functions, and many other useful features.

Return to Ivalice.

Comments are closed.


5 Author Replies

  • I absolutely love FFXII. I enjoyed playing the original, and when it was rumored that it would return on the PS4, i was really hopeful that it would happen. I’ve been really looking forward to it since the official announcement, and this post makes me even more excited about getting to play the game again in the near future.

    Thanks so much to everyone who brought the original game to us, and who were invilved in this new effort. The game is just amazing, and everyone should play.

    Oh, and i have one more thing to say:


  • I pre-ordered this for $30 on Amazon. Can’t wait to finally play!

    • Thanks so much! I am very excited for you to be able to finally play as well. I hope you enjoy it!

  • “We of course have included the original tracks from FFXII as well. You will be able to switch between the two versions anytime from the configuration menu.”

    Several sites have mentioned that the option to switch between the original and reorchestrated tracks are only available in the Limited and Collector’s Edition, and not in the Standard Edition.

    This is so confusing now.

    • I am sorry for the delay in response.

      Let me help clarify the correct distinction between the background music tracks.

      Both the original tracks and re-recorded tracks are implemented in the standard edition, and can be freely changed through the configuration menu inside the game.

      For the Limited Edition and Collector’s Edition, tracks from the CD can be downloaded and implemented on top of the already included original tracks and re-recorded tracks. All three types can be enjoyed while playing the game by freely changing which track to use through the configuration menu inside the game.

      The melody for each of the tracks are the same, but the color of the sound and timbre will differ, allowing players to enjoy a different feel between each type of music. It would be great if you could select which track to use depending on how you are feeling in that moment, or based on your preference.

  • My favourite FF game. I REALLY wish you had given us the option, before starting a new game, to choose between the original licence boards and the Job System versions. I understand you want to promote the “new” Job System we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the first time around, but including both would make this a much more thorough, comprehensive “definitive” edition. I hope you’ll consider it as a DLC option.

    • I agree. Oh well, if I’m desperate I’ll just trot out my old PS2. I

    • I dunno the original FF12 was way to easy. I think this opens possibilities for more challenging game play and a better experience. The old system is part of the reason I do not go back to the PS2 version of the game.

    • That’s why I like it as an option, instead of forcing players to play one way. That said, it sounds like they improved on the IZJS version, so that’s good at least.

  • I look forward the to the game. I would also love to see Final Fantasy XIII (13) Trilogy come to PS4.

  • When I saw ‘new gameplay’ I was hoping a switch FROM the gambit system, since it basically ruined the game for me. The ability to let the game play itself combined with the awful protagonists(Vaan and Penelo have the worst personalities in the series with the possible exception of Hope… even the nameless/textless characters of FF1 were better characters) to ensure the experience was borderline unplayable. I played the game until I used gambits to beat a boss fight without pushing a button after the start of the battle… then I realized that there was no reason to play.

    Oh well, I shouldn’t have got my hopes up. Hopefully the game is successful so that they decide to do more FF remakes, because now that 12’s been remade, there’s nowhere but up to go!

    • Ya Vaan and Panelo are pretty awful. Though I’d choose them over anyone from FF13 with the exception of Fang which they could have done an entire game on as she was 1000 times interesting than the group we ended up with.

    • 11 years and this line of thought is still so utterly broken to me. You know what I did? I TURNED THE GAMBITS OFF. I know, it’s crazy, but I went and did it anyway.

    • Kaze, I disagree mostly… FF13’s characters were not great, but aside from Hope they had more personality than Vaan and Penelo did. Vaan and Penelo are, in my eyes, the second and third worst characters the franchise has ever seen by a pretty significant margin. Neither 12 nor 13 had great casts, but at least the bad characters in FF13 were not the TWO PROTAGONISTS of the entire story… so I could just mostly ignore Hope and be pretty happy, whereas Vaan and Penelo were ever-present and always annoying me.

      Varmint… the game is not designed to be played completely without the gambits. It’s way too awkward to switch characters to issue commands to multiple characters, and the game simply plays BADLY if you use no gambits. And I couldn’t find a healthy medium where I was having fun PLAYING the game. It was either way too awkward if I did too much or way too hands off if I gambited. There was no middle ground I was able to find.

    • A great number of Square and Enix’s RPGs have an auto-battle system. FFTactics, FF6, the dragon quests games, the Tales game, Ogre Battle… No one ever complained that it ruined the game for them because most people never even turned it on once. I really have no ideas why then everyone figured they HAD to use FFXII’s auto-battle system and then complain that it ruined the game for them.

  • Vinland_Krauser

    Ivalice belongs in the hands of Yasumi Matsuno (story), Akihiko Yoshida (artstyle) and Hitoshi Sakimoto (soundtrack). The three together form the backbone of this magnificent universe.
    FF Tactics War of the Lions was great upgrade to the original version, just like XII TZA is shaping up to be. I’d love to see Vagrant Story get the same treatment.

  • I wish the Collector’s Edition was being sold through Amazon. Square Enix website is still too expensive.

    Also nice trailer, looks like you guys are finally getting that right. I can’t wait to play this again on PS4 and on Vita Remote Play. Too bad there isn’t a Vita version.

    • I might get this for PS4. But really wish it came to PS Vita.

      I’m not a fan of remote play, personally.

  • To many, this was the title that brought Final Fantasy down. To me, this was the first Final Fantasy title I finished. Everytime I think of my favorite games, FFXII is always on my list. Love this game more than anything else. The only major flaw with this game is lack of character and story development and don’t get me wrong, I loved both character and story, just wished it was fleshed out way more. Apart from that no complaints, loved everything about it. Definitively one of my favorite games EVER. I look forward to revisiting it.

    • The Ivalice alliance games are a bit of a niche market. FFT, Vagrant Story, Tactics Ogre and FFXII were not exactly for everyone, but some people, me included, hold all of them in very high regards. Their world feels more real and more mature than in most FF games. I was a teenager when FFT came out and it became my favorite quickly and once Vagrant Story came out, I just couldn’t let it go and I seriously finished it over 20 times!

  • I just wanted to say that FFXII and FF Tactics are my favorite Final Fantasy games of all time! I love Ivalice and the worlds created in it.

    I remember buying the steelbook collectors edition and collectors edition strategy guide and being floored by what I was playing on my PS2. After beating the game, doing all the hunts and trying out Yazmat, I came away thinking that XII would be the basis for the direction of future titles in the series. The quality was just so high! Everything from graphics, to the more mature way the story was told, to design of the world and battle systems, it was all top tier.

    I am so happy and thankful that FFXII TZA exists and your team has done so much to improve upon the game I love so much.

    PS. I am such huge fan I played through the entirety of FFXII IZJS as well :)

    • How about Vagrant Story? Same Universe as Tactics and XII.

    • Thank you for playing the original FFXII up to the Yiazmat battle. That is the best praise to receive as a developer!

      We reconstructed the battle design from the original game in FFXII THE ZODIAC AGE, including changes in the placement of treasures and adjustments to monster stats, so I believe you will be able to enjoy crafting your strategy with a fresh feeling. On top of that, improvements to playability including the high-speed mode and autosave function have made exploring the world of Ivalice a more pleasant experience, so there may even be new findings that previously went unnoticed while playing the original version.

  • So, I preordered the digital version. What did it mean when it said that I would get 4 new songs?! And why was the limited version touting all of the new songs?! If we all have access to all the music, what is being offered in the all of the versions? Is it playable music while not actually playing the game?!? Honestly, it wouldn’t matter as much if FFXII TZA would just be released as a new soundtrack on iTunes. Then maybe we could get the FFX/X-2 remade soundtrack on there as well??

    • Sorry for the delayed response.

      Let me help clarify the correct distinction between the background music tracks and the 4 tracks you receive via pre-ordering the digital version on the PS store.

      Both the original tracks and re-recorded tracks are implemented in the standard edition, and can be freely changed through the configuration menu inside the game. For the Limited Edition and Collector’s Edition, tracks from the CD can be downloaded and implemented on top of the already included original tracks and re-recorded tracks. All three types can be enjoyed while playing the game by freely changing which track to use through the configuration menu inside the game.

      Now, regarding the 4-tracks that come with pre-order – those tracks will be unlocked on day 1 when the game releases on July 11th. You will be able to play the tracks on your PS4 or transfer to a USB drive to listen on your favorite device.

      I always felt the music in FINAL FANTASY XII was special, so this allows you to have access to 4 of the newly recorded music tracks that one could only get by purchasing the full soundtrack or while playing the actual game itself.

      Thanks for pre-ordering and I hope you enjoy THE ZODIAC AGE!

    • Sorry, my response was too long!

      There will be enemies stronger than Yiazmat in the Trial Mode, a new feature in this game, so please try that out as well! And you will be able to play in a new mode called the “Weak Mode” once you clear the Trial Mode. In this mode, your party members will not level up from their starting level (you won’t gain any experience points from defeating enemies!), so you can enjoy strategic selection of two jobs, character development and gambit setup, which is a little bit different than your regular end game content. You can even call this the true essence of FFXII TZA so please try playing this mode as well!

  • Please update the PlayStation Vue app on Roku!!!

  • Incredible game, happy to return to ivalice and fight some monsters, bit now please gave us final fantasy tactis a3 or some new final fantasy tactis maybe a sequel of war of lions please i beg you

  • This one is timed exclusive just like FFX HD Remaster isn’t it ? …

  • Ooh finally a true remastered game and not the recycled crap we got every day or so…glad to see a PS2 game that REALLY needs a HD treat coming to the PS4…think this is what?…the 4th remastered game on PS4?…anyway I ain’t interested in the slightest in FF12 but nice job Square.

  • Woot, ps4 pro support :)

  • I don’t know how you expect me to wait 5 whole days before I get to play this masterpiece!
    This is easily my favorite game of all time, and it still holds up today.
    I did everything in the original game, literally everything, Yiazmat, Omega, Espers, Sidequest, Ultimate Weapons, and so on, you name it, I’ve done it.

    I put 430 hours in the original, and I am beyond excited put even more in this remaster!
    I already pre-ordered the limited edition and I can’t wait!

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