Yasumi Matsuno: Not dead yet

OK, blah blah Wii price, launch date, release schedule — who cares? The big news to come out of the global Nintendo conferences going down today (besides the fact that extra controllers are gonna set you back a preposterous $60 apiece) is that Ogre Battle/FF Tactics/Vagrant Story/FFXII creator and genius-at-large Yasumi Matsuno is still alive. And he loves Wii.

OK, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration; I don’t suppose anyone thought he was actually dead. But there has been substantial doubt as to whether or not he would continue working in videogames after his much-rumored breakdown and departure from FFXII; besides some suggestions that he’s hooked up with other FF refugees over at Mistwalker, there’s been no indication that he had any intention of picking up the reins of near-perfect game design again. Certainly Square Enix hasn’t said a thing besides “He’s on indefinite leave.” (That’s one step removed from “No comment” in that crazy little world we like to call PR speak.)

Apparently they didn’t say who Matsuno is working for now, just that he’s all mushy and affectionate about Wii. Which makes perfect sense — if he really did flip the hell out under the pressure of making FFXII about five times more awesome than the PS2 can theoretically handle, a development environment in which it’s technically impossible to ride the bleeding edge would probably be much easier on his sanity and nerves and so forth than, say, PS3, whose development environment reportedly makes the infamously complicated Saturn look like a stroll through BASIC. Of course, this means the short list of worthwhile creative minds at Square Enix keeps getting shorter; I hear tell that the new Final Fantasy XII spin-off is under the supervision of one Tetsuya “Zippers!” Nomura, which I guess would explain why Panelo now looks seriously underaged and sleazy instead of slightly underaged and modest.

I realized the other day (while debating the merits of FFXII with Tycho in the wake of the hilarious but deeply offensive Super Mario Bros. XII comic) that much of why I love FFXII has to do with the fact that it is the final game to have been conceived by the “old” Square — that is, before Square became Enix’s Final Fantasy-flagellating subsidiary. Matsuno’s departure sort of seals that, and I certainly do hope he drags Akihiko Yoshida along with him for art duties. Because Matsuno minus Yoshida just seems wrong, somehow.

Anyway, I gues this means at some point he’ll direct a new game and we can have a Retronauts video session to gush about his glory. Yes, I think about everything in terms of what it means for my self-indulgence.
In other news, our dear Nich has gone over to the dark side with a foray into New Games Journalism: a review of Cooking Mama’s manual. Brilliant, seriously brilliant. Today’s must-read!

Special bonus: two-player cooperative Gergoth-killin’ confirmed for Portrait of Ruin. Truly, Konami understands what friendship is all about.

38 thoughts on “Yasumi Matsuno: Not dead yet

  1. Best news of the week/month, hands down.

    I find it very comforting to know that should the PS3 tank I’ll still be able to play “Squaresoft” games.

  2. Charlotte wields books, which work like fold-out books. Except that instead of paper cut-outs of Big Ben they cause edged weapons to appear (progressively more painful edged weapons as the game progresses).

  3. Kind of like those cursed books in the library section of SotN?

    Anyways, I hope this means that Matsuno gets back to making games sooner than later.

  4. “Anyway, I gues this means at some point he’ll direct a new game and we can have a Retronauts video session to gush about his glory. Yes, I think about everything in terms of what it means for my self-indulgence.”

    Hell, I replayed the first 3 Suikoden games before 4 came out. …Too bad it turned out to be awful.

    For that matter, you convinced me to bust out Mega Man 2 the other week. I couldn’t get past the first Wily battle. I was much better when I was 9.

    …Incidentally, FYI, it’s “take the reins”, not “take the reigns”. But you don’t need to correct it; my aggregator is already littered with entries you’ve amended 6 times.

  5. Was that mental breakdown ever confirmed? I can believe it, I was just wondering if there were any details.
    “Zippers!”, indeed. I came dangerously close to ejecting hot coffee through my nostrils while reading that. NWS, man.

  6. Wii is going to be bananas in Japan. I expect plenty of weird, quirky games being made for it. And, since it’s region free, we can enjoy them without problem. Nintendo = love.
    By the way, Chain Dive is fuk’awesome. It’s like Gunvalkyrie and Shinobi had a baby.

  7. Seaking of “Zippers” Nomura, the scans I saw for Subarashiki no Sekai for the DS had a marked absense of zippers on the characters. Still very Nomura-ish, but not nearly as ridiculous.

  8. I am starting to wonder how many projects Nomura can oversee at once before *he* implodes. Not that that mightn’t be entertaining to watch, considering his baseline of “sanity”.

    Speaking of ex-Square employees, though, I’m excited to hear rumors that Mistwalker may also have designs on the DS. It’d be nice to have them do something for a platform I own.

  9. man, after all my investigative journalism, he just shows up again like everything’s fine!? what a crock.

  10. What!? You didn’t mention the equally brilliant cell phone still life “Cooking Mama manual on a plate” was the opus of one Tomm Hulett!

  11. Apparently my preorder of Cooking Mama I made a week ago online is still being labeled as ‘processing’, despite the fact EBGames is already shipping copies out. I cry, and I also send angry e-mails if I don’t get a shipping conformation in the next day or two.

    Alternatively, I picked up my copy of ZX yesterday, and is it wonderful. Just the very presence of metools after all these years is enough to make me smile, especially after their mostly being ommited from most of the X and I think the Zero series as well.

    Also, ZX has the most rediculously long intro for a portable game ever if I’m not mistaken. Well done, but long.

  12. “especially after their mostly being ommited from most of the X and I think the Zero series as well.”

    BEHOLD, the power of bad grammer!

  13. Wait, so who else is on the square short list? Oh yeah, Square Enix now, Enix seems to have some worthwhile guys on tap still… I just praise the fact that Matsuno’s still at large & willing to make things that make me happy. Definitely the best news all day.
    Reading that linked blurb on his comments on game interaction, I just realized the true joy of this. Because Tactics Advance aside, I herald him as the single greatest mastermind of User Interface in the gaming industry. FFT was flawless in its menu system, and Vagrant Story was almost as perfect. I can’t wait to see what he’ll cook up next.

  14. “Charlotte wields books, which work like fold-out books”
    She reads! My kind of girl. Also, I’m sure I’m not the first guy to think papercuts are her primary weapon.

  15. Oh god no, why are they bringing Gergoth back? That foreskin-headed nazi dinosaur killed me enough the first time. =(

  16. “much of why I love FFXII has to do with the fact that it is the final game to have been conceived by the ‘old’ Square”

    Wait a minute…what? Matsuno isn’t ‘old’ Square, he’s ‘middle’ Square. He and the Quest crew were doing their thing for Enix before Square stole them away to develop FF Tactics.

  17. Bleh, on second thought, forget the ‘middle’ part. I see what you mean on re-review (darn your lack of comment editing!). But still, he was Enix first. So maybe Enix sent him as a mole, and he helped them devour Square from the inside! I wonder if he was the one telling them Spirits Within was a good idea…

  18. Facts are for suckers. Although I have no idea what y’all are talking about, since I’ve never played a Mega Man game.

    Is this a bad place to admit that?

  19. The only X game I recall seeing Metools in is X1. Then again, my memory of X2 and X3 are shady at best, and I never played X7 or X8. Though I’m quite positive I never saw then in X4, 5, and 6 though.

    As for the Zero series… well, I must confess ignorance there. I am mostly assuming. I played the first Zero when it first came out back when and I’ve played the intro to 3, and that’s it, so my knowledge of that particular series isn’t all that strong.

  20. And behold the power of bad grammer, part DEUX. I’m on a roll today… oh wait, it’s tomarrow now. Never mind.

  21. It’s gratifying to see Portrait of Ruin’s graphics and sound gradually improve as new builds are revealed, from E3 to Comic-Con to Konami Summer BBQ–and soon, to TGS. The construction and animation of the player sprites have probably experienced the most noticeable evolution. Just look at what they’ve done with Charlotte: http://www.lastupload.com/files/23/e3vsbbq.png

  22. In my X-X5 run, I only recall Metools in the first X game. Crushed Metool helmets appear as the shoulderpads of a type of mechaniloid made of garbage in X2. And that’s about it.

    No, sinfony, they’re not compulsory or anything. You could try the first couple of games, as they’re fun, solid, 16-bit platformers, but it’s really up to you. Contrary to popular belief, the Internet can be a place of tolerance and dissenting opinion. At least, it should be.

  23. Regular Metools only appeared in X1, and then they added those military helmeted ones in either X4 or X5. Don’t remember if they were in X6, and I never played X7, but they were in X8 (I think) and Command Mission.

  24. Dude, regular Metools are the only way to go. You could add slippers and a snorkel, but that was it.

  25. I agree, but I found there to be a certain charm to a Metool decked out in a lucicrously unbefitting military getup. As if it would change the fact that they die in like, two hits.

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