Final Fantasy fans are probably still reeling at the limited role iconic recurring creatures Moogles played in the far-too-linear Final Fantasy XIII – especially after their prominence in XII. Well, they’re back for XIII-2, and more important than ever. In XII-2, Serah, Lighting’s Sister will carry around a Moogle named MOG will play a vital role in shaping up the game’s story – as well as being pivotal to its game mechanics.
"As you gain the moogle’s trust, you will be able to perform an action called the Moogle Throw," Says Square-Enix, "You will discover treasure chests that are out of reach. In order to obtain the item inside, throw the moogle within its range. Work with the moogle to search every inch of the field to find and obtain hidden items." A footnote says that "The moogle does not like to be thrown and will show signs of disapproval." Which is all the more reason to throw it, if you ask me.
We got our hands on a Q&A sessions with the game’s designer, Motomu Toriyama, who explains the return of the moogle, as well as other features of the game.
1. What was your reaction to the coverage of the game at E3?
For the playable demo at E3 we really wanted to show how greatly the gameplay has changed from the original and it came across from the impressions given by the various games industry media and players that the changes have been well received. Overall we got a good feeling from the first impressions that we saw.
2. What are your plans for Tokyo Game Show? Will we be seeing anything from FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 there?
Our major concept for TGS is to continue with what we did at E3 and show a playable version so that Japanese players can experience the new FFXIII-2 game design too.
3. Why did you decide to bring Moogles into that FINAL FANTASY XIII universe and make one such a prominent character?
In the original FFXIII moogles only appeared on the sign for shops. Making one appear as a mascot type character in the sequel is a kind of fan service. We intend to show them as a symbol for the Final Fantasy series as a whole and also to make it easier for players to get involved in the game’s rather serious main story.
4. Why does the Moogle have the extra abilities that it does? What was the inspiration behind this?
We wanted to tie the moogle in to the game system design and so it performs a number of important roles for the player. Firstly, it acts as a kind of guide in the field sections, making use of special abilities such as “Moogle hunt” to search things out. The moogle is also integrated into the battle encounter system based around the motif of the clock that it carries. In the Final Fantasy series so far there has not been another game that puts a moogle in such a core role in the game and this is one thing that will make FFXIII-2 a unique title.
5. What are the main improvements over FINAL FANTASY XIII that have been announced so far?
The improvement that we have put most effort into is the concept of making the game much more player driven. In all the different types of gameplay presented, the player will be the main focus and instigator and the game design promotes the player actively progressing through the story rather than just passively watching. The various concepts that we have already revealed such as cinematic battles and live trigger events are all game design improvements based on this philosophy of making everything player driven.
6. Will there be a progression/levelling system for captured monsters?
There will be many different types of monster that you can recruit into your party and you will be able to develop and grow these monsters using a similar system to the one used for levelling the characters themselves.
7. Why should people who haven’t played XIII play XIII-2?
Firstly, there is a rundown of the events in the original game’s story included in FFXIII-2. During gameplay we have also inserted clever tutorials to explain the finer points and allow novice players to enjoy the game, and they should easily be able to get lost in the game world with no trouble. Furthermore, we have designed the game’s new protagonist Noel to start the story in a position where he is completely unaware of the wider world of FFXIII and the story so far. By playing through from Noel’s point of view, the new player can experience and come to terms with the events of the wider story in the same way and at the same pace.
Thanks to Square-Enix’ Jem Alexander for the Q&A