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Hiroyuki Itou on Final Fantasy’s battle systems

October 23rd, 2012 by Tony Garsow

For those unfamiliar with Hiroyuki Itou’s body of work when it comes to the Final Fantasy series, all you have to do is recall the Active Time Battle system that became a staple of the series for years. Evolving and spawning unique iterations of itself, we’ve come to associate it fondly with the Final Fantasy brand itself. Itou has been a longtime employee of Square, predating the series itself. The appropriately-named “Father of ATB” was involved in Final Fantasy IV, V, VI, Tactics, IX, and XII — treating each battle system as an evolution of his original idea.

In a new interview with 1up, he looks back on his creation:

1UP [Jeremy Parish]: The ATB changed a lot in Final Fantasy V. In Final Fantasy IV, there was a clock on every action, and the more complicated the action, the longer it took to execute, even after you selected the command.

Hiroyuki Itou: It was just a natural progression of the system. The system wasn’t yet complete, in my mind, during Final Fantasy IV. So after talking to the new team members and stuff, I felt that the system evolved the way it should.

1UP [Jeremy Parish]: Was there a point where you think ATB reached its optimal form? Where you said, “This is what it needs to be”?

Hiroyuki Itou: First of all, I feel like the “optimal” ATB has yet to come. I think it’s the advance of hardware, and stuff like memory within that… I always had to be concerned about things like that initially, when I started doing this kind of thing. It’s getting closer and closer to the optimum level where I can do exactly what I want to. It’s getting there, but we’re not actually there yet. Did you want to ask about the Gambit system?

1up’s full interview with Hiroyuki Itou can be read by clicking here.


  • TheBadass

    A lot of people hope Hiroyuki Ito is secretly working on FFXV. However, going by the closing parts of this interview, it seems like he isn’t. That’s a big shame.

    It seems that FF Versus XIII needs to get renamed FFXV or there won’t be three mainline games this gen.

  • I cant wait to see how the gambit system in action in XIV, controlling your chocobo in battle.

  • anony

    alot of people would get disappointed included Maguis lol. But ito is working on something kool, he said for future for ff there will be the ATB optimal, so he want to make it better.

    ALthough he might not work on 15, but there a good chance he will be involved in any future ff games that is unanounced even if it ff15 was started next year.

  • AgitoXIII

    It’s funny how he said FF games are kind of like plays in the NFL. lol And I wonder what the “optimal ATB system” is???

  • TheBadass

    I’m sure the “optimal ATB system” is something that further evolves the battle system in FFXII. After all, the last FF game Hiroyuki Ito worked on was FFXII International: Zodiac Job System. He never worked on the battle system in FFXIII and FFXIII-2.

  • Necromunkey

    It seems that Hiroyuki Ito’s “optimal ATB system” is actually a real time system? He essentially states ATB was a compromise between tech limitations, player ability (as well as perceived notions of RPG mechanics) and a faster paced system. Perhaps XII’s battle system was an evolution toward that end?

  • TheBadass

    The “optimal ATB system” is definitely one that would be a further evolution of the ADB system created for FFXII. I just hope we see a game that actually continues to evolve in that direction. FFXIII and FFXIII-2 were not battle systems that evolved off ADB.

  • dreams

    @TheBadAss, Ff13 series get mentioned by you. If you know ito was NOT involved with ff13,. If you responding to other peeps there talking about 12 NOT 13 nor 13-2

  • TheBadass

    @dreams I know that nobody mentioned FFXIII and FFXIII-2. I was just saying that people should know that the battle system in those games were not made by Hiroyuki Ito. His true vision for the optimal ATB will not evolve off those games.