Final Fantasy 2′s notable departures from the previous game were surprising enough, but it was the sequel’s numerous design flaws that have long left fans wondering why the decision to try something so different was made in the first place. After all, Sakaguchi directed much of the early franchise, including that entry. Why did he change the leveling mechanic? It turns out it wasn’t really his idea.
During the interview, Sakaguchi recalled that after finishing the original Final Fantasy, he was so tired that he decided to hand the design reins to Akitoshi Kawazu. Kawazu had served as the first Final Fantasy’s game designer, and he was given even more creative freedom for the second game. He actually designed Final Fantasy 2’s battle systems and, more importantly, those character progression mechanics.
Of course, this change in Final Fantasy‘s character progression proved to be as controversial as it was short-lived, but it eventually found a home in Kawazu’s next franchise, Romancing SaGa. Granted, it helped that Kawazu ironed out the stat leveling system’s kinks for that series.
Kawazu might have had big ideas for Final Fantasy 2’s gameplay, but his initial plans for the story were even bigger. Initially, Kawazu wanted Final Fantasy 2 to serve as a bona fide sequel in both name and narrative. Specifically, he wanted the game to star the protagonist from the first Final Fantasy title. However, as development went on, that idea was eventually abandoned. According to Sakaguchi, Kawazu did at least come up with the name of Final Fantasy 2’s protagonist, Firion (Frioniel in Japanese).
While Kawazu’s gameplay changes didn’t stick around for long, imagine how much the Final Fantasy franchise could have changed had Final Fantasy 2‘s story picked up where its predecessor left off. Perhaps we would be enjoying a series that takes place in one expansive world instead of a multiverse that adds a new branch with every entry. If only we lived in a real multiverse where we could find out.