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Final Fantasy creator working on Xbox 2 titles

Mist Walker, the development studio created by former Square executive Hironobu Sakaguchi - considered to be the "father of Final Fantasy" - has signed up with Microsoft Game Studios to create two RPG titles for the next Xbox console.

Mist Walker, the development studio created by former Square executive Hironobu Sakaguchi - considered to be the "father of Final Fantasy" - has signed up with Microsoft Game Studios to create two RPG titles for the next Xbox console.

Sakaguchi was the director of the Final Fantasy series of games from the outset, although his involvement waned as the series progressed to later incarnations, and he left Square in early 2001, after his career there took a significant blow following the poor performance of movie production Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

His new studio, Mist Walker, has already revealed one title - a strategy RPG for the Nintendo DS handheld platform - but the two Xbox 2 exclusive RPGs announced last night are the first home console games from the company.

A number of key creative staff from Square Enix are believed to be working with Sakaguchi on Mist Walker's new projects, although many of them - such as Final Fantasy series composer Nobua Uematsu - have gone freelance to do so, and continue to work on titles for Square Enix at the same time.

"A number of talented creators have signed on to help develop these games, and I'm confident we will be able to create games that provide gamers with a new kind of thrill," Sakaguchi said at the announcement of the new titles last night.

"Microsoft's cutting-edge technologies in the next-generation platform will allow me to bring to life an array of ideas that I have had for many years," he added. "I want these games to be alive with a new vision for gaming and vividly depict new characters that will transcend the game, find a place in the hearts of gamers, and make time spent with my games a fond and long-lasting memory."

The move to sign Mist Walker's titles is a clear sign of Microsoft's determination to succeed in the Japanese market with its next console, after the almost complete failure of the Xbox to gain a foothold in the territory.

Much of the failure of Xbox in the region has been blamed on the lack of support from key local software houses such as Square Enix, resulting in a dearth of software which appeals to the Japanese market - with Microsoft even taking the step of signing up "Japanese-style" RPG Sudeki from British development studio Climax in an attempt to redress this balance.

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Rob Fahey avatar
Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.