When I played through Final Fantasy XVI, I occasionally found what I believed to be evident Kingdom Hearts gameplay inspirations that I’d rather not detail here due to spoilers. Still, with it having been previously confirmed that Kingdom Hearts staff was working on this title, the notion wasn’t all that surprising.
However, I didn’t realize how truly instrumental Kingdom Hearts team members were in developing Final Fantasy XVI. After digging through the title’s credits, I found crucial Kingdom Hearts development staff who played significant roles in ensuring the combat design excelled.
Firstly, the lead battle content designer for Final Fantasy XVI is Kazuki Oono from Creative Business Unit I. He has done quite a lot for Kingdom Hearts, to put it mildly. In particular, he was the level director for Kingdom Hearts III and the Re Mind DLC and was a planner for other releases in the series.
Next, one of the battle content designers, Tomokazu Shibata (Creative Business Unit I), was the battle director for Kingdom Hearts III and the Re Mind DLC. Additionally, he contributed toward the battle design of 2.8 and Dream Drop Distance.
In related notes, one of the level designers, Kunihiko Kimura, was a Kingdom Hearts III level designer, and one of the lead combat designers, Takeo Kujiraoka, was a planner for Kingdom Hearts II and played pivotal roles in the Dissidia games and Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
For those unaware of Kingdom Hearts’ combat and boss design, the Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind DLC is some of Square Enix’s best work, also having my personal favorite bosses in video game history.
Throughout Final Fantasy XVI, a decent chunk of fights felt like they had Kingdom Hearts DNA embedded within them; the most obvious being a story boss who uses an almost humorously similar attack from Data Marluxia in the Re Mind DLC.
Essentially, Kingdom Hearts II set the stage for what many consider stellar boss and combat design in the series, and Kingdom Hearts III, with the Re Mind DLC especially, capitalized on those foundations tenfold. Admittedly, I don’t believe any boss in Final Fantasy XVI quite reaches the staggering heights of the ones in Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind, but they’re all damn well designed, regardless.
Hopefully, those unfamiliar with the Kingdom Hearts series will give it a shot after learning about the battle design connections with Final Fantasy XVI.
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