Mon, 20 July 2015
History of Square-Enix: Part 2 - From Power Lines to Programming
As Enix was formed from another company, so was square. The Square we know today was created out of an affiliate of a power company originally owned by the father of a young man named Masafumi Miyamoto. After Miyamoto graduated from Waseda University, he began developing computer games through his father’s company, then called Dan-Yu-Sha in 1983.
Miyamoto, much like his Enix counterpart, Yasuhiro Fukushima, was much more of a businessman than a programmer. But Miyamoto saw the rising electronic market in japan, and he wanted to make money out of it. Despite his purely financial motivations, Miyamoto figured he knew what it would take to make a good computer game.
Through his father’s company, he began hiring college graduates and creative types to help work on his games. During this time, it was pretty typical for a game to be made from scratch by one single programmer, but Miyamoto, hoping to save development time, hired many different people for different creative posts during game development.
He was especially concerned with making games that were more visually impressive than the other games on the market, so he had applicants do pixel art at part of their recruiting process. He was also sure to bring in programmers who could figure out how to make the games with such complex graphics, into something that the machines could handle.
Under Dan-Yu-Sha, the first games Miyamoto produced were called Death Trap, and its sequel, “Will”. “Will” was a big success, and sold 100 thousand copies. Following “Will”, Square ported another game called “Thexder” to the Nintendo Famicom, which came out before a string of unsuccessful Famicom games.
In 1986, as we said before, the Square we know and love was officially founded, and relocated from Yokohama to Tokyo to begin producing a Role-Playing game thought up by the Director of Planning at the company, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Highly influenced by Dragon Warrior, this Role-Playing game would be called DUN DUN DUN!!!! Final Fantasy.
There are a couple differing stories surrounding the title of Final Fantasy. The traditional story is that of a company in financial peril and one last ditch effort of a project to save them from utter failure.
The other story, (more likely the truth) as told by Sakaguchi, was that he had originally titled the game “Fighting Fantasy”, but that the titled had already been trademarked. In order to keep the pleasing sounding “FF” as the game’s shorthand, they came up with “Final Fantasy”.
For more history behind that game, refer back to Episode 1 of this podcast.
Anyway, the game was released and was a great commercial success, selling half a million copies and spawning the Final Fantasy series in 1987. Funnily enough, the first Final Fantasy game didn’t sell nearly as well as the first Dragon Quest.
And we’ll see in the later that there is a certain pattern to Square’s sales and Enix’s sales. You see, Square would sell well in Japan, but even better outside of Japan. Enix would bust the block in terms of Japanese sales, but never would break into the western market all that well.
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