This is something that I’ve mentioned before on this site, but I believe it deserves more attention.
Because you won’t find the truth on either Nintendo or Square Enix’s Wikipedia pages, Polygon’s 2017 article on Final Fantasy VII’s development, nor any mention of any apology from Square to Nintendo in any of those pages. Which is already suspicious enough as it is.
However, insiders know.
For years, the media has been spreading the belief that Square left Nintendo because of the N64’s limited storage space or because Hiroshi Yamauchi told Square to “never come back.” However, this little interview with former Square President Hisashi Suzuki (aka “Nao”) from 2001 proves those two stories to be complete myths and fabrications.
A major Japanese Business newspaper, Nikkei, had the guts to publish this interview with Suzuki. The gaming press completely ignored it, but for Nikkei, this story was too good to bury. It was one of the strongest pieces of gaming journalism to ever hit mainstream press.
This story went almost untouched in the West, but author Chris Kohler did talk about the Nikkei interview in his 2005 book Power-Up. The story was taken from what is probably the ONLY site in the West to report on this interview, Planet GameCube, which is now defunct. But here’s the interview.
In it, Suzuki, before his resignation, took all the blame for ending the relationship between Nintendo and Square, and openly admitted that he had meetings with other publishers like Enix to convince them to shift their N64 projects to the PS1:
“Our true enemy,’ he admitted, ‘was our pride’. This was pride that resulted from the heady years of the original PlayStation. When Square originally announced back in 1997 that the Final Fantasy series would be PlayStation exclusive from now on, Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi treated the affront lightly, saying that the console selection ‘couldn’t be helped.’ Suzuki responded by publicly bashing the N64 and convincing Enix to join the PS camp along with them, which, looking back at it now, he realizes wasn’t an incredibly smart move. The little grudge match between them that resulted was the main reason Square failed in their bid for a Nintendo license earlier this year. Without Square, though, the PlayStation platform wouldn’t be half as interesting to a whole slew of gamers, and so the well-publicized buyout of last week occurred.” – This can be found on Page 113 of Power-Up.
And why did Square apologize? They lost around $120 million on their big movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and Sony purchased 19% of Square so they wouldn’t post their first major losses. Square was BLEEDING money during this time and they were begging, yes, BEGGING Nintendo for a license to develop for the newly released Game Boy Advance.
Which is why there were so many SNES Square ports on the GBA. It’s also when the Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles spinoff series was born. Yamauchi told Square that if they wanted a GBA license, they had to develop something for the GameCube first.
Unfortunately, the mainstream gaming press ignored this story, and even today, this story STILL has not been mentioned by the gaming press. And it likely never will be again. Planet GameCube and Chris Kohler were the only ones to bring this story to light, and nobody has decided to follow in their footsteps since.
I think it’s time to put an end to this old and tired narrative once and for all.