Square Enix Executives Discuss Their Awkward Split With Nintendo

Square Enix and Nintendo have had a rocky relationship over the years. While they were originally very close, relations took a turn when the company abandoned Nintendo for the original PlayStation. While still quite a mystery, more details about their break up have recently been revealed in a feature about Final Fantasy VII on Polygon. Creator of the Final Fantasy series, Hironobu Sakaguchi seems to think that the two companies stayed on relatively good terms throughout the split. However, one Square programmer seems to remember events a little differently. According to him, Nintendo pretty much told Square that they didn’t need them and threatened that they would never be able to return. You can check out a snippet of the interview below, but the full article is available here.

Hiroshi Kawai [Character programmer, Square Japan]: I’ll say this. I’m impressed with what Nintendo [was] able to do with the 64 hardware. Mario, Zelda — their devs must be top notch to be able to do that. But that’s essentially the extent of what you can do with the hardware. And you would get nowhere near anything like a Final Fantasy running on it.

Hironobu Sakaguchi [creator of Final Fantasy]: When we made our decision, the president of Square [Masafumi Miyamoto], our lead programmer [Ken Narita] and I went to a meeting with Yamauchi-san. There is an old cultural tradition where, in Kyoto, someone will welcome you with tea, but you’re not supposed to really drink that tea. It’s just polite to have it there. And Yamauchi-san welcomed us with a very expensive bento meal and beer, and gave us a very nice welcome and basically patted us on the back to say, “I wish you the best.” No bitter feelings or anything.

Hiroshi Kawai: I think [Sakaguchi] is just trying to be politically correct with that one.

Yoshihiro Maruyama [Executive vice president, Square U.S.]: I don’t think [anyone from Nintendo gave us a hard time]. They said, “Oh, we don’t need that.” That’s what they said. [Laughs] Their philosophy has always been that Nintendo hardware is for their games, and if a publisher wants to publish, “OK you can do it.” But if you don’t like it, “We don’t want you.”

Hiroshi Kawai: What I heard was Nintendo said, “If you’re leaving us, never come back.”

Source / Via


  1. > And you would get nowhere near anything like a Final Fantasy running on it.

    Yeah, well, FF7 was bloated with CGs. It was purely a storage issue.

    But rendering and running the game itself? N64 wouldn’t even sweat.

    1. I was thinking the same exact thing. From a hardware perspective, N64 was superior to PS in every way but the storage medium. Imagine how things would be today if the N64 used CD’s instead of cartridges.

      1. Only for the first time in nintendo history i only had around 8-12 solid games. My dad moved on to playstation cause he didn’t like the n64 controller and I easily own 40 games for that console wich were all amazing back in the day. That tradition didn’t change so far , and I highly doubt the switch will change it cause my ps4 can already play every game and probally more than the switch will offer. On a side note the gamecube was ok, i got around 30 games for that but most could be played on playstation 2 in better quality, i was to much of a nintendo fan boy back than though so i still bought it on that instead of my ps2. that love is gone today though.

        Ill probally have to buy it for metroid (the last one was utter shit though) , zelda and while I own one I might aswell buy some real mario games, not the 2d crap. And probally 6-8 suprise games that might be great and is switch exclusive. (Beyond good and evil 2?)

        1. Well, the PS2 was weaker in power compared to the GCN, so I dont get how the ps2 played the same games as the GCN in better quality. I mean, RE4 ran inferior on the PS2, so did Tales of Symphonia, and some other games. They probably had more content (like RE4 and that seperate ways mode) but more content doesnt mean quality.

          1. Don’t listen to him, DemiGod, it’s a common misconception. People think that just because it was more popular, the PS2 was graphically superior, and that the little purple lunchbox was weak because it had little support.

            In reality, the GC is nearly neck and neck with the Xbox, and the Dreamcast did a LOT of things the PS2 could only dream of. In fact, in terms of graphic effects, the PS2 couldn’t do much of anything.

            But unfortunately for Microsoft, Sega, and Nintendo that gen, games are king, and Sony had a metric ton of ’em.

            But yeah, look at games like Rogue Squadron 2 on the GC, and you can see what the system could do. While the system didn’t have Battlefront 2 (likely because the joysticks couldnt click in to run/boost and didn’t have enough triggers), the game not only looks terrible on PS2 but also had a significant amount of level areas missing because the system couldn’t handle the content being thrown at it. I often wonder if Sega had enough money, if the DC survived… what games like Battlefront 2 could have looked like on the Dreamcast given Sega updated the system with a DVD drive and a controller with more buttons/sticks. With near-PS2 quality graphics, but a host of effects to play with, while inferior to the Xbox in ever way, it could have been fun. Ah well.

            1. Some people still today believe that the PS2 was the most powerful system that gen. Part of that stems from the fact that Sony would stoke up their hype machine by having people make silly claims like the US government was going to buy thousands of PS2 system to replace their super computers because they were faster and hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper. Ignorant people buy into stuff like that, hence our current situation in this country today.

              1. Couldn’t agree with that more. Especially this new generation…. dumber than door nails.

              2. man, i heard about that. and as cool as that sounds (i guess) i couldnt really understand it. why would the military buy a bunch of video game consoles? would it be more beneficial to just hire someone from Sony as a networking engineer or whatever? IDK. its was interesting for a second then I immediately couldnt give a shit. I forgot about it till i read this

        2. I was also more of a Playstation child, my first Nintendo console was Wii. But it’s mainly because of Nintendo’s insufficient shipping and advertising in eastern Europe (Slav here) – even now it is bloody hard to find those old used consoles (Gamecube and older) in there countries, even more, I didn’t ever heard of Nintendo before Wii. But Playstation got it absolutely right – when I was a child, everyone who wanted to be cool, had to have a Playstation.

        3. “but most could be played on playstation 2 in better quality” No, they really couldn’t. You do realise the PS2 was the least technically capable console of that generation, right?

        4. The Gamecube had Eternal Darkness, PN03, and Metroid Prime. Not to mention Double Dash and Ethernet networking to race 8 People on two systems. (2 per kart) my favorite Mario kart of all time.
          Sorry sir, but the Gamecube was fucking epic. I wouldn’t have missed those games for 100 half-par games. No offense.

          1. You left out Paper Mario & the 1,000 Door (easily the best of the series, one of my favorite games of all time), Chibi Robo, Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2, The Wind Waker, Baten Kaitos, and two of the best entries in the Harvest Moon series.

        5. The Gamecube actually had the textured and lit polygon record that generation because it could apply more textures in a single pass (AKA without rerendering geometry) than any other console. It also had by far the most memory bandwidth.

          It had 2.6GB/s of main memory bandwidth with up to 1.3GB/s of that being used for CPU code and the rest for sending textures, geometry, and display lists to the GPU. The GPU had a huge (even comparable todays GPUs) 2MB texture cache with 10.4GB/s of bandwidth and S3 texture compression so it can fit more higher resolution textures in the cache, main ram, and the disk. And the GPU rendered everything into 1MB of on-chip frame buffer memory with a speed 7.68GB/s. Last but not least, it had 16MB of low-bandwidth memory. It had only 81MB/s bandwidth but that was enough to store and run menus and sound off of and it could be used to store anything else so that it wouldn’t have to be loaded from disc. Twilight Princess used this on Hyrule field to load adjacent areas without having to make the screen go black.

          Essentially it was able to do a lot more processing on chip with a lower latency and much more bandwidth than a lot of desktop GPUs had at the time.

          By comparison, the Xbox had to do all of that with it’s main ram which had 6.4GB/s of bandwidth.

          The PS2 also had an on-chip framebuffer but it was scratch pad RAM which means the way it was used was up to the developer and since the PS2 could only apply 1 texture to a polygon per pass it was constantly rerendering geometry. It would render each polygon 8 times in order to apply the same effect that the Gamecube could do while rendering 1 polygon. To make up for that, the PS2’s scratchpad ram had about 40GB/s of bandwidth.

          As for it’s main memory, the released specs say it should have a 3.2GB/s bandwidth but the memory controller on the CPU could only use 2.4GB/s which meant it had less than the Gamecube. To make things worse, the CPU had access to more bandwidth than the GPU so it could only send 1.2GB/s display lists, geometry, and textures to the GPU. It also didn’t have S3TC so some of the textures took up to twice as much memory as they would on the Gamecube and Xbox.

          There’s examples of this all over the place. FFXII is a great looking game on the PS2 but you’ll often notice textures with very few colors being used and really bad cardboard cut outs of NPCs being used in the distance. The water effects in the game were also commonly very simple texures being scrolled across the surface.

          Compare that to Crystal Chronicles on the Gamecube which had a much smaller team and had more complex blurring, fur, and water effects. In fact the water effects in that game were gorgeous for something probably made with a small budget.

          1. Yea he’s nuts if he thinks there will only be 8-12 games, lol. Hell the Wii U had twice that, without the benefit of having both portable and console divisions combined. I don’t think we will have to worry about the amount of software on the Switch. We will probably have 8-16 games in the first month or two.

        6. The PS4 won’t offer more than the Switch simply because it won’t have any 1st party Nintendo games. It’s a good idea to own both consoles.

      2. Idk how true this is, as I remember certain games were complicated to run on N64 over PSX. Games like Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil 2 had to take additional time and almost didn’t even consider N64 due to challenges developing for the system not Nintendo itself.

        I do believe the whole idea of Nintendo saying develope our way or else. This has been mentioned by massive amounts of developers for years. Nintendo also indicates that they won’t release or publish a company’s game if the company wwon’t make a certain amount of money or commit to publishing and numbers of sales. The last part I could be mistaken, but this was during the Wii period that people mention that. N64 had great first party, but that’s when third party was leaving outside of their second party stuff with rare.

      3. Actually the storage medium wasn’t completely inferior. It couldn’t store as much but the bandwidth and lack of latency that cartridges offered allowed games like Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine to stream its levels which it wouldn’t be able to fit into memory. And of course the price of the cartridges at the time was also very high which was bad.

        When it came to the rest of the N64 hardware, it was more capable, in fact its processor was in the same family as the PS1 processor but it was newer and clocked faster. The problem was that the N64 was the first console to use unified memory but they set it up in a way where the CPU wouldn’t be able to access memory when the GPU was using it which resulted in a lot of stalls. It also could have used a bigger texture cache and although it could do bilinear texture filter which the PS1 couldn’t, you had no option to shut it off. I great example for why this would have been helpful is Baku in FFIX. In the meeting scene at the beginning you can see he has different colors of clothe wrapped around him on his knee and elbow and they’re very defined. One can wonder if it’s even all one texture. But on the N64, the texture filtering would have blurred it and you would have scene their trick. For most other things the texture filtering would probably look better though.

    2. Implying that the videos were the only thing that took a lot of space in the game. They most likely took most of the space, yeah, but there also were a lot of other things that took a lot of space. Just consider, for example, how every single area in the game (aside from world map and mini games) was made of 2D images larger than the screen. Those took quite a lot of space, despite their low quality. FFVII is also a longer game than Ocarina of Time, for example, and probably contains much more game data on areas, monsters etc. Ocarina of Time, on the other hand, reuses a lot of its assets, making efficient usage of the space available. For a rough idea of what an FF-like JRPG would have probably looked lik on the N64, just take a look at Quest 64.

      1. You’re right. Using the Steam version of the game as an example, there’s at least 70MBs of sound data which is larger than any released N64 game.

    1. Very punny! How funny! I didn’t know Quadraxis had pun-capabilities built into his AI….. Well, you learn something new every day.

  2. I mean even if the “Never comeback” statement was true….it was different nintendo at that time period. New management happens and things change overtime. At least the two have a much better relationship now.

  3. The Switch is bringing out the best in these companies. Square Enix has seen the amount of Success companies like Capcom are having on Nintendo consoles. Monster Hunter alone is keeping Capcom open.

  4. But they already came back. Crystal Chronicles was on the GC, and there have been several FF themed games on Nintendo’s portables since then.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll bring over the main franchise to Switch or anything, but I think the days of not working with Nintendo are LONG over.

    N64 was the tail end of an era of over-confidence from Nintendo. The N64, as much as I loved it at the time, suffered a WHOLE lot more than just a lack of media storage for things like music and CGI cut-scenes. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t understand hardware or loves Nintendo past a certain comfort zone…

    The N64 and Nintendo themselves, in several ways (use of cartridges, policies towards cart purchase and profit from said games, poor 3rd party relations, poor hardware for varied and complex texture-use, etc) was a mess, and Nintendo just wasn’t used to losing. Especially not to an “unknown” in the gaming hardware world. I honestly don’t think they wanted to admit the loss, even if it was blatant they messed up. The only bright side was that Nintendo survived the generation, unlike literally everyone besides PlayStation. But their sales compared to PlayStation was laughable at best. The PlayStation had the better all-around hardware, better compatibility for arcade ports (important at the time), was easier for devs to work on in general, and more importantly Sony was simply easier to work with than Nintendo. 10 years of BS from Nintendo meant many devs wanted a ticket out of dodge, even to a company they weren’t used to dealing with.

    The Cube was really the first system where you could tell Nintendo was knowledgeable about their stance in the industry. Where it was obvious they weren’t the market leader anymore, and might never be again.

    I do think this new CEO is a very smart man. Here’s to hoping they can rebuild Nintendo, with the help of 3rd parties, to the recognition and importance in the industry it once enjoyed.

    1. Looks like someone didn’t get the N64 expansion pack! :]
      The N64 had so so many games… I’m not sure I totally follow what you were saying on limitations.
      That said, I don’t think it was until the Wii Printed money that Nintendo was overcome by Hubris and we lost the Nintendo of old… I hope we start to see them resurface in the next gen, but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. No. Nintendo was pretty egotistical back then, too. xD Wii just awoke that after it was lost during the N64 & GCN eras.

        1. Wii just reawakened the ego after it was lost during the N64 & GCN eras.*

  5. Unless we get more than fucking FF spinoffs of a Nintendo platform, I refuse to believe their relationship improved the slightest. Not to mention Dragon Quest as a game barely got localized to the West during the Wii era.

    1. Deus Ex, Kingdom Hearts, Bravely Default, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Mana series, Chrono Trigger, and a ton of other series have multiple games (including exclusives) on Nintendo platforms. What are you going on about?

      1. I am talking about after the split and not NOW. Still doesn’t mean we have gotten a main Kingdom
        Hearts or Final Fantasy game on a Nintendo console (hence my point about getting just spinoffs). I you would call Dream Drop Distance a main title.

        I care less about the Mana series, Chrono Trigger’s DS port is nothing special, and most Dragon Quest titles were still Japan only at the time and not the Monsters games. Glad we are starting to get more of them localized though.

        1. “I am talking about after the split and not now.” That makes absolutely no sense; Especially when your initial comment says, “unless we get more than a _____ FF spinoffs of a Nintendo platform, I refuse to believe their relationship improved the slightest.”

          You’re not speaking rationally here.

          Also, it matters not what you do or don’t like or personally care for. That does not change the fact that there have been tons of games.

          1. But what about the other main titles since VI that they’be missed out on? Maybe I will be inclined to believe that when we get a main title and not another spinoff on the Switch.

            Fact of the matter is that Sony and Microsoft always had better third party support than Nintendo for a while. Street Fighter V is a PS exclusive, the Capcom Vs. series barely even touch Nintendo unless they were one time spinoffs (Tatsunoko), we get mostly shit Resident Evil spinoffs other than a Wii remake, we won’t be getting a Persona release instead of a certain J-Pop embarrassment that flopped, no Grand Theft Auto, few good CoD releases, one unremarkable Tales sequel, and few good non-Square RPG’s altogether.

            Going to stop right there since I’ve already wasted time with a PR staff that has no idea what they are doing in that office.

            1. To be frankly honest… Final Fantasy hasn’t really been that great the past 15-ish years. A lot of Square Enix’s other franchises left a much better impression. I mean: Kingdom Hearts? Dragon Quest? These aren’t just “some games developed by the guys who made Final Fantasy”, these are big games and big franchises with huge value on their own.
              And take a look at Bravely Default. A little bit of a surprise hit, but by going back to the roots of the FF franchise, playing it felt like it’s the best Final Fantasy game since FFIX and it’s not even Final Fantasy. It just shows sometimes, in order to more forwards, you need to take a step backwards. Even Zelda Breath of the Wild acknowledges it’s past glory and what made the original such an iconic game in order to move the franchise onto a different track from what it’s been on for a while now.
              I personally wish for Final Fantasy to do just that. It’s great we have Bravely Default now, because that is absolutely what I want from a Final Fantasy game, but it would be great to have a Final Fantasy game like that. Instead we got FFXV with a combat system I hate. It felt so lackluster when I played the demo, that I didn’t even feel like buying the finished game full price.

              tl;dr Square Enix has produced a number of great games and franchises within the more recent years aside from Final Fantasy, many of them actually BETTER than Final Fantasy. I’d gadly take FF back home onto Nintendo systems, but it’s not the epitome of JRPG that it used to be.

              1. You talk badly about FFXV’s combat system while mentioning how Kingdom Hearts has been one of their titles that have stuck out when FFXV’s combat system is heavily based on Kingdom Hearts’. Just pointing out the irony of that.

    1. Maybe. It is going to be multiplatform after the timed exclusive releases with PlayStation, so it’s possible. But we won’t see the first part of that game for at least another 2 years.

      1. What I’m wondering though – was it really confirmed to be a timed exclusive for Playstation? When the FFVII remake was revealed, the trailer at the end said “Play it first on Playstation 4“, which seemed strange to me, as they usually use “Play it first on Playstation” for timed exlcusive deals I believe, without pointing out the specific platform. And well, considering there’s still years of development ahead of us until the FFVII remake comes out as you’ve said, it might also mean it could be coming to PS5 after the PS4 release. The PS4 won’t last forever, and it’s already 3 years old, so by the time the first part of the game releases, it will probably be close to the end of its life cycle, which makes a release on PS5 not too illogical to me; keeping in mind that the following parts will take time to develop as well. So technically, it could still be a Playstation exclusive, even if it comes to a different platform later on, as that “other platform” could turn out to be the PS5.
        But then again, I haven’t really seen anyone else point out this possibility, so I’m guessing I might have missed something SE said, which confirms that it will be coming to non-Playstation platforms as well. Either way though, no matter what platforms it will be coming to, I know I’m really looking forward to it. :p

        1. There are three main terms that Sony uses when speaking of game with some sort of exclusivity.

          “Play it first on …” when it will be going multiplatform but is currently a timed exclusive.

          “Only on PlayStation” when it may be on more than one PlayStation platform but still exclusive to PlayStation.

          and “PlayStation Console Exclusive” when it’s on a PlayStation system and PC.

          Since it said play first on PlayStation, it’s going to be on other platforms outside of the PlayStation brand. Which platforms? We will have to wait and see.

          1. Not denying any of that. Though it just striked me as odd that they would choose to specifically mention the “4”, as I personally hadn’t seen them point out the specific platform when using that term before; but yea, maybe it just never caught my attention, I haven’t taken a close enough look at every single one of their reveal trailers to make the statement that they have never ever done it. :p But yea, what I was thinking is, the PS5 is still way too far off for them to confirm anything for it ( if the scenario above would be true ), but they also might not want to “confirm” it as a PS4 exclusive? But then again, they’d just use the “Only on PS” thing in that case, ahah. Probably just looking too much into it. :p
            Waiting for official info is certainly the safest option, still thanks for your input on the thought. :)

  6. but didint square enix try to take over nintendo to make mario and zelda together in one game, and they are still trying to do that by gaining nintendos trust. they will one day maybe take over and put mario and put zelda int he same game.

  7. For all you keyboard warriors jumping in defense on either side of the fence, instead of being quick to point a finger or call out clickbait or decipher what you assess the situation to be without reading or research regardless of how the article was approached or quoted, I recommend going to Polygon and actually giving the article a read it’s quite long and detailed. Also Polygon worked on this piece for 2 years. What a read through will also do is disconnect yourself from being defensive towards Nintendo or aggressive towards Square and appreciate a good piece of gaming history.

  8. The reason I didn’t give a sh*t for final fantasy until about two weeks ago was because I don’t like PlayStation, and I don’t need one because I have an Xbox one And Wii U so I’m missing out on few games. That being said, after playing FFXV which was my first final fantasy ever, I went back and started playing the other games and now it’s one of my favorite franchises… still won’t ever buy a PlayStation unless Microsoft and Nintendo quit and if I don’t have a pc

  9. Why do companies decide to discuss their business blunders, long after its relevance?

    What’s next? SEGA telling people why the Dreamcast really failed, or why Capcom decided to shelf Mega Man over Street Fighter, or why Pac-Man World isn’t on the same pedestal as Mario, or at least Sonic.

  10. Served them right if you ask me. For those of you who don’t know Nintendo ditched Sony on the collab project for SNES to add CD-rom support. It wasn’t a modest ditch either. They just went to the press conference with Sony officials there and all and announced out of the blue they were gonna work with Panasonic. Karma’s a bitch, though Nintendo doesn’t seem to have realized this, even now.

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