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Let's clear up the reason for Squaresoft's "demise" and why Square and Enix merged

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anaron

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Um nope, Yoshida was making Dragon Quest Arcade games.

Unless you mean he was part of the new, but when you consider Tanaka (old guard) and what he did with FFXIV, its hard to see a worse scenario.
I have no idea what the development process entailed beyond being generally diasastrous, but I wonder how the work environment affected things seeing as how Tanaka has been more vocal about how bad it is.
 

qualitydisc

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IDK if this goes beyond the timeframe that the OP wishes to cover but here are some rarely-read Final Fantasy postmortems from Game Developer magazine

Final Fantasy XII postmortem, August 2007
http://twvideo01.ubm-us.net/o1/vault/GD_Mag_Archives/GDM_August_2007.pdf

During the development of FINAL FANTASY
XII, the pressure to
succeed was at such a high point that we were on the brink of
losing control during even the slightest misunderstanding. What
happened was our team was given the freedom to make
changes at various stages of development, but the adverse
affect of this freedom was miscommunication, confusion, and
disorder. How work was to be distributed was also often
ambiguous, which contributed to the problem.

Final Fantasy XIII postmortem, October 2010
http://twvideo01.ubm-us.net/o1/vault/GD_Mag_Archives/GDM_October_2010.pdf
 

PedroPanache

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I always felt that the PS1 era gave them the perfect development platform to fulfill their potential. The Final Fantasy games could be made with ambition and the worlds could be fleshed out and realised as living, breathing entities. Below their marquee games, existed the second tier RPG's such as Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Chrono Cross; they could be developed in good time and sell well enough to justify the investment. They would also branch out with interesting projects like Einhander, Tobal No.1 etc. A diverse catalogue of games that could compliment the Final Fantasy games, but wouldn't leave them dependent on their marquee franchise.

After the PS1, that's where the cracks started to appear. Development costs go up, games take longer to make and the quality and diversity of their catalogue starts to go down. Though, whilst not heavily dependent on the Final Fantasy games at this stage, the PS2 era is where they really start to stumble with their mid-tier range of games. World of Mana, The Bouncer, Romancing Saga etc. The brands they cultivated and nurtured during the PS1 era start to fall by the wayside. Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Einhander, Chrono Cross - all critically acclaimed games. Kingdom Hearts is the only real breakout game. Depressingly though, what started as a friendly introduction to the genre aimed at inducting casual gamers, becomes a dense, reductive, mythological tome that frightens off casual fans.

The PS3 era is where it all falls apart and where the mismanagement of their back catalogue reduces them to two franchises of any value; Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The brave experimentation from the PS1 era is mostly reduced to handhelds. HD development has proved an ill fitting suit, and I don't see any reason why that should change anytime soon. They're not quite dead to me yet, as a lingering fragment of that spirit that made their PS1 games a joy to play, still exists within the handheld arena.
 

qualitydisc

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Its shocking to think that titles like Parasite Eve, Einhander, and Brave Fencer Musashi never saw an EU release. Their output, particularly during the Playstation era, was astonishingly wasteful, as evidenced by this list of releases by territory.
Final Fantasy IX wasn't released in Australia? Am I reading that right? Wasteful doesn't being to cover that decision.

It's a shame he refused to do the main theme song for The Spirits Within though, despite Sakaguchi asking him. That could only have helped the movie IMO.
Huh? Point me to a source on that? My recollection was that he was never asked to do any music and was insulted that he was never asked.
 

iMerc

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no that's not correct. FF9 came out in australia on the date it was supposed to.
hell i purchased ff9 the day it came out at EB.
 

qualitydisc

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Oh ok. The wikipedia chart has a blank spot for Australia release.

Nope. Do it a la Shadow Hearts: just upgrade the character models and battle effects, but leave the pre-rendered backgrounds as they are: pre-rendered. They would fuck that up so hard it's unimaginable.

I'm willing to bet a huge stack of gil that Square doesn't have any of the original assets anymore (esp. for backgrounds). Game companies apparently do a really poor job of preserving that kind of stuff. (Capcom lost the original hard drives for Okami and had to rebuild the Wii version from scratch.) The few hi-res backgrounds from FF9 that the individual artists have shared (see The Lost Art of Final Fantasy IX thread) makes me want to fantasize though.
 

anaron

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Final Fantasy IX wasn't released in Australia? Am I reading that right? Wasteful doesn't being to cover that decision.

Huh? Point me to a source on that? My recollection was that he was never asked to do any music and was insulted that he was never asked.

He was asked to do the theme but Sakaguchi didn't push terribly hard so he thought it wasn't for serious.

The quote:

NU: During a business trip, Sakaguchi was visiting Tokyo because he was in Hawaii at that time, and we were having dinner -- yakiniku at [Takayama] -- and he actually asked me, "Can't you just write the main theme song for the film?" But it was over drinks and over good times, so I wasn't sure if he was serious and that he was already giving me a project to work on, but after the film came up and after it was done, he came up to me and said, "You know, you never wrote that piece for me." So I wasn't sure at the time if it was for real or not, but I guess I should have taken that job, huh?

NU: It wasn't really about, "Oh, this is my perfect opportunity to make music for a film." It was just that if only Sakaguchi-san had been more serious about it and pushed me repeatedly to make music...I just feel bad that I couldn't respond to his quest because I wasn't sure if he was serious. I thought there was already something going on and planned for the film, so I didn't even think about it after he left, and he never bugged me about it. I just feel bad that I wasn't able to do that for him.
 

Cheerilee

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How did Enix have so much more money than Square before the financial troubles? Outsourced development? Yeah Dragon Quest was ultra popular but so was FF and FF was popular on a worldwide scale. Plus Square had other successful franchises. Just wondering.

I don't have any numbers, but my general impression was that Enix did a lot better than Square in the NES era. Enix was the trailblazer and Square wanted a piece of Enix's pie.

In the SNES era, the difference between the two as game-makers was more level, but Enix's earlier wins meant that Enix had larger investments. The sooner you start investing your winnings, the bigger the payoffs.

In the PSX era, DQ7 was huge, but FF7-8-9 was bigger (especially since Square found success in America, a market that Enix had abandoned as "impossible"), and Enix can't tell Yuji Horii to hurry up and make more DQ (Horii works at his own pace). That's when Enix started to envy Square, even though Enix still had more money.
 

DiipuSurotu

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In the PSX era, DQ7 was huge, but FF7-8-9 was bigger (especially since Square found success in America, a market that Enix had abandoned as "impossible"), and Enix can't tell Yuji Horii to hurry up and make more DQ (Horii works at his own pace). That's when Enix started to envy Square, even though Enix still had more money.

Moreover, Enix invested in a number of announced or unannounced game projects in the PSX era that were supposed to be recouped with sales from DQ7, but when DQ7 was delayed several times, Enix had to cancel many of these projects.
 

Mandoric

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I don't have any numbers, but my general impression was that Enix did a lot better than Square in the NES era. Enix was the trailblazer and Square wanted a piece of Enix's pie.

From a major franchise perspective, this is definitely true. Each NES DQ sold several million, but Square's first million-seller wasn't until the Game Boy (though FF3 cracked a million too). FF sales didn't catch up to DQ until 7, and then only WW.
 

Lost Fragment

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Though, whilst not heavily dependent on the Final Fantasy games at this stage, the PS2 era is where they really start to stumble with their mid-tier range of games. World of Mana, The Bouncer, Romancing Saga etc.

Hey don't be dragging Romancing SaGa into this now.
 

RedSwirl

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I always felt that the PS1 era gave them the perfect development platform to fulfill their potential. The Final Fantasy games could be made with ambition and the worlds could be fleshed out and realised as living, breathing entities. Below their marquee games, existed the second tier RPG's such as Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Chrono Cross; they could be developed in good time and sell well enough to justify the investment. They would also branch out with interesting projects like Einhander, Tobal No.1 etc. A diverse catalogue of games that could compliment the Final Fantasy games, but wouldn't leave them dependent on their marquee franchise.

After the PS1, that's where the cracks started to appear. Development costs go up, games take longer to make and the quality and diversity of their catalogue starts to go down. Though, whilst not heavily dependent on the Final Fantasy games at this stage, the PS2 era is where they really start to stumble with their mid-tier range of games. World of Mana, The Bouncer, Romancing Saga etc. The brands they cultivated and nurtured during the PS1 era start to fall by the wayside. Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Einhander, Chrono Cross - all critically acclaimed games. Kingdom Hearts is the only real breakout game. Depressingly though, what started as a friendly introduction to the genre aimed at inducting casual gamers, becomes a dense, reductive, mythological tome that frightens off casual fans.

The PS3 era is where it all falls apart and where the mismanagement of their back catalogue reduces them to two franchises of any value; Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The brave experimentation from the PS1 era is mostly reduced to handhelds. HD development has proved an ill fitting suit, and I don't see any reason why that should change anytime soon. They're not quite dead to me yet, as a lingering fragment of that spirit that made their PS1 games a joy to play, still exists within the handheld arena.

This is making Squaresoft back then sound sort of like what Atlus is today.
 

jaxword

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The studio and film were approved by the company at large so it was a risk taken by everyone. The poor reactionary handling shouldn't be framed in a way that Sakaguchi deserved it because he exposed himself and the people in question got their chance to takeover. His management for game production was essentially the glue of the company and they should have never lost sight of that.

Do you think Hironobu would still have his job if they hadn't taken the TSW risk?
 

tafer

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Small question for the experts. At this point, what the hell is keeping Wada at the head of this company? Investors really love this guy that much?
 

RangerBAD

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Small question for the experts. At this point, what the hell is keeping Wada at the head of this company? Investors really love this guy that much?

Wada got replaced, but the new guy is actually looking terrible too.
 

anaron

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Do you think Hironobu would still have his job if they hadn't taken the TSW risk?
It's hard to tell, but considering that the top executives "resigned" even before the film released, it was clear there were already problems in place.
 

Mandoric

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Do you think Hironobu would still have his job if they hadn't taken the TSW risk?

The dominos began to fall, with his demotion and personally trademarking Mistwalker, after FF9 bombed and FF10 slipped into the next FY. So no.

It could have pushed the merger forward, at which point Enix may have supplied their own beancounter who didn't feel the need to guillotine the company aristocracy, or possibly tolerated Suzuki long enough for FF11 to get off the ground (which, as we saw with Wada, gave current management a hell of a halo since it's basically been the equivalent of a Japanese mainline FF launch a year in profits.)
And a departure on better terms could have made S-E willing to work with Mistwalker and vice-versa, but it still wouldn't have been an FF Armor Project - he was already pushing the new generation into leadership positions and shifting his own involvement into general strategy and new products. At most I'd personally expect something more like S-E-published, PS2/PS3/multiplat Blue Dragon/Last Story and a non-cancelled Cry-on.
 

anaron

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Finalow

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damn, good work.
there were a couple of threads where a lot of people thought it was because of FF The Spirits Within failure, that was just wrong as it was already explained.
 

anaron

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damn, good work.
there were a couple of threads where a lot of people thought it was because of FF The Spirits Within failure, that was just wrong as it was already explained.
It's the widely believed reason for why this merger occurred. Oddly and hilariously enough, my friend (who isn't into videogames at all) and I were discussing creepy lifelike CGI films and got onto the topic of TSW and she asked me: "didn't that movie end up closing the whole game company or something?"
 

jaxword

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It's hard to tell, but considering that the top executives "resigned" even before the film released, it was clear there were already problems in place.

Sounds to me that they saw the ship sinking.

Honestly, it seems that Hironobu's view extended his abilities, the movie talk was the straw that broke the camel's back and convinced them the vision wasn't as stable as it once was.
 

anaron

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Sounds to me that they saw the ship sinking.

Honestly, it seems that Hironobu's view extended his abilities, the movie talk was the straw that broke the camel's back and convinced them the vision wasn't as stable as it once was.
Which was dumb because his vision included XI and Kingdom Hearts, the two most bankable things after the main franchise since.
 

Mandoric

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Which was dumb because his vision included XI and Kingdom Hearts, the two most bankable things after the main franchise since.

Yes, but shit went down while KH was still in development and FFXI was in a troubled beta phase - which left, of course, Wada in charge to claim the credit after they actually shipped. He was out the door well before the FFXI w/w launch, and began the process even before FFX.
 

jaxword

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Which was dumb because his vision included XI and Kingdom Hearts, the two most bankable things after the main franchise since.

Perhaps if Hironobu had waited on putting his faith in TSW until they had a few more successes like those (instead of FF9), he wouldn't have appeared weak to his business enemies.
 

anaron

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Perhaps if Hironobu had waited on putting his faith in TSW until they had a few more successes like those (instead of FF9), he wouldn't have appeared weak to his business enemies.

They probably should have. But again, Sakaguchi didn't force the company to make this film, it was greenlit by the company at large; beyond that even, perhaps the they shouldn't have reacted so stupidly to their first major mistake. It was an enormous endeavour that was *technically* logical at the time and it unfortunately didn't pay off the way it was supposed to. I don't see how it's good business to turn your back on everything that's successfully built up your company otherwise, especially when the main projects hadn't even launched yet.

It's especially horrendous in hindsight knowing how successful they were to become.
 

jaxword

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They probably should have. But again, Sakaguchi didn't force the company to make this film, it was greenlit by the company at large; beyond that even, perhaps the they shouldn't have reacted so stupidly to their first major mistake. It was an enormous endeavour that was *technically* logical at the time and it unfortunately didn't pay off the way it was supposed to. I don't see how it's good business to turn your back on everything that's successfully built up your company otherwise, especially when the main projects hadn't even launched yet.

It's especially horrendous in hindsight knowing how successful they were to become.

It looks like Hironobu unwisely hitched his name and reputation onto TSW and when it crashed and burned he was the scapegoat they needed to take his position.
 

anaron

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It looks like Hironobu unwisely hitched his name and reputation onto TSW and when it crashed and burned he was the scapegoat they needed to take his position.
Essentially.

Though I'm fairly certain you don't have any other choice in "unwisely hitching" your name onto a film when you're the director. It's kinda a given. :p

Like I said before though, VII and its FMV presentation launched a new sort of hubris for Square and taking into consideration how their CG was celebrated and making their games further famous, the idea to establish a studio dedicated to developing CGI films that would also actively lend itself to gaming made sense and it still (mostly) does. It was just really, *really* poorly planned out.
 

jaxword

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Essentially.

Though I'm fairly certain you don't have any other choice in "unwisely hitching" your name onto a film when you're the director. It's kinda a given. :p

That's what I meant by unwise, and what I've been saying all along. He clearly thought he had the abilities to be a movie director, and that was the straw on his camel. If he had maybe just refined his skills for another 5-10, he'd probably be riding high still.

It's sort of like how Nomura thinks he's a movie director too, when he has the same problem of having great ideas but awful storytelling execution in the movie format.
 

MagnaderAlpha

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That's what I meant by unwise, and what I've been saying all along. He clearly thought he had the abilities to be a movie director, and that was the straw on his camel. If he had maybe just refined his skills for another 5-10, he'd probably be riding high still.

It's sort of like how Nomura thinks he's a movie director too, when he has the same problem of having great ideas but awful storytelling execution in the movie format.

Maybe Kitase was better suited to direct the movie. He DID study film making. Besides, despite being a capable director, had the movie still gone awry, his downfall, while sad, would've spared us of him positioning Toriyama in the spot he is now. That, and it's not like Kitase's directing anything anymore(hell, if he still directed, FF might still be good, as he was more capable a director than Toriyama).

As for Nomura, he always has to have a middle man to turn his raw ideas into something more legible. Nojima, Akiyama and Watanabe all have helped Nomura regarding that(especially in the KH series). Nonetheless, I always felt Advent Children felt more like a series of FMV scenes spliced together to make a somewhat coherent story. It's one of the reasons I totally disagree with the sentiment than, had AC been released in the TSW's place, it would've fared better. I don't think it would've. It would've still failed as a movie(despite being associated with an actually popular FF).
 

anaron

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That's what I meant by unwise, and what I've been saying all along. He clearly thought he had the abilities to be a movie director, and that was the straw on his camel. If he had maybe just refined his skills for another 5-10, he'd probably be riding high still.

It's sort of like how Nomura thinks he's a movie director too, when he has the same problem of having great ideas but awful storytelling execution in the movie format.

The company was on board for him directing his own project though. Had they had a problem with it, shouldn't they have fixed that before putting money into it instead of tossing its director (and the man behind the company's relevance) aside when the risky as hell project -- that they approved -- get's the company in some trouble?
 

jaxword

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The company was on board for him directing his own project though. Had they had a problem with it, shouldn't they have fixed that before putting money into it instead of tossing its director (and the man behind the company's relevance) aside when the risky as hell project -- that they approved -- get's the company in some trouble?

That's a question that no one here really knows the answer to. Who is "they", really? Who had the real power in those boardroom meetings? Who was on Hironobu's side and drank with him after work, and who was secretly sharpening a knife and poisoning others against him?

For all we know, "they" knew that TSW was a poor risk and let him go on the quest and take the reigns so when it crashed it was on him. Or maybe Hironobu DIDN'T want to do it so early, "Hey guys, let's wait til this Enix merger is done" but "they" pushed his project early. Or maybe it was the exact opposite and Hironobu felt death's hand on his shoulder and HE pushed to get Square-Honolulu going on it before the merger.

There are 1000 different corporate variables that we will never, ever, find out the truth about.
 

Pyrrhus

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Ironically FFXI was made because Sakaguchi learned about the game EverQuest when he moved to Hawaii to establish Square Pictures and TSW.

This doesn't surprise me. FF was strongest when it was synthesizing outside elements into a new whole. D&D, Star Wars, early Miyazaki anime, Amano strangeness, Bach, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Deep Purple, etc.

FF went to hell at about the same time the new stewards started looking only at FF itself and Japanese pop and fashion for inspiration. It was inevitable that such a recursive product would become less internationally relevant.
 

anaron

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Ironically FFXI was made because Sakaguchi learned about the game EverQuest when he moved to Hawaii to establish Square Pictures and TSW.
Lol, I was thinking the same thing.

I've been thinking about what kind of projects they'd do going forward with Square pictures too. The plans were for it to "revolutionize film and games" and I'd love to be in a world where we got to see just what that would be.
 

Mandoric

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This doesn't surprise me. FF was strongest when it was synthesizing outside elements into a new whole. D&D, Star Wars, early Miyazaki anime, Amano strangeness, Bach, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Deep Purple, etc.

FF went to hell at about the same time the new stewards started looking only at FF itself and Japanese pop and fashion for inspiration. It was inevitable that such a recursive product would become less internationally relevant.

I don't think that's really true. The heaviest Japanese influence came during the era when old and new guards shared power, and peaked in the three FFs that sold best in the west: 7, which marked a visual shift from occasionally-steam-influenced fantasy to anime-style flashy SF and had a storyline rooted in eastern-style mysticism; 8, which was packed with modern fashion and Japanese-aesthetic-ideal characters and set in a dystopian but very Japanese high school; and 10, which drew its setting both visually and thematically from a minority Japanese culture and was probably the peak of Nomura going wild.

Compared to that, after the fall of the old guard you have FF12's pure western-style political fantasy with characters that only depart its standard archetypes far enough to be blond Disney Aladdin, and FF13's FF8-level modern fashion and mythos that complicated far beyond any one influence as aspects kept getting added while the scenario staff waited for the engine to be finished.
I suppose you could also count the later FF11 expansions, but one's Middle Eastern, one's relatively-gritty high fantasy revolving around a sloggy land war against orcs, and there's one that I'm not hugely familiar with but goes as far AWAY as possible from the place in the FF11 world that spawned samurai and ninja.
 

anaron

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It's funny too, to see how once Wada had stretched out what he could out of Sakaguchi's plans that were left with the company through X, XI, XII and Kingdom Hearts, besides milking existing IPs, he truly had no idea what to do going forward and it finally caught up to him and Square with XIII.
 

Apophis2036

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Haven't read a lot of the thread but I watched Advent Children the other night on Bluray and holy shit it blew me away almost 9 years after release. I googled but couldn't find much info, does anyone know how much it cost to make and how much it made back ?. I was also under the impression that The Spirits Within bombed hard so what made them try again with AC ?.
 

anaron

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Haven't read a lot of the thread but I watched Advent Children the other night on Bluray and holy shit it blew me away almost 9 years after release. I googled but couldn't find much info, does anyone know how much it cost to make and how much it made back ?. I was also under the impression that The Spirits Within bombed hard so what made them try again with AC ?.

It was a sequel to their most famous game. It was guaranteed to do alright.
 

Mandoric

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Haven't read a lot of the thread but I watched Advent Children the other night on Bluray and holy shit it blew me away almost 9 years after release. I googled but couldn't find much info, does anyone know how much it cost to make and how much it made back ?. I was also under the impression that The Spirits Within bombed hard so what made them try again with AC ?.

I don't believe they've ever mentioned numbers, but rendering a deliberately cartoony feature in 2005 at SD resolutions has gotta be a lot cheaper than shooting for realism in 1999-2000 at something close to 4k. The animators also had significantly more experience at that point.

Remember, that's about the time that Japan started shooting some scenes in traditional animation 3DCG/cel shaded to -save- money over hand-drawing them, and even $5m (hell, for anyone but Square even $1m) would have been an exceptionally rich budget for a direct-to-video project at the time.
 
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