Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-09-09 20:26 (JST)
Translated by. Braden Noyes
On September 8, 2021, Square Enix released the Pixel Remaster version of Final Fantasy IV for Steam and mobile platforms.
The Pixel Remaster series is a complete remaster of the first six games in the Final Fantasy series using high-definition pixel graphics. With a main staff consisting of members such as Kazuko Shibuya, known for her work on Final Fantasy’s iconic pixel graphics from the very beginning, and soundtracks beautifully re-arranged under the supervision of original music designer Nobuo Uematsu, the definitive editions of these iconic games are being completely remastered for the modern age.
Now, Final Fantasy IV gets its turn to shine with its very own Pixel Remaster edition. However, players have already noticed something other than the UI and the system that has been changed. Specifically, the existence of the Developer’s Office.
The Developer’s Office is a hidden location included in the original release of Final Fantasy IV back in 1991. Accessible through a hidden passageway in the pub of the Dwarven Castle, it was a series of smaller rooms where the player is able to interact with characters named after the actual members of the game’s development team.
Each member has their own humorous dialog, most of which breaks the fourth wall, including complaints of having no vacation time during Golden Week, nightmare ramblings from someone napping in the break room, and several references to severe working conditions.
It’s a great opportunity to meet each member of the team, including composer Nobuo Uematsu and director Hironobu Sakaguchi, who for some reason appears as a chocobo. From the odd remarks made by staff members who only appear as random encounters, to the dirty magazine found on the shelf in the break room, the Developer’s Office was undoubtedly a source of laughs for many players.
The office made appearances in later versions of the game as well. The Game Boy Advance port of Final Fantasy IV included the unaltered Developer’s Office from the 1991 version.
However, the characters who appear in the Nintendo DS version released in 2007 were changed to accurately match the members of the team who worked on the remake. One notable change is the character who demands extortion money, claiming you broke his arm by running into him. However, the overall gloomy, overworked tone remains, as demonstrated by the poor staff member who is sick of eating convenience store meals. You can also obtain the Augment ability known as Reach in the updated version of the office.
The location has left a big impact on players over the years, so many fans have been wondering what form the Developer’s Office might take in the new Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster edition. Now, after patiently awaiting release day, they would finally have their answer. Carefully making their way to the pub in the Dwarven Castle, expectant players were presented with…disappointment. The only reference in sight was a lousy flyer denoting the “Former site of the 1991 Developer’s Office.”
With such an iconic section of the game removed, many users are now speculating as to the reason. Was it due to the questionable nature of the dirty magazine? Does it perhaps have something to do with the relocation of Square Enix’s headquarters to the eastern part of Shinjuku back in 2012? While some fans mourn the loss of the Developer’s Office, others continue to hold out hope. The truth is, however, we were actually told the office was moving years ago.
In 2008, the spinoff game titled Final Fantasy IV: The After Years was released. If you try to access the hidden passageway in the Dwarven Castle, you will be greeted with a flyer on the wall informing you that the Developer’s Office has been relocated. You are only given access to the new location after progressing through the story. It is likely fans don’t want to give up hope that something similar has been done with the Pixel Remaster, and the new location of the Developer’s Office simply hasn’t been found yet.
Final Fantasy IV isn’t the only game to feature hidden developer rooms, though. Similar locations can be found in other Square and Square Enix titles, such as the Programmer’s Room in Chrono Trigger and the 2nd Division room in SaGa Frontier. Even Final Fantasy XIV gave players the opportunity to visit a developer room called The Eighteenth Floor during the annual event called The Rising back in 2015. There, they could speak with members of the development team such as Naoki Yoshida and Toshio Murouchi.
Unlike the Developer’s Office in Final Fantasy IV, with its jokes and references to overworked staff members, the area in Final Fantasy XIV was instead used as a means for the development staff to express their gratitude to the players. If any other such areas do find their way into future Final Fantasy titles, they will most likely take on a form relevant to the game culture of that time. We only hope they will continue to provide a few laughs for the players as well.