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Final Fantasy creator originally rejected all of the music by the series’ legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu

Until he changed the track order, that is

Characters battle the Lich in Final Fantasy 1's pixel remaster
Image credit: Square Enix

Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi originally turned down the roleplaying game’s now-iconic soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu - until the legendary composer simply changed the track order, that is.

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Speaking during a Q&A session with Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida at this weekend’s Final Fantasy Fan Festival in London, Sakaguchi said that he initially rejected Uematsu’s compositions for the first Final Fantasy.

“I did something really terrible [to Uematsu],” Sakaguchi answered when asked for anecdotes about developing the early games in the seminal roleplaying series.

“I thought to myself: ‘Maybe if I rejected all of his ideas, maybe he can make it more improved when he comes back with the new one.’”

Final Fantasy 1's music player in the pixel remaster
Image credit: Square Enix

Uematsu would submit his proposal tracks on a cassette tape, which Sakaguchi would then listen to. Having decided he would turn them all down regardless, the designer rejected them all straight away, apparently responding: “No, I want you to do better.”

“The first time it was like in the left ear, out the right ear,” Sakaguchi admitted when asked if he had even listened to the tape.

When the composer came back a week later, the designer noticed a change and responded, “Oh, this is wonderful!” Uematsu was apparently confused, saying that he had simply swapped around the order of the tracks on the tape - without altering any of the tracks themselves.

Uematsu’s soundtrack would go on to become one of the series’ most iconic and beloved elements, with tracks from the first Final Fantasy regularly making an appearance at the series’ Distant Worlds concerts and referenced in future games - such as the series’ iconic opening theme and battle music.

“I’m sorry,” Sakaguchi apologised to Uematsu after telling the story on-stage.

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