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Final Fantasy’s legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu doesn’t have the ‘strength’ to score a full video game again

Leaving his last complete soundtrack as iOS exclusive RPG Fantasian

Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu smiles in a beanie hat and glasses
Image credit: Nobuo Uematsu

Nobuo Uematsu, the celebrated composer behind the iconic soundtracks for much of the Final Fantasy series, has said he probably won’t score a full video game again. While Uematsu didn’t rule out creating the main themes for future games, he said that his days of scoring an entire game are likely over - leaving his last complete soundtrack as the OST for mobile-exclusive RPG Fantasian.

Uematsu told German outlet Zeit Online that while he plans to continue contributing main themes to the Final Fantasy series - having recently revisited his theme for Final Fantasy 7 for latest remake Rebirth - he no longer has the “strength” to score a game in its entirety.

“As far as Final Fantasy is concerned, I'm still involved by writing the main themes for the games,” Uematsu said. (Thanks, VGC.) “But I don't think I'll compose music for a whole game again.

“You would have to give it full throttle for two or three years. And I don't think I have the physical and mental strength to do it anymore.”

The decision doesn’t mark Uematsu’s retirement as a whole, but instead a shift away from video games, as the composer said he would simply prefer to “use the time I have left” to work on projects such as new narrative orchestral performance Merregnon: Heart of Ice - due to premiere in Germany this week - and his band Uematsu Nobuo conTIKI.

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Uematsu, of course, is best known for scoring the Final Fantasy series from its first instalment in 1987 through to 2000’s Final Fantasy IX, writing iconic songs including the series’ recurring Main Theme, Final Fantasy 7’s One-Winged Angel and Final Fantasy 8’s Liberi Fatali. FFIX was the last time Uematsu would score a Final Fantasy game by himself, being joined by Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano for Final Fantasy X and subsequently seeing other composers lead the score for each new entry.

Uematsu reunited with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi for Apple Arcade-exclusive (at least for now) iOS game Fantasian in 2021, which may now be the last game that Uematsu scores in its entirety. Around the time of Fantasian’s release, Sakaguchi suggested that it might be Uematsu’s last full score, expressing that health issues had raised the question of whether he’d be able to work on the game at all. In the end, Uematsu created a complete soundtrack with a 60-piece orchestra.

The composer came back to Final Fantasy for Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s theme - officially titled Hollow - in 2020, and No Promises to Keep for this year’s sequel Rebirth; the complete soundtrack for both games is filled out by other composers, despite drawing heavily from Uematsu’s original score for the influential PlayStation RPG.

During last year’s Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival, Sakaguchi revealed that he originally rejected Uematsu’s soundtrack for the first Final Fantasy in an attempt to get the composer to make the songs “improved”, saying they went “in the left ear, out the right ear”. When Uematsu submitted a revised playlist a week later, Sakaguchi expressed his delight at the “wonderful” score - only for Uematsu to reveal he had changed the order of the songs, but not the actual music. Either way, it apparently didn’t deter Uematsu, who went on to bookend his work composing for Sakaguchi across almost 40 years.

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