I Had to Write a Final Fantasy Fanfic for Square


Waaaay back in like 2002, after I had just graduated and gotten my degree in Japanese, I started applying to all sorts of video game companies in the hope of getting to translate games for them. In preparation for this, I’d spent the previous few years fan-translating unreleased RPGs and such so that I’d have some genuine experience under my belt. Looking back, I was still very much a novice, but more than anything I was really naive about how to get work in the entertainment translation industry.

Anyway, one of the companies I applied to was Square – working on Square RPGs was like a translation dream of mine. I first wound up applying for a translation position in Japan… and besides the usual requirements like a resume, cover letters, and all that, I was also required to write a story:

A character from a Square game has been transported to Japan by some sort of magic. Please write an 800-1000 word story in English describing one episode that character has, from his/her viewpoint.

So I wrote a story and sent all my stuff off to Japan. And a few months later I got a rejection letter! I have some more info on that here, but at some point I’ll probably write up another post with more details about my job hunt escapades and how I eventually wound up where I am now.

ahaha this is Poe adding some secret text!! Hello world!

Anyway, here’s the embarrassingly-bad story I wrote! You know, I probably shouldn’t have had the creator and main programmer of the Final Fantasy games pee their pants 😛

”Come on, this can’t really be happening,” the man to my left said. “Video game characters don’t just pop out of televisions, you know?”

I was at the end of my patience by this point. I didn’t completely understand what they were talking about, or what a “video game” was, but it seemed pointless to continue quarrelling with these two men.

”Look, you saw him do that,” I replied, pointing to the huge, gaping hole in the building we were in. A bright blue sky shone through it. I hadn’t seen a sky like that in so long… “And I’m standing here talking to you, aren’t I? What more do you want?”

”See, it’s like this. You and Kefka, you’re characters in a video game… a game that WE made. You’re not real, we created you so there’s no way you can be here in real life. This… this must be some sort of practical joke or something,” the man on my right said. He was shaking nervously. There was a noticeably large, damp spot on his pants.

”So you’re saying this is a different world? That I’m from a different world than this one?”

”I… suppose you could say that…”

”Then it makes sense. In my world, there was a place called the Esper World. It was sealed up inside our world and getting into and out of it was nearly impossible. So maybe that’s the same here? It would certainly make sense. Although I have no clue how Kefka and I wound up here…” I said, more anxious than ever to get finished with this conversation so I could go after Kefka. “What do you call this world?”

The two men looked at each other for a moment, then looked back at me. “This world? Well, we call it ‘Earth’. You’re in a country called Japan.”

”More specifically, we’re in Tokyo, the largest city on Earth.”

This can’t be good, I thought to myself. Kefka rampaging throughout the largest city in this new world… just the mere thought gave me a sense of helplessness far greater than I had ever experienced before. We needed to stop him, and fast. In this world he might be able to obtain powers unimaginable in my own world – these people DID create our world, after all. Which basically meant everybody in this world had the potential to be a god back in my world, or even a god of the Esper World.

”H-how did he do that?” The man with the stained paints asked, pointing nervously at the chunk of the wall and ceiling that no longer existed. “Magic doesn’t exist here… so how could he have done that?”

”Magic doesn’t exist here? Are you sure?” I quickly chanted a Fire spell, which unfortunately lit the pants of the man on the left on fire. He hopped around like an energetic frog for a moment then flopped to the floor, trying to put the blaze out.

”It looks like magic exists here. I don’t know exactly why, but maybe this world is just another smaller world that exists in a bigger world. That could be the reason why magic works here too.” I said. I wasn’t entirely certain this was the truth, but it just seemed right. “I can sense Kefka, somehow. He’s not far, but I have to hurry. I don’t know what he plans to do, but there’s no doubt it’s something evil.”

His pants still steaming, the man on my left managed to reply, “We should come with you, we created your world, after all. I have absolutely no idea what the heck is going on, but I’m sure we’re responsible for all of this happening.”

”Fine. Then let’s get going.” I replied. Finally, I thought.

”My name’s…”

”Hironobu Sakaguchi.” I said, interrupting him. “Ken Narita,” I said to the other man, before he could even make a sound. “I know. Somehow, I just know. It’s really weird. Kefka’s on the move, we need to get going.”

”Right, Terra.” Narita replied.


When I told Narita and Sakaguchi I could sense Kefka, that was only a half-truth. I could actually SEE him, or more like see what HE himself was seeing. Seeing out of those heartless eyes for the first time was a truly frightening experience.

Kefka hovered a couple hundred feet in the air, looking down on what seemed to be a very advanced train station. Directly below him, on the ground, were hundreds of people curiously looking up at the strangely-dressed man in the sky.

A tremendous light coming from every direction erased all shadows from view. In this unnatural scene I could tell what was coming next. Kefka was concentrating his focus on a large sign that said “Ikebukuro Station”. There was a sensation of a sudden surge of energy flowing through me, and then all I could see was white. Looking up with my own eyes, I could see a huge fireball just a few miles away tear through part of the city.

I wasn’t aware right away when I regained my “second sight” after the initial blinding. This was because there wasn’t anything to really see – it had all been vaporized. It seemed I didn’t only “see” through Kefka, but I could also “hear” him, because what came next was that hideous, nightmarish laugh of his. If only I had been quicker and hadn’t stopped to talk with those two people, all those people… all those children… could have been saved.

Kefka then continued his flight west. Despite being able to see and hear through his senses, I couldn’t tell where he was headed to next. But I could tell he had a specific destination in mind. I needed to figure out what it was, and then somehow get there before him. I looked back at Narita and Sakaguchi. They were going to be much more important than I first thought…

Anyway, if anyone else out there has written one of these stories for Square, I’d love to see what you wrote! Or if you just want to try taking on this challenge yourself, post your story in the comments or contact me some other way!

If you liked this, check out press start to translate, my book about the time I Google-translated Final Fantasy IV. It includes the worst/most hilarious translation mistakes, all while explaining why Google's A.I. made such terrible choices. (free preview PDF)
  1. stone cold steve austin (scsa)

    Hahahahahahaha I wonder if they were expecting the applicants to write the next FF for them? I like how yours destroys their pants though.

  2. I wrote one, too, with Edgar in modern-day Tokyo. (What is it about FF6?) I wonder if I can post it somewhere? (I wound up working for them in the end, so I don’t know if some kind of NDA applies.)

    1. Haha, that’s cool, I guess FF6 just has so many cool and interesting characters to work with 😛

      Say, it’s been many years, but weren’t you in charge of JAT stuff for a while? Or am I thinking of someone else?

      1. I was the JAT membership officer for a little while, and president for another little while; I’m back on the Board now as an auditor. Small world! Maybe we can meet at IJET next year. 🙂

  3. I wonder why that was a requirement? I guess it’s to confirm you’re fluent in English, but why via a fanfic?

    1. I think it was mostly just to make sure you can write fluently AND creatively. And since there’d have to be a theme to write about, it makes sense that it should be relevant to the company somehow, so I guess that’s why they thought up the theme they did.

  4. I heard that FF7 had an entirely different story during it’s early production stages — it was originally going to be set in New York City (the real world?) and the main character a hot-blooded detective named “Joe”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_XV#cite_ref-31 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_VII#cite_ref-36

    I guess that’s why they asked you to write a story of “a Square character transported to Japan”?

    Probably not, but who knows.

  5. Is it just me, or does that story sound like the main premise of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time? Seriously, living character that finds out their a TV show? Just saying…

    1. Woah there with the spoilers, Brandon. I know it’s an old game but this kinda website’s full of people who’ve got a massive backlog of old RPGs to get through

  6. that early version idea for final fantasy 7 became parasite eve.

  7. I guess they wanted to know if you were familiar with the characters and the company or even how deep you were in to “the world of squarem games” that you can possibly write a logic and convincing story about it.

  8. This reminds me of when I was 10 or so and wrote the manual for a game I’d made up and sent it to Nintendo with a note along the lines of “You should make this game!” I think I still have it and the form letter I got back (signed by Gail Tilden, no less).

  9. I have a hunch that the realeason behind this requirement is to check ad see if you really do know how to handle Square Enix’s characters. As in, you know how to handle them; how to treat these characters as actual people and to treat them as though they happen to be themselves.

    Those that don’t know what they’re doing, those qho don’t even know how to even touch these characters without destroying the thoughts surrounding these characters, will show this within the written work work. By adding this to the requirements, Square Enix would be able to tell whether or not you’re capable of properly handling their own work.

    Think of it as a shibboleth of sorts. It weeds out those who claim to know what to do from those who who actually do. Not even seeming credentials can ever allow escape from this fact; trust from other companies does not really mean you properly know what you’re doing.