As part of the Final Fantasy III 30th Anniversary, Square Enix published an interview with some of the minds behind the game. Mr. Koichi Ishii, the designer for the game’s job characters and current CEO & President of Grezzo (a studio that worked on several Zelda titles), was one of those interviewed, and he shared some unique insights about the designs of the iconic White Mage robe.
One thing that really left an impression on me was when I saw the job character designs in FINAL FANTASY TACTICS – the white mage’s robe was portrayed as white cloth with thick red zig-zag triangle designs on it. I thought, “Could it be that everyone thinks that’s what the white mage looks like!?”
The image I had is that the red part of a white mage’s robe is embroidered from red threads imbued with magic when spun together, increasing the wearer’s magical power. The reasoning for the red threads being on the sleeves is that magic leaves the body through the hands and wrists, so that area is most effective. I was very particular about the lore that equipment like wands and amulets are used as a catalyst to turn natural power into magic, stimulating the user’s magic strength. That’s why I was adamant about never giving magic users iron equipment; if they use normal metals, their magic power will disperse so at least go with mythril ore…stuff like that.
[W]hile making the jobs I made sure to have various meanings behind my design choices so I wasn’t just playing dress-up with them. I think considering those kind of details while inputting job character sprites was one part of project planning for FFIII. Through this character, you’re creating what kind of story you want to tell, what impression you want to leave on the player.
You can read the rest of the interview with Koichi Ishii here, which shares some other fun trivia behind Final Fantasy III and the series as a whole!