Final Fantasy XII was a marvel when it was originally released on the PS2 in 2006. However, it also had an infamously challenging development cycle for its key developers, including game director Yasumi Matsuno.
Though the true extent of how challenging development was on the game is not publically known, one prevailing rumor about Final Fantasy XII’s early production that stuck with fans was that protagonist Vaan wasn’t the initially planned hero of FFXII.
On Twitter, the game director took time to respond to a fan’s comment about Bacsh fon Ronsenburg — a disgraced knight and eventual party member in FFXII — being the original protagonist of the game. This comment came from a thread about Clive, the hero of Final Fantasy XVI, who is set to become the oldest main character in an FF game.
In the plainest terms, Matsuno denied that Basch was the original hero of Final Fantasy XII in the early production, writing, “That rumor is a fake story. Thank you.”
That rumor is a fake story.
— 松野泰己 (@YasumiMatsuno) April 18, 2023
A long-standing rumor
According to the long-standing rumor, the original pitch for Final Fantasy XII was a dark fantasy story more in the vein of Vagrant Story or Final Fantasy Tactics on the PS1, which Matsuno also directed.
The rumor that made the rounds for nearly 20 years suggested that Final Fantasy XII’s original vision changed to be more approachable for all players, with Vaan, an energetic street rat who bore a striking resemblance to Tidus, being introduced as the core protagonist.
What made this particular rumor about the game stick with fans over the years was that Vaan was not well-received upon release. While the more extensive cast of characters was very popular, including Balthier, Fran, Basch, and Ashe, Vaan’s place in the core story seemed more set as a perspective character rather than someone with a major role in the larger plot.
That said, Vaan eventually came into his own throughout the game, and he even starred in an FFXII spin-off game on the Nintendo DS called Final Fatansy XII: Revenant Wings. Fans have also taken more of a liking to him over the years, thanks to memes about the quest where Vaan had to shout in the streets, “I’m Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca!” or “Don’t listen to Ondore’s lies.”
Don’t listen to Ondore’s lies!
I’m Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca! pic.twitter.com/gYDXso2J8S
— Victor Hunter (@victorehunter) April 9, 2022
In IGN’s original review for FFXII, former editor Jeremy Dunham gave the game a 9.5, and stated “Final Fantasy XII is a fantastic RPG. It blows all of its PS2 competition this year right out of the water and is among the all time elite role-players ever made for the system.”
In the years since its release, publisher Square-Enix have re-released FFXII as Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, which updated the visuals, introduced revised combat and character growth mechanics, and added new encounters that were only in the Japan only enhanced edition of the game from the PS2. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is currently out on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and the Nintendo Switch.
Alessandro Fillari is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @afillari.