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Spotlight: Nasir Gebelli

Ultima Final Fantasy | The Ultimate Final Fantasy Podcast

Release Date: 09/21/2015

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Nasir Gebelli

      By Kaleb Schweiss

Nasir Gebelli was a programmer for Square Enix. He was part of Square’s A-Team, along with Nobou Uematsu and Yoshitaka Amano to create Final Fantasy. But that’s not the first project Nasir took on at Square, nor was it his first programming job.

 

Nasir was born in Iran, and later moved to the US to study computer science. In 1980, he started a company called Sirius Software with a guy named Jerry Jewell. Gebelli made numerous strides within Sirius, including creating advanced graphics techniques for the Apple II. His first project was a program called EasyDraw; a logo and character creation program that he would use for his later games. It was with Sirius that Gibelli developed a reputation for quickly producing games. He would program as many as twelve games a year. One in particular, Gorgo, ended up selling around 23,000 copies; making it one of the best selling computer games in the early 80’s.

 

In 1981, Gebelli left Sirius to establish his own software company named Gebelli Software. He released  a few successful games, but by 1983, his games were becoming notoriously bad according to Softalk, a magazine focusing on computers and games. The Video Game Crash of 1983 would lead Gebelli’s company in shambles, and he closed his doors.

 

After Gebelli Software went belly up, Nasir did what any sensible businessman would do. He traveled the world for a few years. He would eventually resurface in 1986 when he went to visit a friend, Doug Carlston who owns Broderbund. This was the company who originally did the Carmen Sandiego games. Calrlston told Gebelli about the rising power of the NES, and suggested that Nasir should program for it. Gebelli was interested, and travelled with Doug to Japan; where he would meet with Nintendo and Square. Nintendo would ultimately be uninterested in Gebelli, but Square, and especially The Gutch, were aware of his reputation and excited to have him join the team. His joining of Square eventually let to the separation of Square from the parent company Denyuusha.

 

Gebelli’s first game with Square would be 3-D WorldRunner for the NES. THis was a forward scrolling third person action game. It was one of the first stereoscopic 3D games, which gives the game a more 3D feel. Gibelli would then program Rad Racer, and it’s sequel later in 1990.

 

And now, now that he has a few games under his belt, Gebelli, Sakaguchi, Uematsu, and Amano began to produce Final Fantasy, which would later be released in 1987. Final Fantasy featured numerous unique features such as the character creation system, classes, and the ever famous battle system. Gebelli and team didn’t miss a beat, and went on to create Final Fantasy II. This game introduced emotional story lines, and much more tragic events. The game also replaced traditional leveling with the activity based progression system, which would later go on to influence the SaGa and Grandia series, FF IV, and The Elder Scrolls series. Final Fantasy II also introduced an innovative dialogue system where key words would be memorized and used during conversations with NPC’s.

Next comes Final Fantasy III, which came out in 1990. This game introduced the ever beloved job class system. Midway through the development of both Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III, Gebelli was forced to return to Sacramento, California due to an expired work visa. The rest of the staff followed him to Sacramento to finish producing the games.

 

Gibelli would take another long break before returning to work on Secret of Mana, which is the second in the Mana series, released in 1993. Secret of Mana was more of an action role playing game, and included a cooperative multiplayer mode. The game was initially going to be one of the launching titles on the SNES CD, but was later altered to a cartridge due to the SNES CD being dropped. This game received critical acclaim, mainly for its real time battle system, innovative co op gameplay, in which second and third players could join in and drop out of the game at any time, and the customizable AI settings for computer controlled allies…. GAMBITS!!!!


After Secret of Mana, Gibelli basically retired from royalties from Square and, you guessed it, traveled the world. He would later attend John Romero’s, co founder of ID Software, Apple II reunion in Dallas. Romero credited Gebelli as a major influence on his career. Gebelli lives in Sacramento, and remains good friends with Hironobu Sakaguchi.

 

REMIX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uarsKpKN68A