One of Final Fantasy XIV’s most memorable bosses is Good King Moggle Mog, a giant demonic moogle whose Tim Burton-inspired theme song has been haunting players since the game’s earliest days. As it turns out, the king of the Moogles has an unlikely origin: one of Japan’s biggest natural disasters.
At E3 in Los Angeles earlier this month, I asked Final Fantasy XIV composer Masayoshi Soken where that ridiculous chanting song had come from, and he told me the whole origin story of Good King Moggle Mog, a Primal enemy who launched during Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, before the developers at Square Enix took down the game and re-launched it as A Realm Reborn in 2013.
“We were working on two Primals at the time, Leviathan and Titan,” said Soken, speaking through a translator. “But of course March 11 happened with the tsunami and the earthquake.”
That’d be March 11, 2011, the day a massive earthquake hit Japan, triggering a tsunami and killing thousands upon thousands of people. Given that Final Fantasy’s Leviathan and Titan, beasts of water and earth, use “Tsunami” and “Earthquake” as their respective main spells, the team suddenly had to pivot.
“Leviathan and Titan being ‘Tsunami’ and ‘Earthquake,’ there was no way we could release this content,” Soken said. “We were scrambling wondering: ‘What could we have the players fight?’ The only thing we had the models for was Moogles. There was a Moogle theme that Mr. Uematsu had previously composed, so I took that and made it have more of a devil feel to it. Moogles as you know are floating around, being cheerful. Imagine that gigantified and trying to beat up the players. In my mind I was thinking, ‘How do you take that song, cute cheerful song, and make it more devil-like?’”
The final product, which Soken admits was very inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, doesn’t sound devil-like at all. In fact, it’s one of the silliest things in the game:
“But I mean, listening to the finished product it still sounds very comical,” said Soken. “With the original source music being so comical, I guess no matter how you tweak it, it still came off comical.”