SaGa Emerald Beyond Interview
Image via Square Enix

Interview: How SaGa Emerald Beyond Took Shape

As the years go by, the SaGa JRPG series gained a wider appreciation worldwide and, as a result, we get to see new entries like 2024’s SaGa Emerald Beyond. Now that the game is available everywhere, Siliconera got a chance to catch up with this entry’s Director and Lead Writer Akitoshi Kawazu, who is also the series creator, to go over its development.

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Jenni Lada: First, when did SaGa Emerald Beyond development begin?

Akitoshi Kawazu: Development on SaGa Emerald Beyond started as soon as we completed development of the Japanese version of SaGa Scarlet Grace. Concurrent to working on the overseas version of the title, we held a series of meetings to accumulate ideas for the next entry.

How did SaGa Scarlet Grace influence Emerald Beyond’s development and scenarios?

Akitoshi Kawazu: We designed a new event management system based on our experience with SaGa Scarlet Grace. As a result, it is now possible to incorporate fairly complex scenarios.

Likewise, SaGa: Emerald Beyond comes after the rereleases of games like SaGa Frontier and Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend. We also see Mr. S and mechs return. How did classic titles influence its development?

Akitoshi Kawazu: Our intention isn’t to trace past works. The introduction of various races was an important element in the design of this work. In addition, we already had a character who was well-suited for the tutorial element, which is so important in modern games, so we simply had them make an appearance.

When creating the main cast of SaGa Emerald Beyond characters, what were your immediate goals?

Akitoshi Kawazu: Our goal for each protagonist was to offer a completely unique experience. To achieve this, we prepared a variety of characters with distinct cultural backgrounds in addition to different abilities and visuals.

Were there any potential leads you wanted to try and include, but couldn’t?

Akitoshi Kawazu: There are indeed characters that couldn’t be included, but it’s probably best not to mention them. After all, there might be an opportunity for them to appear somewhere else.

In the case of Bonnie and Formina, we have two heroines in a single story instead of one lead. What influenced their development and direction?

Akitoshi Kawazu: Yes. When I thought of a female duo, the first one that came to mind was Thelma & Louise.

Each of the main characters have certain gimmicks that set them apart as heroes. How did you work on the balance for each one to ensure they’d be at about equal power levels and all be interesting individuals?

Akitoshi Kawazu: We allowed for some variation when it came to a character’s ease of use. More so than maintaining balance, we wanted players to enjoy a different experience with each protagonist.

Image via Square Enix

What artistic influences helped shape SaGa Emerald Beyond and its characters and world?

Akitoshi Kawazu: For the artistic vision, I had a lot of in-depth discussions with members of the art team, especially with the lead artist, Satoshi Kuramochi. We asked him to design characters who encapsulated the essence of video games while having a realistic presence.

How did other forms of media affect the development of characters like the “magical girl” Ameya or vampire Siugnas?

Akitoshi Kawazu: The presence of magical girls in Japanese anime is the basis for Ameya’s design and storyline. I think Siugnas also has less of a traditional vampire feel and is more like a character you might find in a Japanese manga.

Is there any sort of world or situation you wanted to include, but weren’t able to? What would it have entailed?

Akitoshi Kawazu: We were working on designing worlds that were entirely mechanical or had a strong connection with music.

SaGa Emerald Beyond is available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, PC, and mobile devices, and a demo is out now.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.