It’s been a good few years for SaGa fans. Square Enix not only released the new Romancing SaGa Re;UniverSe mobile game worldwide, but also a remastered version of SaGa Frontier. Square Enix even brought back more older games with Collection of SaGa. To get a better idea of what went into both games, Siliconera spoke to Producer Masanori Ichikawa and Producer Hiroyuki Miura about all three games.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: Based on usage statistics, how have global users of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe responded to banners featuring characters from games that didn’t appear worldwide?
Masanori Ichikawa, Square Enix: I was surprised that the reactions we received were better than we had expected. I believe there are various factors that contributed to this, but it seems like popular characters in Japan also spontaneously became popular overseas as well.
Characters originally from Romancing SaGa 3 but featured in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, such as Matriarch, seem to be spontaneously getting popular as well. I initially thought there would be a difference in reactions between Japan and overseas on these points.
What especially surprised me was how very successful the Saga Prefecture collaboration characters were. The project started with a play on words, as SaGa and Saga Prefecture have the same pronunciation—I don’t think many people overseas knew of Saga Prefecture before this, but the collaboration characters were very popular.
Which events have been most popular in the global version of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe? How has the reception compared or differed from the response in Japan?
Ichikawa: The Saga Prefecture collaboration and 1st anniversary events were popular, but it seems conquests have been the most popular overall. As for the Saga Prefecture collaboration, given that it is a collaboration with a prefecture in Japan which many overseas players likely were not aware of, we were worried about what kind of reactions we would get.
Of course, we didn’t have this same concern with Japanese players. However, this collaboration ended up being very popular amongst overseas players, with people embracing the various Japanese elements, such as the traditional Japanese clothing. This was a surprise, as we thought there would of course be some differences in the reactions between Japan and overseas, but in the end, the reactions ended up being similar.
In the Global version, we decided implement the characters that were released in the Japanese version when SaGa Frontier Remastered launched much earlier than if we had stuck to our regular schedule. From our perspective as the developers of the game, we thought this would be quite a surprise for the fans, but it seems they were perplexed, as they were waiting for a different character—Matriarch. This is a takeaway for the future. I believe the bottom line is that we need to communicate more with the community.
With SaGa Frontier Remastered, so much lost content was restored. What was the most challenging element to restore?
Hiroyuki Miura, Square Enix: The Fuse scenario, which was the biggest additional element, involved a lot of people and took a lot of time to develop. As we didn’t have much data, like text, from when the original was developed, it was a lot of work to create the scenario based on concept alone. That said, it was also fun as we were developing something new.
The SaGa Frontier Remastered release involved making the game look better and bringing back things thought to possibly be lost forever. How might this change how remasters are handled going forward?
Ichikawa: Thanks to many people, we are now able to revive elements which were considered lost in the past, and also pursue game pace and playability for the modern era, which we weren’t able to do with the remastering of Romancing SaGa 2 or Romancing SaGa 3. We were able to do this because of the prowess of Hiroyuki Miura and Naofumi Ueno, the producer and director of SaGa Frontier Remastered respectively. Moving forward, I believe we’ll continue to apply this remastering approach to the remaining series titles. Additionally, Kawazu-san was part of a lot of the development work for SaGa Frontier Remastered, which I believe had a positive effect in improving the quality of the game.
Miura: Through the direction we took with remastering the graphics and how we handled the additional elements, I believe we were able to present a new form of remastering that fans were looking for. On the other hand, as each title in the SaGa series has its own characteristics, the approach we took for SaGa Frontier Remastered can’t necessarily be applied to every title. As such, I believe we’ll take the SaGa Frontier remastering direction as a foundation and come up with a remastering approach for each title to leverage each of their own characteristics.
Is there anything you didn’t get to include in and do for Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend? What would have been your dream extra edition for this game?
Miura: The concept of Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend was to replicate and deliver the Game Boy titles as they were back then in commemoration of the 30th anniversary, and we were able to realize that as planned. If there is another opportunity, it may be a good idea to release another lineup as a collection.
Given the increased worldwide appreciation for the SaGa series, what would be your dream restoration or remaster project for the series? Which title would you most like to return to, if time and money weren’t an object?
Ichikawa: In the current environment, there are still some titles in the SaGa series that can’t be played easily on modern platforms. Romancing Saga 1, Romancing SaGa 1 Minstrel Song, SaGa Frontier 2, and Unlimited Saga are among the titles for which we get a lot of requests. I believe it is our mission to first make an environment in which these games are playable on latest hardware. After that, we would like to create remakes.