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SaGa Producer Talks About Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe and The Final Fantasy Legend

2020 is already proving to be quite a year for Square Enix mobile releases. War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius launched worldwide, giving people a Final Fantasy Tactics-sort of game. We also have Romancing SaGa Re:univerSe, a mobile entry in a series that is beginning to enjoy a resurgence in popularity due to the worldwide launches of games like SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions. To help people prepare for the upcoming global debut, Siliconera spoke with SaGa Series Producer Masanori Ichikawa, who also worked as a producer on games like SaGa Scarlet Grace and Romancing SaGa 3, for a Romancing SaGa Re:UniverSe interview.

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Jenni Lada, Siliconera: Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe does a lot of call backing to the original games. For example, a variant of the spark system is there for characters to learn new skills/spells. How did you decide which elements were most important and what did you do to implement them so they would be balanced and fair for a mobile experience?

Masanori Ichikawa: We created this mobile game with the SaGa titles, particularly the Romancing SaGa titles, as the foundation, but what’s important to note is that we didn’t intend on directly porting Romancing SaGa into a mobile game format.

That is the key point.

As with the other SaGa console titles, this game is made in a way so that additional microtransactions aren’t needed to enjoy the game.

Players can play through the game by thinking strategically and by putting in the time. Though this game has a gacha feature, many Japanese players enjoy the game without making any purchases.

I’m sure people who play Japanese mobile games have had experiences such as “I can’t play the game unless I obtain a powerful character through gacha” or “I’d have a great advantage in progressing through the game if I obtain a powerful character,” but this isn’t the case with Re;univerSe.

We’ve made this game in order to convey the enjoyable aspects of the SaGa series, such as the fun battles and the character growth system. The Final Fantasy Legend was released by Square 30 years ago and was the first RPG to be on the Game Boy. Back then, people thought RPGs wouldn’t work well on the Game Boy, but Square went ahead with the release. It went on to be a big hit, becoming the first Square title to achieve the million-copy benchmark.

For this title as well, I think it’s important to have unique strategies which are out of the norm for mobile games.

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Romancing SaGa Re:univerSe tends to prioritize stats, whose growth rate is determined by the character’s current style, as opposed to other mobile RPGs in which earning EXP and levels is what generally matters most. What led to this decision?

Ichikawa: “Levels” actually don’t exist in the original Romancing SaGa titles; instead, they have a system in which each character’s various stats go up. Even weak characters become strong depending on the number of battles they experience.

Also, in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, an A-rarity unit and an SS-rarity unit of the same character share EXP and stats. Wouldn’t it be boring if you obtain powerful characters through gacha, level them up, and that’s the end of it?

Speaking of stats, I noticed while I was playing the beta that it can take quite a lot of time to make a newly acquired character effective. What kind of balancing will be considered to help?

Ichikawa: First, going on Expeditions will help you grow your characters very efficiently. Expedition tickets are distributed in various parts of the game. And as mentioned before, styles with the same base character will share EXP, so it will be easy to level them up.

Additionally, you can exchange other characters’ Pieces into Gold Pieces, which you can use for characters you want to strengthen.

Can you talk about the Style system and what led to it and the different variants of characters being such a big part of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe?

Ichikawa: In many mobile titles, even if you obtain your favorite character, it ends up going to waste if a higher rarity version of that character is released. I’m sure you’ve had that kind of experience before. I’ve never liked those experiences because those are characters that I really like.

I believe a good system is one where you can grow your favorite characters to your heart’s content. This is why we implemented this kind of system.

Are there any Romancing SaGa hallmarks you wanted to work into the game, but couldn’t?

Ichikawa: The free-form scenario system (a system in which the narrative changes depending on the player’s decisions) has not been implemented for this title since the storyline is updated monthly.

The SaGa series hasn’t had the same level of exposure outside of Japan as other Square Enix series like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. Will anything be done to help address that and introduce characters to help familiarize the audience with them?

Ichikawa: In Japan, this year marks the 30th anniversary since the release of The Final Fantasy Legend. In Japan, there was a 10-year hiatus in which no SaGa series titles were released at all, not to mention in the overseas market, which hadn’t seen any releases for a very long period of time.

A few years ago, and though it’s only been one step at a time, we started releasing titles such as Romancing SaGa 2, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions overseas as well. We plan on continuing to release SaGa console titles overseas in the future.

If this title ends up being successful as a business, we would like to release more of our titles in more languages for the overseas audience.

I love SaGa as a series, and I’m sure I’ll keep on loving it moving forward.

I hope many people get a chance to try out the SaGa series, an RPG series that is mysterious and difficult, yet one of a kind and unique.

As I’ve went through the closed beta, I’ve noticed I tended to acquire a lot of characters who would be more about dealing as much damage as possible and hadn’t seen as many supporters to help heal the party or inflict status effects. How will the banners in the full release look and what sorts of character breakdowns and SS odds can we expect to see?

Ichikawa: There aren’t many healers in this game. The reason is because battles tend to drag on if there are healers in the party. That said, if players don’t end up obtaining any healer characters through gacha, the game’s difficulty becomes quite high. So midway through in the Japanese version, we decided to distribute a style of a healer called Sophia, which players can obtain even if they play the game casually. 

We are thinking of having two different gacha types in the game, and the pull rate for SS characters will be quite high compared to those of other Japanese RPG mobile titles.

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What sort of feedback has Square Enix been getting from fans outside of Japan since the closed beta began?

Ichikawa: I was anticipating feedback that would be unique to overseas players, but I’m relieved that the feedback is quite similar to that of Japanese players. It seems there are a lot of people, more so than expected, who don’t know the SaGa series but still played the game. This is something we’re truly happy about.

The localization was well received in various countries, but we still need to improve its quality. We will brush it up even more.

We also received some feedback which read something like, “Maybe this game can be played without making any purchases?”

Judging from the reaction of people who played the CBT, it seems a lot of people think that we distributed extra jewels since it’s still in the CBT phase. I may sound like a broken record, but… the reason we are releasing this game overseas is to increase the awareness of the SaGa series.

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Some of the initial Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe events involve dungeons people can go through that last about a week. What sorts of events would you ideally like to run and how would you like to use them to connect to and celebrate the series?

This title has been in operation for already a year in Japan. And in that year, some events went well, while others didn’t. As such, we are planning to make balance adjustments to some of the events for the Global version. Also, we plan on releasing these events at a faster cadence compared to the Japanese version.

How are the Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe Guilds going to work?

We’re putting a lot of attention on doing our best not to force people to play for the guild. In many mobile games, there is a tendency for guilds to move in a direction in which players are forced to participate and play. We are aiming for a game that players can enjoy at their own pace.

Currently, there’s no way to interact with other players in the beta of the game in the way people can in other Square Enix mobile games like Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia and War of the Visions Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. Do you have any multiplayer plans and what could Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe cooperative or competitive modes look like?

As mentioned in the previous answer, our first priority is making sure this is a game that players can enjoy at their own pace.

There is a piece of content in the Japanese version called Conquests, where players work together with others to conquer different areas. Although players battle as a team in this mode, players are not forced to participate in this content if they don’t want to. It is a type of content in which players cooperate by going into battle by themselves.

We are aiming for a game that can be enjoyed at the player’s own pace, without them feeling rushed.

Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe will come to Android and Apple iOS devices worldwide in Summer 2020. The App Store preorder page has a June 23, 2020 “expected” date.

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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.