With the release of Doraemon: Story of Seasons this week, Secret of Mana character designer and current Studio Brownies head Shinichi Kameoka had the opportunity to reminiscence about the release of the game back in the days of no internet, and no aftercare in his latest company blog post.
Here are the highlights:
“With Doraemon: Story of Seasons, we have many new staff who are making their debut game. I very much wanted them to experience this moment, so I think it was great that they were able to experience the analogue moment [of releasing a physical game] while the times still haven’t progressed that far ahead.
Thinking back to my own debut game, that would be Secret of Mana, released 26 years ago under old Squaresoft.
It was an age where we weren’t connected to the internet, so every time we created a new ROM we’d need to take the Shinkansen train to Nintendo’s place in Kyoto in person… Although back then we were at the forefront of the computer games business, looking back now it was an analogue experience that wouldn’t even be believable today.
Regarding the day of release, which I’d never forget, back then labor law wasn’t strict, and any game company worked under conditions that would get a company called a ‘black company’ nowadays. There were no weekend breaks, and for 2-3 months we’d basically be living at the company offices doing debugging work.
However, after mastering up the game, Squaresoft would give us 2-3 months of break, so we were still working in a pretty good environment.
Most of the time, game releases would fall under this break period, so having the staff would gather together to go to the store and share the emotions of releasing a game aren’t something I remember happening often. Therefore, with Secret of Mana, I walked down to the toy store by myself, and dawdled around the store for a long time seeing what sort of people’d buy my game.
As for aftercare, as there wasn’t an internet network environment, when bugs appeared they weren’t easily fixed with a patch, and so when big glitches and bugs appeared, it would cause a lot of problems for our players.
Compared to that age, although this isn’t limited to game development, with the coming of the internet age and how convenient things have become, we’ve really entered a nice age.”
Secret of Mana released on the Super Nintendo.