We Talk Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe With Masanori Ichikawa

Romancing SaGa Re; univerSe Interview

Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe is finally here and as fans of the Saga series grab their mobiles, we took some time to talk to SaGa Series Producer Masanori Ichikawa about Romancing Saga and the new mobile title it has spawned.

After a protracted wait, fans of the Saga franchise are finally able to return to a much loved universe that stretches as far back as the 1980s. This long-standing franchise brings Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe to mobile gamers this month and is now available worldwide. Available on iOS and Android, this classic JRPG for the modern age mixes the pixel art aesthetic and classic turn based combat approach with the fidelity and owner of modern mobile processors. Anybody picking up this adventure will take part in a stand-alone adventure in the SaGa universe and explore the fate of the Child of Destiny as you set out on a sprawling adventure for the ages.

Servers are due to go live for the on the go adventure on the 25 June and just before publisher Square Enix flipped the switch, we got a chance to sit down with SaGa Series Producer Masanori Ichikawa to chat about the new title and heading back into the SaGa universe.

Romancing SaGa Re; univerSe screenshot

Romancing SaGa Re;UniverSe is a part of a beloved franchise with a long lineage. Why return to the franchise this time?

Thank you for interviewing me, GameSpace. My name is Masanori Ichikawa, the SaGa series producer at SQUARE ENIX.
The SaGa series holds a very unique position within SQUARE ENIX.
Since it’s been our constant goal to create RPGs with new game systems, we hadn’t been able to look back on past titles and release them as ported or remastered versions until recently, even though we had a large number of fans for each of the titles. This has also been the case with our outreach to the overseas market.
This was due to Mr. Akitoshi Kawazu, the series creator, and his strong desire to constantly create something new.
Though I started out as just one of the SaGa fanboys, I eventually became the producer of the series, and from then, I wanted to change that sort of environment.
As a part of this change, I made the remastered versions of Romancing SaGa 2 and Romancing SaGa 3 available outside of Japan as well, but I believe it will take much more time to increase the SaGa brand awareness overseas. I wanted to release this free-to-play game overseas with the hope that people will become more acquainted with the SaGa brand.

This adventure is a standalone quest set many years after Romancing SaGa 3. How much of the world are fans of the franchise likely to recognise?

This is a game that can most definitely be enjoyed by SaGa series fans, but also by people who have never played a SaGa game.

The SaGa series is comprised of music by the likes of Kenji Ito; illustrations designed by Tomomi Kobayashi; game design, as well as scenarios, by Mr. Akitoshi Kawazu; and game mechanics that have had a big impact on many games and creators that followed.
We’ve taken these points as the essence of the SaGa series and incorporated them into this mobile game.

Romancing SaGa Re; univerSe chracters

It looks like there are tons of characters to collect and teams to make here. Will we recognise any of them or are they all brand new?

This is a game that would naturally be enjoyable for people who like the Romancing SaGa series or the SaGa Frontier series.
Furthermore, I think you’ll find the new characters are extremely intriguing in their own right.

This is the first time a Romancing SaGa game was designed for mobile. How has the series adapted to mobile and was it challenging to fit onto mobile?

Romancing SaGa 2, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMIBITIONS have been released on mobile so I hope everyone gives them a try. But I’m assuming this question is about fitting the series into a free-to-play mobile title, so I’ll answer under that assumption.

My biggest goal is to make people fall in love with the SaGa series by having them play this game.

As such, we need to be conscious in operating the game with our utmost care. This is something I ask the team to be very thorough about, just like with the Japanese version.

This can’t be accomplished if the game is made in a way that strongly compels players to make in-game purchases.

That is exactly why we didn’t make this into a pay-to-win game.

Additionally, our goal is to have players build affinity for the characters, so we created a system in which players can enhance their characters to their heart’s content, even though I feel this goes against the grain when looking at it from a revenue/business perspective.

Furthermore, even though I haven’t made direct comparisons to other titles, we do distribute a large number of jewels in the game, which is this game’s “premium” currency.

As such, I believe the game is created in a way that is thoroughly enjoyable for casual gameplay, even without any in-game purchases.

The SaGa Series was one of the first to with non linear progression system, especially for characters. Can we still expect that in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe?

I’m afraid the free-form scenario system is not reflected in this game.
The entertaining aspects of battles from the SaGa series have been implemented in this game as the centerpiece.

How do you integrate the more established gatcha / hero collection systems with those more well established SaGa game systems?

First and foremost, we distribute a large number of jewels for free, so players are able to perform summons quite a large number of times.

And on top of that, even units that aren’t of high rarity can become powerful if players enhance them. We are aiming for a game that can be readily completed without making any in-game purchases. Of course, there things that can be purchased with money in-game, but this is not a game where you have to purchase things in order to make it enjoyable.
We also implemented a system called the style system, which reduces the chances of units that you’ve enhanced going to waste.

The Japanese version of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe has been downloaded more than 20 million times. What do you think is the secret of the game’s success?

This game is a great success in Japan. I believe some of the contributing factors to its success are:
– the large number of SaGa fans.
– how we run the game in order to have the players enjoy it.
– its unique game system.
– how entertaining the game is without needing to make any in-game purchases.

This new entry in the SaGa library looks to take lots of inspiration from previous Romancing SaGa titles, especially the pixel art. How do you balance that inspiration with keeping the game relevant to modern audiences?

Pixel art is being recognized again in Japan, and I feel this is also the case overseas.
There have even been events in Japan that only focus on pixel art.
For this title, we’ve portrayed various characters within limited boundaries based on the pixel art of Romancing SaGa 3.
I’m not exactly sure if the pixel art will resonate with the modern-day audience, but I hope that our players enjoy the look of this game.

We’d like to thank Masanori Ichikawa and Square for their time. If you’re looking to find out a little more, why not check out what the creators behind this mobile title have to say about the game. If you want to grab this new adventure, head over to the official website for more detail on Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe.


Written by
For those of you who I’ve not met yet, my name is Ed. After an early indoctrination into PC gaming, years adrift on the unwashed internet, running a successful guild, and testing video games, I turned my hand to writing about them. Now, you will find me squawking across a multitude of sites and even getting to play games now and then

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