Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe Interview – Producer On Hopes and Appealing to the West
DualShockers spoke with SaGa Producer Masanori Ichikawa, answering multiple questions on Re;univerSe, the new Romancing SaGa out now on mobile.
Romancing Saga Re;univerSe, the latest iteration of the Romancing SaGa series, is now available globally on iOS and Android. For the occasion, DualShockers had the opportunity to speak with SaGa series Producer Masanori Ichikawa. We were able to ask him about multiple aspects of Re; univerSe, including the game’s story, accessibility for newcomers to the SaGa series, and how the global version will be handled compared to the Japanese version.
Iyane Agossah: The story of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe is set 300 years after the events of Romancing SaGa 3. Moreover, “300 years” is an important period of time in the Romancing SaGa 3 lore, meaning there should be a strong story link between both games. Can players who didn’t play Romancing SaGa 3 still enjoy the story depicted in Re;univerSe? Is it not too spoiler-ish for players who will try Romancing SaGa 3 later on? In turn, what hints and nods are there for players who did play the game?
Masanori Ichikawa: Hello. I am Masanori Ichikawa, the SaGa series producer at Square Enix. Thank you for interviewing me, DualShockers, and also for playing Romancing SaGa 3. I decided to release Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe overseas with the hopes that it would help increase the SaGa brand awareness outside of Japan. I can assure you that people who haven’t played Romancing SaGa 3 yet can still enjoy this game without worrying about things like spoilers. That said, people who have played Romancing SaGa 3 or other SaGa titles can enjoy the game even more.
Iyane Agossah: Multiple artists are working on Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe‘s illustrations alongside SaGa series iconic illustrator Tomomi Kobayashi. Could you tell us more them?
Masanori Ichikawa: Satoshi Kuramochi, a character designer for SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions, handled the illustrations for the main characters in this title. PUMP, a popular artist in Taiwan, handled the illustration for the character that acts as the player’s guide. There are multiple other Japanese artists who have contributed as well.
(Editor’s Note: Pump is also a talented Mecha and Mecha Musume artist, and handled the illustrations on rhythm game VOEZ. and you can check their Twitter account here )
Iyane Agossah: SaGa games are known for their incredible soundtracks by Kenji Ito. I’ve noticed some of the tracks from past Romancing SaGa games have been rearranged for Re;univerSe, some by Kenji Ito himself. Could you tell us more about the music and composers who worked on the game?
Masanori Ichikawa: There are, of course, in the game tracks from past titles that were composed by Kenji Ito, but also new tracks. And in Japan, we’ve released many SaGa arrangement albums in the past, featuring such arrangements as rock and orchestral, and these kinds of tracks are included in the game, too. Furthermore, we’ve pulled music from the SaGa series as a whole, so tracks from composers such as Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu are also included.
When I look at how the Western fans are enjoying the SaGa games, it seems they enjoy them in the same way Japanese fans do, so I simply hope that more people become aware of how fun these games are and get to play them.
Iyane Agossah: The SaGa series as a whole is known for its very intricate and hidden battle system elements. I imagine it must be quite the challenge to keep these elements for longtime fans, while making the game systems more accessible. Especially as some players might experience their first SaGa game with Re;univerSe.
Masanori Ichikawa: The SaGa series’ battle systems have made an impact on many games and creators in Japan. Such elements as “glimmer” and “formations” are iconic to the series, but we’ve constantly provided new types of battle systems in each of the SaGa installments. I hope you give them a try. We took the SaGa battle elements of the past 30 years and incorporated them into a readily accessible form—this is how we came up with the battle system for Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe.
It’s a very accessible battle system that can be enjoyed by anyone, but at the same time, it has a great deal of depth to it. This also ties in with the character enhancement system. Unlike many other mobile games, you can dive in deep and enhance your favorite characters to your heart’s content.
The global version will have adjustments made on parts that we feel we could have done better. Additionally, we will also be implementing in-game events at 1.2 times the pace of the Japanese version. We hope to run the game in a more exciting fashion than in Japan.
Iyane Agossah: Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe was first announced in Japan at Tokyo Game Show 2018 and launched there in December 2018, but I was honestly quite surprised to hear the game is now coming west, especially seeing the SaGa franchise is much less popular than other Square Enix IPs outside Japan. Could the releases of Romancing SaGa 2, 3 and SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions have shown there’s a bigger interest for the series in the West?
Masanori Ichikawa: Thank you very much. I do know that there are hardcore fans in the West, but I believe the brand awareness is still low. I feel there are various reasons to this, but I’d like to do something about it. When I look at how the Western fans are enjoying the SaGa games, it seems they enjoy them in the same way Japanese fans do, so I simply hope that more people become aware of how fun these games are and get to play them. I hope to increase the SaGa brand awareness through Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, as arguably it is the most accessible SaGa game to date. If you find the SaGa series interesting through this game, I hope you try out the other SaGa titles as well.
Iyane Agossah: In terms of events, characters and content updates in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, can we have more details regarding how much time it will take for content from the Japanese version to reach the global version?
Masanori Ichikawa: We plan to provide the same content as the Japanese version but after making balance adjustments and such. And because of this, there will inevitably be a time lag. That said, since we’ll implement the content first in the Japanese version, the global version will have adjustments made on parts that we feel we could have done better. Additionally, we will also be implementing in-game events at 1.2 times the pace of the Japanese version. We hope to run the game in a more exciting fashion than in Japan.
Iyane Agossah: Re;univerSe follows the releases of Romancing SaGa 2, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions. Is it safe to assume we’ll be regularly getting SaGa games in the West now?
Masanori Ichikawa: I hope to release more SaGa titles in the West. We developed Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe with the hopes of increasing the SaGa brand awareness. The players’ voices will make this possible. I hope you all give the SaGa series a chance.
Iyane Agossah: Do you have a specific message you would like to share with the SaGa series Western fans and the readers of DualShockers?
Masanori Ichikawa: Though not many people still may not be fully aware, the SaGa series is a popular JRPG series in Japan from Square Enix. My wish is to have people around the world experience how fun the SaGa series is. Since the games are highly difficult and have points that make it feel challenging to get into, our expansion into the overseas market has taken some time. That said, it’s a very fun series once you really get into it, so I hope you give it a try. Additionally, thank you to all of you who have supported us. It’s because of you that we were able to expand into the overseas market in recent years. And thank you, DualShockers!
Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, available now on iOS and Android, is the latest Romancing Saga game to date and is celebrating its 1.5th anniversary in Japan.
Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe is definitely an interesting endeavor and I wish it all the best for its global version. I’ll personally try out Re;univerSe as well as I greatly enjoyed Romancing SaGa 3. I would like to thank once again Masanori Ichikawa for answering our questions, along with Jacqueline and all of the Square Enix PR team.