Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe Interview – Setting the Foundation for the SaGa Series in the West

Square Enix has plenty of beloved RPG series, but one that I’ve always felt deserves more fans is the SaGa series. Each entry has a way of allowing players to go on a true RPG adventure, whether it be through non-linear story progression or learning new skills in battles.

Recently, the west has received two notable entries of the series with SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions and Romancing SaGa 3. However, the team is still eager to share more of this universe with the global release of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe on iOS and Android.

We had the opportunity to speak with SaGa producer Masanori Ichikawa to learn more about this mobile adaptation and the future of the series.

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Azario Lopez: The SaGa series has a long history, both in and out of the game, given that it is now 30 years old. How has that shaped the development of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, and what have you included in this game that draws from that history?

Masanori Ichikawa: Thank you for interviewing me, Noisy Pixel. I love pixel art, too. My name is Masanori Ichikawa, and I am the producer of the SaGa series from Square Enix. I’m working to get everyone excited about the SaGa series.

Recently, we released titles like Romancing SaGa 2, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS outside of Japan. It’s my hope that more people will get to know the SaGa series, and for that, I needed to create a game in a form that was easiest to pick up. And I thought it would be ideal if that game included content that tied together various things happening throughout the SaGa series. A game through which we could deliver things like unreleased SaGa tracks and episodes portrayed by the SaGa stage plays, for example.

Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe has been created as a place for things like that. I think of it as something that connects all the SaGa worlds and brings them back to life.

AL: The SaGa series has been known for its non-linear story elements. Does that feature appear in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, or does the story mainly focus on Polka and Liz?

MI: Unfortunately, this game does not include non-linear story elements. However, it does include a great deal of the essence of growth and battling from the SaGa series.

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AL: Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe has some strategical elements in battles that make it unlike most casual mobile games. Was this approach taken to give players an authentic SaGa experience on mobile? Were there ever talks about making it easier, and how was the difficulty balance approached during development?

MI: The entire team, including not only the team at Square Enix but also at our partner Akatsuki, has been developing this game with the aim of getting more people familiar with the SaGa series.
Strategic battles have been built into the game, and they must be overcome in order to move forward.

Additionally, this game:

  • Is not pay-to-win.
  • Does not let the characters you’ve invested resources into go to waste.

These are the points we took to heart during development.

AL: SaGa has always featured a skill system where characters learn new skills and spells in battle. Was it difficult to streamline that feature into Re;univerSe without causing confusion or making it too complicated for mobile devices?

MI: A character’s learnable skills and spells are predetermined based on that character’s style, but if you have a character with a desirable skill, you can have another character Inherit it, as long as those characters have the same name.

Because of this, I think you’ll find that the joy of upgrading and enhancing your characters is now more complex in this title.

We developed the game while paying careful attention to how we could take the essence of SaGa and drop that into a mobile game.

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AL: Since Romancing SaGa 3 is now available in the west on modern consoles, would you suggest that gamers play through the series before jumping into Re;univerSe or is this a good entry point into the series?

MI: It doesn’t matter at all which game you play first. They’re both fun. I hope that people with an interest in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe will also play Romancing SaGa 3, Romancing SaGa 2, and SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS. They’re all really fun.

AL: Given the free-to-play nature of Re;univerSe, was it challenging to balance not only the gacha mechanics but also the premium currency systems for a SaGa title?

MI: You’re still able to perform a lot of summons even if you don’t spend money in the game. The characters you’ve invested resources in don’t go to waste. Characters with the same name can Inherit skills/spells. Even characters of low rarity become very powerful if you upgrade/enhance them, so this game is not pay-to-win. These points have been central to our development of this game.

AL: Are there plans for any future collaborations with other Square Enix IPs? I’m not opposed to seeing 2B from NieR:Automata in my SaGa party.

MI: Not all the SaGa characters have come out yet in the Japanese version, so I believe this is something we’ll need to think about later on. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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AL: I’d like to point out that whenever I’m asked about my favorite game ever, I always say SaGa Frontier 2. So since I have this opportunity, will the team ever revisit the SaGa Frontier? But I think the bigger question is, will we see a new SaGa title developed for consoles?

MI: SaGa Frontier and SaGa Frontier 2 are two of the games that are most important to me, too. And currently, I’m in the process of actively archiving past SaGa games and releasing them outside of Japan as well.

I think that’s something that will be ongoing as we move forward. That’s all I can say for now, but that’s the gist of it.

The SaGa series simply isn’t as recognized outside of Japan, so I want to put lots of different titles

AL: Is there anything you’d like to say to fans looking forward to Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe?

MI: It’s my goal as the producer of the SaGa series to make the series as a whole more well-known around the world.

My hope is that you’ll start by just picking Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe up and giving it a casual try, and if you’re interested, I hope you’ll try playing the multitude of other games in the SaGa series as well.

Romancing SaGa Re;Universe is available now for iOS and Android.

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.