interview

Romancing Saga Mastermind Discusses Recent Remaster And Desire To Continue Series

by Kimberley Wallace on Dec 23, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Last week, Romancing Saga 2 quietly finally launched in North America for consoles. The game originally came out in 1993 on Super Famicom but didn't make it our shores until recently. The new remaster finally brings the game to PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita, and PC with its share of enhancements, from updated graphics and audio to a new dungeon and character classes. We spoke to series' mastermind Akitoshi Kawazu, who is also known for his work on Final Fantasy I and II alongside The Final Fantasy Legend games, to learn more about what the remaster offers and why now is the time to give the Saga series a shot. 

Discuss what your role has been in this remake and what makes you excited about it.

For starters, I’m the person who initially proposed a remake for Romancing Saga 2, so in that sense, my biggest role was to push forward a project that had difficulties getting realized. As such, what makes me most excited is the fact that we’ve finally reached a moment where the game is being realized on current generation platforms, including the overseas market.

How was it revisiting the game after so many years? What changes did you want to make?

The level of completion of the original Romancing Saga 2 was rather high, and I personally didn’t feel like I would ever need to go back and readjust any particular aspects of the game. When we started work on this project, my sentiment was very similar, and I didn’t feel the need to touch up anything aside from bugs. 

How different is the remaster from the original release? Is this just a visual upgrade or did you add other new features?

The remaster is based on the version that was released in 2010 for a Japanese cellphone device called i-mode. The additional classes, dungeons, and functions incorporated at that time are also implemented in the latest version. The graphics are also improved to support 2K, and the game also supports Xbox Play Anywhere as well as cross-save for PSVita and PS4. 

If so, of the new elements in this remake, which is your favorite and why?

The new features incorporated in 2010 were added by the developers from a fan perspective. Ninjas are also quite popular in Japan. Rather than the particular features in-game, I think my favorite aspect of this remaster is the fact that we were able to support multiple platforms. 

Most westerners haven't had a chance to play Romancing Saga 2, other than its release on mobile devices.  How do you think western RPG fans will react to this release?

When I conducted interviews overseas, there have been numerous instances after an interview where I was asked to release Romancing Saga 2 abroad because they personally like the game. I really got the sense that many media have a genuine love for games. We have finally been able to respond to those demands, but the only regrettable part is that the game is only available in English. Supporting additional languages is harder than increasing platforms, so we’re not sure if this will ever be realized, but it’d be great if we could somehow localize the game little by little. 

Steam is becoming a haven for re-releases and remakes of older games, and that trend seems to be continuing with Japanese developers.  What made you look to Steam for this release?

There are many regions across the world where PCs are highly popular as a gaming device. We selected Steam as a method for reaching out to those regions. 

What is it that sets Romancing SaGa 2 apart from the other games you've worked on?

A unique aspect of Romancing Saga 2 is that the universe and scenario were built around the generation system — this gameplay concept that allows passing abilities from one generation to the next was an initial idea for the game we used as a basis for the game. Saga Frontier 2 proceeded in a similar fashion, but I feel that the level of completion in terms of the game mechanics is far greater in Romancing Saga 2. 

For players who have never played Romancing Saga (or even a Saga game in general), what would you say to convince them to play? 

The main character’s objective is already determined: defeat the final enemy. That said, there are as many paths one can take to reach that goal as there are players of the game. This is an aspect that’s unique to Saga, and particularly Romancing Saga. We would love for you to share your gaming experience with others, as it would be hard to believe you’ve played the same game considering how much your stories differ. Saga is the perfect game for those who want to accompany the main character and the party in an experience unique to each player. 

Talk more about the generation system and what players can expect from it.

The main character is an Emperor. The enemies that need to be defeated are the Seven Heroes. That said, they are no longer heroes, though they are powerful beings, so much as to have once been called heroes. It is no easy feat for the main character to defeat these enemies. The Emperor discovers a way that enables the succession of abilities across generations, and a conflict between the Seven Heroes and the emperors of history begins to unfold. 

When an emperor dies, his abilities are passed down to the next chosen person. There may be instances where the emperor lives out his life, and there may be some instances where the emperor dies in battle. Yes — the in-game losses truly signify the death of the character. A player is unable to save the emperor by resetting their game over and over again. Time flows, and people will be born and people will die. The abilities of the main character you raise will be passed onto the next generation, and the battle against the Seven Heroes will also be carried on. 

At times, an emperor may die before achieving anything or an emperor may cast away his title. An unexpected being may even assume the throne and receive the emperor’s abilities. You, as a player, will be the one that selects who will become the Emperor. That is a decision that will surely change the world.  

Has the tech sparking system changed since the Super Famicom release?  How do you think new players will react to this mechanic?

Nothing has changed when it comes to the tech sparking system in Romancing Saga 2. The spark and the techniques make the battles in Romancing Saga 2 extremely exciting. Those new to the game may perhaps feel a greater sense of excitement from experiencing the system for the first time. 

What has the Saga series meant to you? What do you feel is its legacy for role-playing games?

I’ve been able to connect with players through Saga. It’s a field in which we can continue to propose new types of fun, particularly with the scenario and the battles that provide interesting mechanics. I would still like to continue this evolution by creating new games, so it may be a bit too early to speak about its legacy. 

The enhanced version of Romancing Saga 2 is now available for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita, PC, iOS, and Android.