Interview with Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe producer Masanori Ichikawa

Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe is the latest entry in the storied SaGa series dating back to the GameBoy in 1990. Some will likely remember the first title as The Final Fantasy Legend, but it’s spanned several generations of console and handheld devices before arriving on smartphones as a free-to-play game.

Based on the Romancing SaGa series that released on the Super Famicom in the ’90s (which were recently remade and localized on many platforms) Re;universe makes it’s international debut after an initial release in Japan back in 2018.

SaGa series producer Masanori Ichikawa was kind enough to take our questions below:

We’ve seen several SaGa series games release overseas recently including Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe. What factors led to this?

Thank you for interviewing me, Nova Crystallis. This is Masanori Ichikawa, the producer of the SaGa series. Three titles—Romancing SaGa 2, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS—were recently released overseas were met with very enthusiastic responses from hardcore fans. In Japan, we are celebrating the Saga series’ 30th anniversary this year. I believe the SaGa brand awareness is still low outside of Japan, so we’ve decided to release this title with the hope that more people will play SaGa games. 

What challenges were there in adapting SaGa series gameplay elements to a free-to-play mobile title?

Before anything else, we believe this is a game where players progress in the story by being creative in their strategies and how they upgrade/strengthen characters. It wouldn’t be interesting as a SaGa game if players could easily beat the game by just summoning new characters lots. It was challenging to encapsulate the essence of what makes SaGa games entertaining without making it a pay-to-win game, but I feel like we created a game that is challenging and highly entertaining and leans heavily towards being free-to-play friendly.

Does Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe retain a variety of choice when customizing and strengthening characters or is each character built for a specific situation?

We have various choices available. The units aren’t designed in a way that would limit them to a specific situation.

Even styles of the lowest rarity are designed in a way that makes them useful. A style can inherit skills from another style of the same character. So, in other words, you can transfer your skills and spells amongst different styles of the same character. 

Furthermore, there are different unit rarity tiers—A, S, and SS (which is similar to systems seen in many Japanese mobile games). That said, even A-rarity units can become extremely powerful if you upgrade/enhance the unit. In fact, there are some players in Japan who only use A-rarity units to clear content in the game.

Additionally, if you have A-, S-, and SS-rarity units of the same character, they will share common base stats, so the units that you’ve put resources into won’t go to waste.

All of the characters have a 16-bit style like their original counterparts – was there a reason for keeping this specific style?

This game is based on Romancing SaGa 3, which originally released on the Super Famicon. I personally believe that Romancing SaGa 3 is one of the most graphically beautiful games released for the Super Famicom back in the day. In Japan, Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe was well received because it captures the nostalgia people have for 1995. I hope the game is met with good reception outside of Japan as well.

Characters from other titles in the SaGa series appear in this game – was there pressure in creating a world where they would all coexist?

I would often discuss with Akitoshi Kawazu, who handled the original titles, as well as Moku Tochibori, the scenario writer of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, when working on the game to ensure that we didn’t overstep the lines of the original titles. 

Even now, I reach out to Mr. Kawazu when I face difficulties, because he’s the one that knows anything and everything about SaGa. 

Would Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe be a good place to start if I were completely new to the franchise?

SaGa series titles are perceived as highly difficult and not very accessible, even for people who play regular JRPGs. This is something that we are fully aware of. In Japan, SaGa was released in response to the various JPRGs that came before it, and as such, we do have hardcore fans who enjoy these entertaining aspects that aren’t seen in regular RPGs.

I was hoping to create a game that would serve as a catalyst in conveying the entertaining aspects of the SaGa series, one way or another.  As such, I believe this game would be a great entry point. If you end up enjoying Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, I hope you try out the other, more hardcore SaGa titles already on the market.

After launch, what kind of updates should players expect?

There will be various updates after the launch. We plan to implement updates and add new content at a faster pace than the Japanese version. Additionally, we are considering having original, global-exclusive campaigns and events, also.  

If you could “glimmer” one ability from the game to use in real life, what would it be and why?

The localized ability name is “Scattered Petals”, which is called “Midare Setsugekka” in Japanese and loosely translates to “the intertwining of snow, the moon, and flowers”. “Setsugekka” is an extremely beautiful word used in Japan that portrays the four seasons.

This would be my pick because I like this side of the SaGa series represents beauty along with challenge and strategy. It may take a short while for this skill to be implemented in the global version, but I hope everyone keeps an eye out since it’s a skill with extremely high damage as well.

Romancing SaGa Re;UniverSe is available today on Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon.

Romancing SaGa Re;universe | Introduction From the Creators (Square Enix)

About the Author

Tony Garsow Tony joined Nova Crystallis in 2015, and has spent more than a decade writing in the Final Fantasy community. He also contributes to the Nova Crystallis Twitch and YouTube channels, where you can watch select gameplay highlights, previews, and streams.