Interview with SaGa director Akitoshi Kawazu: SaGa Frontier 2, Romancing SaGa, Future of the Series

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In the recent lead-up to Square-Enix’s recent releases of Legend of Mana and SaGa Frontier Remastered, Square-Enix gave us the opportunity to speak with Akitoshi Kawazu, writer, director and numerous other hats at Square-Enix. Kawazu-san is perhaps most famous for his works with the SaGa series, a JRPG series known for its open and often experimental designs. Our conversation was a brief email exchange prior to Legend of Mana’s release and we’ve included the full Q&A below.

Considering how much lost content has been rediscovered and re-implemented in SaGa Frontier, including the entire Fuse scenario and expansion of other characters, there is content lost for SaGa Frontier 2 that could be reintroduced in the event of a possible remaster in the future?

Akitoshi Kawazu: While there are a few events I’d like to add, we can’t consider specific content until we really start planning. The structure of the scenarios makes them easy to add, so as time and resources allow, I’d like to explore different ideas.

Did the recent success of Romancing SaGa Re;universe contribute directly to the recent number of remasters your team is producing? Does this also give your team more flexibility to take on the projects you have personally invested in?

Remastering previous titles was a project we had been working on separately from Romancing SaGa Re;universe, so they are not directly related. However, the success of Romancing SaGa Re;universe has undoubtedly accelerated the remastering of previous titles. Likewise, it has encouraged the creation of new content.

How can we communicate to the SaGa development team that fans are interested in more SaGa Scarlet Grace localizations and less like Romancing SaGa 2?

If you can voice your opinion on social media or something like that, it will somehow find its way onto the development staff. Rest assured – I’ve heard about this too.

You recently said in a live stream that you want to remaster the rest of the SaGa series, including Unlimited SaGa. That game is notorious for being nearly impenetrable, especially in the West. Was that your intention in making Unlimited SaGa, or would you like to make it more friendly to newcomers?

I think one challenge was that the level system didn’t add much to the underlying fun you’re looking for in RPGs, especially when you weigh it against the sheer amount of cost/resources required to design and create them. The unique map system was a way of realizing the fun of tabletop RPG-style exploration, but because it wasn’t a video game-like approach, it might have been hard for video gamers to embrace.

What kind of changes we need to make, including changes to the unique combat system, we’ll consider sometime in the future.

SaGa Scarlet Grace originally launched in Japan in 2016, marking nearly five years since the last SaGa game came out (excluding Re;universe). Given how much time has passed, I’m sure your team must have some ideas about what the 14th SaGa title would look like in terms of story and setting. Can you share some ideas you have for the future of the SaGa series?

Progress on the next batch entry is already underway, but I can’t go into details at this point.

Many RPG series, from Final Fantasy to Lufia and more, have made the transition from turn-based combat to real-time action combat in one form or another, but SaGa has traditionally remained turn-based through and through. If the SaGa series were to move away from turn-based combat and adapt a new combat system, are there any unique concepts the SaGa development team would like to try in a future title?

There are a lot of well-crafted games in the real-time action genre, so I don’t think there’s much room for us to bring new fun in that area. In addition, we don’t have technology to make games that are more entertaining than those developed by teams dedicated to action games. Speaking of command-based (and not just limited to turn-based) fighting games, I think there’s still plenty of room for us to offer various forms of fun. One thing I’d like to try is VR co-op battles to fight alongside your party members.

Thank you for your time.

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