Geschrieben von Max Kluge am 12.10.2019
At gamescom we had the opportunity to interview two of the producers of Trials of Mana, Masaru Oyamada and Shinichi Tatsuke. This time we were accompanied by our colleague Kira Berger from gamers.at.
Kira: Why did you go back to the game and remake it?
Oyamada: So we've put out Seiken Densetsu Collection in Japan and included Seiken Densetsu 3, which had never been sold outside of Japan and had never been localized – so we thought it would be a tough thing to bring it to the Western market. But when Collection of Mana came out there were so many people from Europe and elsewhere who were very verbal about the fact that they wanted to have a chance to play the game too. And that was when we realized that we wanted to release the game in the West, and more than that: For people who are completely new to the game I wanted to give them an updated version that is a completely new experience.
Max: When I saw the remake of Trials of Mana the first time, it was very striking to me that the perspective has changed. It is not this top-down view anymore but a third-person perspective. Why did you choose that visual style?
Oyamada: Since this is the first time the game is being released to audiences outside of Japan, we wanted to make sure it does look modern and contemporary. Of course, having the camera top-down has a retro feeling to it. It has it's own appeal but it also has the feel of not being recent. On top of that, we wanted to make sure the users feel as immersed as possible in the world, and so we decided to go with a third-person view.
Kira: Did you try and go for exactly the same game just with upgraded graphics and keep the story as it is? Did you change the gameplay?
Oyamada: The feel of the world, the vibe of it, and the characters are all the same. However, since it's been 25 years since the game initially released, we tried to reimagine things like the battle system, the UI, and more of those things – as if the game had been made currently.
Max: Will there be changes to the environment, the levels, and the level design or any new content?
Oyamada: Generally speaking, you should think of it as fairly different from the original. Of course, things as the world or the character design have been kept the same but the enemies and the enemy behavior for example have been revamped and redone. Besides, of course, enemies that have a certain relevance to the story. We kept those as they were.
Kira: Secret of Mana was remade recently and had some issues at launch. The game kept crashing for many players. Was there anything you've learned from remaking Secret of Mana in regards for Trials of Mana?
Oyamada: As far as the crashes go, that was largely due to the fact that we were using an engine we didn't have much experience with. But this time we used the Unreal Engine, which is something our people are far more experienced with. I think you can expect a higher quality this time.
Kira: Oh, it was a great game though!
Oyamada: [laughs] Thank you!
Max: In the beginning of the original game you got to choose a main character and two companions. Can you tell our readers what the impact of this decision will be in the remake of Trials of Mana. In the original it decided which storyline you would follow.
Oyamada: Generally speaking, the game is structured in the same way, where there are six characters from which you choose a protagonist and two friends to go with her/him. And based on the combination you choose there will be big differences to the story. However, this time, thanks to some additional text and additional content that we put in, the effects that those changes have on the story are more deeply felt and appear more clearly in the world around you.
Kira: Speaking of multiplayer: Will there be couch co-op like in the original or did you think about online multiplayer?
Oyamada: It isn't in the game. We considered to have it in but ultimately the top-down camera was much more suited to multiplayer than the third-person perspective. So we decided that it was more important to us to prioritize giving the player a higher immersion in the game.
Tatsuke: We also considered having online multiplayer but we realized if we wanted to add that, we'd need to add a lot more elements that are required for that. We were afraid that it would ultimately end up in that gray area between singleplayer and multiplayer, so we decided to make it as perfect as possible for a singleplayer game.
Max: With that kind of setup, have you already considered making more remakes or maybe a new iteration for the series?
Oyamada: That is definitely something we think about but it is a question of timing, what people most want to see, and optimization for which platform we want to publish it mainly, when we come to think about the game.
Kira: What is your favorite part of the remake?
Oyamada: I really like the battle system. It is considerably different from the original game. The original game – yes it was an action RPG – but it was also an action RPG of the times. So playing it now feels overly simplified. What I really enjoyed in the new game, is having a battle system that not only is more evolved but also portraits more of the unique attributes of the different characters.
Tatsuke: It is really hard to say what I love about the one or the other. They both are really important in their own ways and I love both of them a lot. When I was a kid, I played the Mana games a lot, and I really wanted to be involved in them, so I really can‘t compare them because they are of equal importance to me.
Max: So do you have a favorite character in the game since you feel emotionally bonded to it?
Tastuke: As far as the protagonists go, it would have to be Duran, but I am really kind of attached to the Rabites and Flammie, a white dragon that flies in the sky. I really like the creatures of the world.
Kira: When you started this project, there obviously was a lot that you needed to change. Where did you start? Did you first come up with the new battle system?
Oyamada: We actually started with remaking the graphics. And when we were sure about what the graphics would look like, we went on to make the battle system. Because if you would have tried to use the original battle system with graphics like this, it wouldn't have really worked.
Max: What was your biggest challenge developing the game for Nintendo Switch?
Oyamada: For me personally it was trying to figure out how to show what I wanted to show, both in portable mode and on the TV screen. When it comes to portable mode, the sizes are so different, so I wanted to make sure that all the characters look like I wanted them to look and that all the characters could be read. So it was kind of difficult to find a good balance between the two modes.
Kira: The audiovisual presentation has changed as well. Did you try to stick to the original or did you try something that fits this new game? How was your approach?
Oyamada: We definitely kept as much as we felt suitable of the original version. The Super Nintendo version had a fabulous soundtrack. So we made sure not just to keep the image of the world of Mana, but made sure that the sounds matched the 3D look. But some of the more recognizable sounds, for example the ring command sounds, we kept as close to the original as possible.
Kira: What would you want your fans to like the most about the game? What would be the ideal fan reaction – especially from people who played it before?
Oyamada: We know that there were a lot of elements in the Super Nintendo version that weren't fully expressed on that console – because of lack of space or technology. I really hope that people who played it before will have just as much fun as they had back then. In addition to that, there are a lot of things that we managed to improve upon. And I hope that there will be a lot of parts that these players will find and say: „Oh, actually I didn't realize that it was like that, now I see!“ And of course I hope for a lot of new discoveries for them to find along the way.
Thank you very much for the interview!