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[Interview] Trials of Mana devs on the remake, Collection of Mana and localization challenges, series’ future, more

Posted on June 29, 2019 by (@Oni_Dino) in Interviews, Switch

E3 2019 was a fantastic time for Mana fans. Not only was Collection of Mana finally announced for the west, but Trials of Mana was also revealed to be getting a full 3D remake.

At the show, we were treated to a behind-closed-doors gameplay demo, and also met with a few of the game’s developers: producers Shinichi Tatsuke and Masaru Oyamada as well as project assistant Kohei Kuroda. Tatsuke and Oyamada answered a number of our questions about how the Trials of Mana remake came to be, how difficult it was localizing the original game for Collection of Mana, what the future looks like for the series, and more.

Here’s a transcript of our discussion:

When did the team decide to start doing the remake and how long has it been in development?

Tatsuke: We started at the beginning of last year, so it’s been about a year and a half in development. When Collection of Mana came out in Japan, a lot of users expressed interest in it and a desire for it to come outside of Japan as well. They were asking if it was coming out. Amongst those titles, they were especially interested in what was known as Seiken Densetsu 3. And so we decided to move ahead with this at the end of Secret of Mana’s development.

It looks like you will still have a team of three. Are there any details you can share on the possibility of local co-op and/or online co-op?

Tatsuke: So this time we really wanted to focus on single-player, and so single-player is all we’re doing. …Right now we don’t have any plans to (add co-op in an update). We did consider incorporating co-op, however, we really wanted to make this game a great single standalone game, and we didn’t want to kind of try too many new things and not make them perfect basically.

Given that this is a remake, is there any chance for new characters or a new storyline to be added to flesh out the original’s already expansive world?

Tatsuke: As far as the characters go, there are no new characters. We really wanted to stay true to the fact that there are six characters, and these characters each have their own stories, and we really wanted to be able to portray those six stories. Additionally, it’s the first time that this is available outside of Japan, so many people have not tried the original one, and so we wanted to make sure they could experience it. As far as new stories go, please await further information.

We wanted to make sure that these six characters were portrayed in a very captivating way. Among the six characters, there are kind of pairs within those six, and so if we were to add an additional character, it would kind of interfere with the balance.

Are the stories different enough to really encourage repeat play?

Tatsuke: As far as the prologues for each of these characters go, those are completely different depending on the character, and the endings are quite different as well. So is the story – kind of in the middle while you’re progressing through the stories, there are a lot of differences depending on who you choose as well. When it was released in Japan originally, a lot of players really replayed it, and that was one thing that a lot of players enjoyed, and we really to work on it to make it like that here, too. 

I noticed the sound effects are the same as the original.

Tatsuke: I’m surprised that you noticed. The sound effects are very characteristic to this game, so a lot of people might recognize a lot. But yes, you’re absolutely right, it’s very similar.

Was it difficult to translate from the style it was from the old pixel art and change it into this dynamic 3D world?

Tatsuke: Yes, it was difficult, especially when it comes to cutscenes. Of course, going from 2D – something that didn’t have that three-dimensional quality – and making it 3D, we found that sometimes there would be some spacing that would arise that wasn’t there before when it was 2D, and so we needed to kind of make the necessary adjustments for that. In the cutscenes, there were certain portions that the users would fill in the blanks, if you will – in their heads – and we actually had to visualize those portions.

Will there be a class change system like in the original Trials of Mana?

Tatsuke: Yes, there will be.

Is the Switch version targeting any particular frame rate or resolution at this time?

Tatsuke: It is still in development, so please wait on further updates to come.

Regarding the soundtrack to the game, did Hiroki Kikuta return to work on the game? And will there be an option to change between the new and old soundtracks like the Secret of Mana remake had?

Oyamada: Yes, you are able to switch back and forth between the new version and the original versions of the music. Mr. Kikuta was actually in a supervisory role this time around.

Regarding Collection of Mana for the Switch, how long has the localization been in the works for Trials of Mana?

Oyamada: When you think about all of the time spent when we were working on the system side as well, it was quite a long time. But we did work with Nintendo to localize this, and it took about a year total.

Trials of Mana has never been released in English until now. How much of a challenge was it to localize the game? Did old coding from the Super Nintendo cause any issue?

Oyamada: Yes, it was difficult. We really had to kind of go into the structural aspect of the development. And first of all, we had to work with the proportional font, which was a huge issue. We also had to work with the languages in the EU, which were kind of a different set of letters basically. Also, the UI was difficult because the font width was set back then, so we had to make sure that everything fit. One huge issue that we encountered was the ROM capacity in order to incorporate all of the localized text, so we actually had to expand the ROM capacity.

Personally speaking, those exact reasons are why I thought it would never happen.

Tatsuke: The dev team was crying as they worked on it!

Has the translation of Trials of Mana into English resulted in any changes to the original game’s story? And generally speaking, has Collection of Mana been changed or updated in any way compared to the Japanese release?  

Tatsuke: No, so it’s loyal to the original version.

Last year, Oyamada-san mentioned that the Secret of Mana 3D remake could be a possibility for Switch. Has the ship sailed on that, or could a release on Nintendo’s platform still happen?

Oyamada: Right now of course Collection of Mana just came out, and Trials of Mana is coming out, so timing-wise it might not be the best time. But depending on what sort of demand we get and what the fans are requesting, we can definitely consider it, and we’d really like to kind of put out a really good result when the timing is right.

With these amazing announcements, what does the future look like for the Mana series as a whole? Are you hoping these games spark continued interest in the franchise? And could its success lead to a brand new Mana title?

Oyamada: Of course, that would be great as a goal. As a series, we felt that this was great to challenge ourselves with this time. Depending on how the users respond and react to this, we’d like to think about how the future might change on that. So please look forward to that in the future.

The Nintendo community are huge fans of the Mana series, given its roots. Do you have any final comments to the Nintendo fans who are happy to see the series reappearing on Nintendo hardware?

Oyamada: With Collection of Mana, how that came to be was a lot of it was because the fans were really wanting it to come, and they were really requesting it, and after playing Secret of Mana as well. We really would like to have the players keep their expectations high, and we want to be able to meet those expectations. We’ll rise to the occasion and meet those expectations, so we hope that they’ll look forward to what’s to come.

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