With the launch of Legend of Mana Remastered on consoles today, and PC to follow, here’s a brief Q&A interview with the game’s producer, Masaru Oyamada, regarding the title, as well as briefly touching on the future of the series moving forward.
Some of you dear readers may remember that this site is home to someone who loves a certain Mana series game…
GamerBraves: How “canon” is this story to the Mana series timeline, since this is considered a spin-off game?
Masashi Oyamada: This title is the fourth title in the Mana series. This tale does not link to the other numbering titles, but the developer team have infused elements and contents which will definitely be more enjoyable, if you have played the other series.
The Mana series, excluding some sequel titles, usually does not link to other Mana titles.
GB: After the 3D / voiced remakes for the other mainline Mana series games, why “only” a remaster for LOM? What would you do for a remake?
MO: As this is a title which is so free and rich in volume, it was difficult to make the choice of proceeding as a developer, or a fan. In either case, there isn’t really much consideration for a remake unless we can find a method to express the unique feel of LoM graphically.
GB: What influenced the decision to remaster this game anyway?
MO: As a producer of the series, there was a goal to make as many titles available to be enjoyed in modern machines and consoles. But as the original LoM was only released in Japan and North America, one of our especial wishes was to make this title globally available as soon as possible.
There was an option of, simply porting the original title, but noticeable roughness of the graphics were inevitable using the current high definition monitors. This title was highly rated for the picture-book like view or the world and beautiful graphics at the time and therefore, the HD remaster was the choice so players of the original title could feel right, as well as to deliver the authentic unique atmosphere of LoM to first time players.
GB: What’s the remastering process like? How difficult was it, considering it’s such an old game?
MO: Remastering may be seen as a simple porting procedure, but as it get compared to the original work, I actually think it is more challenging in a way than creating something new. I personally thought this was the most difficult title in the past as I already knew that the enthusiasm of the original fans for this title were very high.
The biggest difficulty is the fact that, nostalgic memories of playing experiences are glorified especially if it was enjoyed. We tried to be extra careful not to cause any visionary confliction between the beautified memories and high resolution remaster upon first sight.
GB: Something you felt you learnt during the process?
MO: We started by excavating development data at that time and there were moments when I got lost in time by finding numerous settings and data which were definitely interesting to take a glance at. Coming across private notes and conversation records, I was also able to visualize the strong young passion of developers who are now the key persons of such a big title which definitely encouraged my motivation.
GB: Are the secret bonuses still in? (Ed. note: The original game had additional bonuses for having save files from Chocobo Racing and Final Fantasy VIII.)
MO: Any contents which required data from other titles are all accessible and playable.
In this title, Chocobo will not be your first pet, but no worries. Does not mean you can’t make them into a comrade!
GB: Talk more about the additional features added to the game; e.g. the quality of life features such as disabling enemy encounters, or the gallery/soundtrack options? What else did you put in?
MO: As a basic principal, the aim was to implement user-friendly functions to satisfy players of the original game. Auto save and save anywhere were functions to meet the modern convenience and demands. But to prevent being stuck or trapped, please note that there are sections of maps where it is not possible to save.
There are setting which may not be a necessary option for first time players, but is definitely an attentive function for users who have played the original and/or players who will dive deep into the game.
GB: Who made the decision to also include new soundtrack arrangements? Why?
MO: Before laying hands on the remastering process, the original music was already great to the ear and the initial plan was to keep them. But as we have told Ms. Yoko Shimomura about the remaster version initiation, we kindly received the will for manipulation of the original audio.
It is very unlikely to go this far for audio in a remastering title, but to meet the strong passion of Ms. Shimomura, we involved the sound engineering team to record the beautifully arranged tracks.
GB: Besides adding it to the remaster, any changes you’ve made to Ring Ring Land? Why was it limited to the PocketStation anyway?
MO: There are no changes except for the adjustment of the display bugs. I am not exactly sure why it was limited to PocketStation at that time. But thinking back on it, taking it out of the home to bring-up your buddy and then going back home and linking it with the PlayStation, I personally recall this as an exciting experience.
GB: Moving forward, what do you personally see for the Mana series’ future?
MO: There are just so much emotion and thoughts. I would like to strive to create a status where titles with high demands are playable at modern standards, while also working hard to bring you completely new titles. I wish for the titles that we enjoyed playing as children, to be a title that could be enjoyed with our own children too.
GB: The Mana series as a whole is 30 years old now. Looking back on it, what have you learnt?
MO: This series is forged by strong passion and love of many people. Not only by developers, but the strong supporting emotion and feeling of the users, I have felt that this is a sequel of work which is loved at a global scale. I will work hard so this series could be loved for more decades to come.
With the Mana series’ 30th anniversary stream coming up on 27 June, it’s pretty understandable that Masaru Oyamada, or anyone else on the team, did not talk about the possibility of a sequel or future games, because you bet it was asked for this interview. You can tune in on Youtube here.
In any case, we hope you enjoy your trip of Fa’Diel! Check out our Land Placement guide so that you can at least unlock everything the game has to offer.