The Front Mission series has seen a small resurgence with a series of remakes for not only the first game but the second and third as well, all coming to the Switch. We got a chance to interview the remake series’ Co-Art Director Cédric Ricci and Co-Producer Benjamin Anseaume who told us more about how the Front Mission Remake and its sequels came to fruition.
Cédric is an experienced freelance Art Director and is the CEO of TA Publishing, a subsidiary of Forever Entertainment that specializes in indy and AA games. The Front Mission Remakes were developed and published by Forever Entertainment in partnership with the original IP holder Square Enix.
In one of the questions, Benjamin said they were given the Front Mission license following the success of their Panzer Dragoon Remake with Sega. From there, they told us more about recreating the cult classic mecha strategy game and bringing it back to modern consoles.
Despite the original Front Mission being published by Square Enix, the Remakes were developed and published by Forever Entertainment. Could you talk about why Forever Entertainment was uniquely qualified to produce the Front Mission Remakes?
Benjamin Anseaume: After the success of our Panzer Dragoon remake, both players and intellectual property owners began to recognize Forever Entertainment as a reliable and trustworthy company for working on IPs. As a result, when we had the opportunity to work on the Front Mission remakes, we were able to draw on our experience and expertise to create a high-quality product.
Additionally, we have a strong attachment to the Front Mission franchise and were eager to take on the challenge of bringing the game to a new generation of players. We are honored to have been given the opportunity to produce these remakes and are thrilled with the positive response they have received.
Since the original Front Mission was made for the Super Famicom/PlayStation, could you tell us more about how the game was updated for modern consoles?
Cédric Ricci: Outside the transition from 2D to 3D, the most fundamental addition in the remake revolves around the 3D camera system (free camera in modern mode) and the addition of a strategic map. These new functionalities give entirely new opportunities to strategize and understand the battlefield. We also incorporated more difficulty options, to make the game accessible to new players, and offer new challenges to long-time players. We also sped up game phases, and offer more customization options to set a more personalized game pace.
Following the last question, what do you think is the most important aspect of Front Mission to recreate?
Cédric Ricci: During the development of the remake, the most important aspect to us was to keep the gameplay mechanics, UI logic, mission map designs, and narrative, as close to the original game as possible.
It was also to ensure that existing original official game guidebooks, FAQs, Wiki information, and strategies remained relevant. The task was challenging as our remake is not a port like the Nintendo DS version. It’s rebuilt from the ground up.
We’ve heard that the original Front Mission Wanzers (mechs) were based on model kits and how they’d slot together. Was it difficult to recreate these mech designs as 3D models for the remake?
Cédric Ricci: It is true that Hironobu Sakaguchi is a big fan of Pla-models, Ko Yokohama mostly worked on concept Wanzers sculptures and different other diorama scenes, like the ones you can see in the Front Mission in The Huffman Artbook. These inspirational 3D sculptures served as a base for the pixel artists to iterate and create all the different Wanzers for the game.
What was the most difficult for us was recreating the Wanzers in 3D as well as respecting both their 2D sprites’ designs and considering their evolution as 3D models in the next episodes of the series.
With the first remake being released, is there any feedback from players that you are hoping to incorporate into the remakes of the 2nd and 3rd that are currently in development?
Benjamin Anseaume: We received a lot of feedback from our audience and players, and we maintain a close relationship with them through our Discord server and social media channels. We listened to their input and incorporated many of their suggestions into Front Mission 2 and 3 while staying true to the original games. Additionally, many of the issues that were present in Front Mission 1st were addressed in the sequels.
Developing and announcing three subsequent titles sounds pretty intimidating, what was the process like producing each of these games practically back-to-back?
Cédric Ricci: What was fundamental to us was to unify the Wanzers 3D models between the 3 episodes (Wanzer types that appear in different episodes, like the Zenith, Frost, etc.). Also, very soon in the project, identifying and formalizing technical elements that have similarities between the 3 games (UI, Gameplay, Wanzers animations and behaviors, etc…), and keeping a cohesive art direction and brand identity between them while still maintaining their specificities.
A game about mecha has become a rather niche genre in recent years. Do you think the Front Mission remakes can pull in new mecha fans or it is more aimed specifically at people that played the originals?
Cédric Ricci: I’m certain that new Mecha fans or robot models kits fans appear every day, it is for sure a very lively community. These new fans, I’m certain, will be interested in a fundamental game series like Front Mission. The long-time fans will find their marks with our remakes, which are very faithful to the original intention.
We are grateful to Cédric and Benjamin for speaking to us for this interview. It’s interesting to see companies like Square Enix and Sega being willing to allow other publishers to handle their older IPs and revive them for modern audiences.
It’s a sad truth that many popular franchises of the past don’t quite get the love their fans wished they did, so allowing others to work on them sounds like a fair way to bring them back in some form.
The Front Mission 1st Remake is available for Nintendo Switch. The Front Mission 2 Remake will be launching on the console on the 12th of June, and the 3rd game remake sometime in the near future.