Square Enix discusses the iPhone remake of Secret Of Mana
Secret Of Mana. one of the greatest Square RPGs of the 16-bit generation, is released on iPhone today. To celebrate, we spoke to Masaru Oyamada, producer of Secret Of Mana for iPhone and Takehiro Ando, producer of Chaos Rings and Song Summoner, to get the lowdown on Square Enix’s philosophy of iOS development.
Masaru Oyamada: I should imagine that the strongest attraction comes from its trademark mechanics such as motion battle and command as well as the universe as it is the main reason for which the franchise has been firmly established. When the original version was released, I bought the game and enjoyed all the adventures with my friends. I still remember how refreshing I found it and how much pleasure I got out of it.
g™: How difficult has it been to port Secret Of Mana to iPhone and what can players expect in terms of new features?
MO: If you are expecting to find something technically new, you may unfortunately be disappointed. However, when we decided to port the title to iPhone, we were determined not to simply end up with a retro game on a modern format. So, Hiromichi Tanaka, the producer of the original version, contributed to the project as the supervisor and many aspects such as the graphics and the interface have been reviewed and optimised. We have been lucky enough to get great support from the localisation team and, as a result, significant improvement is evident in the narrative.
MO: This title is heavily action-orientated. So we spent a lot of time ensuring that the player can operate his character as he wishes. You will have the key-pad hidden behind your own playing fingers and this often causes slight gaps between the actual area that is being operated on and where the player intuitively feels he should be operating. Following this, enough flexibility has been given to it so that these issues would be naturally rectified. I would expect that you would find the game easy to play while experiencing no frustration.
games™: Square Enix has been a big supporter of the iPhone since the start. What is it about the device that is attractive to you?
Takehiro Ando: It is hugely attractive to us that iPhone titles can be enjoyed by worldwide players with no release time lag to be experienced. When it comes to working with the device, it is extremely exciting as I try to optimise each game for the full-touch interface. We had never designed hardware before but iPhone has given us the first challenge to take on.
TA: It is becoming clear to us that consumers tend to look for rich contents from Square Enix. Nowadays, we apply quite a big part of our practice on publishing such games as to be able to compare favourably with ones for mobile phones in addition to casual games.
g™: How do you decide which games to port and which not to? What is it about Secret Of Mana and Final Fantasy Tactics that seemed suitable to the system?
MO: Secret of Mana was released in Japan for mobile phones but the specs were not easily compatible with the phones abroad. When we announced that the game would be released for Japanese mobile phones, we received a big call of demand from overseas users. So we pursued the possibility of porting the title to iPhone in order to deliver it to a global audience.
TA: We make such decisions by actively checking consumer feedback on forums and in reviews and then considering which titles we could attempt to port realistically.
g™: What other retro games can we expect on the iPhone in the future? Is there a way for fans to request their favourites?
TA: I would like to encourage them to make effective use of website reader reviews and online forums, we spend a great deal of time reading these and looking for fan feedback, we can assure you that no request will miss our attention if its posted somewhere online.
Secret Of Mana is available from the iTunes App Store today at £5.49. If there are any other Square Enix games you’d love to see remade on iPhone (especially Seiken Densetsu 3!) then please say so in the comments below.