Cubed

By Jorge Ba-oh 11.11.2007 5

Square Enix Talks Heroes of Mana
Interview by Adam Riley :: Sunday 11th November 2007


The Mana series has always been seen as one with the potential to be as big as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest for Square Enix and with the World of Mana project, the company is attempting to achieve just that. Cubed3 recently caught up with the team behind the latest DS outing 'Heroes of Mana' to talk over the game and the various hurdles involved in bringing the Mana Universe to the realms of a real-time strategy game.

Cubed3's Adam Riley: How come Nintendo-owned Brownie Brown was chosen to do development this time?

Koichi Ishii-san, Producer of the Mana Series: Brownie Brown is quite familiar with the MANA series, having worked on Sword of Mana in the past, and we felt comfortable collaborating with them once again.

AR: And why take the series in a Real-Time Strategy direction rather than follow in the footsteps of Children of Mana's dungeon-crawling style?

KI: The impetus behind the WORLD OF MANA Project was, and still is, to allow our fans and users to experience the MANA Universe from many different perspectives. The reason we decided to make an RTS title is because the genre itself has not received much exposure in Japan, and we wanted offer our users a chance to experience it.

Experiencing a new genre can be quite enjoyable and exciting. Our aim was to place the RTS genre in the "Favourites" folder of our Japanese users, so to speak. At the same time, we are confident that the gameplay will satisfy our overseas users and RTS veterans alike.

AR: How does the game make use of the DS features? And is online Wi-Fi support definitely going to be included in the Western version? 

KI: RTS games are primarily developed for the PC, and designing one for a portable console, in the case of this title the Nintendo DS, was not an easy task. However, we were overjoyed to discover that there was an excellent synergy between the RTS environment and the DS stylus. It almost seems as if the DS was tailor-made for the RTS genre.

AR: What were some of the obstacles you faced when transferring the Mana series into the world of RTS? 

KI: Since the MANA Universe is so solidly established, it was not difficult for us to adapt it into a new genre. Watching rabites and mushblooms wandering about an RTS field doesn't seem out of place at all--it's rather cute, wouldn't you say?

AR: Sales in Japan were far lower than those of Children of Mana. What do you think the reason for this was and were you disappointed by its poor performance? 

KI: The RTS genre has not yet permeated the gaming culture of Japan to the level that it has in Europe and the United States. HEROES OF MANA was an attempt on our part to "spread the word" on RTS games on the Nintendo DS, a portable console with a very high saturation level in Japan.

It is our belief that we succeeded in creating a highly playable and enjoyable RTS for the DS, and we are confident that we provided the users who did play it with a new, innovative experience. However, people can be wary of the unknown, and perhaps the lack of exposure the RTS genre receives in Japan caused some hesitation.

AR: The story ties into that of Seiken Densetsu 3's. But considering that game was never released in the West, was any consideration given to including an explanation as to how the two tie together?

KI: Though it is true Seiken Densetsu 3 has not been released in Europe, the story of HEROES OF MANA takes place before the events of said title, so not knowing the story of Seiken Densetsu 3 should not hinder the gameplay experience of HEROES OF MANA.

The reason the general world setting of Seiken Densetsu 3 was chosen for this current title was because it revolved around warring states, and thus it appeared ideal for an RTS.

AR: And were any gameplay changes considered for implementation in the Western release?

KI: No drastic changes were to be implemented, but we recommend playing the "Hard Mode" difficulty. It is quite a challenge!

AR: On average how long do you think the game will last and is there anything to encourage the gamer to play through again? 

KI: Overall play time will vary according to play style, but on average, the game can be cleared on normal difficulty in 20-30 hours. But Hard Mode and many other exciting incentives can be found by playing the game through and through. Just playing through normal once would be a waste!

* * *

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Box art for Heroes of Mana
Developer

Brownie Brown

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

Great interview, I'm definatly considering getting this little gem!

Enoch Powell was right, and you know it.

How come you didn't ask if the AI issues were addressed for the EU released? Moving multiple units were a pain sometimes in HoM.

Heroes of Mana is indeed a great game and it's a crying shame it failed to even break into the DS Top 30 Smilie

And jj, several Qs were omitted from the final piece.

Did anyone on C3 pick up the game? I really hope Seiken Densetsu 3 gets a VC release at least.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Lack of advertising really kills any potential games of sales. I'm planning to pick this up after my exams are over, can't wait to play it. I personally thought HoM was great.

Lack of advertising does indeed kill off games that otherwise deserve high sales. Real shame, and I hope that the slow European and US sales don't deter S-E from bringing more Mana titles to Nintendo formats...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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