Square Enix is slowly but surely following through on its promise to return its focus to good old-fashioned JRPGs. As we speak, the classic Japanese developer has at least one entry in its three oldest franchises in the works: Final Fantasy Type-0, Final Fantasy XV, Dragon Quest XI, and SaGa 2015, and that’s not including entries in more recent franchises like Kingdom Hearts III.
Names like these ring a closer bell to Square Enix’s traditional era on the Super Nintendo rather than its experimental days with the PlayStation. If this is a return to form to those days, then we desperately need a new Mana game to finish the circle.
Not to worry because Square Enix hasn’t forgotten about the franchise. In an interview with 4gamer, translated by Siliconera, Rise of Mana Producer Masaru Oyamada has expanded on his outlook for the franchise with hopes for a new major game in 2016, the series’ 25th anniversary.
“With 2016 being Mana‘s 25th, anniversary, I believe it will be a year of making all kinds of preparations for it. We’re working our best so we can offer something to everyone that has been waiting in anticipation.”
Previous comments from Omayada and others within the company have hinted that Square Enix wants to acknowledge older fans of the franchise with a new game they can feel proud of and enjoy from the comfort of on a couch. A legitimate Seiken Densetsu 5 so to say, referring to the next potential entry with the Japanese title.
There is a lot of money to be made from freemium games, but it would be a little cynical to believe Square Enix wants to celebrate 25 years of history with a simple cash-in on the name. I’ll give these executives the benefit of the doubt and believe them when they say they want to do Mana right on a traditional console or handheld. Square Enix has done the same for SaGa with a new entry on the Vita for its 25th anniversary. No reason to believe it will do anything differently with Mana, unless SaGa 2015 flops of course.
The main question is how does Mana establish itself in a modern world? Secret of Mana is beloved for its co-op gameplay, but co-op is a standard in all video games now, including action RPGs. Legend of Mana is also a bit of a cult-classic for its weird open world approach with the series’ formulas. Attempts to get experimental with the franchise in the PlayStation 2 era proved to be disastrous.
Without a solid and consistent blueprint of success to return to though, Square Enix is really going to have to think about how to approach this one. Bright characters and a carefree fantasy world revolving around a tree is only a nice start, not an entire game.
That being said, we’ve gotten major additions from most of Square Enix’s past franchises over the last two years. What would you like to see make a comeback? I’m not sure how I would feel about this one below, but maybe the time will come after Square Enix does a bit more soul searching.