Echoes of Mana Exclusive Interview – Producers Discuss the 30-Year History & Future of the Mana Series


While all Mana fans are rejoice for the upcoming mobile title, Echoes of Mana, as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Mana Series, we got a chance to sit down with Masaru Oyamada, the producer of the Mana series and Akira Haruta, the producer of Echoes of Mana, to have a little chat about this new mobile project, as well as the past and future of the Mana series.

Echoes of Mana Exclusive Interview - Producers Discuss the 30-Year History & Future of the Mana Series

The Mana Series is…

Q: While the Mana Series is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2021, what kind of existence is the Mana series for Mr. Oyamada and Mr. Haruta? Which work or character of the series influenced you the most?

Oyamada: That must be FINAL FANTASY Adventure. It is the first game that I cleared by myself when I was little. I have a special fondness for all of its characters, especially The Sumo. It takes time to express all my passion, so I will stop here.

Haruta: I still remember the last scene when Popoi disappeared at the end of Secret of Mana. I like popoi, so the scene is pretty painful. It was also a scene that made me ponder over the fact that the world was built on the sacrifice of others. Even for now, I still hope Popoi will meet Randi and Primm again someday.

Mana series producer Masaru Oyamada and Echoes of Mana producer Akira Haruta shared with QooApp the story behind the development of Echoes of Mana, which is coming to mobile in spring 2022.
Mana series producer Masaru Oyamada (left) and Echoes of Mana producer Akira Haruta (right) discussed the Mana series and Echoes of Mana with QooApp

Q: With the 2014 Rise of Mana mobile game discontinued after two years, what triggered Square Enix to produce a new smartphone game for the Mana series?

Oyamada: At the time when I produced Rise of Mana, it had been a long time since the series had a new game. So the game project is more like a reboot for the entire IP. As we want to introduce the Mana series to as many gamers as possible, the game was launched for PSP and smartphones at the same time. 

We received different responses for this game project, but it also led to the development of several game remake and remaster projects in the past five years.

To be honest, it was quite difficult to decide what kind of game Echoes of Mana should be at the very beginning. Even in the sense of a true IP revival, I wanted to deliver a brand new work, rather than another remake or remaster. That’s why I was quite strict in supervising the whole project, including the development and operation. 

So, I probably wouldn’t have launched a new smartphone game without the suggestions of Haruta and WFS. The enthusiasm of the entire production and development team moved me, and I hoped that it would be a new place for fans to gather together. 

© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. Developed by WRIGHT FLYER STUDIOS

Challenges Faced to Create a Mana-Like Smartphone Game

Q: As part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Mana Series, Echoes of Mana has caught the attention of many when it was first announced. Can you briefly introduce the game and what gamers can look forward to?

Haruta: Echoes of Mana is an all-star game that features all the characters from the Mana Series. We hope players can enjoy the original scenarios that are woven by characters across the series’ games. As for the battle system, it is a 2D action game that follows true to the gameplay of the Mana Series, and we hope gamers could enjoy the simple yet challenging action that the game offers. 

Q: In Echoes of Mana, players will be able to select between two protagonists to take on adventure. Will they have a different battle action?

Haruta: To cope with the needs of different players, we made it possible for them to select among two protagonist. But they share the same battle action and skills, so players can select whoever they want.

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© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. Developed by WRIGHT FLYER STUDIOS

Q: Is it difficult to tell a tale that focuses on the original protagonists, as well as all the other characters from the Mana Series?

Haruta: Actually, the good thing about creating an original story is that you can gather all characters from different worlds with unlimited possibilities. As previously mentioned, players will be following the protagonist to traverse the memory world with the Mana Fruits and find the key sacred sword that saves the world.

For example, when they enter the world of Secret of Mana, they will embark on a new journey with Randi and Primm. And of course, the story is completely original and is only available in Echoes of Mana. But yeah, creating an original scenario that incorporated the worldview of every game in the Mana series is challenging.

© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. Developed by WRIGHT FLYER STUDIOS

Q: Can you share some of the difficulties that you faced during the development period of Echoes of Mana?

Haruta: I can think of manyXD The battle system has been revised for multiple times, especially its operability, and the story has been rewritten so that both the new and old players of the series can enjoy it. In regards to the character voices, I sometimes required them to re-record again so as to make sure it matches the character’s settings and their personalities. It’s repetitive work of making, brushing up, making and brushing up. However, thanks to that, the game can be enjoyed by all kinds of gamers, so please look forward to it.

Introduce Both Classic & New Elements for All Players

Q: As mentioned, the Mana series has been around for 30 years. The younger generation may find themselves less familiar with the series’ work. What elements were kept and what new contents were added in Echoes of Mana to suit the taste of both old and new players?

Haruta: For those who have been playing the Mana series for a long time, we have kept its signature 2D action system. But at the same time, as a smartphone game, it can be played with simple operations.

Unlike normal smartphone games with only one control button, it is an action game that players have to observe the movement of the enemies and use different buttons to attack/ dodge attacks. We hope that even action game fans who have never played the series before will still find this game interesting.

Also, regarding the content that fans of different age groups can enjoy, there is a co-op system that players can form a team with up to 3 players. Depending on the situation in battles, you can be a healer to support your allies or a warrior with high attack power to defeat all enemies at once. We hope that different players can work together and enjoy the fun of finding strategies to defeat powerful bosses together.

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© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. Developed by WRIGHT FLYER STUDIOS

Q: The background music of Mana Series always moved players with its beautiful melody. What is the concept for the music of Echoes of Mana this time?

Haruta: The theme song of Echoes of Mana will adapt the tradition of the Mana Series, with consciousness to convey a fantasy and melancholic tune. However, the composer of the theme song is not revealed to the public yet.

Global Debut for All Mana Fans

Q: Echoes of Mana is planned to release in Japan and worldwide simultaneously. Are there any reasons to make such a decision and what are the challenges faced during execution?

Haruta: The fanbase of the Mana series comes from gamers around the world, so we really hope that all players can enjoy the game simultaneously instead of making it an exclusive title available only in Japan. But languages do become a challenge when you need the translation to be fast enough to cope with players around the globe. Luckily the execution is possible with the help of the developer WFS, which has many experience in regards to bringing their titles overseas.

Future Plans for the Mana Series

Q: What are the future plans for the Mana Series?

Oyamada: I’m currently supervising the script and animation for the anime project Legend of Mana. The director and staff are so passionate about this project and I feel like it will be a good addition to the series. 

Q: As it is the first anime project for the Mana series, what are your expectations of the anime?

Oyamada: I’m a huge fan of the Legend of Mana, so I’m as excited as you (Mana fans) when I hear the project. But as I have never participated in an anime project before, all things are new to me. Everyday we’re discussing how to make the project better, so everyday is a new challenge. 

Q: Continuing the previous question, would you consider introducing different gameplays for the Mana series, such as a battle royale game like FINAL FANTASY VII THE FIRST SOLDIER or a tactical game like War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius?

Oyamada: Action RPG is pretty much an identity for the Mana Series. But as Mr. Koichi Ishii mentioned that the Mana series is actually a title of challenge when he created the first game, I would love to challenge a different gameplay if it takes advantage of the worldview of the series.

Message to Global Mana Fans

Q: Any messages for longtime Mana fans looking forward to the release, or potential newcomers approaching Mana for the first time?

Oyamada: 2022 is a big year for the Mana Series with multiple projects coming up. Thank you for the continuous support

Haruta: We have prepared lots of content in Echoes of Mana to cope with the needs for both old and new players of the Mana series. Please look forward to its release! 

It was a nice chat with Mr. Oyamada and Mr. Haruta as they share many interesting stories in regards to the development of Echoes of Mana and the upcoming Legends of Mana anime project. Echoes of Mana will release globally for iOS and Android in spring 2022. Can’t wait!

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