Following the ActRaiser kinda-remake, Yuzo Koshiro is trying to stir up hype for a similar port of Terranigma:

  1. Though it's been mercifully on hiatus for the past several years, I strongly dislike the "sign this petition if you want your favorite game to come out!" promotion tactic as employed by those on the production side, even if they're a global treasure like Yuzo Koshiro. Corporate decisions are not based on fan petitions; corporations are beholden to boring things like shareholders and balance sheets and keeping people employed and can undertake projects only if they make financial sense. Pretending otherwise is just manipulating fans' emotions to get free publicity for an already-upcoming release.

  2. I have little confidence that the Square-Enix of today could handle the ending of Terranigma. I have my own reservations about it, but it's bold and profound, dealing with the biggest of issues in an unmitigated manner, and I can't see the company respecting it - being wise enough, and resistant enough to its fascination with mobile-quality bells and whistles and bloviating for its own sake, to get out of its way. Nothing approaching the concluding sequence could come out of the studio today.

That said, the ActRaiser remake was a success in that it wasn't a complete trainwreck; its reception was mixed, and outside of the lowered bars of mobile review sites, I didn't see anyone proclaiming it as a masterpiece or worthy successor to the original by any means, but it apparently wasn't a complete a mobile-asset hack job, at least. Not completely.

Which brings me to a question - initially borne out of a mistake on my part. I thought for a bit that the studio behind Mystic Ark had created Terranigma, but that was just a failure of memory on my part - Terranigma, and Soul Blazer, were from Quintet, and I had them confused with Produce, the Mystic Ark people. But: Terranigma, like the first Mystic Ark, was a 16-bit non-Dragon Quest Enix RPG that missed a U.S. release, and Square Enix seems to have learned as of late that there's money in its back catalog, even in the long-neglected Enix half of it - including the titles that never got a U.S. release. Would I want the Mystic Ark series - the SNES game and its PlayStation sequel Theatre of Illusions, from which this site takes its name - to get a release like this?

I should properly start this with "would I want The 7th Saga to get a release like this?", as Mystic Ark started as a spiritual successor to that game - but the answer there is clear: no. That title gets a lot from its austere visual and storytelling style, which really fosters the sense of a solitary journey against overwhelming odds. More banter between the Apprentices could be fun to see (there are numerous interactions that were either cut out of the original game or are rarely seen due to stacked RNG/obscure triggers), but the game overall would not benefit from friendlier, more approachable graphics or overly-chatty characters. (It also goes without saying that the U.S. version's renowned difficulty would be nerfed into the pavement.)

The first Mystic Ark also benefits significantly from silence and austerity, namely in its silent, evocative Myst-like hub world and its mysteries, as well as its sixth world, which is doing survival horror before that genre existed in full (still spoilering that; the surprise doesn't deserve to be ruined for those unaware). Its ending, where (more spoiler text) it's suggested that the main character is in fact a past incarnation of the player and that everyone has gone through their own unacknowledged struggles just to come into this world (with parental affections and significance to our existences present even in their apparent absence in our everyday lives), would also likely be ruined in a remake by dumbly well-intentioned over-explaining. As for Theatre of Illusions, I haven't gotten past the end of the second world (of presumably seven) due to an emulation issue, but as the copious production materials in the artbook make clear, in both visuals and concepts, the game was very much the baby of artist Akihiro Yamada, and that unique creative perspective would suffer in a trip to Shiny Plastic Mobiletown.

I seem very negative here, and in hashing out my feelings on this and the potential screw-ups, I suppose I am. I can't deny that I would like to see the games brought to a larger audience, though, and I would like to see what someone could do with new Mystic Ark content 20, 25 years on, even if the results are likely to be monkey's-paw in nature. I think part of this desire stems from not only the titles' obscurity but my lack of the degree of involvement I have with more beloved titles. There are parts of Mystic Ark that speak to me greatly (lonely atmospheres, understated stories, some smart storytelling moments), but the games also make significant missteps (that stupid, interminable pirate cat chapter in the first game). There's a space in my heart for it, but it wouldn't wound my soul if parts were handled incorrectly (like, say, a poorly-depicted Ghaleon would).

But then I look at this pastiche, from the Romancing Saga 3 Steam release:

The character is in standard 16-bit resolution; the barrels and trees are 32-bit; the houses and walls are 32-bit, but with some sort of smoothing filter applied; the business signs seems to be computer art that's been fed through a light pixellation filter; the illumination of the lanterns is the result of some sort of non-pixelated lighting effect; and the windows seem to be a flat CG underlay. It does have care put into it, but it's also wrong in a fundamental, very obvious way that demonstrates profound not getting it.

Square's most recent effort (the ActRaiser thing) is a bit more successful - but would I really want any game for which I significantly cared subjected to that treatment, even if it means new content and a wider audience? Even after mulling it over, I still can't say.

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