Square Enix has announced that Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna, once known as Project Setsuna, is heading West this summer under a new title: I Am Setsuna. The title is getting a digital release on PlayStation 4 and Steam. First announced at E3 2015, Project Setsuna is Square Enix' return to developing classic JRPGs now that Final Fantasy is a sprawling AAA title of epic proportions.
The game is developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a developer created by Square Enix to callback to older RPGs. The external team is led by game director Atsushi Hashimoto and I Am Setsuna itself was created to evoke the battle system found in Chrono Trigger.
"We started by thinking, 'Let's make a product that resurrects the passion and excitement of so-called Golden JRPGs.' We recruited creators who agreed with this proposal. These people would then make such a product. It was an odd project," explained Hashimoto in an interview with Dengeki Online. (Translated via a blog that is no longer active.)
"Setsuna is a game that can be enjoyed lightly, and it's different from a large-scale production. What that means is, I want the people who felt the excitement of old RPGs–they're a little bit older now––to have a rich experience without spending a lot of hours on the game. Of course, we're not actually making an old RPG, so I think it'd be great if we can use today's technology to create something new."
The surprising change in the Western announcement is that the Vita version that was released in Japan won't be making the transition. Instead, Square Enix is crafting a new Steam version of the title. This isn't the first Square Enix game that will have a Vita release in Japan and not on our shores; Final Fantasy Adventure remake Adventures of Mana came out on Vita and Mobile devices in Japan, but only on mobile platforms elsewhere. It probably didn't help that the Vita version of I Am Setsuna boasted much longer load times than its PlayStation 4 counterpart.
The Steam release shows that Japan is starting to take the PC far more seriously as a platform. Steam ports of older Japanese titles have done very well, finding a niche audience that Japanese developers seemingly didn't know existed. Companies like SNK Playmore, Spike Chunsoft, Sega, Ghostlight, and XSEED are all bringing over Japanese titles to Steam and seeing great success.
While the lack of Vita release stings, let's be happy that Western fans will be able to enjoy I Am Setsuna on one of its original platforms and Steam. This is a pretty small release for Square Enix, with the PlayStation 4 version selling around 40,000 copies before dropping out of the Top 20 on Japan's Media Create charts this week. The Vita version was only on the Top 20 for a week, selling 27,994 units. With the new Steam release, I Am Setsuna could become a legitimate success for Square Enix, potentially meaning more games from Tokyo RPG Factory.
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