WFS’ Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space will reach its second anniversary in just a few days.
The game combines writing by Masato Kato, whom you may know for his work on Chrono Trigger, beautiful musing by Yasunori Mitsuda, enjoyable JRPG mechanics, a deep story, and a business model unhindered by most of the typical free-to-play issues which keep many core gamers away from this category of games.
In order to know more about this rather unique title and Kato-san’s plans and ambitions, we interviewed the veteran developer alongside the title’s producers and PR team.
Giuseppe: Another Eden launched without many of the limitations that we often find in free-to-play mobile games, like Stamina or timers gating the gameplay. Why did you decide to go this route?
WFS: Our approach to development came from us wanting to create a new mobile RPG, and if we were really going to create something new, then we would need to avoid using the usual suspects that you mentioned.
The result was an RPG that dives right into gameplay without any of the obstructions that you often see in mobile games, giving the ability to seamlessly travel between map areas and the inclusion of an auto-save function.
G: Do you think it’s a sustainable business model for mobile games in the long term?
WFS: The Japanese version of the game will be celebrating its second anniversary this month, and we think the reason why we’ve been able to make it this far is specifically that it is a sustainable business model. Our competitors also seem to think so, as we’ve noticed that a few of them have started releasing similar games recently.
G: Another Eden is one of the closest examples of a console-like JRPG on mobile. What were the biggest challenges in achieving this?
WFS: Implementing a smooth control system that’s specifically designed for mobile devices was a big challenge. After much trial and error, we were able to deliver a user-friendly gaming experience with a simple UI and beautiful background that isn’t blocked by in-game button controls cluttering the screen.
G: Is there anything you can share about your plans for the future of Another Eden in the near and long terms?
WFS: We will continue adding new episodes and additions to the main story for the overseas version, and we plan on adding the second arc of the newest main story to the Japanese version. Details regarding future updates are regularly posted on our official Facebook and Twitter.
G: Would you like Another Eden to become a franchise that can extend beyond this first game?
WFS: You bet! We would be honored if Another Eden one day joined the ranks of some of the world’s greatest games in the eyes of the players.
G: Kato-san, with Another Eden, you worked once more with Yasunori Mitsuda, who happens to be one of my favorite composers. Was his involvement your own decision? Do you think his music is particularly suited to match your work?
Masato Kato: The director and producer at the time had strongly urged for the Mitsuda-Kato combo. When I contacted Mitsuda-san about it, he told me that his schedule was fully booked for the foreseeable future with anime and game song compositions. He was under no circumstances capable of participating in a brand new title.
Regardless, I asked the impossible: if he could somehow do just the title song along with a few other tracks while his apprentices Mariam Abounnasr and Shunsuke Tsuchiya from Procyon Studio composed the rest.
We’re long-time acquaintances since our time at Square, tarred with the same brush you could say. It’s incredibly easy for us to work together because we both know what the other is looking for. This is why, in my opinion, our compositions complement each other so well.
G: The themes of time travel and the passage of time, in general, seem to be quite recurrent in your games, Kato-san. Is there a reason for this?
Masato Kato: As a science fiction fan since I was a kid, time traveling has always been my favorite theme. It holds a special place in my heart you see, so if I’m going to be working on that genre, then I have to go all out—I have to make a compelling new story!
The thing with Another Eden though is that at first, I felt like I had already used up what I considered to be intriguing story elements on Chrono Trigger. “Am I really going to do another time traveling story? I certainly can’t use the same plot points from Chrono Trigger, let’s do something else,” I thought. But they definitely wanted to move forward with time travel and wouldn’t budge, so what the hell, I decided to give it a shot. (laughs)
G: Last year, it was mentioned that a Nintendo Switch port of Another Eden was in the works. Is that still happening?
WFS: Correct, it’s still currently under development.
G: How is development going for the Nintendo Switch port? Is a western release planned as well, and will it have significant differences from the mobile version?
WFS: Begging your pardon, since we are still in the very early stages of development on the Switch port, there is very little that we can say regarding this, but we are just as excited to move forward with it as our fans are!
G: Is there any chance that the game could come to other consoles as well, or to PC?
WFS: We’d love to give as many people as possible the opportunity to play Another Eden by extending the available platforms—we’d put it on a refrigerator if we could.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot more that goes into the development process than simply flipping a switch, and we want to focus our efforts on making the game as successful as possible where it currently resides. But you never know, the future holds many possibilities!
G: Kato-san, your latest console game was Legend of Legacy for 3DS four years ago. Would you like to work on more console games again in the future, or do you feel comfortable on mobile platforms?
Masato Kato: On the contrary, I just make the games; I don’t get too invested on which platforms they appear. That said, if a mobile game’s progression is dull and uninteresting, it will get old and removed fast, so I’m careful about that.
The best thing about a mobile device is its accessibility; it’s a great platform for many people to play games on who may not have the latest consoles or a high-end computer. Whatever the platform may be—something new, something fresh, that’s the kind of work I want to do.
G: You worked on many titles which hold a special place in the heart of many fans of Japanese games. Is there any franchise among them that you would personally like to revisit if you were given the chance?
Masato Kato: Honestly, I’m always trying out new things, trying to be different, so I don’t really think that much about the previous titles that I’ve worked on… The past is over, I just want to move on. (laughs)
Lately, I’ve been asked a lot if there’s something different that I would do on past works with today’s technology. There’s, unfortunately, nothing else to be done other than replacing pixel art with 3D CG. Leaving the original story as is and restoring the graphics to today’s standards does put a smile on my face, though… That, and making the game easier to play by improving the processing speed.
Another Eden is currently available for iOS and Android.