Mobile RPGS suck right? More interested in raping your wallet than, you know, delivering a decent story. Who needs characterisation and plot, when you can just pump your rent and food money into a soul-destroying Gacha system? Enter Terra Battle 2.
Mercifully, some developers are better than others when it comes to getting this balance right. Some developers have a greater conscience when it comes to mobile game design – there aren’t many of them, but they do exists. One such developer is Hironobu ‘Final Fantasy’ Sakaguchi – who we were lucky enough to get some face to face time with to discuss Terra Battle 2 with during this year Anime Expo in Los Angeles.
I must admit that I’m a big fan of Terra Battle. I genuinely LOVE that game’s battle system. Spartan though it may be in design, the system, the mechanic itself, is nigh on perfect – and would work brilliantly in a more rounded console RPG. The monetisation system in that game, while there, is also relatively subtle compared to many RPG’s relentless begging to ‘pay pay PAY PAY PAY!‘
“I think the way we’ve developed and implemented the Gacha and more random elements, has worked really well” muses Sakaguchi when we ask him if he feels monetisation stifles his creativity in Terra Battle 2.
“We’ve focused on making that a fun part of the game, as much as it is a function of monetisation. Getting that balance right is key – when players play Terra Battle 2, I think they will feel we’ve got that balance right between creative, story and monetisation, which of course we really don’t want to see supersede the other elements.”
What makes Sakaguchi feel he can make a difference in the mobile space, we ask him – does he feel he has anything he can personally add to make the mobile space more palatable?
“Because I’ve been developing for console for 30 years, I am always going to lean more towards a more traditional console feel for a game. I almost can’t develop a game any other way!”
And then the news every publisher wants to hear – “In some ways I think the monetisation in Terra Battle is pretty weak” he says laughing, “and I think this is something that many people appreciate.” We sure do, Sakaguchi-san – we sure do. If only other mobile developers showed such candour.
There is, however, one element we always thought Terra Battle lacked (great though it was in so many of the game’s systems) and that’s the story.
“Yes, the story was the weaker element in Terra Battle. When you have a system where the characters are randomised, no character has a chance to shine in the context of a story. So for Terra Battle 2 I have developed a new system which addressed this issue successfully – the characters are much stronger this time. It’s the element I’m most pleased with.”
Indeed, Story and monetisation aside, Terra Battle as a package, now looks to be much more robust than its predecessor. Playable on the show floor, I was particularly pleased to see a significant scaling up of the battles and, interestingly, an inventory and equipment system which will add some much-needed personalisation to your units.
A lapsed player though I am, its predecessor has long been one of my favourite mobile games. Terra Battle 2’s improvements will look set to make it an essential RPG experience for mobile.
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