RetroVision – 15 Facts About I Am Setsuna

Recently here at Rings & Coins, I explored in some depth Square Enix’s upcoming JRPG I Am Setsuna, a title that is looking to return gaming to the golden age of the JRPG. This isn’t just some marketing bluster either, with the game clearly taking much inspiration from some of Square Enix’s 8 and 16-bit classics such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana. It’s no surprise then that it’s got us here at Rings & Coins quite excited.

What’s more, whilst the game was originally released in its native homeland of Japan back in February, the game won’t reach western shores until 19th July 2016. However, whilst no-one likes to wait, Square Enix Japan are trying to make the most of it. And have done so by introducing everyone to 15 things little facts about this quintessential JRPG.

Some of these you may already know, whilst some of these may be brand new, either way they make interesting reading. Moreover, they cover all manner of aspects about the game, whether it’s the studio behind the game, the character’s names, or even battle strategies. So, thanks to Square Enix Japan’s Social Marketing Manager Kaori Takasue and community manager Dan Seto, let me introduce to you 15 facts about I Am Setsuna.

  1. In Japan the game is known as “Ikenie To Yuki No Setsuna” (いけにえと雪のセツナ). In Japanese Ikenie (いけにえ) literally translates to sacrifice, whilst Yuki (雪) translates to snow. Setsuna (セツナ) on the other hand plays a double meaning, representing both the name of the game’s central character, and sorrow, as taken from the word Setsunai (切ない). As such, the name of the game plays off the story’s central themes of sadness, sorrow and sacrifice.
  2. This isn’t the only meaning to be taken from the name of the game either. You see, Setsuna (here spelt 刹那), also translates to “an instant or moment in time”. This in turn ties into the game’s momentum system, whereby players gain SP (Setsuna Points) by filling up their momentum gauge. SP points can then be used to give bonus effects to each character’s attacks and skills.
  3. Throughout the game, Setsuna and the other characters will leave trails in the snow. These snow prints will then slowly be covered once again by the falling snow. In turn, covering their tracks.
  4. In homage to the 8, 16, and even 32-bit era, Tokyo RPG Factory crafted I Am Setsuna with the core mechanics of these by gone generations at the forefront of their mind. As such without exception, the game looks to bring together a deep story, classic music, turn based controls and gameplay mechanics, dungeon crawling, team upgrading, and even shopping. The team hope’s by bringing all of these together they can evoke nostalgic feelings and deep emotion from all of those who grew up enjoying this type of experience
  5. Returning gaming to the golden age of the JRPG isn’t just the aim with regard to I Am Setsuna. In fact, Tokyo RPG Factory, the Square Enix studio behind I Am Setsuna, are looking to merge nostalgic elements from the JRPGs of the 90s, with modern technology in everything they do going forward.
  6. When setting up Tokyo RPG Factory, Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda only wanted to hire those who were passionate about RPGs regardless of the company. Therefore, when advertising for staff, applicants were not told that Tokyo RPG Factory was a part of Square Enix.
  7. Talking of the staff, Tokyo RPG Factory’s team is made up of only ten full-time staff, with a further 20 freelancers supporting their work. This was done on purpose so as to replicate the way games were created using small teams back in the 8 and 16-bit days.
  8. In order to design the characters, the team enlisted the skills of Japanese animator and illustrator toi8. A man most famous for his work on the Anime series Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Attack on Titan. This wasn’t an afterthought by any means either. In fact, the team wanted toi8’s unique style of character design right from the start, feeling that the “melancholy spirit and heroic defeat” that is found in his art would match up perfectly with I Am Setsuna’s story.
  9. Coincidentally, I Am Setsuna’s director Atsushi Hashimoto previously worked at Racjin. Whilst there he worked with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi on the 2007 Japan exclusive Nintendo DS JRPG ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat.
  10. Taking even more inspiration from snow, one of the game’s central themes, Atsushi Hashimoto has previously stated that he wants I Am Setsuna to be remembered as “an RPG of snow”, and as such an impactful title that people can reflect back on long after the experience is over.
  11. I Am Setsuna’s initial concept was written way back in September 2014. Development then began the following month, with a Japanese alpha version completed by August 2015.
  12. Throughout the story I Am Setsuna’s main character Endir continually looks to protect Setsuna as she travels through the vast landscape of ice and snow. Endir isn’t Setsuna’s only travel companion mind you, with others including Keel, Kuon, Yomi and Julion.
  13. Spread over 2 discs, I Am Setsuna’s soundtrack features 70 tracks which are all played solely via a Piano. Apart from during battle, the soundtrack primarily features soft and calm melodies. The soundtrack’s composition was led by Tomoki Miyoshi, whose debut project at the age of 16 was the critically acclaimed Soul Calibur V.
  14. This soundtrack also includes a piano piece by Randy Kerber, a man who has contributed to many Hollywood Oscar winning movies such as Forrest Gump and Titanic.
  15. Finally, escaping from battle is a staple of JRPGs. However, in I Am Setsuna this isn’t possible unless your team holds and item called Mistone.
I Am Setsuna Character Art
Some of toi8’s iconic character design for I Am Setsuna.

So there you have it, 15 facts about I Am Setsuna that you may or may not have known. All in all, I was already excited for a return to the golden age of the JRPG, I mean who wouldn’t be? But now I’m even more excited for the game’s western launch on PlayStation 4 this July, and hopefully Vita in the fitter too.

A modern JRPG build in the spirit of the classics, one with as much heart and thought as this one is always welcome in my book, and as such Rings & Coins will be on hand to bring you all the news about I Am Setsuna, both in the build up to launch, and long after.

Simon Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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