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Forever Entertainment on making what was old new again

The publisher talks about how and why remakes such as Front Mission 2 are a part of its business model

Remaking games is not easy. You have to consider how retro titles will play on modern consoles and for today's audiences. You also have to work on the finer details, such as the clarity of dialogue, balancing gameplay, and quality-of-life changes. The list goes on.

However, when remakes become a part of your business model, you have it figured out. Forever Entertainment has proven itself in this field with the remakes of Panzer Dragoon, The House of The Dead, Front Mission 1st, and Front Mission 2. In 2018, it announced that it is also developing the Panzer Dragoon 2: Zwei remake.

Communications and marketing manager Monika Ginter tells GamesIndustry.biz that the firm's focus on retro titles spans from genuine interest from the team.

"We are currently working on both announced and unannounced titles. Remakes are one of the pillars of our operations"

She says, "We are fans of old games — they had a big impact on our lives, and we wanted a modern-day player to be able to experience the classics of our childhood, too. We think this is still a niche in the market that will gain more and more interest over time. Every year, we try to release an increasing number of remakes, and we are currently working on both announced and unannounced titles. Remakes are one of the pillars of our operations."

For clarity, Ginter explains the distinction between remake and remaster titles for consumers.

"Often, people confuse a remaster with a remake, but the latter involves starting from scratch and demands a considerable amount of work. While our remake versions may appear similar to the originals in terms of mechanics, we invest significant effort by closely analyzing the original to build our games entirely from the ground up," she explains.

Ginter continues, "We firmly believe that gaming classics deserve more than just a 'straight port.' The popularity of our past remakes indicates a growing support for this niche among gamers, and we are dedicated to delivering new releases that not only revive the classics but elevate them to new heights.

"One of the most important aspects for us when creating remakes is finding the balance between the old and the new. It is crucial to preserve the spirit of the original while incorporating improvements that the modern-day player expects."

Ginter says past releases paved the way for the firm to focus further on its remake output. To this point, Forever approached Square Enix with the proposal of remaking the first three Front Mission titles. She says that their past successful remake releases helped with those negotiations.

"We have many fans of turn-based strategy games...it's always better to work on what you love"

"As a publisher and developer, we are always on the lookout for new opportunities. Remakes presented an interesting challenge and, in a way, a realization of our own ambitions — after all, who wouldn't want to create their own version of games played in their youth?" she explains.

"Additionally, within [Forever Entertainment], we have many fans of turn-based strategy games, and we operate on the principle that it's always better to work on what you love."

Forever released Front Mission 2 Remake on additional platforms last month. It was released on the Nintendo Switch last year. The strategy game was originally launched in 1997 for the PlayStation 1 in Japan by Square Enix. The title had not received an English or Western release before its re-release.

Wanzer pilot Amia McCalum engages an enemy in Front Mission 2

Front Mission games feature multiple characters and large political plots, making them text-heavy RPGs. When remaking the second game, Forever also localized it in multiple languages and balance gameplay. Ginter explains that the company relied on its previous work and experience to take on the task.

"We take an individual approach to each game," she explains. "Recognizing the historical significance and RPG elements of the Front Mission series, we prioritized providing support for multiple languages. This ensures a comfortable gaming experience and broadens the audience. While we have previously localized several RPGs into different languages, such as Rise Eterna, Front Mission represents our most extensive localization project to date, undertaken entirely from scratch."

Regarding the project scope, Ginter says that English script translations for Front Mission 1 and Front Mission 2 totaled nearly 140,000 words. Localizing each title involved ensuring the narrative, dialogue, and text conveyed the essence of their original scripts.

"While working on remakes, we are in constant contact with IP owners; this ensures the balance between introducing quality-of-life changes and preserving the essential elements of the original game. Our aim is to make the game accessible to newcomers to the series while retaining the depth and detail that are iconic to the Front Mission series."

Ginter explains that Forever received guidance from Square Enix during the development process. However, it also consulted various Japanese-language sources, including the original game guides, to ensure the strategy RPGs were consistent with the franchise's lore. While working on these remakes, the publisher was also aware that it had to meet expectations.

She explains, "Developing a game that satisfies the nostalgia of long-time fans while also captivating a new audience, essentially breathing a second life into the series, is no easy feat. With each new remake, we strive for continuous improvement, and it seems we are succeeding, thanks in part to the valuable feedback from our players."

"Developing a game that satisfies the nostalgia of long-time fans while also captivating a new audience, essentially breathing a second life into the series, is no easy feat"

Regarding the quality of life and gameplay features, Ginter says that Forever is receptive to balancing games based on user feedback. In one case, a bug existed within one of the last stages in Front Mission 2. A cutscene would not trigger the mission's end, and the bug was eventually patched after it was brought to the company's attention.

Ginter explains, "We always consider what players want in terms of quality-of-life improvements while maintaining a balance between introducing new features and keeping the essential elements of the series intact. Our commitment doesn't end at the game's release — we continuously listen to player feedback and roll out updates that address issues and add new features.

"We consider the Nintendo Switch as the ideal platform for various classic remakes"

"In The House of The Dead: Remake, we introduced new game modes like the Horde mode, and there's now a gallery with achievements, unlockable weapons, and a model viewer featuring all enemies. These updates reflect our dedication to enhancing the gaming experience based on the valuable feedback we receive from players."

Regarding the target audience for remakes, Ginter says that the Switch serves as the go-to console for Forever's releases.

"Until now, our remakes have focused on games from Japan, and Japanese gamers have shown great excitement for our updated versions of classics. In terms of platforms, we consider the Nintendo Switch as the ideal platform for various classic remakes. We appreciate the accessibility of the Nintendo Switch. With a diverse user base, our games can reach a broad audience, including those who may not have encountered classics like Front Mission or Panzer Dragoon before."

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Jeffrey Rousseau avatar
Jeffrey Rousseau: Jeffrey joined GamesIndustry.biz in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.
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