“Making this game nearly killed me. I hope you have a lot of fun with it!”
Consoling broken developers in I am Sets una
btaining your first airship is always a highlight in a JRPG. You’re suddenly free to go anywhere you please. Stuff saving the world, I’m going sightseeing.
IamSetsuna rejects this traditional approach: every secret has to be found through hard graft and worn shoe leather. But in a way I’m glad, as it made discovering one of its greatest treasures that much more enjoyable.
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Setsuna’s snowy kingdom is an island called Mortholm, home to Morthshaw Wood. Based on my previous finds—a succession of treasure-free lakes and lonely shacks—I wasn’t expecting much. Once inside, though, I happened on a portal that whisked me away to a hidden land. The ever-present piano score transformed into a 16-bit melody and the familiar, painterly visuals morphed into large blocks of pixels. Was this some kind of glitch? Cautiously, I ventured forward.
I needn’t have worried, as the first creature I encountered, in the guise of a friendly Magic Consortium sprite, turned out to be Setsuna’s director, Atsushi Hashimoto. “I’m making the final adjustments. This is the most crucial phase. And now they’re making
OI won’t be able to get to work!” His colleague Kurino had a particularly tough time. “My daughter was born during Setsuna’s development. Both her and Setsuna were difficult births ;)”. Yura even tells us, “the composer felt so sorrowful, he cried while writing the music.” Whoa, things sound bleak at Setsuna HQ.
Thankfully, many of the developers are more upbeat, just wanting to say thanks and how much they love the snow. “Look forward to Setsuna: TropicalIslandEdition... (?)” Yoshikawa teases. The greatest mystery, however, comes from Kita. “When development first started, there was a shrimp character. Why a shrimp? Good question!” And that’s all he gives us. Forget the game’s pre-launch Iam Satsuma jokes. Bring on IamShrimp.
Eventually, it’s time to leave, but it’s been humbling to see the team’s struggles in bringing this game to life. It’s been a while since I’ve read such heartfelt messages from devs in-game, and the retro throwbacks to the JRPGs that inspired Setsuna in the first place only add to their charm. Most players probably won’t ever see them, but for me it’s become one of my lasting memories. And the name of this town? The Village of Heroes. Quite right too.