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Terra Battle's console version won't be a port, Sakaguchi says

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The console version of Mistwalker's upcoming role-playing game for iOS and Android devices, Terra Battle, will be more than a basic port of the game, founder Hironobu Sakaguchi told Polygon via a translator during a recent interview.

Terra Battle is a touch-based tactical game in which players build party formations to defeat enemies. Mistwalker plans to add more content to the game using "Download Starter" — a way of adding new content inspired by Kickstarter. As the game hits specific goals in terms of download numbers, characters, music and more are added.

These goals, which begin at 100,000, include new music from Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, characters from former Final Fantasy art director Hideo Minaba and more. The project's final goal of 2 million — the mark at which Sakaguchi at calls Terra Battle a successful mobile title — will spark the beginning of a console version.

"The basic message is that it's not going to be a port," Sakaguchi said. "We're trying to get a grid and implement that in a console game ... The idea is very fluid right now. You're going to be able to tell it's from Terra Battle."

Sakaguchi is still unsure of which consoles the game will launch for, or how exactly the game will work. Currently, the basic idea is to structure it as a massively multiplayer online game in which players must work together.

"We have a plethora of characters that you can work with — 165 characters — and one main concept: align your team on the same line," Sakaguchi said of the mobile game. "That's one of the concepts you work with. So [we're] going to get the characters all in 3D. It's definitely not going to be a port."

The mobile version of Terra Battle is expected to launch this October. According to Sakaguchi, developing the game for mobile was more based on the team of people  he wanted to use, rather than the actual device. The game is being built with only one programmer, he added.

Terra Battle takes place in a doomed world where heroes are searching for salvation. The game is split into story chapters with several fights players must overcome. In battle, players choose six characters to fight with, each with different jobs. Players have four seconds to drag and position a character portrait around the field's grid; the idea is to sandwich enemies between allies to perform attacks.

Different enemies will pose different challenges. Boss fights include larger characters who take up more of the game's grid; other foes will flee as you move, requiring you to set up traps. Terra Battle will also include special timed events, such as temporary dungeons, and co-op is currently in development in anticipation of the game's goal at 700,000 downloads.

Sakaguchi acknowledged the negative connotations of casual play associated with mobile games in the West and explained that until about a year and a half ago, "it was the same impression" in Japan. However, several games have since launched in Japan with strong RPG elements. These games are helping to evolve the mobile genre into something that's never been done. Sakaguchi feels as though he's in the middle of that change right now.

"The game should get better as it keeps on progressing."

"One of the main differences with console and mobile is once you're done with console, as a creator, you're done," Sakaguchi said. "You're set, but with mobile and especially Download Starter ... it's kind of like a festival. You've got a couple of events, a couple of new characters with new content and whatnot. A lot of different people making the game and doing a bunch of events."

As for Terra Battle's power to leave a legacy, Sakaguchi said that it will last very long if the game does well. That's part of the point for the Download Starter.

"[Download starter] is like a vehicle for the game to evolve and keep on evolving," Sakaguchi said. "If it does well, you're going to have new creators making new content. The game should get better as it keeps on progressing."