How Mecha And Memories – 16-Bit Nostalgia Affects the ‘Chained Echoes’ SNES-style JRPG
During the holidays, we are republishing some selection feature from the past 12 months. A mix of talking points, interviews, opinions, etc. from NL staff and contributors, you’ll find our usual blend of thoughtfulness, expertise, caring frivolity, nostalgia and – of course – enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Happy holidays!
A world where dragons exist and humans control mechs? Not the most common combination — though both elements have appeared frequently in RPGs over the years — but for the SNES and PS1-inspired JRPG shackle echo, This is a completely normal thing. Revealed back in 2019, the game exploded through launch campaign and secure the Switch version as part of its stretch goals.
This turn-based RPG will be released in 2022 – bold, the Steam page lists ***May 2022. And from the incredibly detailed pixel art to the fluid combat, it looks like another great classic-inspired RPG that will feel right at home on the Switch. And that’s exactly what the game’s sole developer, Matthias Linda, also thinks.
With a list of inspirations included Xenogears, activate time and Pass, Xenoblade Chroniclesand Suikoden, Chained Echoes is clearly a love letter to the genre — with a particular nod to the classics. But the combination of mech, dragon, and steampunk sets it apart from the plethora of classic RPGs on the system.
We got a chance to talk to Matthias Linda about Chained Echoes, why the Switch very good for the classic-inspired role-playing game, and the recent Monolith Soft game nearly caused Linda to delay the game because she was so absorbed…
Nintendo Life: Congratulations on getting close to the release window for the game! Making any kind of video game yourself is largely a daunting task, but a 30-40 hour RPG is on another level! What about genre inspired you to create your own?
Matthias Linda: I grew up with JRPGs on Nintendo and PlayStation. It’s as simple as that. I even created Final Fantasy VI-like and activate timegame -inspiration in Role-playing game maker when i love this genre. So it was only natural that one day I started making my own RPG. And, here I am, after seven years as a game developer. The game is almost done, just polish a few threads and run it on every system.
Do you always think of the Switch or the Nintendo console for Chained Echoes? What do you think about the Switch makes it a great home for classic-inspired JRPGs?
I love Switch. And yes, from the very beginning, I obviously wanted the game to run on it. It’s a perfect combination, isn’t it? I’m not even sure why it’s such a perfect combination, just feels like it. Somehow, the indie scene managed to turn the Switch into something really, really special.
When the Switch hit the market, since you had a mix of mobile and fixed consoles, you had something special. But in the end, the game shapes the console. And, for some reason, classic-inspired RPGs, RPGs, and action-adventures feel super natural on the Switch. They are a perfect couple.
…independent context made the Switch something really, really special.
There’s a real blend of classic SNES style and visuals with PlayStation audio and streaming options. Did you have any specific games in mind while working on Chained Echoes?
Pretty much. Suikoden IIChrono game, early period The Last Illusion title, terracotta, Xenogears and much more; basically all games are part of my childhood. However, in Chained Echoes, they affect the game more the way I remember them, not so much in their actual way. There is a psychological effect that you remember things differently and you will always honor the things you went through as a child. And whenever I create something, I do it the way I remember it, not how it really is.
We love the idea of a world where both mechs and dragons exist. Not many RPGs use mechs for transportation or combat – we’re thinking Xenogears and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Why would you want to bring mechs in particular?
My inner child will always love giant robots. Who doesn’t love at my age mechanized warrior? But yes, Xenogears, for sure. And yes, Xenoblade Chronicles… my God, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 recently delayed Chained Echoes by at least a week!
Joking aside, I just thought it would be cool to combine fantasy with mech and steampunk elements. And it also allows me to suddenly introduce a new variation of the combat system and surprise the player when he doesn’t expect it.
There is mention of “choice” on the official website. What choices will there be in the game and will they lead to different missions, scenarios, or endings?
Well, some choices are part of the story and will be made by the characters and the player will just “feel” them. But some choices in certain quests will affect what happens in the quests. But not for the ending – I wanted to tell a specific story, convey something with a specific meaning. While I’m not sure if people will understand Chained Echoes’ message, I’m sure this message will make players think about the game from time to time. With multiple endings, this wouldn’t be possible.
…whenever I create something, I do it the way I remember it, not how it really is.
We’ve seen a lot of different character species in the trailers, such as lizard-man, dog, bird-man, etc. Has a diverse cast always been something you’ve been aiming for?
It’s not so much about the diversity of the cast but about creating a believable fantasy world where not only humans exist. Even though even bird people and lizard people as you call them are considered humans in the world of Chained Echoes. When it comes to that particular subject, the world of Chained Echoes is almost a utopia. These are not very important.
The game uses a flexible turn-based battle system with a clear turn order. How would you like your combat system to be different from other SNES-inspired RPGs these days?
I wanted to create a fast-paced turn-based combat system that still offers a deep tactical aspect. Sounds difficult right? So I introduced the speed bar. Every player and enemy action affects the bar. If you run too fast, you will deal more damage and take less, if you go too far, the opposite will happen. So while turns are quick and fluid, you still have to balance your actions so you don’t ruin your battle within two or three turns.
Can you tell us anything about the skill system in the game?
Each character has a set of skills that they can learn as they level up. After learning a passive or active skill, the character also needs to equip it. There are many skills for each character but only a few slots are available to equip them, so you have to carefully plan what your skill set will look like before going into battle. . There are more than 400 skills available! The leveling system works a bit differently than other games. It is not dealt with through experience points but shards you will find along your way.
Minigames are another classic RPG element you’re putting into Chained Echoes. What kind can we expect to see?
I can recommend the turtle race. There aren’t too many mini-games in Chained Echoes, just a few. I only add them when I think they make sense in a world context. And when I add things, I want to make sure they have an impact on the gameplay or that they make you laugh.
I bet somewhere inside Chained Echoes there’s a bit of Elden Ring or The Witcher III or even Mario.
Do you still make time to play role-playing games? And are there any modern-day influences that you took your ideas from?
Right. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 almost caused a delay when I spent too much time on it. But I like it too Back to Monkey Island so many. I know, it’s not an RPG, but I still wanted to mention it. Also, I’m a [Yasumi] Matsuno fanboy. I’m waiting Final Fantasy XVI and I have high hopes for it because the team behind it also seems to be a fan of Matsuno. As for modern day influences, yes. May. I bet somewhere inside Chained Echoes there’s a bit Elen’s ring or Witch III or even mario. And probably a lot of others!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
We would like to thank Matthias Linda for taking the time to answer our questions. Chained Echoes will be released on Switch in 2022.