Assembled by a team of former Mana series veterans at Brownies and released on 10th February, Egglia Rebirth is a cracking good RPG on Switch that began life on mobile devices. Egglia, in its initial incarnation, was one of the company's first projects after Shinichi Kameoka left Brownie Brown — the team that worked on the legendary Mother 3 — when it was restructured and renamed by Nintendo.
We recently had a chance to interview Shinichi Kameoka, President and CEO of Brownies, and quiz him on Egglia Rebirth, its journey to Switch, and his involvement with that ever-elusive GBA title mentioned above...
Nintendo Life: Your latest Switch game, EGGLIA Rebirth is actually a remaster of a mobile game you created back in 2017. What sort of changes or enhancements were you able to make with this new version of the game on Switch?
Shinichi Kameoka: One of the major changes from the mobile version, which was, of course, touch-controlled, was to make the console version feel more like a RPG, with key controls for the characters and the ability to move freely around the town.
The Switch version can also be played on a large TV monitor, so we made a lot of adjustments to make up for the lack of detailed animations and limitations of the mobile version.
We also wanted to add characters and events that we couldn't include in the mobile version due to schedule constraints, so everything we wanted and we couldn’t include, we added in this release.
There were also a lot of adjustments to the battle and crafting systems – so, all in all, we've pretty much changed and adjusted almost all of the data for the change from mobile to console!
Were there any particular challenges you faced when bringing this game to Switch from mobile?
Of course, being that we had to make major changes to the controls and the UI to make it easier to play on a console, we spent quite a lot of time working on the transfer.
It was challenging, but we had a lot of fun with it – all of us enjoyed working on it until the end.
You previously worked for the development studio Brownie Brown, but some of the staff members and you included broke off and formed your own company called Brownies, correct? We know the team that stayed at Brownie Brown rebranded as 1-Up Studio, but what made you and the team use the name Brownies for your new company?
We were told by Nintendo that we could continue to use the “Brownie Brown” as our company name, but we decided that we wanted a fresh start with new members. So, we kept the key color palette of Brownie Brown, and renamed ourselves to “Brownies”.
We were told by Nintendo that we could continue to use the “Brownie Brown” as our company name, but we decided that we wanted a fresh start
Where do the names Brownie Brown and of course Brownies come from?
“Brownies” are hard-working fairies found in Finnish folklore.
There is a fairy tale about an old shoemaker who was so tired that he fell asleep while working, and a fairy finished his shoes for him– this touching little story is where we got our inspiration from.
We also noticed within EGGLIA Rebirth, there exists a race of people known as Brownies, and we feel we know the answer already but are these people a somewhat subtle nod to your company's origin? Have they appeared in a game before or is this their first time?
The fairy "Brownie" that we use in our company name has often appeared in our original works– Egglia is not the first time we’ve put the spotlight on these cute critters, though their personalities might be a bit different from those in the original Finnish folklore.
Are there any particular features or details in EGGLIA Rebirth that you’re most proud of?
We’re proud of the story – we feel that it’s deceptively deep, despite the game’s appearances.
What sort of games or experiences inspired you during the development of EGGLIA?
I can’t say that there’s one big or specific influence for Egglia – it’s more a culmination of all the things up until now that have inspired me and pushed me to make games.
Given the fact you’ve worked on many of the early Mana games, we can feel the inspiration not only from the art side but also how it draws comparisons to the world structure of Legend of Mana. Are you hoping to return to the world of EGGLIA again down the road but with new characters and another new gameplay style?
A lot of people say that our games feel inspired by the Mana series, but I feel it might be more accurate to say that Legend of Mana is a product of Koji Tsuda's originality – since Koji Tsuda also did the art direction for Egglia, I prefer to say that Egglia also has that Koji Tsuda touch.
it would be interesting if I returned to the world of Egglia and made an action game
Similarly, I think Secret of Mana has a different style, because Tsuda was not involved.
A sequel to EGGLIA is possible since the world is already well-developed, and if I were to make another installment, I think it would be interesting if I returned to the world of Egglia and made an action game.
Moving on to Mother 3, the game was a collaborative effort between Shigesato Itoi, HAL Laboratory and your old place of work, Brownie Brown. Do you recall at what point in development Brownie Brown was called in to assist on development? What sort of help did they bring as a studio?
I think the reason we were called in was because Brownie Brown was the only company affiliated with Nintendo that had a lot of experience with development of RPGs. It’s likely that that was why we were tapped on the shoulder when it came time to start development of MOTHER 3 for the GBA.
As lighthearted and comical as Mother 3 can be, its story has on some incredibly dark and ominous tones. Was there ever any push back from Nintendo that required you to remove any features or story beats? How much creative freedom was the team given by Nintendo?
The director for MOTHER 3 was Shigesato Itoi, and though both Nintendo and Brownie Brown made suggestions throughout the development process, we had no say in the actual decision making.
If Mother 3 was released today, do you think the game would still have been able to hold onto all of its sensitive topics? Would it be the same game?
This applies not only to MOTHER 3, but I believe that, in order to remake any game that was originally released many years ago (20 years, in terms of MOTHER 3), there will have to be some modifications that need to be made.
However, I don't think there's any point in remaking a game if it's going to be completely different, or remove the spirit of the original game.
There was one time where Itoi-san replaced all the placeholder text... it just completely changed the tone and feel of the entire game. That was an amazing process to watch happen.
By the time Mother 3 released, the Nintendo DS was already out on store shelves for over a year. Do you recall any talks of switching the game over to the Nintendo DS instead of launching on Game Boy Advance? We imagine that would have crushed the morale of the team considering the game was originally in development for the N64DD.
Brownie Brown was not involved in the development of the N64 version, so it wasn’t demoralizing for us!
The fact that the development of MOTHER 3 was delayed until the release of the DS was simply a result of us wanting to take as much time as possible for its development to make it the best game that we could, so we don’t have any regrets about not sacrificing its quality.
Are there any particular moments during the development of Mother 3 that you look back on fondly? Any stories you’d like to share that still bring a smile to your face to this day?
There was one time where Itoi-san replaced all the placeholder text we’d put in during the last few months of development, and it just completely changed the tone and feel of the entire game. That was an amazing process to watch happen.
Can you give us any clues to what we’ll see next from Brownies?
Yes, we’re already working on our next new game.
I’m not involved in this next project as a director, but I'm sure it will be a work that fully demonstrates the aesthetic style and spirit of Brownies.
Our thanks to Mr. Kameoka for his time. Egglia Rebirth is out now on Switch eShop.