With credits ranging from Secret of Mana to Xenoblade Chronicles, we got to ask the team behind Trinity Trigger about their influences and aspirations.
We had the chance to send over questions to some of the supergroup behind Trinity Trigger, the recent XSEED Games localization that is heavily inspired by the likes of Secret of Mana. If you didn’t know, some of the team has bonafides dating back to Xenoblade Chronicles’ character designs, Octopath Traveler’s story, and even Secret of Mana’s soundtrack. Check out the full interview below with responses from Director Takumi Isobe, Character Designer Raita Kazama (Xenoblade Chronicles), Scenario Writer Yura Kubota (Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default II), and Composter Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana).
Nintendo World Report (NWR): Kazama-san, how did your experience on Xenoblade influence the design of the characters in Trinity Trigger?
Raita Kazama (Character Design): Looking back on when I designed the characters for Xenoblade, I was very young, lacking in both technical skill and perspective. As a result, I inconvenienced others quite a bit, and sometimes felt stuck at a dead end. However, that experience taught me the importance of facilitating good chemistry with my clients. Where I once shied away from asserting my opinions throughout the design process, I now have the confidence to clearly express myself and produce stronger work as a result.
I was able to put this experience to the test on Trinity Trigger, where my confidence came out in full during the character design process. Communication between client and designer is critical—after all, if my client can’t clearly understand my point of view, the players won’t either.
Since Trinity Trigger has a completely different style and atmosphere from Xenoblade, I strived to tailor my designs accordingly. I tried out ideas that wouldn’t have fit into Xenoblade and incorporated elements that I wanted to improve in my past work, all while reflecting deeply on my own personal growth. I hope that players can feel the passion and love I poured into these characters.
Also, while creating illustrations featuring the Triggers, which were based on wonderful original designs from other artists, I took painstaking care to keep their facial expressions and gestures true to their personalities. I always feel nervous when interpreting the designs of other artists, haha...
NWR: What was the inspiration behind the way the Trigger characters look? Were their designs informed by their function in the game (and why or why not)?
Takumi Isobe (Director): We first decided which elements the three Triggers would represent. After that, while considering how their silhouettes would look beside the main characters, we gave each Trigger a distinct body type (two-legged, four-legged, and flying). Atsuko Nishida, Megumi Mizutani, and Tomohiro Kitakaze all submitted very appealing designs for the Triggers, which we ended up using as the basis for our weapon designs.
NWR: Kubota-san, Octopath Traveler and Bravely Default II are filled with interesting side quests. How do you strike a balance between an engaging main story and narratively fulfilling optional content like side quests?
Yura Kubota (Scenario): The proper balance is usually decided by the director based on the game’s estimated playtime, factoring in the main scenario, side quests, and additional challenges. Side quests tend to be used for in-depth exploration of characters or supplementary worldbuilding that would be redundant if told in the main story.
NWR: Is there a character you enjoyed writing for the most in Trinity Trigger? If so, why?
Kubota: My favorite character to write was Lime, a Manafacturer who supports the heroes. Since her background isn’t quite as serious as the main characters’, I was able to relax and have fun writing her, haha. Initially, there were plans for a DLC storyline where players would be able to control Lime and explore dungeons, just like Cyan and his friends do. I would have liked to play that scenario as well.
NWR: What makes the main trio of Cyan, Elise, and Zantis stand out among other modern games?
Kubota: In the medium of games, our first impressions of a character are determined by how they look. Because of this, I think it’s especially important to make sure that a character's words, actions, and backstory do not differ too greatly from their visuals. Even so, we also wanted to give each of our protagonists another side for players to discover while progressing through the main scenario and side quests.
NWR: Kikuta-san, you have collaborated with a lot of Western indie studios lately (Tangledeep, YIIK, Indivisible, Earthlock). What made you want to work with such a variety of developers and projects?
Hiroki Kikuta (Music): Throughout the 2000s, I felt a constant desire to be involved in the development of more and more interesting projects, exploring new possibilities for game development. Whether I was producing, planning, designing, directing, or composing music, I wanted to work with sincere, passionate colleagues as much as I could. Fortunately, the rise of overseas indie studios since 2010 has provided me with plenty of opportunities and successes. I'm fortunate to have found the passion and sincerity I was seeking among indie developers who played Secret of Mana or Trials of Mana as children and became fans of Japanese games. It brings me great joy that 30 years after my work on the Mana series, these creators feel a need for my melodies in the games that they are creating today.
NWR: How does your work on Trinity Trigger separate itself from your best-known work on the Mana series? Were there any other influences that you focused on to make it stand out?
Kikuta: The more soul a game developer puts into their creation, the more unique the end result will become in its worldbuilding, sense of style, and expression. Consequently, the Mana series and Trinity Trigger both have their own distinct authorial styles and personalities. I bring value through my ability to interpret those unique stylistic elements into music that accompanies the worlds of those games.
I applied the same musical techniques that I developed during my time on the Mana series to bring the world of Trinity Trigger to life. In that sense, you might call Trinity Trigger a direct descendant of several Japanese RPGs from the 1990s. Although 30 long years have passed, I believe that the emotions, desires, and excitement that RPG players feel in their quest for adventure remain the same even today.