An unnamed intern at Square Enix gave us the details about the “RPG Juku” initiative. Square Enix president Yoichi Wada introduced the program with the following:
In 1996, Square released a game called Super Mario RPG. We were blessed with the opportunity to work with Nintendo on that project. Today, this game is still received extremely well. Many critics have even praised this game more highly than recently released titles like Final Fantasy XIII. In order to improve Square Enix’s output in terms of their RPG games, all staff must play Super Mario RPG in a program we call “RPG Juku.” You will have three days to complete the game.
After the three-day period, top executives asked employees what they thought was good about the game. Many said the unique battle system, the interactivity with the environment, and the minigames were good aspects about Super Mario RPG. One employee was fired after they said that “the ease from going to point A to B on the world map” was one of the top features of the game.
Response was more divided when employees were asked on how to improve the game. One employee recommended that “the tutorial should be longer and mandatory” after they could not figure out how to do timed hits despite beating the entire game. Some employees suggested adding more cutscenes and turning the game into an MMORPG.
Wada cancelled the “RPG Juku” program after it was discovered that employees really enjoyed playing Super Mario RPG and continued to play it after the three-day period. Executives worried that they would spend too much time on the next proposed game which was to be Secret of Mana.
The intern also told us that the program was very insightful saying, “I wish I could get a time machine and have worked on good games like Super Mario RPG instead of things like Final Fantasy XIV.”