toonzone at MCM London Comic Con October 2013 - Interviews With Namco Bandai Producers
On the Saturday morning of MCM Expo London, toonzone had a chance to talk with the producers of four of Namco Bandai’s biggest upcoming games for the year ahead and briefly discuss their design and aspirations.
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles – PlayStation 3 – Hideo Baba
What new content can fans expect from Tales of Symphonia Chronicles?
The first new content is the new Mystic Artes content. The Mystic Arte is the strongest attack in the Tales series of games. So during battle when the user activates them new explanations will be displayed. Also, every character in Tales of Symphonia can get new costumes from previous Tales of series characters. Plus for the first time in the series we can implement the original Japanese voice recordings in Chronicles, because we have received so many requests from fans about the Japanese voice overs.
The Gamecube version of Tales of Symphonia released in Western countries used just an instrumental version of the opening song but in Chronicles the newly arranged versions of the theme songs will be implemented in the localised version.
The Tales franchise of games have seen sporadic releases in the West. Going forward, can fans hope to see more of the games released consistently outside of Japan?
For as long as we are still developing Tales games in Japan, our intent is to bring the flagship titles to Western fans as soon as possible.
Will Chronicles be a good starting point for new fans who have never played a Tales game before?
The Tales of series doesn’t have any numbers, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc and the storyline and characters in each title are independent. As such any player can start with any title, but regarding Chronicles the title offers two games on one disc and both updated to make use of the PS3 console so it’s a very good game to start with.
Who is your favourite character in the series?
I developed every character from scratch so as you can imagine they’re like my children, so it’s difficult to pick out just one character as my favourite. If I had to pick just one, I’d like to say it’s Leon Magnus from Tales of Destiny because his way of life is very impressive
What does the future hold for the Tales franchise?
As of right now I don’t currently have any plans to release titles on the Xbox One or Playstation 4 but the overall plan is to release new Tales games on the console most fans want to play with. I’d like to keep making more games but in keeping with the famous elements of the Tales franchise such as big stories, sympathetic characters and unique battle system that prioritises action and speed.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle – PlayStation 3 – Hiroshi Matsuyama and Noriaki Niino
JoJo is obviously a very popular work in Japan but lesser known in the UK and Europe. Does that create specific challenges bringing the game to those territories?
We understand the acknowledgment of the JoJo IP is a little lower in Europe and the UK itself but we feel that hopefully with this game being as complete a recreation of the world as it is that it will be a first step to widening the awareness of JoJo in the UK and Europe.
In turn, will anything be censored in the game in Europe and America?
Right now the plan is to bring the genuine JoJo experience, releasing the game with minimal localisation.
JoJo has a famously eccentric tone. Did the series iconic sense of humour influence the design or gameplay?
The main thing we focussed on was obviously the individual characters themselves but also the movements of the characters, because the original series is a manga and in the manga itself there are a lot of poses and movements that a real person couldn’t do. As such we wanted to put movement onto the world of the manga, hopefully recreating the movements people have imagined when reading the manga itself. Both movement and visuals were highly prioritised when we were making the game.
One of the unique things about JoJo is the character poses, sayings and idioms so we really wanted to translate those to a video game world.
What do you feel makes All Star Battle stand out from other fighting games?
The fighting system is fairly unique for every character, packed with a lot of elements from the JoJo world for each of the individual characters themselves. Also, the number of movements we’ve implemented for each character is a lot higher than most other fighting games on the market, so we’ve really implemented a lot of motions to allow players to experience each of the characters in visual.
Are there any characters or elements from the story you weren’t able to add but would have liked to?
When we were first discussing the design of the game the number of characters we really wanted to implement was 120. We wanted to really bring out and recreate all 120 characters seen in the series itself but obviously this wasn’t fully possible and we had to cut out roughly 80 of them in order to successfully recreate the world in the time we had. There were a lot of characters we wanted to implement but weren’t able to.
Because of our love of the JoJo series, although we weren’t able to make all of the characters playable we have dispersed some of them as stage gimmicks or tutors within the game because we really wanted to include them.
Prior to JoJo you’ve had great success making games for Naruto. Is there any specific manga or anime you’d love to make a game for?
We do get a lot of requests to use our technology to create games for other IPs but right now at Cyber Connect 2, Naruto and JoJo are the top two titles our focus is on.
Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers – PlayStation 3 – Ryo Mito
Saint Seiya is very popular in Japan but lesser known in the UK. What challenges does that bring?
Obviously we appreciate awareness of Saint Seiya in the UK is lower than in countries such as France or South America, but I hope that by continuously releasing the games within the UK they can become a means to expand the fanbase here.
What elements of the game are you most proud of?
I’d say the biggest point is the roster of available characters. The game is covering the main three sagas of the manga, Sanctuary Era, Poseidon Era and Hades Era, so as a result the game has over 50 playable characters. This leads to the story mode, known as Chronicle Mode, which explains the story of these sagas. New fans will benefit from being able to learn the Saint Seiya story by playing through Chronicle Mode.
What can players expect from the online battle mode?
The online rankings will be global, allowing UK players to fight against players in Japan and South America. There will also be league tables where successful players will be rewarded by rising higher.
Is there anything you would like to attempt in future games in the series?
I’m currently working on projects aside from Saint Seiya but would like to make more games for it in the future. Perhaps maybe not Seiya games in this specific genre but I would like to try new things and continue to be involved.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita - Kunio Hashimoto
Dragon Ball Z continues to be one of the most popular Japanese animation and game series in the UK. Why do you feel this is?
I think because Dragon Ball is an exciting series. It’s really the story of Goku as he grows up and becomes stronger and stronger and so do his opponents (Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, etc). So people watching this constantly wonder ‘What’s going to happen next? How strong will he get?’.
What improvements and new features has Battle of Z added and was it a challenge to find new ways to raise the bar for a Dragon Ball game?
A new feature unseen in previous games is Team Melee Battle. Previous DBZ games have been focussed on one-on-one bouts but this new feature is focussed on team battle. Up to 4 players can form a team to battle against multiple opponents in the same stage at the same time, allowing players to experience DBZ games in a new way. Obviously a single Z-Warrior is impressive by themselves but this new gameplay allows up to 8 such fighters on screen at once. There will also be giant boss battles such as the Saiyan’s Great Ape forms, so combined with the team battle concept players will get to look forward to many memorable and exciting battle opportunities.
Who is your favourite Dragon Ball character and were there any you would have liked to add to the game but couldn’t?
As you know Dragon Ball has many sagas but unfortunately on this occasion we were unable to add characters from Dragon Ball GT. In future games we’d like to correct this.
Soul Calibur 2 will be receiving a HD re-release. Is there any chance that older DBZ games could also see such a re-release?
Obviously last year we released Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection which contained Budokai 1 and Budokai 3 remastered in HD. If there’s enough voices of fans asking for more we’ll consider it because of course we want to bring the fans what they like.
What would you like to see next for DBZ games?
Personally I prefer to see games show clear progress rather than just number of elements. Obviously with this game the progress is the team battle elements both for single player and online and I feel the mixture of the two will allow players a greater ranger of freedom in experiencing the DBZ world.
toonzone would like to thank the producers for taking the time to speak with us and Joseph Walsh of Namco Bandai and David Axbey of the MCM Press Office for helping to arrange these interviews.