Tag Archives: games

Interview: Daisuke Ishiwatari, Creator of Guilty Gear

Daisuke

Video game designer Daisuke Ishiwatari is best known as the creator of the fighting game series Guilty Gear. A multi-talented artist, he not only serves as a video game designer but also as a score composer, having written the score for BlazBlue. He also provided voices for characters in Guilty Gear. 

Jeremy Booth interviewed him at Anime Expo 2015. This interview was edited for clarity and concision. Question help provided by Dan Campisi.

You were born in South Africa, is that correct? What was your family doing there?

Yes, in Johannesburg. They were there for work.

How long did you and your family live there?

I’ve lived there twice: the first time when I was born, and right after that we immediately returned to Japan. Then I was there again from the fourth year of elementary school to the second year of middle school.

So are you technically South African-Japanese then?

At the time, I had dual South African/Japanese citizenship, but when I was taking my tests for college, I got a conscription notice from the South African army. I threw away my [South African] citizenship then.

How would you describe the culture in South Africa compared to Japan and here? Do you have a lot of memories?

First of all, when you hear “Africa” you don’t think “big city,” but [Johannesburg] is a very big city. We were Japanese, but since we were living mostly with Caucasian people, it felt kind of like England.

Moving on to your gaming work, you’ve done a lot of jobs from music creator, character designer, voice actor, director…what would you say your focus has been in the past few years? Which role is your favorite?

What I’m doing now hasn’t really changed much from the past, but one thing has changed: I used to do a lot of the graphics [myself], but now I hand that over to the lead artists. In terms of favorite–I like everything.

I also understand you’re a big fan of western RPGs like Diablo and Fallout. What is it that you like about them?

I love them. I haven’t been playing them too much recently, but when I first put my hands on them, one thing that really clicked with me was the sense of freedom you got from those games.

Kind of a sandbox environment where you can do a little of everything?

Yes.

Your expertise is on focusing on being the best at fighting games. Where do you see the future of fighting games heading?

For me personally, if the genre were to change anymore, it would no longer be “fighting games.” For instance, there’s Super Smash Bros, and if you were to ask me if that was a fighting game, I would say it’s not–it’s different. But, that being said, I think that within the genre, there are things that haven’t been discovered or invented yet, and discovering those things is part of our mission.

In 2012 you said in a Gamasutra interview that you wanted to see that the genre kept evolving. How has your thinking changed since then?

It’s a really difficult question,  but for a long time, I’ve really wanted to see a game where players used their own physical strength inside the game. But maybe if that kind of thing were to happen, it may no longer be the same thing.

Bridget

In Guilty Gear, there is a character called Bridget. Bridget is considered one of the first transgender character in games. What was the process of creating Bridget, and what inspired you to make the character transgender?

I guess I couldn’t pin the inspiration for the character on any one thing. But when we are making new characters, we are always looking for some new element to add to the character to make it interesting and fun, and while we were making Bridget, that was the element.

Did you realize it was a milestone when you did it?

I wasn’t thinking about; I didn’t realize.

blazblue-logo

There’s a fan debate on how to pronounce “BlazBlue.” What is the correct way to pronounce it?

So in Japan, we pronounce it “Blay-Blue.” In other countries, the pronunciation is “Blaze Blue.” Mori [Toshimichi], the gentleman who worked on BlazBlue, he really liked the sound of “Blay-Blue”, but when it came time to localize to other countries, he was told there was no way that would work.

Interview: Kazutaka Kodaka, creator of Danganronpa

avatar.jpg.320x320px

Kazutaka Kodaka is a writer and director of video games at Spike Chunsoft. He is best known as the creator of the Danganronpa series, which features elements of mystery, survival horror, and anime-styled whimsy. He has also been involved in localizing non-Japanese games for Chunsoft such as Hotline: Miami. We spoke to him at length about his influences and inspirations for the unique series and approach he takes to gaming.

This interview was conducted by Jeremy Booth at Anime Expo 2015.

First of all, how was your trip to LA?

I loved Hooters! I just went straight there.

What inspired you to get into the gaming industry? What was the moment you knew you wanted to go into designing and making games?

I was originally going to write scenarios for films, but I was asked if I wanted to join the game industry instead. So that is how I got in.

So you went from just telling stories to making more interactive stories?

Yes, interactive.

You’ve said you are a fan of movies like Cube, Saw, and other survival horror. Are you interested in any other horror movies or films, and have they influenced your mindset?

I like Twin Peaks.  I like sequels…I wanted to create games where once the first chapter ends, you’d want to see the second [installment].

You mentioned Twin Peaks. What other David Lynch films do you like?

Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart….all of them!

Illbleed

You also said you were influenced by a game called Illbleed. Anything stand out from that game that really stood out to you?

It’s very particular, but I like the fact that the healing items will disappear if you don’t use them.  

Any other games you are inspired by now or in the past?

Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which was made by Rare. A squirrel has a gun and just starts shooting…I think the comedy and parodies are awesome. It’s cute but it has a very aggressive and violent tone…one of the characters [a piece of poo] even sings opera! I can never see what’s coming next.

Are you familiar with Five Nights at Freddy’s? It feels like an American take on something similar to Danganronpa.

Yes, it’s true, the concept and a lot of things do seem similar. Even though it’s similar, it still has its own different individual character.

What do you remember most about working for the Konami Group?

The company is really strict. I was debugging games part-time.

What impressed you about Hotline: Miami? 

I liked how cruelty is turned into entertainment through 8-bit art styles…I also like how the music and soundtrack, and the fact that the game is only written by two people. There are games that are so famous or big that you don’t know who’s creating them. I prefer games where there’s a small group of people making it so I can see what kind of people they are.

hotlinemiamijapanese

What do you look for when you want to bring American games to a Japanese audience? How do you localize a game like Hotline: Miami?

I didn’t want to change that much…I don’t mind if not that many people buy it, only the few people who would love that game who would be entertained by it. Same goes with Danganronpa.

 

Your company is also well-known for the 999 series [of room puzzle type games]. What draws you to that genre?

It’s an interactive story, as interactive as possible. The situation is similar in Dangonronpa where you have to kill a character at a time. Instead of showing you a character to kill, you make the player choose who to kill.

What direction can we expect for the Dangonronpa series?

When I release something to the public, I want to surprise the audience. I don’t just want to release the same old thing, rather something where you say “you’re doing that?” Still, the core component is mystery.

More insanity?

Yes! Awesome.

 

Interview: Voltage Games

Voltage Games is a prominent Japanese publisher of mobile otome games (i.e., dating sims featuring several men to choose from, aimed at young women) such as My Forged Wedding, Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, and more. We had the chance to speak to company founder Yuzi Tsutani as well as VP Kentaro Kitajima at their booth at this year’s Anime Expo about their games, the challenges of adapting to an American market, and more.

The interview was conducted by Michael Huang, with question help by Linda Yau. Their games are available in the US in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

You are primarily a mobile game company. What is your take on being a mobile company vs PC games?

When we started the company in Japan, we started with Japanese cell phones (keitai). We never thought about doing PC or console games.

What’s your opinion about crowdsourcing funding, like with Kickstarter? Do you think you might pursue any games at Voltage that are crowdfunded as opposed to traditionally funded?

I don’t think so. Our budgets are much bigger than what crowdfunding sites get. People use crowdfunding when they are starting their business…but for us, it’s more like an investment. We are listed already [on the stock market].

Tell us about your best selling game, My Forged Wedding.Why do you think it’s so popular?

We feel that marriage and weddings are popular with women, an important part of their lives. We feel like using that as the main topic for the app, and so it’s become very popular.

Most of your games are aimed at young women. Do you see yourselves as role models? What do you hope to bring to them?

There is that aspect, but our number one goal is to create apps women will enjoy first and foremost.

Screenshot_tablet_2

In many of the games, you have to buy the routes a la carte. What types of routes are most popular?

Usually we have 5 characters in a game. The most popular one is the bossy character, then the cool character. The younger character is not as popular.

Have you had any opportunities to collaborate with other companies or brands, and is that something you would like to do in the future?

In Japan, we are working on releasing an app based on Hana Yori Dangowhich is a very popular anime/manga series. If that does well, we’d consider more of them in the future.

You were adapting a very popular title in that case. Has it worked the other way around, adapting some of your games?

Some TV companies are considering making a program based on one of our stories. We can’t say which title. But some have already been made as a manga–our very first title was made into a manga.

Since you’re bringing these very Japanese games to an American audience, are there things you have to change or emphasize differently to appeal to a different culture?

Sometimes in Japanese games, things happen that wouldn’t make any difference there, but directly translated into English may be offensive. We have to be extra careful when we are localizing those aspects.

[Also] in Japan, a very quiet and [introspective] character is a norm, but that’s not the case in America. People prefer a much stronger, more self-aware character, so sometimes we have to adapt them.

astoria

What kind of games do you hope to release in this country?

Our next step is Labyrinths of AstoriaThis is kind of between Japanese and US characters. It’s the first in our new series of Amemix titles, which aim to blend what’s great about Japan and America. We use anime style art, but with stories based on western concepts like Greek mythologies, with a very diverse cast. So we hope to create a new market with a new series of apps.

Nobuo Uematsu Q&A at Otakon 2011 – Video

Ever wanted to see Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary soundtrack composer for the Final Fantasy games? Our friends and partners at Dragonfish Films caught him at a Q&A session at Otakon 2011. He was only at the convention for a single day, and this is one of his rare public appearances in America. And now you can watch it. Check it out!

Secret Santa Survival Guide: Part Neko Otaku

mreowr!

It’s that time of year, and silly games abound. You reach into the hat and draw a name sealing your fate as someone’s Secret Santa. What… this person!!!! NOT THIS PERSON!!! Yes, this person. Often, they are wearing kitty ears. They like to meow and purr. Sometimes you wonder if they don’t secretly drink milk from a saucer off the floor. When a cat comes on the screen while watching anime, suddenly everything ceases to exist as their heart melts into a sweet and oh-so-fluffy oblivion.

You have to get a gift for a Neko Otaku.

You can always go for the basic Totoro Cat Bus plushie or even get them the ever-useful Hello Kitty toilet paper roll.

Or… you can really knock the adorable socks off your secret santa recipient.
You may have to buy them another pair to make up for it…

I recommend these;
[asa]B0026SDSP8[/asa]
or these;
[asa]B004GATRLS[/asa]

There are a lot of types of cat-lovers out there, and I’ll try to find something decent for each of them (^-.-^)~

Best Anime involving Cats;

[asa]B00440OG2A[/asa]
A young man breaks a sacred cat statue and is indebted to the species until he’s made up for his wrong doing.

[asa]B0006J28BO[/asa]
Studio Ghibli’s enchanting tale of a young girl who saves the life of what turns out to be a very special someone in the Cat Kingdom. I’m not typically a fan of subbed anime, though Anne Hathaway and Tim Curry are some of my favorite native-english voices.

[asa]B001BN4WA4[/asa]
Aria the Animation is one of my most beloved animes of all time. On the water logged planet of Aqua (used to be Mars) a young girl trains to become an undine (femme gondolier). The cat aspect comes into play when one looks to the presidents of each of the companies/schools. They all happen to be cats. As real to the “real life” form of cats as they come. It’s just so sweet. The anime is smooth and flows along emitting tranquility and peace. Even the “action sequences” feel as though the writers just woke up from a nap and really feel like writing an anime based on the feeling of just-waking. Give it a chance, if nothing else, it’s a great anime to fall asleep to. I’ve never been able to finish this series because of that! *blush*

Best Cat-Game Gifts to Give;

*Let’s Meow Meow!
A unique dating sim where some eyebrow-raising events may happen depending on the way it’s played. A young man is visited by a sort of cat-genie and he asks for (what else!) a cat girl. He’s given more than he’s bargained for and it’s up to the player to decide the outcome.

[asa]B002E9I962[/asa]
Simply and quick puzzle games that if you score high enough on, you’ll be able to save the mews in Kitten Sanctuary. It’s silly, though for a cat lover it’s really cute. It’s also only $7, which makes it a cheap and easy gift.

[asa]B000QTD052[/asa]
Petz Catz 2 for the Nintendo DS is somehow far superior than Petz Catz the original. Same concept, yet the game play and secret clubs add an aspect to this expanded-giga-pet cat game. Raise a kitten… definitely great for those who can’t have any pets where they live.

Best Cat Clothing I Could Find (:D)
[asa]B001QX7XB4[/asa]
For those that want everything they wear directly related to anime, an alternative cat hat is below;
[asa]B001MNDVAU[/asa]
Moving on from silly hats;
because masks are SO different (they are)… great for Naruto fans AND cat lovers; Anbu Mask

This here is the ULTIMATE cat’s pajamas;
Kigurumi Brand Cat Suit
I don’t have the cat suit, though I do have another pajama that kigurumi makes and it is VERY comfortable!

Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to realize the extent of cat material out there. I should have known! I am, myself, a friend of cats ^.^

Perhaps a part 2 to the Neko Otaku gift guide is in order.

Until then; enjoy this lovely youtube “ultimate catgirl gallery”.

Crimzon Clover demo

YOTSUBANE, makers of danmaku game Crimzon Clover, offer a web demo.  The demo was previously released at Comiket 77, and an earlier version was released at Comiket 76.

The older version.

Japanese gamer NGD reviewed an earlier version, suggesting that parts were loud, flashy, or outright ugly, especially during BREAK mode, but admitting that overall it was “surprisingly good” despite these shortcomings.

European reception to the present version seems to be centered on its high production values and difficulty.  Comparisons to Do-Don Pachi Daifukkatsu and Ketsui have been made.

BREAK mode.

As a demo, the game contains only three stages and an incomplete third boss fight.

First Look Fair: Eternal Sonata

My, my…my first real article in a month, and it’s a game review of all things. This isn’t just any game, though–it’s a very anime-ish game, featuring Hirano Aya no less as the main girl, and it offers a blend of story, music, and sensible gameplay that has me enthralled like I haven’t been since the old Final Fantasy games.

Continue reading First Look Fair: Eternal Sonata