By Spencer . October 17, 2008 . 1:26pm
Luminous Arc 2 comes out next month. November 18 to be specific, only around six months after Luminous Arc 2 came out in Japan. Atlus’ localization squad is working fast, but the team still had time to discuss the US version with us. In this interview we focused on the story of Luminous Arc 2, the difficulty change compared to the first game, and on more than one occasion Kopin, the mascot of the Luminous Arc series.
How does the story of Luminous Arc 2 tie in with Luminous Arc?
Sammy Matsushima, Project Lead: The story of Luminous Arc 2 is independent from Luminous Arc 1’s story. You can treat it as a parallel world, although players would immediately recognize some recurring characters in this game.
Can you tell us about Roland, the Beast Fiends, and how he gains magical powers?
Clayton Chan, Editor: The Beast Fiends are a fearsome threat that emerged 16 years ago. These Beast Fiends are violently aggressive and much stronger than human beings. Nobody knows exactly where they come from or what makes them attack, making them a threat that’s constantly looming in the background.
As far as Roland, he begins the game training to become a Knight of Carnava. He’s part of a small training group along with his older brother Rasche, and their childhood friend, Rina. They’re getting ready to patrol the Star Flower Festival when an incident occurs, and Roland fuses with the Runic Engine. This accidental fusion gives Roland the ability to use magic and Engage with Witches.
Mike Meeker, Editor: The Runic Engine is part of the kingdom’s plan to artificially develop a Rune Knight, which is a legendary soldier the likes of which haven’t been seen for a thousand years. Of course, Roland isn’t the intended recipient of the Engine’s power, so what happens next can be described by, as the sages say: “hijinks ensue.”
The magical power Roland gains lets him bond with Witches. How does this work in battle?
Sammy: This is the biggest change in the battle system for LA2. As explained above, Roland can Engage with Witches in battle and become a Rune Knight. Although Roland can’t use any spells by himself, as a Rune Knight he gains the attributes and spells of the Witch he Engages with. For instance, if Roland Engages with Althea, the Fire Witch, he can now has the element of fire on all his normal attacks and is able to use fire spells. Also, although Roland can’t use FD (charge attacks called Flash Drives) by himself, he can unleash FDs in battle once he is Engaged. His FD will change according to the Witch he engages with.
What are some of the abilities Roland gains when he links with different Witches?
Mike: Like Sammy explained above, when Roland Engages with a Witch he gains some of her powers and shifts to her element. There’s also an additional temporary stat boost depending on the element of the Witch he’s Engaging with. For example, when he bonds with Althea he gets a bonus to his attack power along with the nifty fire spells he now has at his disposal.
Clayton: Last game you could walk around and spam healing items for easy XP, but in this game your item carrying capacity is very limited. In addition, you’ll also no longer gain a full heal when you level up, and there are some battles that are back-to-back missions that will penalize your party members if they were KO’ed in the previous fight.
It’s not like Luminous 2 is going to wiping the floor with experienced SRPG players (You can get that challenge from online multiplayer.) but I think Marvelous and Imageepoch wanted to make a series that used humor, polished artwork, and voice acting to attract people who wouldn’t normally play an SRPG, or who had tried them before and didn’t like the steep learning curve. I think that they were able to accomplish that, and, this is key, still provide an experience that was satisfying to veteran SRPG players, even though it may have been a little on the easy side.
So, while the first game was sort of an SRPG “primer” for new players, the second one bumps the difficulty up to the level of a standard SRPG. So if someone can get through these two games, they’ll have graduated past the learning curve, and they’ll be ready to embrace the world of SRPGs.
Other than localization did Atlus make any other changes to Luminous Arc 2 like further adjusting the difficulty?
Sammy: In terms of game difficulty, we believe that the enhancements from the first game were clear and suffice, so no real change there. Our main focus localization-wise was to make the user interface clean and pleasant to read. There are many parts of the menu that we adjusted, but I won’t bore you with the minute details!
What tactics do you use to dominate another player in an online match?
Clayton: As much as I’d love to just throw this question out to the QA guys so they can regale you with tales of inter-office beatdowns, I don’t really want to get SiliconEra readers a leg up on the competition. Your readers are crafty enough as it is. :)
Mike: I like when Roland attempts to sing scat along with Sadie’s trumpet playing. Oh, and most of the bonus scenes are fun as well.
Madoka Ueno, Translator: I love when the Kopin goes to sleep at night in an existential crisis.
Clayton: Unfortunately, I’ve edited two other projects since wrapping up Luminous, and I’m working on a third. I’m sure there was a lot of stuff that I remember being funny at the time that I can’t recall now. The intermission sequences (or at least certain paths through them) are pretty hilarious, though. I like the one where Dia ends up blurting out all her “secrets” to Roland so she can get them off her chest. I also had fun with some of the equipment names/descriptions and the random names.
Since I couldn’t give QA their moment of glory on the tactics question, I’ll give them this one.
Jesus Escobar, QA: There’s a voiced sequence where Rasche doesn’t learn that he should keep his mouth shut, and so his father, Steven, keeps smacking him upside the head every time he interrupts.
Esther Kim, QA: Any scene with Kaph where he reveals personal information on the Witches. But almost any scene with Kaph is hilarious. xD
Gerald Rempis, QA: Kaph getting beaten up for his “comments” on the Witches, and the one time where everyone decides to call Roland is a “perv” when he might not be (or he is secretly one he doesn’t want anyone to know).
Meriel Regodon, QA: I’d say any of the Kaph scenes where he’s being especially Kaph-like and then getting punched…
Mike: Well, there’s Kopin, of course. That’s all you need to know.
When Luminous Arc came out last summer it filled the void of strategy RPGs on the Nintendo DS. Now with Disgaea DS, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and Rondo of Swords out this year what makes Luminous Arc 2 standout?
Mike: Well, there’s Kopin, of course. Isn’t that still enough?
Aram Jabbari, Public Relations Manager: You mean aside from the completely rebuilt interface, improved stylus controls, the brand-new Engagement system, increased difficulty level, and the return of the excellent online multiplayer via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection? Aside from the fact that every single copy of the game is housed in a nice collectible box and includes a soundtrack CD featuring music from the game? Aside from the fact that fans who pre-order from select retailers will receive a 60-page, 7″x10″ full-color art book featuring designs from both Luminous Arc games? No other Nintendo DS game has come with a soundtrack CD included in the retail package (as far as we know). Which game does? That one. *points at Luminous Arc 2*
Clayton: Hey, don’t forget Drone Tactics in your list, Spencer! (Fight on, you plucky robot bugs!) Well, we’re offering probably the greatest pre-order in the history of the DS. I’m not saying that as PR-speak, I mean it. Especially with this being in that holiday season, Luminous Arc 2 would be a killer gift bundle for some lucky gamer friend.
How has Atlus’ relationship with Marvelous changed or not changed now that Xseed is co-publishing Marvelous games in North America? Before it went into play Atlus published a handful of Marvelous games like Contact and Luminous Arc.
Sammy: Our relationship with Marvelous Entertainment Inc. has not really changed. We always pick and discuss our titles to localize with the licensor depending on various conditions and we believe that will continue in the future.
Images courtesy of Atlus.