An Impromptu Chat With Marvelous And The President Of Imageepoch

By Spencer . October 27, 2008 . 9:34pm


Back at Tokyo Game Show I caught with Ryoei Mikage, the President of Imageepoch, and Hideyuki Mizutani, Operating Officer at Marvelous Entertainment. We talked about a lot of things. You already know about one of them. We touched on Arc Rise Fantasia’s story, the Arc Rise Fantasia series, and Imageepoch’s future projects. Yes, the Arc Rise Fantasia series. Down the road Arc Rise Fantasia could be part of a series, but this kind of plan will only come into fruition if the first game sells.


I played Arc Rise Fantasia using the Classic Controller. Do you plan to implement motion control too?


Hideyuki Mizutani, Operating Officer at Marvelous Entertainment: For the game you can use the Classic Controller, Gamecube controller, and Nunchuck/Wii remote. But, we don’t really utilize the capability of swinging it since we were thinking of a traditional RPG where you sit down and enjoy it for a long period of time.


Can you tell us about the story?


Ryoei Mikage, President of Imageepoch: There are creatures called Fallen Dragons (note: English names have not been decided yet) and they cause disasters within the world. There is also an energy called Ray, sort of like a magical energy and different countries, different places are fighting against each other over the Ray. The natural balance of the world is thrown off so all of these monsters are appearing. In the midst of that there is a boy and a girl. They both have an important part, sort of like the key of the world. Depending on the decisions they make they can change the balance of the world.




How long do you think it will take for someone to complete Arc Rise Fantasia?


HM: Only the story part alone, probably 40 hours. Include the sub-quests and extra additional parts, 10-20 hours more.


Out of all the main characters which one is your favorite?


RM: We haven’t announced those yet so… it’s hard to say. Please wait. We’ll be announced a male character soon and I like that one.


The one wearing red?


RM: Not that one…


Arc Rise Fantasia is not related to Luminous Arc at all right?


HM: No.


Let’s switch to Luminous Arc for a second. I saw a mobile game at TGS, but are you planning on making another game for the DS or consoles?


HM: For the mobile game it’s based on the first Luminous Arc. As for the using the first Luminous Arc we’re not planning anything to make it into another console game for now.




Are you concerned about the sales of Arc Rise Fantasia on the Wii? Some core games on the Wii haven’t sold so well. Namco Bandai’s Tales of Symphonia, an established brand, might be one of the exceptions.


RM: In our minds if it’s goes close to Tales of Symphonia we’ll be satisfied. We’re thinking about expanding Arc Rise Fantasia into second and third sequels. As for the first one we’re not thinking it’s going to be that much of a big hit.


For a sequel are you thinking of using the same characters or using completely different characters and a new world like the Final Fantasy series?


HM: [Laughs] If we are going to make a sequel, if we can make a sequel it’s closer to Final Fantasy, but I don’t want to say that because Final Fantasy completely changes the story and their characters. It will have common elements, a bit of different characters and a bit of a different story.


Are you already planning a sequel?


RM: No comment. Right now we’re working on a lot of different action games as well so we’re learning and applying action skills. The basic concept of Imageepoch is fantasy games. That doesn’t really mean RPG or action. Our games are within the fantasy genre.


What kind of action game would you make? Would you make one with lots of shaking for the Wii or something very difficult like Ninja Gaiden?


RM: More like Super Mario Galaxy-ish.


So… kind of cute?


RM: We’re experimenting with a Resident Evil-type and we’re also experimenting stuff with a Super Mario Galaxy-type. At Imageepoch it’s not like ‘this is only the type of brand that we do’. It’s like would it be interesting to do this? We don’t really have a solid statement, but we’re playing around a lot.


If you were working on an action game will use the characters from Arc Rise Fantasia or Luminous Arc?


RM: That would be great.


HM: That would be great, but we haven’t thought of that yet.


It seems like Imageepoch has grown so much. Are you hiring people every day to work on new projects?


RM: I have been working in the gaming industry since I was 16 years old, while I was still in high school. I worked at Koei, Square Enix, and Namco Bandai during my high school and college years. All of the people I worked with back then like the movie designer and scenario designer currently at Imageepoch were people that taught me what gaming was about. Since I have a long relationship with them I don’t feel like it’s becoming a different company by hiring, it’s adding my old friends.


Is Marvelous is planning on publishing many more Imageepoch games?


HM: Definitely, that would be great.


RM: We want to take it a step at a time to make something great each and every time. If one title sells you can kind of think we’re making two. If two sells than we’re working on four titles.


For these projects is Marvelous planning them or is Imageepoch pitching games to Marvelous?


HM: Right now, it’s a little bit of both.


RM: Because we have a really good relationship. Honestly, we see each other two or three times a week. It’s not really like getting together and pitching them ideas. We are constantly talking about what we can do so it’s like it would be great to this and vice versa. Sometimes Mizutani-san will come up with three keyword phrases and pitch that to me and I would say what about this kind of game design? Then Mizutani-san would say that exactly was what I was talking about! It’s a really quick process so it’s easy to work with Marvelous.


Right now we’ve seen all of the Marvelous published Imageepoch games come out in America. Are you designing games for Japan first and then seeing if they work for North America or are you making games with a worldwide audience since Marvelous has a partnership with Xseed?


HM: We’re thinking about the US from the beginning.


Images courtesy of Marvelous / Xseed.

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  • Mazen

    Its sad when you see these hard worker with enthusiasm’s first try fail miserable like what happened with World Destruction huge anime with expensive 15 or more different ads and Sega slashes 60% of the price in 20 days, Iam really angry at the Japanese they should support new energetic companies like this hopefully there next games fare better.

  • Vrakanox

    Man, thanks a lot for posting this. It was a really great read as I am looking very much forward to this game and I am a big fan of Imageepoch games. I think It would be awesome if they made a resident evil type game with some fantasy elements. Anyway, I am definetely going to preorder this game for sure. It looks amazing.

  • lostinblue

    Ugh… Oh, no, not the “wii games haven’t been selling” thing again.

    Wii sold more games in US than X360 did this year. As for this game, it’s a new franchise let’s hope it’ll sell, but expect through the roof numbers would be out of place in any platform.

    What to say of X360, that while investing money ammounts rivaling Final Fantasy on Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, second party and advertised like hell no less, failed to sell 1 million? Now if I was making a RPG for the X360 I’d be worried, yet no one asks developers that, it’s always the Wii, seriously; it’s a myth, and a misplaced one.

  • Shuyin

    Wii sold more games than the X360? :)))

    Firstly, read again: it was mentioned in the article that only ‘some core games’ don’t sell very well on the Wii (which is a truism). Wii may have sold lots of games, but Wii Music and Wii Sports don’t count as core games.
    Secondly, Gears of War 2 will probably sell in a month as much as all Wii games sold throughout the whole year.

    The lack of sales for core games on the Wii is a myth only in your head, lostinblue (btw i love the series, though i haven’t played Lost in Blue 3).

    PS: RPGs sell on the X360. Fable 2 will most probably sell more copies than all Wii RPGs combined.

  • I don’t know of any good RPGs that have been published on Wii so far, so it’s kind of hard to say that they won’t sell. With an install base of 30 million, there’s bound to be a number of people that buy at least some of these games.

    After all, no one expected No More Heroes to sell either. And it did.

  • jarrod

    “some core games” don’t sell on every platform, even 360. Wii has had a bit of a problem with JRPGs selling natively to this point, but then Wii’s also had a problem securing any real notable efforts in the genre too (though as noted, the Tales spinoff did pretty well, better than any PS3 or 360 JRPG yet actually). ARF should be a good barometer honestly.

    And Wii’s actually sold more 3rd party software than 360 in the US… Wii Sports or Wii Play aren’t even a factor. If comparing 1st party efforts, Gears probably won’t outsell Mario Kart, Smash Brawl or Wii Fit either, much less combined.

  • jeffx

    I like that they set their expectations low — hopefully they’ll get pleasant results. I’m totally buying one! Thanks for the interview!

  • Mazen

    Shuyin there is so much wrong in the info in your post the amazingly hugely advertised to ridiculous point Gears of War 1 sold little more than 3 millions launch to date (in 2 years) Wii software do few times that every month,
    and its an establish fact from npd since late last year that Wii software combined sell more than 360 monthly, also Fable is one of the 2 best selling WRPG oblivion the other one, first Fable with MS level advertisement sold 600k its first month its hard to compare this with wii RPG since they are only spinoffs tales and Dragon quest sworda which sold 700-800k worlwide,
    but I still see problem with hardcore games sales with Wii only in japan games like Disaster, No more heroes (did great in the US),We love golf, nights, Sky crawler (kinda early on that) and others I don’t remember now all had atrocious sales in japan.

  • lostinblue

    Shuyin you’re wrong, Wii Sports is not counted on sales numbers for obvious reasons, and Wii Play is removed from a lot of counts and yet it still shows the aforementioned difference in sales, and if you look up for United States comparative data… Wii is selling more third party games than X360 was selling when it had Wii’s age by quite a bit actually (and this get’s rid of the “oh noes Wii Fit!” and all that I suppose) and this year it really sold more software with a pretty clear edge; and we’re still going “why is it selling, a lot of the games are crap” but it is selling, does anyone think that with better software all around this software would sell worse? (and it’s not selling bad at all to start with)that’s like saying that X360’s tie-ratio is good but has nothing to do with the quality of the software. Wii’s capacity to sell and sell software really shouldn’t be questioned at this point.

    Yet and despite games selling and selling more than X360 does with killer apps and moneyhats we still have a lot of people ignoring that data and going “games have a problem selling on the Wii” yet most core games sold pretty well and some without any advertising, or without sufficient advertising when compared to other platforms to boot.

    Thus, really… Journalists should stop making such a huge fuzz around “wii games don’t sell” it’s not true, been there done that, move on. The question wether this game will sell or not is of course valid, and the developers are right to not expect big sales rivaling those of a established IP… but they’d be wise to expect that in any platform… and it’s the way the question was done, that’s not a Wii fault at all, and shouldn’t be implied as so, like it is… SYSTEMATICALLY.

    For one Wii is cheaper to develop and these guys are starting, why going for HD consoles, that, don’t sell in japan, and neither have managed to sell 1 million units even with RPG’s rivaling a HD final fantasy in development costs? not to mention a lower userbase. yet… if that was the case no one would question that and it’s fine really, but then why having to say in every interview for a Wii game “aren’t you worried, you know… this is the Wii”, it’s sort of a selective idea, that always falls on the Wii, but somehow doesn’t aflict any other platform, despite them selling less hardware, less software and having higher development costs and often bigger advertising campaigns and effort in the third party software altogether.

  • Vrakanox

    By the way, for anyone who is interested and doesn’t know. The main site was recently updated with some BGM which sounds simply incredible. There is also more info about the world, battle system and even a new character. He looks to be like some sort of purple haired necromancer. For some reason though the voice actor for him is female. I guess that isn’t too rare in these types of games though. Arc Rise Fantasia appears to really be shaping up at this point.

  • lostinblue

    ^ I didn’t knew, I’m going there now to listen that BGM.

    I was kinda sad with the trailer music actually knowing it was yasumi mitsuda (or his studio, after luminous arc… we dunno) since they often use theme musics in those and it just seemed… uninspired for mitsuda.

    Thankfully everything else in the vid rocked though

  • Shuyin

    The GoW part was clearly an exaggeration. I was just trying to make a point (by exaggerating things). I didn’t even say anything about the 1st GoW. If you read again i said GoW2 will sell better than all Wii software sold throughout the whole year. Which i reiterate, is clearly an exaggeration. I was just trying to make a point, the point being that core games haven’t sold well on WII.
    I didn’t know No More Heroes sold well in the US, but i know it sold only one copy at its launch party in Japan (and that copy was bought by a Famitsu editor iirc). If i’m not mistaken, Disaster didn’t perform very well so far either.

    But really now, can anyone say a 3rd party hardcore game sold great (great = 1 million copies or better) on the WII? Of course N games (Mario, Zelda) sell well… However, i think they’re the only games that sell well on the WII.

    As things are, with only few games selling millions of copies(and those games being 1st party), the fact the ‘some core games’ (if not most core games) don’t sell well on the WII is a truism.
    note: it really depends on what everyone understands by selling well, as everything is of course subject to relativism.

  • jarrod

    NMH exceed expectations… I don’t have figures handy, but I think it shipped in excess of 350k worldwide within 3 months. It’s basically Grasshopper’s best selling game ever at this point, better than anything they made for PS2 even.

    One million units is a pretty high benchmark, a figure which no PS3 or 360 games have managed to make in Japan, 3rd party or otherwise. Looking at worldwide figures though, quite a few 3rd party Wii games have managed it (Red Steel, Resident Evil 4, Sonic & the Secret Rings, RE Umbrella Chronicles, Lego Star Wars, etc). Wii actually has more 3rd party million sellers than PS3.

  • lostinblue

    Shuyin so you’re defending that your exageration is an exageration and thus has no bearing? then what’s the point of it? being an untrue exageration just for the kicks? O_o it’s like you’re falling into your own argument.

    Wii sold more software this year in US than X360 did, total units, games, retail software; full stop. And this is not an exageration, full stop.

    Will GoW2 outsell all that? obviously not. And the sooner we’re over that the better. This is not a “Oh I think X game will sell more, in fact, that game alone will outsell everything!” it’s total sales, and reality, not opinion, preference or whatever, otherwise there’s no point in doing a discussion, if we’re just gonna make up “our” facts based on our perception alone.

    As for million seller games from third party’s? Resident Evil, Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles, Sonic and The Secret Rings (really great game actually), red steel (crap ubisoft game, but isn’t it aimed at “hardcore”?) and we could go on. All this third party, if you wanted Nintendo you’d have way more.

    And even then, so the argument now is “hey hardcore games don’t sell like GoW2 will sell, or GTA4, or Silent Hill, or…”? Because if that’s it… First off, GoW2 is published by Microsoft Game Studios right? and certainly Nintendo is a worthy competitor to that, with good hardcore games at that.

    And if we’re going at third party’s… where’s the GoW2 equivalent in appeal for instance? Where is that effort in third party’s as of now? And despite that… Wii sold more software this year than a platform with lots of third party’s going all out, total software sales, full stop.

    It’s not just the machine that’s selling, the games are too, and third party ones at that. If they’d put their heart into it they could sell even more.

    Really flawed logic you have going there, really, just give it up; no one is murdering X360 or anything here, we’re stating facts, not comparing what can’t be compared, there have been bigger high profile games at X360, and bigger marketing around them, so of course Wii doesn’t have a third party game rivaling the sales of GTA4… But isn’t that because there’s no GTA4 for the Wii? what’s the solution?

    What about instead of always backtracking to the “it won’t sell” because software is selling and all that, going for “do such game on the Wii and see?”. Hell, Dragon Quest Swords a crappy on-rails spin-off of an RPG sold 710.000 units, that’s as much as Blue Dragon that came out first and is a full fledged, high budget RPG; and second party microsoft published at that.

    Let’s stop being self centered and look at the facts like they are. Hardcore games don’t sell on the Wii? Bullcrap, and how about actually doing them? Because if x developer won’t… Another developer might try to capitalize on that, this is the case actually, a small publisher like marvelous with a previously handheld-only developer doing a killer RPG because Square-Enix is too busy mindless blasting money under Nomura.

    This could cost them in the long run too, because the market has shifted and there’s a big userbase here, do you think when FF7 took off most gamers were familiar with it? no, hence it was the first RPG for them, and the reason why a lot of them still remember it as one hell of a game. And… was PSone regarded as hardcore? hell no, I even remember in Japan it was the oposite, Saturn was the hardcore one, and when in multiplatform releases Saturn used to sell more despite having a lower userbase (and this is not even appltable to the Wii, the Wii is hands down selling more), but it was regarded a “casual platform” (no such thing as casual); but was it? I’ll let story tell the rest.

    If some developers don’t swallow that, and journalists at this point, instead of going for the surface standard and already proven wrong “stereotype” over and over again… It’s like they’re living a “groundhog day” made into a console generation, but where they’re the only ones for whoom the actual situation isn’t changing; so get on with the times.

  • Shuyin

    I used NMH’s launch-party as an example, because i remember that even the game’s director was disappointed with the sales and said something like ‘hardcore games don’t sell on WII’. If, in the end, the game sold more than he was expecting, that’s great for him.

    However, i wasn’t talking about J-only sales. It’s hard for games that aren’t Dragon Quest or Zelda or Final Fantasy to sell over 1 million copies in Japan.
    I meant worldwide sales and i totally disagree that WII has the most 3rd party million sellers. Even the PS3 has some million sellers: MGS4 (4 millions) and Motorstorm 1* (3 millions – february 200), while other multiplatform games (like CoD 4 to name one) have reached the million mark on all consoles iirc. And i’m not even talking about the X360 which destroys N’s WII when it comes to 3rd party million sellers.

    On the other hand, i didn’t know about RE4WII and the other 3rd party WII games that managed to sell 1 million copies. So color me surprised. If those games really reached the 1 million mark, i admit i was wrong. I wasn’t aware of those figures, so i guess hardcore games can sell great on WII too.

    Nevertheless, i still find the “Wii sold more software this year in US than X360 did” argument very out of place, because i’m sure most of those numbers consist of WII Fit and other casual games. If you’re telling me that de blob, boom blox and trauma center (and whatever other 3rd party WII games youi want) sold more copies than GTA 4, Halo 3 and CoD4 (which both belong to the 2008 fiscal yearn), then i’m simply going to laugh. Really now, you can’t be serious about that.

    *when they made the 1st Motorstorm, Evolution were a 3rd party development studio. They were acquired by Sony later.

  • lostinblue

    ^ Actually… Zelda sells jack shit in Japan, considering how it behaves outside japan, it’s a cultural thing I guess.

    No More Heroes… sure it sold 50k in Japan (and No More Heroes 2 aparently won’t get a japanese release), but it’s still Suda’s 51 fastest selling title over there, that’s faster than Killer 7 on both GC and PS2 to boot… who combined had a way bigger userbase at the time. Of course it’s still little, but even the release week managed to top killer7’s sales. The guy deserves to sell more and all that… but it’s not a platform thing at all.

    Now Wii has more million sellers than PS3 (I remember hearing 28 million sellers already), and while motorstorm is first/second party you have plenty nintendo games on the 3 million mark, MGS4… right, and where’s the third party game with half the budget and half the marketing? ;)

    Also, we didn’t have CoD4, but we had CoD3 and it has been said that it sold more on the Wii than PS3, specially in Europe where the demand for it was really big.

    But yeah, Wii has more million sellers this year alone than PS3 has (mario kart and Smash bros to boot, released in 2008), laugh all you want, it’s true. And weren’t we talking about total sales? now you’re trying to shift it to the biggest sellers? hey, hello? Wii sold more total units of software than X360, next to that; in fact, next to X360, PS3 is like holding a candle in the back really. So what’s the point?

    As for the “oh Motorstorm 1 is third party” who published it? Sony Computer Entertainment, who paid it’s development? Sony. Going by that you could say Insomniac is not Sony’s (and thus their games are third party, which they aren’t), and it actually isn’t owned by sony to this day (look it up ;)) They just chose to be exclusive to Sony platforms, and get funding for it (hence second party because they want to and not because Sony owns the majority of the company), it’s sony’s just the same, just like motorstorm.

  • jarrod

    It’s not a matter of opinion, Wii has more 3rd party million sellers than PS3. It’s lagging 360 obviously, but overall it actually has more million sellers than 360 too (thanks to Nintendo’s stronger 1st party lineup).

    And Shuyin, you seem to be mixing arguments by bringing in 1st party games like Motorstorm (which only reached 3m thanks to EU bundles) and Halo 3. But, singling out 1st party games is pretty arbitrary anyway, especially if you’re looking at the overall userbase demand for “core” games.

    The best selling games for 2008 so far are (in order, US only) Smash Brawl, GTA4 360, Mario Kart Wii, GTA4 PS3 and Wii Fit… 4 out of 5 are easily classed as traditional “core” games and half those are on Wii even. Now while it’s true 3rd party games haven’t been performing on level with Nintendo’s top efforts, there’s also been a lack of real AAA level 3rd party efforts on the machine too. Wii frankly hasn’t gotten anything on level with GTA4 or MGS4, so why should it’s comparable second stringer 3rd party efforts be expected to perform as if they were? When you compare like with like (ie: multiplatform games) many are now performing best on Wii (like Guitar Hero, Lego Star Wars, Tiger Woods, etc) though obviously not all (Madden sticks out).

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