By Spencer . May 7, 2009 . 2:08pm
Yes, Super Robot Taisen OG: Saga Endless Frontier is in stores. Maybe you’re an expert Endless Frontier combo chainer. Even if you are you’re going to want to read this interview where Atlus gives us a behind the scenes look at Endless Frontier and explains how they localized the humor.
Can you tell us about the story?
Michael Meeker, Lead Editor: The story, huh? Once upon a time… Or maybe it’s upon several times, what with history being fractured… Or in the future, so it’s once upon what will have been a time… Ugh. Let’s start over.
There is a bunch of worlds separated by dimensional portals called Cross Gates. Haken Browning hails from Lost Herencia, a futuristic world that seems to have suffered some kind of cataclysm, as there are broken robots and crashed spaceships all over the place. He’s nominally an “artifact hunter,” someone who combs the wasteland for useful salvage, but also takes on bounty hunting to keep things interesting.
One day, he’s scouting a ship’s hulk with his partner and machine girl Aschen when the two of them discover Kaguya Nanbu, princess of the kingdom of Kagura Amahara, sleeping in the ship. Kaguya is on a pilgrimage across the known worlds, a tradition of her family since time immemorial, and Haken volunteers to see that she gets home safely, earning himself a fat paycheck in the process. However, things aren’t always that easy, and a threat appears that begins to upset the stability of the various worlds of the Endless Frontier.
How does Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier connect with other Super Robot Taisen games?
MM: There are a lot of various references. Most notably, Haken Browning and Kaguya Nanbu are obviously based on Sanger Zonvolt and Excellen Browning, and Aschen appears to be from the same line of androids as Lamia Loveless. At first, we had the assumption that these were references that didn’t really have anything to do with the “main” storyline of the SRTOG series, but near the end there are some things that could only happen if Endless Frontier was included in the continuity of the OG games. They may never interact directly, but the Endless Frontier does seem to be one of those side universes that keep popping up in the SRT games.
Aram Jabbari, Manager of PR and Sales: Another more literal connection exists. If you have a copy of one of the original games in the GBA slot of your DS when you start up Endless Frontier, you will be rewarded with a bonus item (the nature of which depends on whether you had OG1 or 2 in your GBA slot).
MM: Oh, yeah. Ohhhhh yeah.
AJ: Hurrrrrrrrr! Hurrrrrrrrr!
Were the jokes a handful to localize? Can you give us an example of some of them?
AJ: *snicker* Handful…
MM: The interesting thing is how blatant the humor is in the original. For all of Haken’s claims to be a clever and suave ladies’ man, he’d walk right up and say, “Hey! Big-boobed lady!” which… isn’t so classy in English. We kept the spirit of the harassment, but added some more wordplay and jokes to keep the tone funny without crossing over into instant predator territory.
Not all the humor has to do with sex, of course. For instance, at one point Xiaomu calls Haken’s huge tank a “Grobda,” a reference to the Xevious enemy (and star of a game in its own right). I just love how random and esoteric that is, so we left it in.
Was it difficult writing the text so the game got a T-rating?
MM: Not really! I mean, you have to be pretty explicit or foul-mouthed to get an M just through dialogue. The best innuendo is relatively clean in delivery, but turns dirty when you think about it.
AJ: We are unwilling to make significant changes in the localization process with the intention of affecting the final ESRB rating. It’s a disservice to our fans for that consideration to influence our work.
MM: Aside from the proper naming conventions, the Xenosaga elements aren’t referenced much at all. A player who doesn’t know the series will be left wondering why T-elos has such a determined grudge against KOS-MOS, but there isn’t time or space in the game to summarize what happened in the other game series.
What about Reiji and Xiaomu? Both characters first appeared in Namco x Capcom, but this will be North America’s first time meeting them. How were they localized?
MM: Reiji and Xiaomu introduce themselves rather well when Haken and crew first meet them, so there’s no “Wait, who the heck are these guys?” moment. I don’t want to say that they’re archetypical characters, but both of them were pretty easy to write for. Interestingly, they met KOS-MOS for the first time in Namco X Capcom, so when the group finds her in Endless Frontier there’s some recognition.
AJ: It’s hard to forget a chassis like that…
Actually, the battle system is sort of like Namco x Capcom. How do fights in Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier work?
Sammy Matushima, Project Lead: The battle system does share similarities with Namco X Capcom, such as the way you can chain attacks into combos. In Endless Frontier, the battles are more tuned to enhance the speed and chaining of attacks. Unlike the single or paired units in the former game, all units are streamlined into 1 party. Your party has up to 4 Front members and 4 Back members; the front members are the base party and the back members are there for support attacks. Battles start with 1 of your 4 Front members attacking a single enemy in the enemy party.
Attacks will lift the enemy off the ground, and during that time you can: a) call in a Back member to jump in for a chain attack, and quickly leap back, or b) switch off the chain to another Front member if their turn comes next. What this does is create a series of super chain attacks that deal a great amount of damage by “juggling” the enemy. There’s a bit more complexity to it, but the key concept to battles is this crazy “juggling” like you see in fighting games. It gets really addictive once you get a super long combo going! I could go on, but that’ll be an entire website full of detail, so be sure to check out our official website and videos.
MM: The secret is…
…timing. Sorry, that joke doesn’t work so well in text.
SM: Just a small hint: learn how your character’s attack skills hit and lift the enemy and arrange your skills so that you can quickly adjust attack timing; the game allows you to customize the order of the attack skills you’ve learned. Individual attack skills have differing hit counts and speed and it is up to you to adjust the attack timing to connect to the next attack skill. If you know how long each of your attack skills last, it’s much easier to connect to a new attack and keep the chain alive.
What happened with the voice acting?
SM: We kept the original Japanese voice acting intact. No English voices were recorded for the game, mostly for technical reasons. Originally, we did look into replacing the voices into English, but the voice system was so complex that we had to give up on that idea. We’re sorry we couldn’t provide a dub, but the original Japanese cast did such an awesome job that it was a no-brainer to leave the Japanese voices in.
Did Atlus make any changes or enhancements for the US version?
SM: This game was really well made in its original form, so most of our involvement was just in providing the proper localization as our editor answered above. Great games don’t need much enhancing to make them great :)
AJ: Enhancements? How rude! This game is 100% natural. Seriously though, Sammy hit the nail on the head: you don’t have to do much to make a gem shine.
It’s great that we’re getting Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier, but what about the two PlayStation 2 Super Robot Taisen Original Generation games?
AJ: Spencer… Spencer…