Cave Chats About Deathsmiles And Overseas Expansion

By Spencer . February 12, 2010 . 3:08pm


Deathsmiles is the start of a new direction for Cave. This horizontally scrolling shooter will be the first Cave shoot ‘em up to leave Japan and it’s their first localized project. We got in touch with Cave to discuss the designing Deathsmiles and what their overseas plans are.


Before we get to the interview meet some of the Deathsmiles team at Cave that answered our questions.


Junya Inoue
Acclaimed manga illustrator, known for his designs of famous shooter titles such as Dodonpachi, ESPrade and Guwange.  Inoue designed the Deathsmiles characters and provided graphical direction for the entire game.  His latest manga work, BTOOOM!, is now on sale via Shinchosha.


Tsuneki Ikeda
Modern master of the manic shooter, Ikeda was a co-founder of CAVE, and is responsible for major hits like Dodonpachi, Mushihime-sama, EspGaluda and more. On Deathsmiles, Ikeda programmed and provided oversight to the project.


Makoto Asada
Maverick producer of Cave’s console ports, responsible for the widely-acclaimed Deathsmiles and Mushihime-sama Futari Ver. 1.5 360 ports.  Currently finishing work on the EspGaluda II 360 port, to be released February 25th in Japan.


Why did Cave go with a gothic lolita theme for Deathsmiles?


Junya Inoue: Given that it’s a popular fashion in Japan, we thought it would be a fresh take to apply that in a really grandiose way to a shooting game.  We also thought it was really effective for creating cute girl characters!


What other elements inspired the design of the game?


JI: Cave has been putting out shooters for over 10 years, and when it was time to come up with a new setting, we decided it might be interesting to make use of "Western Horror", which is probably pretty over-used as a genre.  We designed the game with the idea that somehow these gothic lolita characters would fit comfortably into this macabre puzzle.




Most of Cave’s shooters are tate or vertical scrolling. How come you decided to make a horizontal shooter?


Tsuneki Ikeda: For Deathsmiles, we had this concept during our planning sessions with Junya Inoue of bringing a lot of new users into the shooter genre.  Up until now we had not been exclusively targeting the die-hard shooter players, however Deathsmiles was designed with the idea of attracting "light users" from the beginning, and from the start our goal was to ultimately have the game ported to a home system.


Given this, we thought it best for us to design the game with a horizontal screen, which is the easiest to play on and most attractive graphically.


How is designing a vertical shooter different from a horizontal shooter?


TI: The biggest difference is that it’s much easier to give a sense of depth to the game. When you’re doing a vertical scrolling shooter and trying to project depth, enemies always seem to become flying objects, and when you create an enemy that really winds across the screen, the image looks very flat…


Design-wise, there is a big difference there.


Mushihime-sama Futari Ver.1.5 was released as a region free game, a first for Cave. Did overseas reception meet or surpass your expectations?


Makota Asada: Mushihime-sama Futari was our first region-free game and we were happy enough with the response to finalize our plans for the US release of Deathsmiles.  Ultimately, releasing the game region free doesn’t make as much sense to us as localizing our games and building a real fanbase overseas.  That doesn’t mean that we’re only going to release games in the US of course, it really depends on interest from fans.




Aside from Princess Debut, we haven’t seen any other Cave games in the States. How do you feel about Deathsmiles coming to North America?


MA: We think it’s a good opportunity to bring our games to existing fans and gain new ones who like the style and the gameplay that we’re known for.  Localizing a game is a first for us… so there’s challenges on the development side that we’re finding our way around.


Deathsmiles is our first overseas release because we think Windia and the other angels will be well-received in the US and elsewhere with their anime-style gothic lolita designs.  The game is very eye-catching, with all the crowns and skulls crashing around the horror-themed environment.  Lastly, Deathsmiles is a horizontal shooter, which we think will be more successful the US.


The Deathsmiles announcement has a lot of positive buzz. There’s a Cave fanbase outside of Japan that’s very excited about the news. So, do you think we will see more Cave games released overseas?


MA: Cave is definitely looking in a worldwide direction for the ports of our arcade titles, like Mushihime-sama Futari, EspGaluda II and other games.  We are already thinking worldwide in the sense of how we design our games, and we hope that the US version of Deathsmiles does well enough for us to put out more games around the world.


We are also currently working on a brand-new game for 360 which we haven’t released much information about yet.  This is not an arcade port, but it is being designed with worldwide release in mind.  Definitely keep an eye out for Cave’s future moves!

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  • thaKingRocka

    simply put, this makes me happy. :)

  • nyoron

    But, are they going to be dicks about the full voice dlc this time?

    • Kris

      I think it’s been confirmed that all the Japanese DLC will be on the US disc.

      • nyoron

        Oh that’s good news. I didn’t buy any of the Japanese DLC so If that turns out to be true I might double dip.

  • Kris

    Any chance for a PS3 shooter? Or a DS Donpachi?
    No? :(

    • Saturnus

      would it be so hard to port all those shooters over? I’d buy Deathsmiles in an instant!

  • Great read, and those were very interesting answers that Cave revealed. Not being a core fan of shooters I wouldn’t know if vertical or horizontal shooters are preferred one over the other, or it there was a way to tell in certain markets.

    The most interesting part is their view on region-free and localization. Yeah, it makes total sense that they want a solid fanbase that they want to create. Still, I would give credit to the fans that imported the games along with the systems to play them on. I know I wouldn’t know about the quality shooters out there without their input.
    I can understand their cautiousness about their games being presented or received in the West, or at least it seemed that way by the responses at a couple spots, but now the ice is broken and a lot of people couldn’t be happier about getting the game, as well as other possibilities of international releases.
    On a funny note, there seems to be as many Europeans on the Aksys forums as there are Americans that are interested in region-free titles, so that’s something to think about down the road, Cave ;)

    As for this new game they’re planning for the 360: Princess Debut 2!

  • Good read, can’t wait for DeathSmiles.

    “Cave is definitely looking in a worldwide direction for the ports of our arcade titles, like Mushihime-sama Futari, EspGaluda II and other games.”

    I guess that confirms Espgaluda II will be region free?

    • Maybe it’s just me, but reading that along with their interest in localization statement made earlier makes me think they would put their efforts on that instead.
      Yeah, they made Mushihime-sama Futari region-free, but they might be interested in making a legitimate world-wide release. Who knows…

    • We wish, haha. It’s not gonna be — otherwise the news would be all over the internet by now. The game comes out in twelve days…

    • Whoa, so apparently my pessimism is completely unfounded and the regular edition of ESPGaluda II will be region free. << Megaton.

  • TyeTheCzar

    Sorry, Cave. But Touhou technically beat you to the punch in bringing a Gothic-Lolita(it’s debatable, though) motif into SHMUPs.

    • Highly debatable as in WHATEVER.

    • Kris

      Hell, if you REALLY want to get technical, Cotton kinda did.

  • Much as I want to call this “interview of the forever”, I can’t help but feel a little patronized when I read Deathsmiles is a horizontal shooter, which we think will be more successful the US. Oh yeah, how so? I didn’t know horizontal shooters enjoyed such tremendous success in North America, last time I checked, people were pretty happy with Raiden IV and Fighters Aces. But admittedly, the style and substance behind Deathsmiles’ art direction indeed makes it one of the finest localization candidates.

    Here’s to great success.

  • I think what we should be concerned about most is whether Cave can speed up the localization to the same ability and efforts that companies like Capcom and Arc System Works who’s games are usually released within a week of Japanese release here in the States. It important that they simutaneously develop a English release along with Japanese. It cannot be hard as most Cave games feature little story and the options are already in English. Having people wait over a year for a port is not how to sell a game. Everyone who wanted to play Death Smiles has and I held out until XMAS of this year to play. I will buy a USA port only for all the extra DLC on disc. I think Cave should work on localizing Espgaluda 2 and Mushihimesama Futari Immediately. The market for these games however is really small. Most people will just play once not look into the underlying mechanics and gameplay and ask themselves why they paid full price for a Arcade game they can beat in 25 mins. Keep that in mind when pricing those games as well as $40 dollars may be the maximum you can coax from a US consumer. Games like Raiden IV , Raiden Fighters Aces, Blazblue, Battle Fantasia, Street Fighter IV, and Wartech Senko No Ronde can be found often for $20 or less. Cave also has to keep in mind the will devalue their games by releasing them in the USA unless they have a limited print and some type of MASSIVE LE BOX release like Working Designs or Aksys have been doing in order to not disturb their already frothing fanbase.

    My guess is Espgaluda 2 gets a release in the states between sept-nov as long as Death Smiles does not outright FLOP.

  • crunc

    I tend to like vertical scrolling shooters better, but that won’t stop me from buying this when it’s released. I’ll hope for other Cave shooters to be localized as well. I’d like a US release of Mushihime-sama Futari, in fact – much as I’d really like to get that game, and I could, I don’t like the import price tag. That’s just way too much money for a shooter.

  • masuto

    Cmon everyone! Let’s buy lots of Deathsmiles so we can get that brand new 360 game from Cave!

  • hey spencer:

    I am curious if you had a translator for your CAVE interview or if you Japanese was “perapera”. Either way, impressive journalism!!“`

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