NIS America’s President On Anime, Crossovers, Sakura Wars, And More

By Spencer . June 29, 2010 . 3:37pm

At E3, we met up with Haru Akenaga, President of NIS America, and brought your questions. The first thing we brought up was Super Dimension Game Neptune.

 

image I know it hasn’t been announced, but my readers are excited about Neptune. Do you think NIS America will publish this game in the future?

 

Haru Akenaga, President of NIS America: All I can say now is Idea Factory asked us to localize the game for the US and Europe. We are eager to do that. We are in discussion about the conditions for licensing the title. The deal is almost done.

 

We’ve seen Nippon Ichi characters crossover into a lot of games. Are there any particular series or companies you would like to work with?

 

It’s really hard to ask anyone to use their characters. For Cross Edge, that was a nightmare to get the characters from Capcom. Maybe, it’s going to be tough to do crossover titles in the future.

 

That’s interesting. It seems like crossovers are hot in Japan with collaborations like Monster Hunter and Metal Gear Solid.

 

Idea Factory is going into that direction. They’re trying to get characters from many companies.

 

A long time ago Nippon Ichi announced they had an Xbox 360 developer kit. Are there any plans to move in that direction?

 

No plans so far.

 

At the Nintendo press conference I didn’t see NIS America or Nippon Ichi listed as one of the 3DS developers. Have you thought about working with the 3DS?

 

That’s because we are really close to Sony. Nintendo has priority on which company they are going to release information to. Some companies like Square Enix and Koei Tecmo have development kits already. That’s why they can show some titles today. We just got a development kit.

 

image A few months ago, NIS America released Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love on PlayStation 2 and Wii. How did that do? Did it exceed, perform to or was it not as good as your expectations?

 

Not as good as our expectations.

 

Uh-oh. What’s the fate of Sakura Wars in North America then? I see a lot of my readers are hoping for Sakura 1+2 for PSP.

 

Another publisher tried to get approval from Sony for Sakura Wars 1+2 for PSP, but it was rejected. Once a title is rejected by SCEA there is almost no chance to release the title.

 

What about as a digital download?

 

That’s Sony’s decision. Sony said this is not a game. They said it’s a text novel. They judged it as that, so it’s really difficult to get the license again. It’s also tough to localize Sakura Wars because of the huge amount of text. It took more than two years to complete the localization. That’s more than the development time of the Japanese version.

 

How are you picking out games to localize between titles developed from your parent company like Last Rebellion and third party games like the Atelier series?

 

imageWhen I established this company I talked with the head of Gust to work closely together for US versions. Basically, we’re going to release their titles.

 

Since we got the license for Blade Dancer* we started a relationship with Hit Maker. They told us they are going to make much better titles than Blade Dancer. We funded development of those titles and that’s why we released their titles.

 

Once we got Last Rebellion we realized it was not the kind of title we should release in the United States because of its quality. I feel really sorry for our customers because we released that title. That’s why I told Nao (PR Manager) we have to release the announcement for Last Rebellion, but never push that title. We cannot say it’s a really great title. We felt really sorry, but we had no choice to release that.

 

From now on, even though we fund a title, we will not release it if the quality is not good enough.

 

[* Editor’s Note: Blade Dancer was published by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan and picked up by NIS America.]

 

So, I take it you’re not going to work with Hit Maker anymore?

 

They submitted some concepts, but we rejected all of them so far. Maybe they will make some titles with another company and improve their skills.

 

Aside from the Disgaea studio who are you working with?

 

Imageepoch is making our titles, but those are Japanese titles just for PSP. We’re not sure if we’re going to release those in the United States.

 

image Speaking of the PSP, we haven’t heard about anything about games like Princess Antiphona, Classic Dungeon or Absolute Hero Modding Project. Are any of these coming over?

 

Which one would you want to see most?

 

Personally, Zettai Hero and then Classic Dungeon would be number two.

 

[Makes finger crossing motion and smiles.]

 

I remember the report from your parent company said you’re going to focus on PlayStation 3 overseas. Are you going to still release PSP games.

 

We announced we are going to focus on PlayStation 3 titles on maybe March of this year. Almost all titles that just started in development are PS3 titles.

 

But, you just announced Blue Roses in Japan.

 

Yeah. That title has been in development for more than one year, before we announced we were going to focus on PS3 titles.

 

So, what franchises what will we see, except Disgaea, which one would you want to see on PlayStation 3?

 

We are making new franchise titles on PlayStation 3. We understand it’s going to be really tough because everyone is making sequels.

 

That’s interesting because Disgaea is everywhere. I mean the only thing it isn’t on is Xbox and iPhone. So, you’re only going to focus on new IP?

 

Which one do you think can be a good franchise for PS3?

 

I would imagine Zettai Hero has potential. It’s a dungeon crawler and has Disgaea style art.

 

Our development team is really confident in that title. We would really like to make a sequel to Zettai Hero, but they are waiting to see if the game will be released overseas.

 

imageWhy did NIS America get involved with anime?

 

I think the anime market in the United States crashed and that’s why we started. Many big players are gone now, but their customers are still here. Maybe this is our chance to release anime for hardcore gamers. We realize the anime market is shrinking in the US, but someone needs to release that content.

 

Since you’re close to Sony will we see your anime distributed on PSN?

 

We’re working on it.

 

Oh, one more thing… how is Disgaea 4 doing?

 

Ask me again at TGS.


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