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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  • lostinblue

    SCEA rejected it because of their utterly ridiculous stance on “ports of old games without extra content” not being allowed, they’ll allow the new horrible and unoptimized cross platform need for speed to come out but not a port of a good game that never came out of Japan; same happened with Princess Crown, Breath of Fire 3 and Tales of Eternia, among a few others.I’d say it’s hopeless; hopefully a port can be made, perhaps for 3DS providing converting the code is easy enough.As for Sakura Wars sales… I won’t say serves them right, but I’ll say I stubbornly didn’t buy the game in protest for the fact they crippled the Wii version, and a lower price tag just wouldn’t satisfy me, in fact I felt it insulted my intelligence. Might still buy the PS2 version but only when it’s really cheap to do so.

    Also regarding one of the questions, Disgaea is also not on the Wii.

    And I’m the first to dismiss anything to do with gaming on the iphone/ipod touch, but I actually have a mild interest in strategy-RPG’s on it, providing they’re done well (which for the record I don’t know if it can be done, but I assume would need way bigger menu’s and characters to be precise)… So consider me mild interested, if a s-RPG developer was to do something for it.

    I don’t think there’s momentum on it to ask for a big price though, so maybe they should do a endless s-rpg spin-off of sorts, without plot, just characters and the item world, it’s for a portable system after all so it’s only meant to kill time rather than reading laughing at the antics, would save space considering it would be a virtual release too.

    • http://www.tbstactics.com mjemirzian

      There are already quite a few tactics games for iphone.

      • lostinblue

        Thing is, from what I gathered, none of them are all that well executed, and just saying, Disgaea is one of the better executed ones out there, and one of the few in that situation who’re third party (meaning that, if they ported the engine to a arm architecture such as the DS, perhaps they could do a quick and dirty job just porting the item world to the ipod touch/iphone, albeit with higher resolution sprites (because they’ll have to be bigger than normal) and menus being made. I believe they’ll have to redo most of the sprites on higher resolutions for a newer HD game anyway (or even SD, since their sprites are meant for 320×240) so they could do it as a part time endeavour.

        As for iPod touch S-RPG’s… I’ve toyed with the idea of purchasing Song Summoner and will continue doing so though. And if you have any suggestions in that genre I’ll gladly take note of them.

        • http://www.tbstactics.com mjemirzian

          iphone and ipod touch are the same platform

          If you want to see what games are available, check my list. I currently have 19 listed although I may have missed some:

          http://www.tbstactics.com/2010/04/list-of-turn-based-tactics-and-srpg.html

          • lostinblue

            I know, but I have an iPod touch, so… I tend to refer to that specific model rahter than a iPhone. :)

            As for the list, I’m eternally thankful for it, I’ll be sure to take my time inspecting all those titles to see if anyone caters to my tastes on it, hopefully yes!

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      It doesn’t come out well in print, but I was kidding about that, sort of. That was an example of how NIS tends to bring their games and series to other platforms.

      • lostinblue

        Yes, I got the sense of what you were trying to convey.It’s true that they should do cross platform; and should be asked to because their tech is so subpar it’s actually a advantage. For instance, I think Disgaea 3 should have been released as well for the PSP and perhaps PS2, hell, Wii and X360 too, why not?Disgaea 3 is fine as it is and where it is, but it could be a PS2 game (yes I know people will argue with me and bring the DLC argument up) but fact is… if the userbase accepts it for what it is anyway, then it’s a strong point for NISA, that they aren’t exploiting enough.Their tech is nothing special, it’s not hardware intensive or dependent on specific hardware features, therefore it’s easy to port… And should be ported, like mad. I mean, they could even avoid porting, they could build it platform independent from the get go.

        Rather than asking for a specific platform support (xbox or wii, doesn’t matter… or even 3DS) we could be asking for them to keep that tech/spec and work their way into releasing everywhere in an inexpensive way (inexpensive in the sense that it doesn’t really add to their costs).

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

          I personally like that they’ve stayed loyal to their fanbase and stayed, for the most part, Sony-only. NISA games were a big part of why I bought a PS3, so if others want to play their console games, they should do the same.

          • lostinblue

            I disagree, if they are a third party and their game is not exclusive for technical reasons (and is easy as hell to make cross platform without spending a dime) then they simply can make more money supporting other platforms, including other platforms from the same playstation brand too; I really think that could be a strong point of their business model.

            It’s not so much a “that game shouldn’t be there” or “that shouldn’t be exclusive” no doubt it would sell more on the PS3 than say, Wii or X360, because the franchise was, up until the DS port, exclusive to Playstation consoles. But it would broaden their spec and reach more people nonetheless so I think it’s worth doing.

            It’s not like PS-guys will stop buying them because it hits other platforms, if they do they’re quite honestly… bollocks.

            I’m also not saying I have anything against “that”, I just think it’s free money they’re throwing away (whereas, if I felt such ports would be just too expensive, would take too many resources that would best be used on a new game or unfeasible I’d probably not advocate them)

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            I would say that if they went and put games on the 360, I’d be a lot more particular about which of their titles I’d pick up. Right now, NISA = buy. No questions asked, due to their support of my chosen platform. If they were to dilute that, then I’d still pick up the titles that I really wanted like Ar Tonelico 3 and Disgaea 3, but something like Atelier Rorona, which I know nothing about as I’ve never played the previous games in the series, would probably be passed over.

            I show loyalty to those who show loyalty to me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

      I think they shouldn’t have even bothered with a Wii port of Sakura Wars. They really should’ve just focused on the PS2 version.

      • lostinblue

        They should have bothered to offer the same value for the same price as the PS2 version, that is all. To nuke their plans after they promised not to was just a huge letdown really.

        But supporting the wii is not something useless, specially considering it’s a market leading platform whereas PS2 is just dying, and they can only get away with those graphics on Wii or PSP.

        I think they commited a seemingly huge calculation error with it though, which was releasing one game and aparently giving up right afterwards on the franchise, in the eyes of this site we always knew it wouldn’t be a straight hit, then again, was disgaea 1 a hit when it came out? (I remember seeing it on lists of “best games no one played”) I guess no, but NISA kept insisting, showing commitment to it, that’s really important.

        Unfortunately, most of those games if translated now, could only be released on PS2 and Wii anyway so Wii would be a good platform to establish it, with the apropriate insistence. (and whilst not ditching the PS2, since it’s there in the original build material)

        If they’re not gonna be insistent though, I agree, their effort was most likely for nothing.

    • superdry

      Gotta love SCEA. Their stance on ports on the PSP and also during the PS2 era denied us some good Japanese titles. I think that’s one reason why we never got Tales of Rebirth or the proper Tales of Destiny 2 here at least on the PS2.

      At least the Tales of Eternia and Breath of Fire 3 port did get released in Europe though. Unfortunately, the games are hard to track down for some people.

      I am sad that Sakura Taisen didn’t do as well as they expected. I’m surprised though since the PS2 version is out of print, but one can still find the Wii version in stock. I guess they are looking at the overall picture combined sales of both versions.

    • JC

      It’s not their only ridiculous rule! There’s also a no Japanese audio rule, they used to have a no 2D games rules, and they didn’t want RPG’s both in the beginning of the PSX and PS2 eras!

      So there’s actually plenty of RPG’s prior to FF7 we didn’t get, because SCEA had a no RPG rule! They refused games with beautiful 2D sprites, and allowed games with ugly 3D, because they thought allowing only 3D games would give a more “high-tech” image to the PS2…

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

        Weird. I could’ve sworn Yakuza 3 and Way of the Samurai had Japanese audio. Maybe I should get my ear checked.

        • lostinblue

          Sure, and Odin Sphere is a strictly 2D game… on PS2. But years prior, we had a publisher complaining SCEA wouldn’t allow Tales of Destiny II to release, because it was 2D.

          Some of those rules aren’t being invoked anymore (and shouldn’t be), and some exceptions were made nonetheless (I know the 2D rule was nuked, but I don’t know about the dub one; I know though that Yakuza 2 had to have a special authorization back then to not having a English dub).

          But that doesn’t change that such rules existed, and such rules made it so that some GREAT games couldn’t make it to the PSP (and PS2), and if you’re gonna be stubborn and act like the late minister of information of iraq… you’re better of not arguing about stuff you obviously don’t know, to be blunt here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            Sure, those rules used to exist, but complaining about them now is like complaining about rats because they might give you the Black Plague. The past is the past. EA used to be a big evil corporation that went out of its way to crush creativity. Nintendo used to not allow blood on their system. I used to be a big Sega fanboy who refused to ever buy anything from Nintendo or Sony. Times change.

          • lostinblue

            “used to” is flickle, like said, in September 2008, when Yakuza 2 shipped they were still at place seeing the game had to get permission to not be dubbed; I’d suspect Yakuza 3 got the same treatment, because it’s quite simply one of the best games on the platform, and PS3 needs those games. And September 2008 is not that long ago too.

            Plus, the “stupid rule” of “no ports without extra content are allowed” is still at place, and it has been doing more harm than good for a long time; Sakura Wars 1+2 being an example, and Princess Crown and Devil Summoner, games released on PSP that are Japan only (and while being ports, the originals were japan only as well) not being allowed to release outside due to stupid policies, that are at place.

            It’s not in the “past”. Plus, you should learn to put stuff in perspective, EA was never “evil” it just got a lot of hate from the flickle fanbase, just like Activision gets now, it’s cyclic and happens to whoever is market leader on this market, they suddenly turn into the “evil developer” everyone wants to shoot down because they obviously know how to do money. I mean, hell, aren’t they better than Ubisoft? yes they are, both of them.

            As for Nintendo… different times, a lot of people fail to understand that, the age ratings back then were just kicking in, if not totally absent:

            -> http://www.411mania.com/siteimages/mortal_kombat_game_48782.jpg

            Meaning without that scapegoat the manufacturers could be held responsible about whatever content available for their platform and the fact someone could buy them, now knowing it wasn’t meant for *insert age group*, in hindsight it might not have been the wisest decision, but it wasn’t without a reason.

            Yup, you’ve changed alright, but judging for the way you’re defending sony here, with that I don’t know if it was for the better, or just for another camp.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            2 years ago is the past. I’m not sure if you’re fully cognizant of how linear time works, but 2 years ago is still the past.

            As for the no ports without extra content, I happen to like that rule. Makes me feel less ripped off when I get something a year after the 360. Does it do harm sometimes? Of course, it does. But I like getting extra characters and mazes.

            And if you want to imply things, just come out and say them. It’s not like I agree with pretty much ANYTHING you’ve ever had to say, so go ahead. You wanna call me a fanboy, feel free. Do you see me saying anything negative about, say, “Xenoblade,” even though I won’t be able to play it? Hell, do you see me whining that it should be ported? The game looks pretty damn good and if the Wii had a ton of titles like that, guess what system I’d be buying.

            The thing is that I miss the days of console exclusivity. I miss the days before Microsoft’s cash diluted everything. Where systems actually had an identity of their own. Long ago, I owned a PS2, but the Gamecube had all the new Resident Evil games. Can you guess what I had decided to do? That’s right. Buy a Gamecube, so I can play them. Humorously enough, the week before I was to buy it, they announced RE4 for the PS2, so I decided against buying the system.

            In other words, I go where the games I want are. I’m sorry that you’re still stuck on things that happened years ago and seem to think that people who didn’t buy a particular system should be able to play particular games. They shouldn’t. You want NISA games? Buy a PS3. Period. Has nothing to do with being a fanboy. It has to do with console identity, which, if anything I wish Microsoft had actually worked to establish, instead of just grabbing everything Sony had established on the PS2.

            I may put down the Wii for its excessive casual focus, but, at least, they’ve kept an identity. An identity that Microsoft seems to be going out of its way to grab. Why wouldn’t I be against that?

    • Joanna

      Kind of makes me wish Spencer asked why the Wii version got the short end of the stick. I still picked up the Wii Sakura Wars because while Japanese VAs is nice, I don’t mind if games don’t have it. Plus I have a weird suspicion my PS2 is going to fail on me soon. :’(

  • http://twitter.com/charliesabers Carlos Escalante

    Poor NIS. I’m sad Sakura Wars didn’t do so well….but I did my part.

    I think they’re on the right track, though, and focusing on PS3 seems like a good bet. I like that they accept they have released crappy games on PS3 (Last Rebellion and Cross Edge) and hope they adhere to a higher quality standard. I fully intended to purchase those games, but I just can’t buy bad games for the sake of supporting a publisher.

    I’m really looking forward to Atelier Rorona, seems like a charming little gem…but I really thought they should’ve given it priority over trash like LR.

    • http://www.otakustudy.com/ Sam

      Wow…. they seemed to be very open and honest, tis why I like Nippon Ichi and always will~

      Super Dimensional Game Neptune I feel is almost 110% certain, I suppose they just need the appropriate time to announce it, since from the public reception for the game, wouldnt surprise me if it could match or even better the reputation of the Disgaea series….

      Oh… and I get the feeling I am one of the few that actually enjoyed Last Rebellion..

  • runesong

    Wow, great interview! I’m really impressed with how honest Akenaga was about Last Rebellion. I really respect a leader that can own up to making a bad call.
    That’s a rare quality.

    Thanks for putting this together, Spencer. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that articles like this are the reason that Siliconera remains at the top of my favorites list. :)

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      Thank you. Even though I don’t comment as much as I’d like. I do read all of the feedback and tailor our coverage to what readers here want.

      • epiphaniesarefun

        I completely agree with all that was said above: amazing interview. My respect for NIS just went up a notch for the honesty of Mr. Akenaga. Thanks so much!

        • http://www.facebook.com/AllenSmithee Samuel Smithee Bateman

          Agreed again, and likes to you all!

      • Kris

        <3

      • thebanditking

        Yeah great interview Spencer! One of the better ones I have read in a long time, though like runesong said hats off to Akenaga he truly seems to be a rare leader in todays business world.

    • Pesmerga00

      Ditto!

    • Vino (Tim N)

      Awesome feedback. I agree with you. Akenaga was really honest overall and didn’t really dodge questions like you see in most interviews.
      This was a great interview, and I his answer to the anime releases in North America. I really hope it doesn’t flop, and they keep releasing anime.

  • http://denpanosekai.blogspot.com denpanosekai

    Flabbergasted at the honest Last Rebellion answer. It seemed like he just wanted to get if off his chest, too. Frankly I would buy it if it was 9.99$ or something. Why is it still 50$ everywhere if they just want to forget about it?Neptune is a sure-buy and I could see it getting decent sales here. Same with Zettai Hero and Classic Dungeon, although they should keep low expectations. The Sakura Wars fiasco was to be expected, as cool as the game was.

    • http://twitter.com/manasteel88 Mana

      Seeing his reaction to actually having to translate it, they probably ensured a low print run as damage control. This means that the supply just isn’t there in a market where the niche crowd wants to at least try it since its a NISA game. So it keeps the price the same since retailers haven’t burnt through their stock at the higher purchased price.

      Shame he doesn’t seem receptive to 360 translations. Not that I’m surprised based on Atlus’s attempt, its just I own a 360, Wii, and DS and since I’m not a fan of Sony corp. I’m gonna wait off my purchase of anything Sony especially when I can’t play my copy of Phantom Brave on their new system.

      I haven’t picked up Sakura Wars yet, but I’m planning to. Unfortunately, for NIS Kmart had a $30 sale on FFXIII and well…I play my 360 a lot so that purchase got delayed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Celedin Celedin

    Nooooooo Sakura Wars… ;_;

  • Finalstar2007

    Great interview is great, thanks for putting it up, i’ll keep my support for all their PS3 games, i have missed a couple of psp games NISA released but am always there when it comes to PS3 games ( im one of those who also bought Last Rebillion day 1 :P ), i think its better idea to let them focus on PS3, i really love gaming on my console instead of a handheld. Cant wait for Trinity Universe tomorrow!
    Again great interview and hope they keep bringing more games to Sony’s consoles ( more importantly the PS3)

    • lostinblue

      I’m the opposite actually, I prefer my S-RPG’s on portable consoles; from Fire Emblem to… Well, Disgaea.

      I purchased the PS2 versions of disgaea, but only enjoyed them throughfully the second time around, when I repurchased them for the PSP.

      • Finalstar2007

        I have also purchased Disgaea 2 for psp ( also got Disgaea Infinite couple of days ago form PSN ) but gotta say Dis2 took me so long to beat mainly because its on psp, as much as i like the psp and its library of games i would rather have my S-RPG’s on my ps3, playing on a console with an HD screen ways better for me :P

        • lostinblue

          I understand that, but S-RPG is the genre that does it for me on the portables. I’m not much of a portable gamer at all, and I’d use your reasoning for pretty much every game… Any game but S-RPG’s. ;)

          I love them on portables, and I don’t remember the last time I finished one on a home console, sadly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

      Yeah, I’m with you. I can’t stand playing RPG’s on a portable system. If I play something that I’m going to devote hours too, I want to do it on a tv, not on something that’ll make my nearsightedness worse.

    • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

      I prefer handheld games all the way, not just because I don’t have HD consoles, but it’s because it’s more convenient and enjoyable for me to play in my room, on my bed. I dunno, I guess that’s just me. But I’m sad to see that they’re unsure about PSP games (I understand with all the piracy and what not), but I really was excited about those games…and would’ve bought them…

      • Pichi

        Also a fan of handheld games, especially RPGs. I can grind whenever and anywhere I like to. If on PS3, it would take longer since I need the TV and being in the same spot and such limits some time.

        • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

          That’s a good point about the TV too. I have to share with my housemates, so I feel bad if I’m hogging it hours on end…

        • Joanna

          Me too. I prefer handhelds by a mile. Still play on the consoles, but not as much. I have to share the TV as well, so handhelds are really great.

  • Yuan

    Wow, he’s so honest when speaking about Last Rebellion…
    NIS and Imageepoch for Japan only? o_0

    • lostinblue

      probably it’s based on Fate/stay night after all, and the main titles of that series didn’t come out of Japan.Then again, I’m sure they’ll try to, seeing the anime is out and licenced here and they seem to want to branch out that way.

      But trying and being able to are two different things.

      • Yuan

        No, Fate/Extra is published by MMV.
        NIS is also listed as one of the company who have relationship with Imageepoch…

        • lostinblue

          You’re right. I’m clueless then.

  • http://www.tbstactics.com mjemirzian

    “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.”

    Blue Roses would be one of those titles.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      Blue Roses is being developed by Apollosoft, though, if I recall correctly.

      • http://www.tbstactics.com mjemirzian

        You’re right. My bad.

  • http://www.youtube.com/B4ULoveShine Tim_at_where

    “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.”Until now, I still find it hard to believe that @NISA did not step in and introduce more @Tatsunoko_Pro to the American audience, given the licensing hell and high water Capcom underwent, just to bring #TatsunokoVSCapcom outside of Japan. I believe NISA can step in and eradicate the whole “What’s a Tatsunoko?” ignorance.In addition, #MMV Marvelous Entertainment and Toei Animation have lots of shows that are worth looking into, which are overshadowed by School Rumble, Strawberry Panic, Dragonball Z, and Sailor Moon combined.

    Re: #SakuraTaisen

    Since #SCEA thinks it’s NOT a game, I hope that #Nintendo would bring it over to the 3DS, since Nintendo is not a graphics whore, unlike #Sony and #Microsoft.

    Re: Close relationship with Sony

    Seeing how Sony is dead last in 3rd place (mostly due to graphics whoring), a close relationship with Sony seems to be a self-inflicted death wish.

    • lostinblue

      I doubt it was due to “not being a game” that it was blocked, Sony America has a well known historial of blocking the release of ports.

      I just remembered another one too, the Saturn port of Devil Summoner.

      Bringing it to the 3DS doesn’t depend on Nintendo though, depends on someone actually taking the time to port it, perhaps idea factory who ported it? dunno.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

      You do realize that Sony is only 3rd place in North America, right? In fact, in Japan, the PS3 regularly beats the Wii in sales.

      • http://www.youtube.com/B4ULoveShine Tim_at_where

        It’s been a while since I last saw the Japanese sales, so please update me.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

          Look it up. For the last seven, eight months, with the exception of a week or two (like last week, actually) the PS3 has outsold the Wii week after week in Japan. Of course, the PSP and DS beat the PS3 over there, but if we’re talking console systems, it’s the PS3 that’s #1 in Japan.

          • Joanna

            I presume you are referring to this:
            http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/05/a-very-special-episode-of-japanese-console-sales/

            I wouldn’t be celebrating though, it’s only a couple thousand (~3000) more than Wii. Plus Wii still has a higher penetration percentage. Wii is not selling so much because those who wanted one, have one. It’s not surprising Wii sales have dipped enough to get the PS3 ahead in recent weeks given that PS3 slim was released not too long ago.

            I wouldn’t even be bringing this up if not for your “NISA shouldn’t bother with Wii” a few comments earlier. Put bluntly, you just annoy me with your insistence that Wii sucks and PS3 is Sony’s gift to humankind. Just enjoy your PS3 man, I’ll enjoy my DS and let’s not shove it in peoples faces that their console of choice shouldn’t be getting any good games.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            Have I said anything bad about the DS? In fact, if you actually read a few weeks back, I said that if I played portable systems, I would actually buy a 3DS, because the games announced for it impress me. I don’t think the PS3 is Sony’s gift to mankind. I do think it is the best console system on the market. It has the best tech and the best games. If there was another system that did, then I would own it.

            The Wii I don’t think companies should bother with, simply because company after company after company complain that their games sell horribly on it. Ever read up on the sales of Dead Space: Extraction? Or Darkside Chronicles? Or Sakura Wars, for that matter. Company after company waste time and resources to bring games to a system where nobody will buy them, instead of focusing on the two consoles they could sell better on.

            And it’s Nintendo’s fault for focusing on the casual market and using last gen technology. I’m sorry that you’re blinded by the nostalgia of what Nintendo did in the past, but the Wii has been, as far as the hardcore go, a huge failure, and games shouldn’t be put on it when they could put an entire franchise at risk. Look at Marvelous, who have focused so much of their energy on the Wii. They’re dying now and that’s sad. Had they focused on the HD systems, I truly think they’d be a lot better off now. But try to tell that to the Wii fanboys and they freak out, since they can’t accept that Nintendo could’ve made a mistake.

            And as for only be a few thousand ahead in sales, the 360 people will site similar statistics for NA on the 360 beating the PS3, when sometimes it’s not even in the thousands that the 360 is ahead by, so I can use similar stats to someone saying that the PS3 is in third place.

          • Joanna

            @Charles: I only brought up the DS because it’s my favourite system. I didn’t bring it up because you were bashing it or anything. I simply implied that each of us should enjoy what console/handheld we like. :/

            Second, that bit about Marvelous is just a conjuncture you made. And the fact that the port of No More Heroes for PS360 didn’t do much better than the Wii game itself shows that what you are saying is probably not true. Chances are, MMV did so badly because it lacks brand power outside of Harvest Moon. MMV even admitted as much. Sad but true. People tend to go with names they are sure of.

            Third, you are implying that somehow having causal games is a bad thing. Why is that the case? Some people like more casual titles and that’s fine by me. It’s not like that’s going to affect my playing. Nor do I mind that the Wii is graphically inferior. If I was about graphics, I would have gone with PSP. But I go where the games I like are.

            “I’m sorry that you’re blinded by the nostalgia of what Nintendo did in the past, but the Wii has been, as far as the hardcore go, a huge failure, and games shouldn’t be put on it when they could put an entire franchise at risk.”

            See here you are giving me crap again. First of all, define “hardcore”. As far as I am concerned, Wii is perfectly fine and I’m sure other gamers feel the same. Just because a bunch of nosy fans think Wii is a “failure” for whatever reason, does not make it so.

            Second, maybe it’s cause Wii gamers have been burnt by companies so badly. Namco made the sub-par Graces which was big-ridden, so it’s not surprisingly Wii gamers are cynical and only first party games tend to sell. Second Monster Hunter Tri likes to disagree. Monster Hunter being on Wii in no way hurt the franchise. (Some people didn’t like the change, but that’s their opinion, not iron-clad truth). Chocobo Tales also moved around 90k in Japan. The games that do badly are the ones that lack brand power, but that’s the same on every single console. (NIS’s PSP games are proof of that). The one that is blind is you, but clearly not on nostalgia. I cannot understand why you feel so vehemently about the Wii getting some great games. What’s wrong with others enjoying stuff on their console of choice?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            Nothing could hurt the Monster Hunter franchise. They could put it on the Virtual Boy and half of Japan would dig one up just to play it.

  • Volcynika

    Lot of things to say, but I’m lazy.Though, fantastic interview, Spencer!

    Really nice to see a lot of info from one of the publishers that isn’t always in the spotlight.

  • shion16

    last rebellion better than blade dancer??????
    even blade dancer is funnier!!!

  • Slashlen

    Did you get them drunk or something? Usually a company doesn’t give out this much info.

    Very sad about Sakura Wars, I just finished it today and I want more. I think 1&2 would do better on the PSP, but I swear the SCEA hates us sometimes.

    I’m really suprised they admited Last Rebellion was awful. They get points with me, and if this hurts their relationship with Hitmaker, that’s bonus points. Hitmaker remains a very ironically named company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

    So glad to see they’re going to focus on the PS3. I hate this recent trend of putting RPG’s on portable systems. Thank you, NISA. I will continue to not only buy every one of your future PS3 titles, but to encourage others to do so too.

    Shame about Sakura Wars, but I really think they wasted their time and money even making a Wii version.

    • Finalstar2007

      Totally, they should have really worked on more PS3 games than worrying about Sakura Wars PS2/Wii, i was really planning on getting it but then with the high price and seeing how i rarely play PS2 games now i just couldn’t get it :(NISA thats it now time to focus on brining PS3 games and faster! :P Atelier Rorona seem so far away :( and still want Atelier Toroti, Neptune etc. im also hoping if they can bring Tales of Vesperia to us seeing how Namco are not doing anything

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

        I mean, I know that most publishers tried testing the waters of the Wii market, but if future games in the franchise were dependent upon how both versions sold, making a Wii version was too much of a gamble. Obviously, the PS2 version sold, yet you could still find copies of the Wii one today. It was a wasted effort, really.

        • Joanna

          If you read other users’ comments on here, they didn’t even bother with Wii version because it didn’t have Japanese audio. Most people who are interested in a game like Sakura Taisen are probably small in number and want Japanese track. Therefore, it is no surprise the Wii version failed. NISA is to blame for sending the Wii version to die. It really was a wasted effort, but not in the way you think. NISA should have given the Wii version the same treatment.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            The thing is that Wii owners were lucky they even decided to port it. It was a wasted effort. There was no Japanese version of the game for the Wii, so they shouldn’t have even bothered. And for your information, if they had, instead, picked up a Wii RPG (just for the sake of argument, we’ll say Xenoblade, even though that’s not going to happen), I wouldn’t expect them to make a PS2/PS3 port of that. Keep games on their original systems. I have no problem with exclusives, even if it means I won’t get to play it.The last time I saw a localization company do that, it was when the guy from Working Designs had a hissy fit at Sega and created a PS1 version of Lunar: Silver Star Story, while snubbing the Saturn. That, obviously, went a lot better for them, but it just struck me as something that should have never been done.

      • mach

        $40 is a high price for you?

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    Aw too bad for Sakura wars =( i enjoyed it, and this is a great interview spencer :D, and this:
    Oh, one more thing… how is Disgaea 4 doing?

    Ask me again at TGS.

    Z0mg!!!21#@!$#!$

  • Nekobo

    Thanks Spencer! Great interview. I’m surprised he was so frank, especially about Last Rebellion. Disappointed about Sakura Wars (I asked Jack Niida the same thing and he pretty much said no), but at least we know why there won’t be anymore released here.

  • Ereek

    Interesting interview, Spencer.

    It’s a damn shame about Sakura Taisen, though. On the other hand, they seemed to understock the PS2 Special Edition on Rosenqueen, since it was sold out before the game was even released and had to reprint it. It just goes to show that there is high demand for special editions for these titles. I think XSEED is realizing this too. Also of interest is that someone else tried to pick up Sakura Taisen. Did he give any hints as to who it was Spencer or was he simply implying it was Sega?

    Everyone already commented on the Last Rebellion point already, but I was surprised at how much depth he went into that.

    I wish them luck with the anime gamble.

    Idea Factory trying to get more broad crossovers? Interesting, I’d like to see what strange things they can come up with. Solid Snake and Prinny, eh? I’m not even sure how that would work.

  • fuzzy_hobo

    The news on Sakura Wars breaks my heart. To be introduced to such an amazing series so late, only to have future localization prospects obliterated!

    • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

      Ditto. But, on the other hand, it’s something to tell about to future generations…

  • DlanorKnox

    It’s really sad to hear that about Sakura Wars. Something like that getting released here was so exciting to me. I didn’t purchase it as I no longer have a PS2, but if they were able to release it for the PS3 in some way, even as a download, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  • keriaku

    Nooooo, I want to see Antiphona way more than those other two.
    I really hope it happens.

    • Gestahl

      Keep a close look at GameFAQs then! Maybe someone will eventually submit a translation guide. :)

    • jj984jj

      More than Zettai Hero? But it looks awesome! Disgaea-style specials in a rogue-like RPG sounds way more fun.

  • cmurph666

    D4@TGS~!!!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/effluentrainfall Effluent Rainfall

    Oooh, burn. Hit Maker’s gotta be reeling from that one. I agree, though.

  • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

    I really, honestly and deeply hope that Princess Antiphona gets a US release.

    But I almost wonder if hoping is futile, considering NIS America’s lack of support for the Marl Kingdom series.

    • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

      You and me both.

  • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

    This was one of the most interesting to read interviews and brought a smile to my face. lol. I hope Absolute Hero Modding Project comes, that game looked nice, via the previous article I saw from here (with the packaging too). NEPTUNE looks interesting as well.

    Do be sure to follow up on that Disgaea 4 !!! lol, so exciting, even though Im still working on Disgaea 3, 138 hours and still going

  • max13524

    May someone ask about La Pucelle: Ragnarok it’s been six months and still no release date and I’d really like to know if i should continue waiting for an English release or just buy the Japanese release

  • JustaGenericUser

    So not only did Sakura Wars V did poorly in sales, Sony America doesn’t even want the old Sakura Wars localized. I think it’s safe to say the fifth game will be the first and last title we’ll see in the States.

    We hardly knew ye, Sakura Wars. :(

    • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2012

      I suspect those who bought the limited edition of Sakura Wars will take very good care of their copies for the next six years. It will take another miracle (and an exclusive port to the Wii) for us to see another.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

        Why would they want to even bother with the Wii anymore, especially after the low sales of V?

  • jj984jj

    It’s nice to see they’re still aiming for higher quality, especially after what happen with AT2 and Rhapsody DS. It must be tough when they’re working with other companies like Hit Maker and Idea Factory, especially when NIS isn’t a big company either. I did buy Sakura Wars V on PS2 and I’ll continue support quality efforts I’m interested in from them like Zettai Hero.

  • raymk

    Really great interview and i’m glad that someone had the balls to admit last rebellion was a bad game they get points from me for that. Everyone seems bombed about sakura wars and i am to but i can’t get the ps2 version and the only version i can find is on wii. Oh well in support of them for this interview i will get the wii version =D.

  • http://twitter.com/Cameron_PSLS Cameron Teague

    Great interview guys..

  • Kris

    Awesome interview, and NISA’s president is impressively frank. More companies should take note!

    … It is a shame about Sakura Wars though. It’s a great game, and it’s sad that it didn’t meet their expectations.

  • Code

    Really enjoyed the interview Spencer! rar, one of my favorite qualities of NISA is how just how open they are with there fans >w<; Like Runesong and others said above, rar, props and respect to Akenaga for kind of biting the bullet there rather then trying to cover up/smooth talk, Last Rebellion off! +10 guts ftw!On the same note though I have to admit, I kind of wish NIS would maybe use a little more digression when looking at projects from companies like Hit Maker, and Idea Factory (to a lesser extent) it’s painful to see a company you love, caught in the world’s slowest trainwreck T_T’As far as crossovers, honestly netting characters from Capcom and other companies for crossovers, probably isn’t all that worth the time/effort. Sure Morrigan has star power, but when it comes crossovers, I think most fans would agree on NIS doing more hilarious NIS series crossovers instead. NIS is really one of the few companies in my opinion that has such an incredibly strong cast of characters that they can thrive on crossing over there own characters and stories with each other and do no wrong.rar, just don’t spread yourselves too thin and forget just what has made you guys so great >w<!

    • JustaGenericUser

      … Is there a reason why you’re always saying “rar”? And making anime emoticons?

      • Code

        rar, maybe some day generic friend you’ll understand >w<!

  • Hours

    Sad to hear about Sakura Wars, though it was really hard to find in stores so it’s not really a surprise. And that really sucks about SW 1+2, SCEA showing their true stripes and denying stuff, it’s like the 90s all over again!
    I wished you wanted Princess Antiphona Spencer, NISA seems to really value your opinion. Was that the only mention about it?

    • LastFootnote

      I really wish you’d mentioned La Pucelle: Ragnarok, myself. Still, I very much appreciate you asking about their decisions regarding which games they release. It’s just disappointing to hear the bad news about PSP games, since there are plenty of PSP NIS games that NISA has yet to announce for localization.

      I appreciate the president’s informative responses, but I wish he’d been clearer about the distinction between NIS and NISA. For instance, which is it that’s splitting with Hit Maker? Which is it that’s focusing on only PS3 games in the future?

      I guess what it comes down to is that if NIS of Japan keeps developing mainly PSP titles and NISA only localizes PS3 titles from other developers, I really have no reason to buy from NISA any longer. I just don’t care about Gust or Idea Factory titles.

      If NISA doesn’t localize NIS’s titles, who will?

  • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2012

    “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.”

    I bet if Hideo Kojima tried to pull that, it would be approved in a hurry.

    • SeventhEvening

      That’s because Kojima games sell systems.

      Sakura Wars, as awesome as it is, barely sells itself.

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    So many emotions ran through while reading this; joy, remorse, surprise, anticipation – a tour de force!
    It really is disheartening to hear about Sakura Wars. News like that hurt me the most, just like with Retro Game Challenge. It really brought me some excitement that I don’t get from a lot of games now, tbh. I understand, though. In a perfect world games like these wouldn’t have to struggle so much to get proper recognition, but for now it’s just one of those things that’s comes along only to be enjoyed once in a while, like Halley’s Comet. But, hey, that’s why there’s places like Siliconera and NISA that bridge that big gap.
    There are going to be a couple panels at AX this week about games like these, and maybe we’ll learn about filling that gap ourselves, too.

  • dusk

    One point caught my attention. Quote: “That’s Sony’s decision. Sony said this is not a game. They said it’s a text novel.” So I suppose this means there will never be any localization of visual novels on consoles?

  • mooncalf

    Pity to hear about the poor result for Sakura Wars, their forecasts would have been modest and then to do even worse…This is going to push them back to Ar Tonelico 2 quality translations.

  • doubletaco

    Maybe with the digital distribution of their anime they’ll fix the horrendous encoding problems with them.

    Should have asked if we’ll get Ar Tonelico 3 without any game-crashing bugs this time, too.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Kamiwoo Kamiwoo

    As many have stated already, it’s a real shame about Sakura Wars. But honestly, I don’t think NISA went about it in a very good way.

    Yes, I know we should all bow down and worship them because they actually published a Sakura Wars game outside of Japan, but I really don’t understand what they were thinking with the Wii and PS2 versions, and only including Japanese voices with the PS2 choice. Compounding on that are the completely unnecessary name changes in the English VA version script, making it so that players of one version might mention the name of a character and a player of the other version might have no idea who they’re referring to. Add to that the usual typos found in other NISA-published titles, which really drag the quality and professionalism of the game down.

    All of it seems like they didn’t think things through very well if they knew (and we ALL knew) that Sakura Wars is a niche title among niche titles, so why go through all these different platforms and script versions if you weren’t sure the game would catch on? I’m really enjoying my playthrough of the game right now, and it makes me sad to think this might be it. I’d love to be able to play more of this series. Of course, Sony’s anti-port mentality is to blame for that too, as usual. (What harm is it if we never even GOT these games in the first place?)

    The honesty about Last Rebellion is very welcome and refreshing (glad I held out on that one), but I think NISA needs to be honest with itself and sort out the quality control issues before making any grandiose plans. So many of its published games lately have had typos and bugs, which makes me wonder how they’ll handle anime. Subtitle typos would be really bad.

  • Natat

    Awesome interview as usual! I was surprised by the honesty of Mr. Akenaga, especially with Last Rebellion. Looking forward to Neptune as well, hope they bring it as soon as possible

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Juddgment Judgment8

    Prinny 2? ;_;

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andy-Smith/100000724917216 Andy Smith

    Well, bye Nippon Ichi. It was nice knowing you. Enjoy bankruptcy.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/VY27XRBU2VMQVWCNPXHMXDR4UE chibi

      what are you talking about?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

        Oh, from other comments this person has made, I get the impression they view supporting the PS3 as being failure.

  • bVork

    Aw, you missed a golden opportunity to ask them about the PC ports of Sakura Wars 1 through 3. Akella actually localized 1 and 2 into Russian, and they apparently did well enough to prompt the localization of the third, which is coming out this year. The nice thing about the PC is that they wouldn’t have to fight Sony to release them.

  • thebanditking

    Now if only NISA would release their anime on Blu-ray. I try not to be a videophile and I did buy the Persona LE anime, but DVD just looks so terrible anymore. So much fuzz and grain, the colors lack depth and everything looks just so blurry. Oh well, hopefully with their focus on Sony the blu-ray releases are not far off.

    • malek86

      I hear you on BR being awesome, but they can’t do a BR localization if there isn’t a source to begin with… both Persona and Toradora haven’t received the Blu-ray treatment.

  • JC

    SCEA are pains in the @$$! They used to have a no-rpg and no 2D games policy, and they still have a no Japanese audio policy! They also reject ports with no added content! So publishers can’t bring us ports of Japan only games from the PSX era, unless there’s new content!! What a bunch of d….

    They only want 3D games for graphic whores, and want ot limit as much as possible releases of niche games, unlike the Japanese HQ people, who are much smarter!

    Bastards!

    Let us have our niche Japanese games! You Sony people should know all customers are good to take! It’s a good idea to have offerings for both the mainstream and niche markets…

    But dumb execs are not content to have ruined comic books and Hollywood, they have to ruin video games too, yet they usually don’t know jack about them!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

      Yeah, I hate getting additional content in my games.

  • http://twitter.com/confectionally Loren

    Dang, nothing on Pandora Hearts. NIS, give us a release date, pretty please! I want to give you my money!

  • http://www.facebook.com/AllenSmithee Samuel Smithee Bateman

    I really appreciate honesty in my companies, and that’s what I love about these guys, Aksys, XSeed, Atlus, you know?

    All of those sub-major major localizers (if that makes sense, since they do obscure, but they’re the big guys known for bringing obscure over) are really honest, and I really love that.

    If it didn’t go against my values, I’d buy everything every one of these guys put out, just to support them.

    Not that I have the money for that to begin with, ahahaha.

    His comment of Last Rebellion really hit home for me, it is a firm belief and I’m glad that they learned the lesson: If something isn’t good enough for your standards, preferably your standards are influenced by the publics standards, if you’re out to make money, then don’t put it out.

    I cannot stress this enough, I believe it 100%. Never show somebody something, especially for money, if it isn’t 100% your effort, your standards. And if it isn’t, and you have to commit to it, give them some sort of compensation, or be honest about it, like this NIS-man is. Good job!

  • z_merquise

    Wow, so an English translation for Neptune is finally confirmed! This is one of the games I really look forward to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Lex/100000442356406 Christopher Lex

    “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.”

    Well, duh. It was obvious. Releasing a Wii version of Sakura Wars and a regular PS2 version without japanese voice-acting (unlinke the limited edition) was beyond stupid to begin with. (And no to the haters, it wasn’t the Wii’s fault)

  • http://zaitcev.livejournal.com/ Pete Zaitcev

    Too bad nobody cared to ask about Toradora Portable in America. Since NIS has the Toradora anime, you’d think it would be a cinch for them to localize the PSP game in the same time and release them together.

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