Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes Producer On How To Make Action Games For Women

By Spencer . July 13, 2010 . 7:02pm


Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is part of an action game series loosely based on the Warring States period. The series, if you weren’t aware, has a huge female following in Japan. Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Producer, says guys and girls buy the game, but the diehard fans are women.


How did Kobayashi develop an action game series that appeals to women? That’s one of the points we touch on in our Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes interview.


You’re developing Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes for PlayStation 3 and Wii. How did you handle development on both consoles?


Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Producer: Of course the hardware specs are different, which is always difficult. We developed a lite version of MT Framework and made the game on PC. Then we tested it on the two different systems and decided if were going to fix this or that and make any changes. Lighting and graphics are different at times, so we did fine tuning for each version after making the base version for PC.


Since the game is based on a PC version, how come you didn’t make an Xbox 360 version for North America?


At first, we were making the game for Japan. The Wii and PlayStation 3 were the main choices for that market. Xbox 360 sells well in the West, but this game was originally for Japan-only. We want to make the same exact version for the world, so it was never really in our plan.


Why did Capcom decide now is the time to bring Sengoku Basara back to the West as it was originally intended and not as Devil Kings?


While we released Devil Kings, when you look at the cost and sales it wasn’t effective to spend that much money to localize the game that far. This is a great action game and action games are popular anywhere. We decided we’re going to make a great action game and put it out the way it was meant to be, the way it is in Japan.




How do you feel about Samurai Heroes coming to the West since you didn’t originally plan for it?


I’m happy people all around the world can enjoy the game for what it is, an action game. Even in Japan, there are a lot of people who don’t know the Basara series, but they get to know it, learn it, and enjoy it. For Americans and Europeans they don’t need to be familiar with the series and still enjoy the game because the core of the game is action gameplay.


I hear the Basara series is popular with girls.


The hardcore fans are definitely girls, the ones that really get into it. But, there are a ton of guys that buy the game for its action elements. Both men and women play the game in Japan.


It’s quite amazing that the Basara series, an action game series with a bunch of male leads, is so well received by both genders. It seems like companies are trying to figure out how to appeal to women, but are resorting to gender stereotyped games instead.


I took similar steps while making Devil May Cry 4 as well. The first thing was to take away things girls don’t like, things that are disgusting and violent graphics or events. Also, big, buff, macho guys. There are girls that like that, but most girls like a realistic nice, sweet guy.


If we made someone like the Hulk, a big overly muscular guy, girls probably won’t be into that. If you take that character and tone him down a bit, make him more of a smart type, that little difference can change the perception of how females receive that character.


As a personal opinion, do you feel this is cross cultural or something just for Japan?


With the characters we tested in Devil May Cry 4 the responses were very good. There wasn’t anyone saying ‘oh we wish you had this type of character’ and nobody said ‘oh we really wish you didn’t have this kind of character’. We were able to take the response from Devil May Cry 4 to fine tune the characters for this game.


Interesting, but Sengoku Basara is rooted in history. How did you re-envision those characters based on the existing legends?


We didn’t use base the characters on historical facts. We wanted to make our game with these characters in this time period. Maybe some things like armor, they way that looks, we took from any records we had. This is a Capcom game. It’s a game we wanted to create in that time period, there is nothing historical at all.




What other lessons did you learn from working on Devil May Cry 4 that you brought into the Basara series?


There wasn’t too much taken straight from Devil May Cry 4. A lot of the same staff that made Devil May Cry 4 are making this game, as well. We have all of the experience of making an action game and know how to create really good characters.


Going back to character design, what type of personalities did you want to create for your game and give to these historical icons?


For example, Masamune Date was called the one-eyed dragon in history. That was our center point and we thought ‘what can we do to pull that dragon out of him?’ He has six swords, claws, there are also details of his outfit with dragon scales.


Yukimura Sanada was working for the Takeda clan and their color in history was red. We used that color to make him stand out. In real life, he used one spear, but we thought that wasn’t interesting so we gave him two. Then we had the blue and red with Masamune and Yukimura. Their rival relationship started there and evolved with their personality.


Are the colors linked to characters design inspired by Super Sentai?


[Laughs.] Yes, that is a way to show the uniqueness of each character. Each character has their own color so they can be identified easily so people can recognize them. On top of that, we designed each character so you can just see their silhouette and know exactly who he is and what he’s like without any color at all.




What do you want to do next with the Sengoku series? Do you want to keep it like a Musou style game or, since you are also worked on Devil May Cry 4, would you want to make it more like that kind of action game?


We’ve made a lot of Basara games and there are ones in different genres. We also released Basara X, the fighting game, and the PSP game with 3D team battles. So, maybe there will be other types games in the future. But, the main entries in the series are going to be this kind of style.

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  • RupanIII

    Only one of my female friends is into gaming in any sort of non-casual/occasional-Wii-playing fashion. She absolutely loves Metal Gear Solid, and although she likes Snake, she’s def more attracted to Raiden, always swooning about his kami(hair) :P She also likes Snake Eater Ocelot. So perhaps there’s something to that about many girl gamers not being as into the really macho characters.

    • Snake is more cool than anything x.x

      • Code

        Correction: Big Boss

        • that depends…, in wich snake we are talking about…

          • neocatzon

            Let’s see… we have pedo snake, oldman snake, and two blonde snakes.
            which one ?

          • well, you know there are actually 2 snakes, the original and uh *spoilers*? :P

      • RupanIII

        Yea, I was surprised so I asked her like nothing against Raiden but why not Snake ? And she just started going on about his hair again :P

  • Oh, i had no idea this team made devil may cry 4, it was catching my attention before, but now im more interested

  • lostinblue

    a game from “a big chunk” of the DMC team… on my wii?*THROWS HAPPY DANCE*That said I still prefer DMC3, but I guess a lot of people that did DMC3 did DMC4 anyway so point stands! hopefully!

    EDIT: if anyone at capcom is reading this, I still want Basara X!

  • Aoshi00

    Maybe it’s kind of like the Saint Seiya boom w/ females in the 80’s even though it was a 100% shounen manga, pretty boys in armors. I don’t remember if Ronin Warriors (Yoroi-den Samurai Troopers) was as popular w/ girls later on even though it was also based on the sengoku warrior motif, since it was like a copy cat like Tenkuu Senki Shurato (w/ Hindu god motif) . It’s always cool to see the famous historical characters weaved into fiction w/ anime design I suppose, such as the Shinsengumi in Rurouni Kenshin, girls loved all the male characters in that one too. At least we would always see Oda Nobunaga as the devil in video games :) I’m just thankful these characters stay the correct gender :)

  • “The first thing was to take away things girls don’t like, things that are disgusting and violent graphics or events. Also, big, buff, macho guys. There are girls that like that, but most girls like a realistic nice, sweet guy.”

    I dunno, this sounds pretty extreme. I have a hard time picturing girls not playing the rival’s Sengoku Musou series because of Katsuie Shibata and Yoshihiro Shimazu.
    And realistic characters? Can’t agree. In fact I can’t think of a more over the top Sengoku period game that isn’t hentai software.

  • Exand

    Hm, oddly I disagree with the producer on why it’s popular with the girls. There’s currently a Japanese history boom in Japan amongst females (and while crazily over the top) Sengoku Basara does use historical figures. But more importantly, the pretty-boy effect is strong in this game compared to say Koei’s Sengoku game. And I’d have to disagree about the violence bit turning girls off, look at Clamp’s X for example. Lots of pretty boys with lots of violence (sword bursting out of a mother while her kids watch anyone?) and it was popular with the female crowd.

    And I also think he’s not giving female gamers credit where it’s due, the series is just a fun series compared to the Koei Musou games which have gotten stale while Sengoku Basara has a great mix of craziness that’s fun to play. That’s what attract players, not just “female” gamers, but all gamers.

  • lucy1986

    I love how individual each character is compared to say….dynasty warriors. I like how it mixes RPG elements with a battle game (equipping items, upgrading weapons). I like that there are visible relationships between the characters……and I can’t deny that they are all attractive. Also, having been to Japan, there are LOADS of naughty doujinshi’s of the main guys so I can imagine many of the hardcore female fans are yaoi fangirls. :D

  • I’m so tired of the “target audience” talk, whither it refers to gender or country or region or whatever. I always considered that a purely business notion that has a lot more flaws than its followers usually think. I just would love to hear a developer once say something like “we just make games for human beings” (it’s even better to hear “I make games for myself”). When you say “girls like this” and “guys like this” you’re just making generalization. Focus more on making your characters into actual “characters” and not toys. PEOPLE like all sorts of things, all you have to do is try for a variety than focus on a particular group. How hard is that? When I hear about developers targeting certain audiences, I imagine them looking at statistics brought up by people like that crazy business agent couple from the simpsons, who are always totally wrong and extremely annoying. Everytime they say “this doesn’t sell to this audience”, it’s always easier than even… button smashing (!) to find a million pieces of evidence that contradict them, and then you’re like “just how did they miss that?!”.

    Then they end up trying so hard to sell the game that they forget to even work on making one in the first place. :P Just make a good game then the game will find its own audiences!

    Anyways, I’ve always felt capcom was generally awesome at character designs that appeal to both genders and multiple regions. They don’t tend to just follow anime trends. Konami usually does an OK job too. I mean, while Japan has been gushing over pretty boys and little girls, Japan still works with characters like Ryu and Chunli, who fit their roles without being too exagerated (though I have to say, I feel Ono took the “western appeal” idea too far with SF4, but he;s rolling in cash now so what do I know).

    like I said, I’m tired, lol… but really, it’s amazing how hard Japanese developers have been trying and failing (sometimes hillariously) with appealing to the west and more women. I always felt Japanese games usually did better in the west than in Japan even before this phenomenon, they should figure out what their own country wants before that. As for women, I think the games have always been there, especially Japanese ones from my experiance, it’s just that social mores don’t allow for more of them to get friendlier with games. I always felt society tried to keep women away from games. Girls growing up were usually told games were for boys, even if they were interested. Even girls themselves in general just don’t bother with the hardcore stuff thinking just the idea of holding a controller is more of a masculine thing. And I wonder if these devs even consult actual women about what they want in games? In interviews it all sounds like guesswork.

    well, this is an embarrisingly long post, i just hope it was worth it for someone… :P

    TLDR: anyone have know or have a link that explains any differences so far revealed between the two versions of the game being made, besides graphical differences? Thanks. Yeah, this whole post was about that ;)

  • DerrickDnaruto

    Chicks Dig Date

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