Keiji Inafune On Soul Sacrifice, Kaio: King Of Pirates, And Comcept’s Other Projects

By Spencer . April 29, 2013 . 6:03pm

Soul Sacrifice comes out tomorrow and if you don’t count Keiji Inafune’s cameo in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 it will be Comcept’s debut title in the West. Siliconera spoke with the CEO about Comcept’s other projects like the Romance of the Three Kingdoms-meets-pirates game, Kaio, which was announced back in 2011, Bugs vs. Tanks from Level-5, and how Inafune remakes legends into video games.

 

kaio

We haven’t seen Kaio: King of Pirates in a long time even though that was one of the first titles that was announced that you were working on post Capcom. The series has grown too into an anime from Studio Pierrot and manga, but what’s going on with the 3DS games? (See a trailer for Kaio: King of Pirates here to refresh your memory.)

 

Keiji Inafune, CEO of Comcept: Marvelous AQL is the publisher and there are plans to make a manga and anime. At Comcept, we’re producing the game and it’s going well. There is a total effort with all of these collaborators for the Kaio intellectual property, so we can’t just show the game. It’s basically not our choice.

 

Is it actively under development right now?

 

Yes, of course.

 

I remember it was mentioned it would be a series, a trilogy right?

 

You know the original story, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, is a long story. The way I recreated it for Kaio, it’s a three part story. That’s still the plan.

 

kaio2

 

Yeah, I’m familiar with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In Asia, its a story that everyone grows up with. However, in the West and despite Dynasty Warriors’ efforts, people aren’t that familiar with it. How do you plan on making Kaio appeal to say America when people may not understand the Romance of the Three Kingdoms origins?

 

I feel that Kaio will appeal to America and the Western world since the story is unique and its immersive. I’m a fan of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and it’s a great story. If you take it as a Chinese war story, it’s hard to get into if you’re from the West. With Kaio, I recreated it with a pirate theme and the characters are all animals. It’s easier for people to get into since it’s totally recreated.

 

Dragonball is a good example since it’s based on a Chinese story, Journey to the West, too, but you don’t really think about that. You take it for granted that the story is Dragonball and later on you find out that it’s based on a Chinese story. I hope Kaio will do the same.

 

jjrockets jjrockets 2

 

J.J. Rockets was a neat concept since had a funny backstory with the American president beating up mutants. The time limit works well for Japan too since around Tokyo it takes between three to five minutes to get from one station to the next on the Yamanote Line. While the game isn’t even available in Japan anymore, do you think there is some way we will be able to play it in the West?

 

Infaune: Thank you for your covering J.J. Rockets and sparking interest about it in the West. Of course, I would like for everyone to play it. We’re still talking to various places about bringing this out somehow. Stay tuned for that and it might make a difference if people write in that they want to play it!

 

Since it was a game for smartphones when I thought backwards when coming up with the concept. These days, busy people do not have time to spend half an hour on a smartphone game. I thought about an idea of having a game that you can play within the three to five minute range. The main target was working business people who owned smartphones. They’re busy people who would take three to minutes out of their lives to play.

 

It was kind of ironic to use the president since he has to be busy. If he was a hero too, he would have to save lives and protect the country, but he can’t say he won’t show up to meetings. He would have to do both! I thought it would be a perfect idea and appeal to the main audience as well.

 

That’s an excellent backstory for the president character! You’ve made a lot of action platformer games from the NES to J.J. Rockets with different control schemes. Has the design for action games changed over the years? Did you have to adjust the controls for mobile devices?

 

Making J.J. Rockets was different from creating NES games since it was designed for smartphones. It was a big challenge to simplify the controls. While it had to be simple, it can’t be too simple. Typically, smartphone games use one finger to tap or swipe. I wanted to make sure J.J. Rockets would also appeal to game fans so I had players use two fingers. From the limitations of what I could do with smartphones, I’m satisfied with the outcome. There was a good balance of simplifying, but not making it too simple.

 

 

Bugs vs. Tanks which Comcept made with Level-5 looks like another game that is simple to get into, but has some depth behind it with the way you customize the tank. Why did you want to work with Level-5 and where did you get the idea for this title?

 

At the very beginning, when Level-5 was creating Guild 01, Hino-san from Level-5 approached me and asked if I would be interested in participating in the project. At that time, I was still at Capcom and I was willing to work with them, but it was very complicated since I was employed by a different publisher. We kept the discussion open and when I became independent it was easier for me to participate, but at that time it was after Guild 01. When Guild 02 started, I was one of the first candidates on the list. I showed a couple of concepts to Hino-san and the one that was most appealing was Bugs vs. Tanks.

 

Can you tell us about the other ideas?

 

Hino-san also liked the other idea, but it was bloody and gory. It would probably a M-rated game and it wasn’t really suitable even if it was a good idea. Hino-san laughed and said it might be hard to put it into the Guild 01 Nintendo series.

 

Speaking of violent games, how is Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z doing?

 

Production is going well. The game system is coming together and it’s moving forward.

 

image

 

You must be proud of Soul Sacrifice since there was a shortage in Japan. It looks like it sold pretty well. (Also read our Soul Sacrifice interview with Inafune-san here.)

 

I’m really happy. I knew the Vita wasn’t selling as much as Sony wanted. I wanted to create a game that would be a system seller and was hoping that my game would pull up Vita sales. Soul Sacrifice exceeded my expectations for that. The next step is to create sequels and make this a big franchise. I have a good start on that, too.

 

What would you do for the next Soul Sacrifice game?

 

From the successful sales at this point, I’m optimistic that Sony will sign off on a new title. I have a lot of ideas, but I can’t say what I’ll do yet.

 

Soul Sacrifice has a steady stream of downloadable content like Behemoth monster and the new area for players to explore.

 

In Japan, we launched in March. Every month, we plan to give out downloadable content like monsters as well as additional stories until the end of summer. There’s much more to come.

 

Inafune-san, I think it’s interesting how Soul Sacrifice has elements of the Arthurian legend given how the characters are named and Kaio is based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. What legend, fable or famous tale would you like to work with in the future.

 

[Laughs.] As a creator, it’s really appealing to create something from scratch. I tend to like to create something original from something familiar that everybody is familiar with because it’s easy to catch on to. People won’t be scared about approaching it because they will say “I think I know of that legend or story.” When you take back the layers in one my creations it’s actually something different. People think it’s something familiar, but when they open it up it’s something new. In general, that’s the approach I like to take. It’s been a successful strategy throughout my career.

 

Using cuisine as an example, if somebody gives you a dish that’s brand new you might be hesitant to try it because you don’t know what you’re eating. However, if it’s a recreation of something you know. like Asian fusion you would be more interested in trying it even if it’s brand new because it’s partially something you know and you can imagine what it’s derived off of.

 

I’m always thinking about what to mix next. I’ve done a couple of legends in a row, so maybe it’s time to do something brand new from scratch.



  • DesmaX

    … Did you guys ever asked about his relation with Idea Factory?

    Seeing that Inafune want to restore the Japan industry to it’s former glory (From what I remember), it does make me curious if he thinks games like theirs are, at least, the right thing to do

    • revenent hell

      http://www.n-handhelds.com/2012/03/keiji-inafune-thinks-idea-factory-is.html

      According to this he thinks the company is doing things correctly…..

      He doesn’t comment about the games themselves per se or what he thinks about them but since I’m sure he gets some form of payment for his image being in the Neptunia games I cant really see him bashing the company itself since he’s profiting off of them.

      • DesmaX
        • revenent hell

          Well, considering his views/critiquing of the industry in Japan, I really do think if he wasn’t getting paid by them I think his opinion would probably be entirely different.
          So I get where you are coming from.

  • Lexaus_the_Alchemist

    Nice interview. It certainly has been a drought of any info about KIAO, but hopefully they can start revealing things soon. It’s an interesting concept to try to remix such a well-known (Chinese) story for a completely new generational and geographical audience. Much luck to him on that endeavor.

    As for Soul Sacrifice, I’m hyped for tomorrow’s release. I’m certain it will do decent numbers and will hopefully be a much needed booster shot in the arm not just for Vita hardware sales, but also for giving hope for more software content, especially from Japanese developers (I’m specifically looking at Namco for Gods Eater 2). Also after all the DLC comes out, I’ll definitely be looking out for that SS2 announcement.

    He has been a very busy man with all of his collaboration projects. Hope he doesn’t burn out from it.

  • Solomon_Kano

    I definitely hope we can see J.J. Rockets in some form. Gave me a strong Viewtiful Joe vibe, so I’d like to give it a go.

    It’s nice to finally hear something about Kaio. Been waiting on that. It’s also nice to hear that Inafune’s got plans for more Soul Sacrifice if Sony wants more.

    Meanwhile, Yaiba sounds…

    • Rohan Kishibe

      I’d love to give it a henshin a go GO!. (See what I did there..)

    • ShawnOtakuSomething

      Meanwhile……..

  • AuraGuyChris

    No, no, no. He should remake video games into LEGENDS.

  • ShadowDivz

    Inafune-san, I think it’s interesting how Soul Sacrifice has elements of the Arthurian legend given how the characters are named

    Does not apply to non-japanese release. Names were… well renamed.
    Would be better if they kept them true to the arthurian legend.

  • CirnoLakes

    I really don’t understand why stories like the Romance of the Three Kingdoms can’t be more famous abroad.

    Our school literature classes should teach it, or somethings. If the United States is such an amazing “melting pot” then why don’t our children even know about the Romance of the Three Kingdoms? There are over a billion Chinese people, and yet children over here, for the most part, haven’t even the foggiest understanding about Chinese culture at all.

    Oh well, hopefully along with stuff like Dynasty Warriors this will add more understanding and interest in Romance of the Three Kingdoms in the public conscious.

    • Warboss Aohd

      if yer gonna go about it dat way, why isn’t da Revolutionary War taught outside o’ da US? it was a nation o’ Settlers who found a nation, called it home, and den fought an’ died to become independent o’ a greedy Monarch, or of da various similar tales from various countries?

      Edit: point iz, Can ya really expect every tale from every country to be known ta everyone? Don’t get me wrong, The Romance of The 3 Kingdoms is quite a great story and a major event in history and more people SHOULD know about it, but da reason ya give is pretty meh.

    • Suicunesol

      I imagine it’s because it’s important for citizens to know the history and lore of their native country; the histories of other countries is just unnecessary. It would be quite sad if citizens couldn’t name their presidents and their revolutionary war battles, which by the way, is unfortunately already commonplace. :P You can’t expect people to know Chinese history when they barely know their own. :P

    • puchinri

      The problem is, the US is very hypocritical about those things and is picky about when it wants to apply these things (and given how badly rooted these problems are in our culture that they’re rarely addressed, it’ll be a long time before they’re changed on a larger scale). It generally takes a teacher going outside the norm to bring in that kind of literature.

      I do really hope though that one day, literature from other culture is a more mainstream part of our culture (because there isn’t a reason for that not to be the case, even if those people aren’t “American”, especially since we read plenty of things that aren’t from American writers or based on/in America).

      • Solomon_Kano

        Really, I think it lies in our lacking appreciation for literature in general as a nation. We do a poor enough job teaching our students about our own literature in our educational institutions.

        To give a personal anecdote, I recently switched over from a college preparatory school over to a “standard” school and, where I spent my junior year of high school reading Malcolm X’s autobiography, The Last of the Mohicans, and Leaves of Grass, my new peers scarcely know the names of the works of Poe, let alone have the foggiest idea of their plots. So now where my senior year’s first half was spent with Macbeth and poetry analysis, my new peers are still reading short stories.

        This discrepancy in our literary knowledge goes back to a relatively poor national reading comprehension level, not to say anything of the divergent curricula of schools by individual school/county/city/state and the priority that our students themselves place on such (generally none). I could rant for ages about this being a byproduct of our educational system by-and-large teaching our students to aim for grades rather than actual proficiency, or our failure to accurately gauge and reward proficiency over said grades, but we’re already off-topic enough as is.

        • puchinri

          Oh, definitely. English (and language in general) gets the shaft all the way around in academics and at times, even outside of that. At the same time, there’s plenty wrong on micro levels with our education systems (which is why I wince when some people are so complacent or even happy about taking money away from it).

          Well, I think most of us realize that there are a lot of problems with us, in education especially, and plenty outside of that (going back to the things I was mentioning). I actually have faith that those things will change, but I can see why we have those problems and why they won’t be fixed too soon.

          • Solomon_Kano

            Yea, it’s unfortunate how we keep seeing cutbacks on education. For as much noise as folks make to save the arts (which I don’t lament, I mean, I went to an arts school through middle school and freshman year!), it’d be nice if we tried to spread some that to education as a whole. Won’t do us much good to fund creative writing classes when the kids can’t read beyond an elementary school level.

    • http://wiredjungle.wordpress.com/ DrakosAmatras

      Keep in mind though: Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a romanticized retelling of the Three Kingdoms era. I can imagine the book being taught as foreign literature, but not quite as history.

      • CirnoLakes

        Well, I was talking about literature, and not history.

        And to be honest, the school that I went to was pretty lacking in foreign literature. Though that isn’t to say world history in my school was amazing, either.

    • Solomon_Kano

      It’s not that they can’t be more famous abroad, it’s that they simply… aren’t. There are numerous works of classic AMERICAN literature that most of our population likely knows nothing of, is it really unexpected that most of the populous knows nothing of Chinese literature? No, we do a poor enough job educating our citizenry about our own history, to what end would we start promoting romanticized Chinese history?

      That aside, I’d imagine we’d get similar results if we looked at this scenario from the Chinese perspective. Not that reading classic literature would really illuminate our modern culture, but how many in China are likely to know of Walt Whitman? Of Emerson? James Fenimore Cooper? Not really a fair thing to say when they’re likely equally ignorant of our history and culture, in as much as we Americans are largely ignorant of our own history and culture.

      Blame our educational institutions. And then wonder if the Chinese are any more knowledgeable about us.

      • puchinri

        I can’t speak for China (although it’s a different boat of eggs entirely), but for the short time I was in Japan, I found their history lessons to be interestingly comprehensive. They also have a very full history (especially in comparison to us), so I feel that it makes more sense for their history to be something that gets way more natural exposure than what they’d teach about us. When I was in a class, I remember them teaching parts of our history (and not just because we were there).

        At the same time, I do think they have a bit of world literature going on. In America, we do have world history in high school at least (which is a bit too late in the game to me), but we don’t have the equivalent for literature (unless you want to go by college courses), but I know for a fact that they tend to expand their horizons more in high school in Japan, though I can’t remember if I saw a course on world literature or not?

        But I mean, some of these just boil down to problems we have that get circular.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Interesting tidbit about Japan. It certainly makes sense that they’d have more exposure to their own history than to ours and, indeed, in a more natural way than we absorb our history given how deeply important history is in the Japanese psyche (as highlighted by events like Obon, or seen more subtly in their naming convention).

          I’d imagine though, that their teaching of our history also likely comes as a result of our relation to Japan. In our history classes we often glance over things that would be significant to the party in question or hit them from a completely different perspective, so some historical events simply lack resonance with us. I say that to say, their teaching of American history is likely a direct result of our conflict with Japan in WWII and our subsequent occupation.

          Theorizing in a different direction, the Japanese also organize their education in a much more lateral fashion than we do, so their teaching of American history may be born out of the knowledge that American and Japan often meet in the business world and serves to provide a (light) base for possible expansion depending on one’s later path in education.

          I have to wonder if China’s education standards run similar to Japan’s or if they’d have any kind of historical impetus to learn about us, as Japan may? The other thing Cirno mentioned was culture though. For what all bases Japan may cover with their history courses, I can’t imagine they take the time out to keep up teaching kids about American culture, what with that being an ever-moving target.

          Whew. That was a long one haha. Good talk.

          • puchinri

            To be honest, given how the relationship has changed within these last few years, I’m not sure how much of a part that plays in it anymore. I can kind of see that for when I was there, but since then, I honestly don’t know.

            It seems more likely to be the latter to me. When I think over the language classes they offered and other things, I feel like their way is more lateral and practical than anything.

            China is a mystery to me on many levels, and I won’t try to guess or assume anything about their education system. >u<
            Culture is really at the heart of it all to me (in micro and macro ways). I know they do quite a bit of culture teaching in general, but at the same time, Japanese media in general offers that function the most so it doesn't need to be required in education so much (in comparison to us, where we have minimal or stereotyped, sometimes obscure pieces of culture that we show in media and only in early or very late education do we really expand our cultural teachings, which is ironic).

            Indeed~. It's (usually) pretty fun to discuss these things. (And it's rare to have a chance to on Siliconera.)

  • Warboss Aohd

    most excited for Kaio

  • isfuturebright

    I really wanted to give J.J. Rockets a try!

  • TheExile285

    Keiji seems like a pretty cool dev. After playing Soul Sacrifice I’m glad he left Capcom so they don’t hold him back (wish he personally owned Mega Man but who doesn’t?).

    I hope Sony lets him make some good (Vita exclusive) sequels to Soul Sacrifice. Whenever I get a 3DS, I will look into that Kaio game.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Welp, they’d have to be Vita-exclusive. Sony’s significant involvement in the development of SS most likely means the IP is theirs.

      • TheExile285

        Oh I know. I just don’t want Sony to do something foolish, like throw it on PS4.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Yea, they definitely wouldn’t do that. Why waste the time creating a hunting action IP just to push it to consoles when the genre is practically the lifeblood of handhelds in Japan?

          So, yea, no worries there.

          • TheExile285

            I would hope so, but Sony has made stupid decisions before >_<

  • Neophoton

    Eager for Kaio! Inafune’s been producing some interesting stuff since he left Capcom, so I take it things are working out well for him.

  • Aristides

    Bring J.J Rockets to PlayStation Mobile!!!! Vita owners will love you!

  • SirRichard

    He seems a lot happier now that he’s out of Capcom, doesn’t he? Glad to see him doing well, and I hope we get more things like Soul Sacrifice. I wonder what he wants to make next, after KAIO’s out the door and all. Aside from “more Soul Sacrifice”, I mean.

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