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Acquire Developers on How a Cancelled Way of the Samurai 5 Led to Katanakami

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Acquire President Takuma Endo and Katanakami Director Tetsuji Saito revealed in an interview that there was originally a proposal for Way of the Samurai 5 alongside Katanakami that was cancelled for various reasons. [Thanks, 4Gamer]

Here are the highlights:

4Gamer: Saito-san, when did you become involved with the Way of the Samurai series?

Tetsuji Saito, director: “Beginning from Way of the Samurai 3. Back then, I was wholly involved in the creation of event scenes, and for Way of the Samurai 4 I was in charge of the proposal and new systems creation.”

Takuma Endo, President: “You see, there was a Way of the Samurai 5 project that was never realized. There was a time Saito was working on that project.”

4Gamer: Way of the Samurai 5?! Please tell us more about that.

Saito: “It was around 2015, the release of the Steam version of Way of the Samurai 4 on PC. The PC version, based on the console version and aimed towards overseas audience, only received a metascore of 72, and personally even I felt that the time for the series had come to an end. I thought that it was time for me to leave the Way of the Samurai series, but Endo told me, “I’ll go meet with [Spike Chunsoft President Mitsutoshi] Sakurai, so please think of a sequel for the Way of the Samurai series.”

Sadly, our efforts for a Way of the Samurai 5 were crushed, but later on the topic of ‘a download-only title that could be played casually’ came up.”

4Gamer: And so that became Katanakami?

Endo: “At that stage, we weren’t focused on it being part of Way of the Samurai, but let’s see… Later it would lead to Katanakami.

At first, it was really meant to be a simple hack ‘n slash, but as development went on, it became more and more developed, and discussion expanded to it being released as a full physical release, which led to how it is today.”

4Gamer: How long did it take to go from the Way of the Samurai 5 project to the Katanakami project?

Saito: “The project proposal for Way of the Samurai 5 was conceived around 2015, and the project was dropped for a while in 2016, and I thought of the download title project around the same time. Katanakami‘s proposal was approved in 2016 as well.”

Endo: “Was it that long ago?”

Saito: “That’s right. However, it terms of resources, even with the project approved we weren’t able to begin development straight away. Actual work began to be done beginning around March 2017.”

Endo: “Ahh, right. Because of the development of other titles, and the operation of smartphone games, we couldn’t find the staff to do so. When we finally found the bare minimum of staff to begin development, we got started on Katanakami. In that sense, we really made Spike Chunsoft wait…”

4Gamer: So from what I’m hearing, Katanakami‘s proposal had nothing to do with ‘the revival of Way of the Samurai‘, or ‘celebrating Acquire’s 25th anniversary’.

Endo: “Right. That’s exactly right, and it was more that we strongly wanted to show that Acquire could still make a well-developed Japanese-style game.”

4Gamer: Earlier, you talked about a Way of the Samurai 5 project. Even if it’s a spinoff game, it’s still the first Way of the Samurai game in a while, so I bet expectations will soar for a new mainline title.

Saito: “Like I thought, I do want to make the next numbered title.”

Endo: “Even so, it’s been 17 years since the first Way of the Samurai game, you know? Even the latest game, Way of the Samurai 4, was 8 years ago, so I bet it’s been forgotten.”

4Gamer; No, it hasn’t been forgotten. (laughs) Didn’t the Steam version increase the number of overseas fans?

Endo: “To speak realistically, making a game with the depictions that Way of the Samurai has nowadays is quite difficult. Even back then, the content was over the top, and the road to releasing the game was quite harsh.”

Saito: “In that manner, because Katanakami has the same nuances as the first game, it’s rated CERO Z (18+) as well. It’s Acquire’s first CERO Z game.”

Endo: “Like I thought, it’s the part where you can attack normal citizens… the first game was released before CERO came about, and back then we voluntarily added a warning mark on the cover, but if you go by current ratings, that’s how the shoe fits.

There are lots of hurdles to overcome, but even so I’d be happy if those who play Katanakami go, “Chanbara is fun! I want a new Way of the Samurai game to come out!””

4Gamer: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2019, and the major title Ghost of Tsushima based on the 13th century Mongolian invasion will be releasing in the future. It seems that people’s eyes are upon Japanese-style action nowadays. This tailwind might work in your favor.

Saito: “It was completely by coincidence that development overlapped like this, and I hope we can ride the wave as well.”

Endo: “For those who play Katanakami and find it fun, please voice out that you hope for a Way of the Samurai sequel, because I bet that Spike Chunsoft will have some sort of opinion collection for those who purchased Katanakami.” (laughs)

Katanakami will be released on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on February 20, 2020. Check out the game’s latest trailer here.

An earlier version of this story erroneously referred to Way of the Samurai as “Way of the Sakurai”. We apologize for the typo and have rectified it.

Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!