The Zill O’ll series has been around for a decade and its finally coming to the West with Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll. Don’t worry about missing out on the overarching story, this PlayStation 3 game is a prequel. Before Tecmo Koei delayed Trinity: Zill O’ll Zero we spoke with producer Akihiro Suzuki about their hack & slash action RPG and their vision for making Trinity appeal to the West.
Can you tell us about the story? Isn’t this game a prequel to the Zill O’ll series?
Akihiro Suzuki, Producer: Speaking about Zill O’ll, it’s a medieval fantasy, which is also the previous setting of the games released in Japan. We’re bringing that world over to Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll. In Trinity, the story is about one big continent, a lot of kingdoms and empires. There is one evil king Balor that is trying to take over the whole continent. You have to stop him and the three characters fates are intertwined to defeating that evil king.
It seems like, from playing a little of it, the three characters seem like they follow a rubric. There is a lead character who seems average, a guy who is strong yet slow, and the girl appears to be a magic user. Why did you want to stick to this formula?
Because it’s an action game it felt fitting to have those three characters types. The moves that they have fit the action genre well.
Can you level the characters up in such a way where one of the guys can become a magic user or will all of the characters be stuck in their roles?
What we chose to do is have all of the three characters in your party at all times so we’re keeping those characteristics instead of letting them branch off.
Story wise, which one of the characters is your favorite?
Even though we have the three heroes as the main set, the main character that pulls the story forward is Zofar. Because the story is based on him, he is my favorite character.
While this is the first Zill O’ll game for North America, have you tried to bring the other games to the past? Or did you choose to bring this title over because it’s more designed for the West?
Actually, when we made the other Zill O’ll games we thought about bringing those out here. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. For this game we were thinking about the American market so we’re trying to tune it for the Western market.
Quantum Theory, for instance, had elements that felt as if they were designed for the Western market. For Trinity were there any things you thought of specifically for the West.
The biggest one of the character design. We made it so it would appeal in Japan and the West. Also, the second part was the painting-like visuals we thought that really matched the game and it would be well accepted in the West.
Japan, of course, really likes the Musou (Dynasty Warriors in the West) games, but in America that fandom is starting to wane. Are you afraid this game will be considered a “Musou RPG”?
We don’t feel that way at all.
Trinity has been in development for quite some time. What extended the development cycle?
There are a few reasons we’ve taken so much time with it. First, we wanted to polish everything part of the game up. Since we have so many monsters in the game we wanted to give each one unique AI and that has taken quite a long time. Also, where to position the monsters on each stage to utilize the AI best. All of those details have take a long time.
I’m curious about this AI system. Are monsters going to react to players on the fly or follow specific patterns like evasive, magic using, and so forth?
We’ll have different AI patterns. Some will be more offensive and more defensive. Skeletons carrying a bow will back up skeletons coming to attack you. Enemies will work together.
When you have different enemies like the skeletons and say these goblins [pointing at the screen] over there working together?
Yeah, depending on the situation we’ll have different enemy types working together too.
How are you designing boss monsters?
Because the world is set in a medieval fantasy there are a lot of monsters you would expect to see from myths and fantasy. We based our monsters on that and used the designer’s inspiration as well.
We have a studio in Lithuania and one of our designers there we let him design creatures. Also the in game art was designed by a famous Japanese artist, Jun Suemi.
RPGs are known for having big, at times long, boss battles. How are you creating that feel for Trinity with the tactical combat system?
Because each of the characters have their own characteristics and skills. One character may be able to stop a boss and freeze them. Then you can switch to another character to attack another part of the boss and then choose to another character for another attack. You’ll have to switch between characters to use their special attacks to beat the boss.
Being a mix of a tactical action game and a RPG, how long do you expect the main story to be?
The story itself will be twenty hours.
Beyond that is there a new game plus or anything like that?
You’ll also have sub-quests after the main story and hidden bosses.
Koei Tecmo has a lot of franchises like Dead or Alive and Dynasty Warriors. Do you think you can turn Trinity or Zill O’ll into a major franchise? If so, how can you do that?
Because we have made the game to also appeal to the West. I think this can become one of our core franchises here too.