Back at Tokyo Game Show I caught with Ryoei Mikage, the President of Imageepoch, and Hideyuki Mizutani, Operating Officer at Marvelous Entertainment. We talked about a lot of things. You already know about one of them. We touched on Arc Rise Fantasia’s story, the Arc Rise Fantasia series, and Imageepoch’s future projects. Yes, the Arc Rise Fantasia series. Down the road Arc Rise Fantasia could be part of a series, but this kind of plan will only come into fruition if the first game sells.
I played Arc Rise Fantasia using the Classic Controller. Do you plan to implement motion control too?
Hideyuki Mizutani, Operating Officer at Marvelous Entertainment: For the game you can use the Classic Controller, Gamecube controller, and Nunchuck/Wii remote. But, we don’t really utilize the capability of swinging it since we were thinking of a traditional RPG where you sit down and enjoy it for a long period of time.
Can you tell us about the story?
Ryoei Mikage, President of Imageepoch: There are creatures called Fallen Dragons (note: English names have not been decided yet) and they cause disasters within the world. There is also an energy called Ray, sort of like a magical energy and different countries, different places are fighting against each other over the Ray. The natural balance of the world is thrown off so all of these monsters are appearing. In the midst of that there is a boy and a girl. They both have an important part, sort of like the key of the world. Depending on the decisions they make they can change the balance of the world.
How long do you think it will take for someone to complete Arc Rise Fantasia?
HM: Only the story part alone, probably 40 hours. Include the sub-quests and extra additional parts, 10-20 hours more.
Out of all the main characters which one is your favorite?
RM: We haven’t announced those yet so… it’s hard to say. Please wait. We’ll be announced a male character soon and I like that one.
The one wearing red?
RM: Not that one…
Arc Rise Fantasia is not related to Luminous Arc at all right?
Let’s switch to Luminous Arc for a second. I saw a mobile game at TGS, but are you planning on making another game for the DS or consoles?
HM: For the mobile game it’s based on the first Luminous Arc. As for the using the first Luminous Arc we’re not planning anything to make it into another console game for now.
Are you concerned about the sales of Arc Rise Fantasia on the Wii? Some core games on the Wii haven’t sold so well. Namco Bandai’s Tales of Symphonia, an established brand, might be one of the exceptions.
RM: In our minds if it’s goes close to Tales of Symphonia we’ll be satisfied. We’re thinking about expanding Arc Rise Fantasia into second and third sequels. As for the first one we’re not thinking it’s going to be that much of a big hit.
For a sequel are you thinking of using the same characters or using completely different characters and a new world like the Final Fantasy series?
HM: [Laughs] If we are going to make a sequel, if we can make a sequel it’s closer to Final Fantasy, but I don’t want to say that because Final Fantasy completely changes the story and their characters. It will have common elements, a bit of different characters and a bit of a different story.
Are you already planning a sequel?
RM: No comment. Right now we’re working on a lot of different action games as well so we’re learning and applying action skills. The basic concept of Imageepoch is fantasy games. That doesn’t really mean RPG or action. Our games are within the fantasy genre.
What kind of action game would you make? Would you make one with lots of shaking for the Wii or something very difficult like Ninja Gaiden?
RM: More like Super Mario Galaxy-ish.
So… kind of cute?
RM: We’re experimenting with a Resident Evil-type and we’re also experimenting stuff with a Super Mario Galaxy-type. At Imageepoch it’s not like ‘this is only the type of brand that we do’. It’s like would it be interesting to do this? We don’t really have a solid statement, but we’re playing around a lot.
If you were working on an action game will use the characters from Arc Rise Fantasia or Luminous Arc?
RM: That would be great.
HM: That would be great, but we haven’t thought of that yet.
It seems like Imageepoch has grown so much. Are you hiring people every day to work on new projects?
RM: I have been working in the gaming industry since I was 16 years old, while I was still in high school. I worked at Koei, Square Enix, and Namco Bandai during my high school and college years. All of the people I worked with back then like the movie designer and scenario designer currently at Imageepoch were people that taught me what gaming was about. Since I have a long relationship with them I don’t feel like it’s becoming a different company by hiring, it’s adding my old friends.
Is Marvelous is planning on publishing many more Imageepoch games?
HM: Definitely, that would be great.
RM: We want to take it a step at a time to make something great each and every time. If one title sells you can kind of think we’re making two. If two sells than we’re working on four titles.
For these projects is Marvelous planning them or is Imageepoch pitching games to Marvelous?
HM: Right now, it’s a little bit of both.
RM: Because we have a really good relationship. Honestly, we see each other two or three times a week. It’s not really like getting together and pitching them ideas. We are constantly talking about what we can do so it’s like it would be great to this and vice versa. Sometimes Mizutani-san will come up with three keyword phrases and pitch that to me and I would say what about this kind of game design? Then Mizutani-san would say that exactly was what I was talking about! It’s a really quick process so it’s easy to work with Marvelous.
Right now we’ve seen all of the Marvelous published Imageepoch games come out in America. Are you designing games for Japan first and then seeing if they work for North America or are you making games with a worldwide audience since Marvelous has a partnership with Xseed?
HM: We’re thinking about the US from the beginning.
Images courtesy of Marvelous / Xseed.