Even before Contact was finished in Japan, Atlus already announced this title for a North American release. After playing it for a little at E3 we’re not surprised by the decision. Instead of chiming in with our opinion we went straight to Atlus and asked them why Contact deserves your attention. (Hint: it does).
Siliconera: What was striking about Contact that made Atlus decide this is a game we want to localize?
Tomm Hulett (Localization Director): Contact has a very unique sense of humor, using Apple IIe fonts for the title screen and 8-bit looking graphics for minigames. As a long-time gamer myself, I was immediately attracted to the style and the humor behind it. And c’mon, it totally looked like Earthbound.
Grasshopper Manufacture is known for having wacky games at times with confusing dialogue (killer 7). Were there any particular difficulties to overcome when working on Contact?
The only real difficulty was figuring out which lines were meant to be funny and which were serious. There’s a lot of odd dialogue on Contact, seeing as the Professor on the top screen is speaking with you, the player, about Terry, the main character. Also, the files I was working with did not list the speaker of any dialogue. While it wasn’t a problem most of the time, scenes where multiple characters are talking were challenging to figure out.
As a follow up question were there any changes made to the game to better suit it for a North American audience?
It’s in English now. No, seriously, not counting the occasional dual-language release, Atlus doesn’t alter its games from their original Japanese versions.
The story of Contact begins with a professor crashing on Terry’s home planet. How would you describe Terry, the Professor and their relationship?
Terry is your ordinary edgy teen with good intentions and the Professor is an enigmatic old man from outer space. Terry’s been recruited to gather the missing Cells of the Professor’s ship, but he’s unaware that you’re also helping the Professor. So, there’s kind of a dishonesty there. Sometimes the Professor will start speaking to you when Terry is listening, and then he’ll have to backpedal to hide your existence. I imagine Terry wouldn’t be too pleased if he knew the truth.
Combat in Contact is unique! There’s no switching into battle menus, instead Terry can fight on screen and stick “decals” on monsters. How would you explain this to someone who hasn’t played contact yet?
Contact’s battle system is similar to various MMORPGs you may have played, though with a stylus instead of a mouse. You select a target and Terry will continue to attack until it’s dead, you run away, or you use a special technique. Like all controls in the game, you can also use the buttons if you lost your stylus or something, and both ways work just as well. Terry also gains stats based on what happens to him, so if you run around you’ll get faster, if you get pounded you’ll toughen up, and the more you attack, the stronger you’ll be.
One of Contact’s novel features is using Nintendo Wifi. How does this work into the gameplay of Contact?
There’s this island called WiFisland, and when you exchange Friend Codes with someone, they will take up residence as an NPC there. You can have up to 8 NPCs living on WiFisland, and the more you have, the bigger bonuses you’ll reap. These bonuses are things like special items or bonus quests. It’s really just a motivation to get out there and "contact" your friends (get it!?).
Besides playing through the story mode, Contact has lots of other gameplay features depending on what costumes Terry wears. Can you elaborate on some of the mini games and what’s your favorite one to play?
Well, I haven’t had much time to sit down and play the game, unfortunately. I am looking forward to exploring some of the "Arcade Games" Terry comes across, even if some of them are only bootlegs. There are some RPG/Adventure games as well as an F1 Racing game to track down and play. You can catch fish with the Fisher King costume and then cook up dinner by donning the Mr. Cuisine duds. There’s even a guy somewhere who will give you a different fetch quest for every hour of the day. Completists should find a lot to enjoy in Contact.
While strikingly original, Contact didn’t sell so well in Japan. Do you think Contact will jive more with in North America?
I’m not sure why it didn’t do well in Japan, though I do suspect its release just before the highly anticipated Mother 3 had something to do with it. However, Contact’s US release will be the only wackiness infusion American Earthbound fans get for a while, so we can at least corner that demographic. I also think most of the DS users in this country are still gamers (as opposed to Japan, where a large majority are non-gamers), so there should be more people who will appreciate the humor featured in Contact. Which isn’t to say non-gamers won’t enjoy Contact; they totally would. They should go preorder it RIGHT NOW.
While you guys head to the store to pick up a pre-order ticket we’ll bring you more details on Contact.