When I first saw the DS I thought it was the perfect system for strategy RPGs. Two years later there is a meager selection of strategy games on the market, but the number is about to explode. A few months ago, Roli O. put Luminous Arc on our radar and then wrote up a playtest about the title. Shortly afterwards Atlus announced they picked up the rights to Luminous Arc and were quickly praised for doing so. What’s the same and what’s changed? The Luminous Arc team from Atlus enlightens us. In this roundtable interview we have Sammy Matsushima (Project Lead), Clayton Chan (Editor), Mike Meeker (Editor) and Sing Tang (QA Tester).
Siliconera: What in Luminous Arc made it stand out as a game Atlus wanted to localize?
Clayton Chan: Personally, I just like strategy RPGs and tactical RPGs. If there isn’t a glaring flaw in the combat system then I’m usually pretty happy with the game. I do have to say that some of our fans on the forums were pretty excited for the game as well, and that always helps.
Sammy Matsushima: When we first saw this game, we were just thrilled by the sheer artistic value and its balance of good story and gameplay. I too am a fan of tactical RPGs and this game has just the right balance of difficulty that’ll keep you playing, wanting to learn what goes on next in the story.
What stood out the most for me was the great character art and the detailed character sprites in battle. It’s not often that you see such fluidly animated characters in such a small screen.
Siliconera: Can you tell us about the story and the hero, Alf?
Clayton Chan: Well, first off, I can tell you that Alph doesn’t spell his name like the classic 80’s sitcom/character. The story revolves around a millennia-old conflict between the Witches and the God of the Luminous Church. Juuuuust about 1,000 years ago, there was a huge battle that devastated most of the planet. The Luminous God was victorious but needed to heal his wounds from the battle, and slept for a millennium. (A really cool power to have.) In the interim the planet has been healing itself and the Luminous Church has been instrumental in rebuilding society. However, as the time of their God’s reawakening nears…
Alph and his fellow residents of the Ever Garden, the Garden Children, have been raised and trained by the Luminous Church to defeat their God’s enemies to ensure there are no problems with his reawakening. You, the player will be controlling Alph and friends as they try and pave the way for a better tomorrow.
Siliconera: Were there any difficulties localizing the Luminous Arc story?
Clayton Chan: There wasn’t anything major in terms of obstacles, I’d have to say. I think the toughest thing was coming up with some nicknames for characters early on considering some of the text size limitations. That was really early in the localization process, though.
Mike Meeker: The text size restriction is nothing rare in localization, and often you’ll have to take a really awesome but long line and slash it down to something that retains most of the awesomeness while actually fitting in the space available.
Clayton: Yeah, don’t remind me… my poor item names! *sob*
For the most part though, it was pretty smooth thanks to how well the team here communicated with each other, and thanks to how helpful the developers at Marvelous and imageepoch were.
Siliconera: The Japanese release had voiceovers, is Atlus replacing them with US voice talent?
Clayton Chan: Yes.
Sammy Matsushima: Just to add to that, I believe the sheer volume of voiceovers in Luminous Arc is unheard of for a DS title. Having the voices in the game definitely enhances your immersion into a game and we are very happy to be able to keep them. There was actually talk of taking out the voices due to technical difficulties, but I fought against that decision. I hope you enjoy it!
Siliconera: What combat options are only found in Luminous Arc compared to Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics?
Clayton Chan: Hm. If you’re looking for something that’s ONLY in Luminous the line gets a tad hazy. I could claim that certain attacks are only in Luminous because they’re slightly different, but that would be cheap, I think.
As far as distinct moves that are found in Luminous that aren’t found in Tactics or Disgaea, well, Luminous has a good variety of special team-up attacks. Final Fantasy Tactics didn’t have any team-up attacks, and in Disgaea you’d get combos based on proximity and relationships, but they were possible with any combination of 2 or more characters. The team-up attacks in Luminous are different because they’re unique animations and the team-up attacks are all tied to the characters’ individual stories.
Siliconera: What ultra powerful skills are your favorite to use in combat?
Clayton Chan: I’m going to turn this question over to one of our testers, Sing Tang, seeing as how our QA guys have to play through the game exponentially more than I have to.
Sing: I’d have to say my personal favorite is the "Rival Strike" team-up attack that Leon and Nikolai perform. I like the animation and it does a pretty decent chunk of damage.
Mike Meeker: I find myself using Alph’s gun skills a lot in battle, because his spread attacks are quite handy.
Siliconera: Luminous Arc has WiFi battles right? Is the US on a separate server or is it linked to Japan and if we sign on right away we’re going to face a max level opponent?
Clayton Chan: We haven’t gotten to the phase of testing for that particular part of the gameplay’s implementation, so honestly, I can’t answer that.
Siliconera: Were any bugs in the original Japanese version you patched up for the US release?
Clayton Chan: I didn’t find any bugs in the JP version, and I wasn’t testing it, so I couldn’t tell you that we actually fixed something that was broken in the JP version. I do know that for the "Life of Kopin" sequences where Kopin’s writing on an orange crate the graphic used to say "Mikan" in Japanese, but now it’s an awesome picture of an orange!
Mike Meeker: Well, I didn’t get my hands on the actual retail version of the Japanese game, but there were a couple of bugs that weren’t related to the localization process that did get ironed out.
Siliconera: When is Luminous Arc scheduled to hit store shelves?
Clayton Chan: That all depends on us fighting through all the "known knowns", the "known unknowns", and the "unknown unknowns" the process throws at us. =) We’ll give you a release date as soon as we’re aware, but I’d really hate to give you a day that was too early, thereby sending you running your local game shop in vain. I’d also hate to give you a date that was later than the actual ship date, causing you to run your local game store only to find out they had sold all their copies of Luminous Arc.
Rest assured, when we’ve got a date nailed down, I’ll forward it on to you guys. I look forward to seeing what questions your readers have for us.
A special thanks goes out to all of the Atlus team who joined in on the interview and are working on Luminous Arc. I got a chance to ask my questions about Luminous Arc, but like Clayton said now it’s your turn to ask Atlus about the title. Is there anything about Luminous Arc you are burning to know more about? Post the questions here and we’ll send them over to Atlus.