Ahead of the game’s launch next week, Azur Lane: Crosswave developers Norihisa Kochiwa from Compile Heart and Chi Xu from Yostar sat down for an interview, where they talked about the project’s beginnings, why the story is different, and how the gameplay shifted over game development. [Thanks, 4Gamer!]
Here are the highlights:
Could you tell us how the project got started?
Norihisa Kochiwa, producer: “The initiative originally came out of Azur Lane’s collaboration with the Neptunia series. Around the time the original game came out, we played it and felt that we liked the characters a lot, and when we asked our overseas manager whether it was possible to work with them, it just so happened that they had an acquaintance, and through them we met Manjuu-san, and through Manjuu-san we contacted Yostar.”
Chi Xu, Japanese Azur Lane director: “We still hadn’t really shown any major results at that point, so we were quite shocked.”
Kochiwa: “Just like that, the collab in the smartphone title was decided quite early on. After that, the collab came about just as the game’s popularity reached a new high, and thanks to them it was an extremely high quality collab. Thanks to this collab, we discussed whether they would want to let us make a console game, which is how the project began.”
Did you have making a console game for the original app from the beginning with the collab?
Kochiwa: “It was sort of that we wanted the collab to release first, but actually even the proposal and decision to make a console title was made pretty early on. We got together and threw around ideas, like “If we were to make a console game, the battles would look like this, don’t you think?” Also we took into account Manjuu-san’s specific things to keep in mind for the characters and battle system, and decided upon the overall image.”
How about the story?
Kochiwa: “Manjuu-san had a high opinion of the Neptunia series’ story which mixes gags and serious moments, and said, “I want to recreate that sort of tone in Crosswave, so I’d like you to make the game without being too limited by pre-established settings.”
Even so, it would be a problem if the characters’ image was to stray too far, so Xu-san and Murase from our company worked together on the story.”
The story this time is an original one that differs from the original app. Why is that?
Kochiwa: “The main reason is because the original game’s story is still updating in a constant manner. To try to conjoin it into the canon story would be reaching too far.
As such, we made the game with further deepening the charm of the existing characters in a world that even people who don’t know the original game can get into as one of the main directions of the game.”
Xu: “The original game is also available in China and the West. On the other hand, Crosswave will release in Japan first, and so if we were to bring it into story canon, it would create an information divide between Japan and the other regions.
Thanks to this, even though the characters are the same as the original, the worldview and story are a bit different. This approach is the same as many light novels and anime in Japan.”
How did the battles settle upon its current form?
Kochiwa: “The game we imagined originally is completely different from what it is now. There were no fights against mob enemies, enemy battleship health was high, and you’d have to destroy the cannons while destroying the ship, in a drawn out process. But we judged that this wasn’t “Azur Lane-like”, and reconsidered from the prototype stage how to get closer to the feel of the original.
And so what we focused on was the bullet hell and tempo of defeating enemies one by one in a shoot ‘em up. In the original, there are time limits, and one battle can essentially be completed within two minutes, and it was a process of trial and error with Felistella until we were able to bring that experience into 3D.”
How are the shoot ‘em up and RPG elements balanced?
Kochiwa: “This game is being developed by experienced RPG makers, and the balance was debated upon until the very end. Manjuu-san wanted to focus on the atmosphere, and because it was a naval battle, wanted to make the game one where the units would slowly move into position then focus fire in one large assault. Essentially they wanted a tone similar to an SRPG, but on our company’s end, we didn’t want to get rid of the speedy tempo that drew great reactions in the first trailer, so while I feel sorry for it I pushed ahead and got the approval to make a high speed shooting game.”
Azur Lane: Crosswave releases for PlayStation 4 in Japan on August 29, 2019. You can check out more of its story with the previous two snippets in our previous report.