Siliconera sat down with Toshimichi Mori to talk about BlazBlue: Chronophantasma. We started talking about new characters, then we touched on XBlaze: Code Embyro and freemium fighting games. If there’s one thing to take home from this interview is Mori-san is BlazBlue’s storyline will have an ending and he’s committed to seeing the saga through.
We we met to talk about BlazBlue: Continuum Shift you said we were about halfway through the BlazBlue storyline. How far does BlazBlue: Chronophantasma take us?
Toshimichi Mori, Producer: I plan on revealing most of the major mysteries behind everything that has led up to this point in the story.
How do Kagura Mutsuki and Yuki Terumi fit into the BlazBlue story?
Kagura is the character that will lead everyone to make the story proceed. [Laughs] I can’t talk about Yuki Terumi because if I tell you now that will spoil things.
It seems like a lot of characters have true forms…
[Laughs] The characters in BlazBlue grow up along with the story, so some of them may end up surprising people.
What other BlazBlue character will surprise fans?
Hmm… Ranga! [Laughs]
Kagura’s fighting system is interesting since he can switch between different move sets using his drive.
I developed Kagura to make the game accessible to people and easier to play. You can play impulsively with Kagura. You get into a stance and push a button and he’ll do something cool. He’s easy to operate, but once you start playing him there is a lot of depth to his movements. You know Street Fighter IV? He’s like Guile.
I played a little bit of Chronophantasma, mostly with Bullet. Where did you get the idea for the Lockon drive. (This attack makes Bullet rush towards the other player for a grab attack.)
The idea for “lockon” was in the original BlazBlue concept document. I had this idea from the very beginning and was debating on using it for Tager. Because Tager has his current drive, I saved the idea and decided to use it for Bullet.
What can you tell us about Yuki, other than he’s a major villain?
Compared to other characters, Yuki has a lot of distortion drives. His special power is absorbing energy from other characters. He puts pressure on other players and more like Ragna.
Will we have any DLC characters?
No. But there will be DLC, colors and voices.
What about DLC scenarios?
No. I wanted to put all of the contents for the game in the game when you purchase it. You know the full roster too.
Why is BlazBlue: Chronophantasma only for PlayStation 3? I understand in Japan, the Xbox 360 market has shrunk, but in North America there are many fighting game fans that play on Xbox 360 using Xbox Live. Why did you make BlazBlue: Chronophantasma a PS3 exclusive here?
I don’t know!
But, it is developed on uniform hardware being made on a PC so it can be ported…
Aksys: That’s a question for Arc System Works.
Minoru Kidooka, President of Arc System Works: That’s an Aksys question. [Laughs]
TM: [Laughs] I didn’t make that decision.
Aside from BlazBlue, you’re working on a visual novel too, XBlaze: Code Embyro. While BlazBlue is story driven, why did you want to make a game that’s completely story driven.
TM: I want to stress that I wrote everything for BlazBlue: Chronophantasma. I spent a lot of time on that. [Laughs] Because there was an environment to create something like XBlaze, so why not? Wouldn’t you want to make fried eggs if you saw a frying pan and eggs laying around?
Both BlazBlue and XBlaze have one common theme – what is power. For XBlaze, the focus is on justice. People view power in different ways. Is power the amount of power you hold compared to someone else? This game will be a view between your personal view of power and a grand concept of power. In Xblaze, each character views power a different way and the grand theme is what kind of power is needed for you to walk down the path you chose.
Mori-san, you know Aksys has been a big supporter of visual novels in the West. Do you think they will localize it?
TM: [Laughs] I have high hopes they will pick it up.
We’ve seen BlazBlue characters appear in other games, but fans always ask me to ask you about a BlazBlue and Guilty Gear crossover.
TM: [Laughs] I don’t have a plan to do it until I finish BlazBlue completely.
MK: We’re 80% through…
TM: You never know because we might go 1% every year after that. [Laughs] We will lend our characters to people, but we will never put anyone else’s characters into the BlazBlue story.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate and Tekken are experimenting with a freemium model to bring more players into the fighting game genre. What do you think of this strategy?
TM: Honestly, I was curious about it on my own and I wanted to try it out. I was thinking about it, but Mr. Harada [Tekken producer] beat me to it. I want to try someday.
Everything is after I complete the entire BlazBlue story. I want to see the story to completion and have it finalized before branching out. All of the other fighting games have a never ending story, I want to have one fighting game with a definitive ending because nobody has done this before.
I think BlazBlue’s story is much more integral than other fighting games.
TM: The stories in King of Fighters and Tekken are interesting. You know the interaction between Kazuya, Heihachi, and so forth.
So when do you think you will complete the story?
TM: [Laughs] I don’t know.
Hmm.. so it might not even be on these current consoles.
TM: Yeah, I haven’t decided. It took me three years to finish Chronophantasma.
Kidooka-san do you think Mori-san takes too long between sequels? Other Japanese companies and Western companies aim to have yearly sequels and it’s nice that you give Mori-san plenty of time to write Chronophantasma.
MK: That’s a hard question to answer. He’s very busy. [Laughs.] We’re actually releasing games every week, but they’re probably too small so nobody notices.
We noticed! Arc System Works has a strong relationship with Circle Entertainment and even brings Western games like Nano Assault Neo to Japan.
MK: Our company is preparing an environment to have a staggered schedule where main releases come one after another. That’s our plan, but please consider the size of Arc System Works compared to other larger companies.
Arc System Works is known for making a polished anime look with BlazBlue, of course, and other games like Hard Corps Uprising and Persona 4 Arena. How do you plan to enhance that for PS4 and Xbox One?
MK: Currently, we are brainstorming. Guilty Gear Xrd is a title we’re considering to bring to the next generation.
TM: We still haven’t announced anything for Microsoft, but we are a PlayStation 4 developer.
What do you think about Wii U? In Japan, you’re supporting it.
MK: I’m lost for an answer. That’s a difficult question.
How did Persona 4 Arena do for Arc System Works?
MK: As a company, we did well and we were successful in tapping into a new fanbase for fighting games.
TM: Arc System Works answered Index’s requests and the most we could do was suggest characters for it. For instance, I asked if we could make [Ryotaro] Dojima a character and they said no. I guess the characters I picked weren’t as well known so they were all denied. Nanako was the other one. They said like, “Hell no. Why did you even think that?”
Will you make a Nanako sized character for BlazBlue?
TM: [Laughs.] It’s possible. Small characters hard to control in a fighting game.
What do you want to say to all of the BlazBlue fans out there?
I want BlazBlue fans to look forward to the network mode because we put a lot of time and work behind it. The feeling is as if the US players were at an arcade hanging out and that’s the feeling what I was going for. There will be lobbies now. At the end of the day, BlazBlue is a fighting game so I just wanted to let fans know we put a lot of effort into network play.