Deathsmiles is the start of a new direction for Cave. This horizontally scrolling shooter will be the first Cave shoot ‘em up to leave Japan and it’s their first localized project. We got in touch with Cave to discuss the designing Deathsmiles and what their overseas plans are.
Before we get to the interview meet some of the Deathsmiles team at Cave that answered our questions.
Acclaimed manga illustrator, known for his designs of famous shooter titles such as Dodonpachi, ESPrade and Guwange. Inoue designed the Deathsmiles characters and provided graphical direction for the entire game. His latest manga work, BTOOOM!, is now on sale via Shinchosha.
Modern master of the manic shooter, Ikeda was a co-founder of CAVE, and is responsible for major hits like Dodonpachi, Mushihime-sama, EspGaluda and more. On Deathsmiles, Ikeda programmed and provided oversight to the project.
Maverick producer of Cave’s console ports, responsible for the widely-acclaimed Deathsmiles and Mushihime-sama Futari Ver. 1.5 360 ports. Currently finishing work on the EspGaluda II 360 port, to be released February 25th in Japan.
Why did Cave go with a gothic lolita theme for Deathsmiles?
Junya Inoue: Given that it’s a popular fashion in Japan, we thought it would be a fresh take to apply that in a really grandiose way to a shooting game. We also thought it was really effective for creating cute girl characters!
What other elements inspired the design of the game?
JI: Cave has been putting out shooters for over 10 years, and when it was time to come up with a new setting, we decided it might be interesting to make use of "Western Horror", which is probably pretty over-used as a genre. We designed the game with the idea that somehow these gothic lolita characters would fit comfortably into this macabre puzzle.
Most of Cave’s shooters are tate or vertical scrolling. How come you decided to make a horizontal shooter?
Tsuneki Ikeda: For Deathsmiles, we had this concept during our planning sessions with Junya Inoue of bringing a lot of new users into the shooter genre. Up until now we had not been exclusively targeting the die-hard shooter players, however Deathsmiles was designed with the idea of attracting "light users" from the beginning, and from the start our goal was to ultimately have the game ported to a home system.
Given this, we thought it best for us to design the game with a horizontal screen, which is the easiest to play on and most attractive graphically.
How is designing a vertical shooter different from a horizontal shooter?
TI: The biggest difference is that it’s much easier to give a sense of depth to the game. When you’re doing a vertical scrolling shooter and trying to project depth, enemies always seem to become flying objects, and when you create an enemy that really winds across the screen, the image looks very flat…
Design-wise, there is a big difference there.
Mushihime-sama Futari Ver.1.5 was released as a region free game, a first for Cave. Did overseas reception meet or surpass your expectations?
Makota Asada: Mushihime-sama Futari was our first region-free game and we were happy enough with the response to finalize our plans for the US release of Deathsmiles. Ultimately, releasing the game region free doesn’t make as much sense to us as localizing our games and building a real fanbase overseas. That doesn’t mean that we’re only going to release games in the US of course, it really depends on interest from fans.
Aside from Princess Debut, we haven’t seen any other Cave games in the States. How do you feel about Deathsmiles coming to North America?
MA: We think it’s a good opportunity to bring our games to existing fans and gain new ones who like the style and the gameplay that we’re known for. Localizing a game is a first for us… so there’s challenges on the development side that we’re finding our way around.
Deathsmiles is our first overseas release because we think Windia and the other angels will be well-received in the US and elsewhere with their anime-style gothic lolita designs. The game is very eye-catching, with all the crowns and skulls crashing around the horror-themed environment. Lastly, Deathsmiles is a horizontal shooter, which we think will be more successful the US.
The Deathsmiles announcement has a lot of positive buzz. There’s a Cave fanbase outside of Japan that’s very excited about the news. So, do you think we will see more Cave games released overseas?
MA: Cave is definitely looking in a worldwide direction for the ports of our arcade titles, like Mushihime-sama Futari, EspGaluda II and other games. We are already thinking worldwide in the sense of how we design our games, and we hope that the US version of Deathsmiles does well enough for us to put out more games around the world.
We are also currently working on a brand-new game for 360 which we haven’t released much information about yet. This is not an arcade port, but it is being designed with worldwide release in mind. Definitely keep an eye out for Cave’s future moves!