Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is a bit of a different beast in the series, focusing on letting the player decide what their story arc is like, with some new features that weren’t in the original Irem version, such as a PSVR mode. Siliconera caught up with Disaster Report 4 director Kazuma Kujo from Granzella, asking about some of these changes, as well as what sorts of disasters the series might tackle in the future.
Siliconera: How has Disaster Report 4 changed from its original 2010 announcement? Could you elaborate on any additions and removals?
Kazuma Kujo, director: “I re-examined the visuals and how the story unfolds. Things that seemed like they would be a hindrance to progression in real time were removed. Otherwise, there was no major changes.”
Siliconera: This game adds in a level-based VR mode that has players experience the earthquake up close. Would this be an evolution of what you wanted to do with PS Move and 3D output in the original version?
Kujo: “Exactly! VR mode let me come closer to the ideals I wanted to accomplish with PSMove and 3D output.”
Siliconera: The Japanese version of Disaster Report 4 has several anime collaboration costumes, and an two-part post-story DLC. Will these be coming to the Western version?
Kujo: “I leave decisions on the Western release to NIS America. If there is enough support, we will do our best to fulfill players’ wishes.”
Siliconera: Disasters take place around the world but we’re mostly familiar with the ones that occur in Japan in the series. If you could choose to make a Disaster Report game set in any other part of the world, where would it be?
Kujo: “If I were to pick the setting to be outside of Japan, for America it would be San Fransisco or Texas. For Europe, Italy; or even Hong Kong. Preferably cities without wide streets.”
Siliconera: The series has explored earthquakes and floods, but what other kinds of disasters would you like to explore and why?
Kujo: “I have considered tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions. Also though it’s not a natural disaster, there was a time I considered a game involving air strike bombings.”
Siliconera: Since the first game, we have seen a shift from set characters to customizable protagonists. What were the reasons for this change?
Kujo: “We wanted to provide the player with an easier chance to empathize with characters by changing variables like sex, outfit and hairstyle.”
Siliconera: Previous Disaster Report games were localized so that they took place in Western cities, with character models even having hair color changes. What were your thoughts on these changes, and did it influence the decision to stick closer to the Japanese version’s settings this time?
Kujo: “We think that character designs, including hair color, skin color, even going as far as face structure and body type, should fit the location; however, our studio wasn’t able to accomplish that goal. I don’t think previous games affected the decision, but in order for it not to come out only halfway decent, we judged it was good to stick to the Japanese setting.”
When you created Granzella, you announced the intention to make more disaster games, even if not under the Disaster Report IP. Did you ever imagine you’d end up acquiring the IP and remaking Disaster Report 4?
Kujo: “For us, Granzella was founded with the goal to bring disaster games to the world. We maintained production of disaster games side-by-side with our connections with IREM. Releasing Disaster Report 4 on the PS4 was an ideal progression of that goal.”
Siliconera: From Disaster Report 4 and R-Type Final 2, you clearly still have a great relationship with Irem. Are there any other Irem IPs you’d want to bring back?
Kujo: “I’d like to tackle the R-TYPE TACTICS (R-TYPE COMMAND) series, and Steambot Chronicles 2.”
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories releases for Nintendo Switch in Japan on September 26, 2019. The game is currently available for PlayStation 4 in Japan, and is headed Westward for PS4, Switch, and PC in 2020. You can read our playtests of the game here, here, and here.