Odin Sphere looks fantastic, but other than the eye candy there is little information about the meat of the game. We’re so close to the game’s worldwide release in May and I had to find out more about it since so many readers expressed interest in it. So I contacted Atlus with a few questions about Odin Sphere and Bill Alexander (the localization project lead) along with Michael Meeker (editor of Odin Sphere) came back with answers for all of us to read.
The most striking thing about Odin Sphere is the art style. Who is responsible for it?
Mike (Editor): Odin Sphere’s art was created and animated by the talented people at Vanillaware, the developer who worked in conjunction with Atlus to produce the game.
Bill (Localization Project Lead): George Kamitani, the President of the Vanillaware, was also the Lead Artist. But, he didn’t do it all alone; he has a number of talented artists on his team. Mr. Kamitani also painted the cover for this month’s issue of PLAY Magazine. Check it out if you get the chance. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
There are story tidbits on the official site about the war for the Cauldron and the end of the world. Can you share a little more about the story with us?
Mike: Can we? Hmm… Several decades before the game begins, the nation of Valentine was led by a wise and benevolent king. This king attempted to use his powers to cast a great spell that would grant happiness to his people, but the process accidentally drained him of his good nature and turned him into a paranoia-driven, evil-minded dictator who began to declare war on the other lands.
During Valentine’s campaigns of conquest, the formally peaceful nation was mysteriously obliterated in a flash of light, and its population vanished. Odin, King of Ragnanival, and Elfaria, Queen of the Fairies of Ringford, both discovered that the reason for Valentine’s sudden destruction was due to a magical artifact called the Cauldron. Each of them realized that they couldn’t possibly let the other one have this incredible power, so the two nations went to war in the barren dustbowl that was once the prosperous nation of Valentine.
What’s the tone of the story? Serious? Light? Somewhere in between?
Bill: When we first heard about this game from our parent company, it was being compared to a Shakespearean play. After we got our hands on a ROM and played it, it was easy to see why. Unlike a lot of games that use flashy cut scenes or zoomed in character portraits, Odin Sphere’s dramatic scenes take place much like they would on a stage, with the characters confronting one another standing face to face. The characters appear just as they do in the rest of the game, making the storytelling much more seamless.
Mike: The tone is reminiscent of old fairy tales and children’s stories – not the lighthearted ones we have today where the heroes always win, but the gritty ones of the Middle Ages, back when stories cut down to the bone and evil sometimes triumphed because good just wasn’t always good enough.
Odin Sphere looks beautiful, but there is so little information on the gameplay. Could you elaborate?
Mike: Odin Sphere’s gameplay is a 2D sidescrolling beat-em’-up, involving a lot of jumping and chaining combos together. While some people may think that it looks like a platformer, it really isn’t. While defeating enemies and gathering experience, players will create and use items to do a variety of attacks and recovery effects.
Bill: According to the developer, the system is designed so that even someone who is not good at fighting games/platformers can still strategize and find a way to overcome whatever obstacles he or she is facing. However, it’s done in such a way so as to not slow down the action. There are many ways to be victorious against your adversaries.
We’ve seen five characters in Odin Sphere. Are we going to get to play them all and what’s different about them?
Mike: Each of the five main characters has their own chapter in the story, and you’ll need to play through all of them to unlock the final series of battles. As you play, it might seem that events in the game are a little disjointed, but later on you’ll see exactly how all the different scenes relate to each other in the plot’s timeline. The characters will interact with each other, as the chapters take place simultaneously, and you’ll get a variety of perspectives on the events that unfold.
The characters themselves all have different fighting styles and special moves. Gwendolyn is a straight-up brawler who favors heavy attacks and defense. Cornelius isn’t quite so powerful, but he can move quickly around with his jumping attacks. Mercedes is markedly different from the others: her crossbow makes her a distance fighter, and her ability to fly lets her speed around the stages, blasting enemies high and low. Oswald, as befits an assassin, is strongest in short bursts, and a wise player would dash in, unload a short but powerful combo, then retreat to regain his strength. Velvet needs enemies to be slightly further away from her than the other melee fighters, but her attacks tend to leave her vulnerable and require a steady sense of when to fight and when to run away.
Bill: Beyond that, the characters have their own personal motivations. Though you might think they are all on the same side, their allegiances actually vary.
Which of the five main characters is your favorite?
Mike: Now there’s a tough one… I’d have to go with Oswald, because he grows the most as a character and has the most to fight for.
Bill: This is such a cliche answer, but I like them all. Their fighting styles and personalities are so different, it’s almost like playing a new game when you switch characters. Trying to pick just one is like asking me to pick a favorite ice cream… I mean, all ice cream is good, right?
Sure, all ice cream is good! I don’t know which character I would choose if I were asked the question myself. Hey readers who would you pick as your favorite character? See the character profiles on the official Odin Sphere site, check them out and discuss who you like the most.