Konami is bringing Hard Corps: Uprising to PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade with help from a new partner. Arc System Works is developing the side-scrolling shooter. In this interview we asked Kenji Yamamoto, Producer, how they met up with the Yokohama based developer and what Arc System Works added to Hard Corps.
How did Konami get together with Arc System Works?
Kenji Yamamoto, Producer: Internally, we thought we should make a Contra-ish game, a run and gun shooter. At first we started talking about something different, just looking forward to a business opportunity. Then someone came up with an idea to utilize Arc System Works’ strong points, great art style and great animation with a side scrolling shooter. Of course we know they can make very good 2D games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. Then we started to move forward with this game.
Why did you call this game Hard Corps and not Contra?
The game is really inspired by Contra: Hard Corps. Many Contra fans realize Contra: Hard Corps is a little bit far from the regular Contra franchise. Since we’re going to link it to Contra: Hard Corps we could make this into a brand new franchise.
If I remember correctly, one of the playable characters, Bahamut, is the main enemy in Contra: Hard Corps.
Maybe yes. Maybe not.
I believe we haven’t mentioned this yet. The character’s name is Bahamut, but I cannot say. It could be a different Bahamut. [Laughs.]
Will we see any other characters from Contra: Hard Corps? Like the robot Browny or the wolfman?
I believe some other similar characters are in the game, maybe I can show those to you another day.
One difference between this game and the US version of Contra: Hard Corps is the life bar. Why did you keep the life bar from the Japanese Genesis game?
In Japan, Contra: The Hard Corps had a life bar. Only the North America and European versions didn’t have a life bar. I believe everybody can enjoy this kind of game, a run and gun shooter, but it’s very hard for a first time gamer. Hardcore gamers are used to the system, but other than them it’s hard to get into. We really wanted to show the end of the game to everyone so that’s why we added a life bar.
When designing Hard Corps: Uprising what else did you do to make the game more accessible to modern gamers?
The life bar is probably the biggest change. Also, there is another game mode. Today, we’re showing the arcade mode, but there is another mode called Rising mode. In this mode you can access a customization menu and earn points to purchase items. You can build up your character in this mode. Maybe it’s more modern and will make Hard Corps: Uprising more accessible. In arcade mode, you can get a spread shot powerup. In Rising mode, you can get items like a level two spread shot by purchasing items.
For the hardcore crowd you added a bullet reflect move. How did this idea come about?
This idea came from Arc System Works and their experience with fighting games. You can also do a special move when dashing. You can break small boxes or go behind enemies. This idea also came from Arc System Works.
Do you feel like Arc System Works helped a lot with the gameplay design?
Yeah, we have good chemistry. They are really strong with artwork and the game’s visual style. We also have a lot of experience making side-scrolling shooters at Konami.
Do you think we’ll see any Arc System Works cameos in the game? Noel seems like a perfect fit since she already has guns.
We are hoping… ahh… just for now I have to say no comment.
You mentioned making Hard Corps its own series. What would you want to do for a future game?
We want to keep this art style and continue to work with Arc System Works. We can deepen the story of the game. We are hoping to make a sequel to this game to continue the story.
Can you tell us about any of the downloadable content?
It’s not finalized yet, but we will have some DLC.
Will it be extra levels?
It could be, but it’s not finalized yet.
Aside from the DLC, do you expect Hard Corps: Uprising to be finalized this year?
Yes, it’s coming out in winter 2010.
Do you think we’ll see another Contra game or is the focus just on this?
Contra has its own world that [Nobuya] Nakazato-san created maybe he will do something with it. We are trying to continue make Uprising its own franchise.