Way before Nintendo announced they were bringing Samurai Warriors 3 to North America, Koei and Nintendo teamed up to mix Mystery of Murasame Castle into the Wii Warriors game. Mystery of Murasame Castle stars Takamaru as he explores four samurai filled castles armed with a katana and shuriken.
North America will get its first look at Mystery of Murasame Castle inside Samurai Warriors 3, which has a mode based on the Japan-only Famicom Disc System game. In this interview we asked Hisashi Koinuma, Executive Managing Director of Koei-Tecmo Games and Producer of Samurai Warriors 3, how the team recreated Mystery of Murasame Castle and how many warriors can Samurai Warriors 3 display at the same time.
How has the combat system evolved from Samurai Warriors 2 to Samurai Warriors 3?
Hisashi Koinuma, Executive Managing Director: For the perspective of the action, we added new Weapon Lock and Unconscious abilities, which you can carry out by charging the Spirit Gauge. Weapon Lock nullifies normal attacks and enables you to attack repeatedly. It would be very effective when you are faced with strong opponents. When your Spirit Gauge and Musou Gauge are both full, you can unleash the Ultimate Musou Attack, where the unique camera angle for each character highlights impressive expressions. Personally, I would like players to first watch all the characters’ Ultimate Musou Attacks, as each character shows specific and unique attacks.
We have also added changes to the game system. For instance, characters can now bring items to the battlefield, which means that before the battle you can choose and use items that you find inside crates on the battlefield for recovery or power-ups. Now even when you are exhausted, you don’t have to try to find them while being chased by opponents.
In Japan, Samurai Warriors 3 had paid downloadable scenarios. Will these be available in North America?
For the North American version, these additional scenarios are already included in the game. I hope you will enjoy the history of Japanese Sengoku period!
When designing new characters for Samurai Warriors 3, how did you decide which historical figures to include, their weapons, and movesets?
On choosing which characters to include, what is most important is – along with their popularity – to be able to interact with the existing characters. For example, Ujiyasu Hōjō, who appears in this title for the first time, historically fought against Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi. It means it would be difficult to include any popular characters without historical relationships with other ones.
We have added so many twists upon characters. As you may know, Samurai Warriors boasts a number of various weapons; in the 1st and 2nd title, Oichi used Kendama, Japanese traditional toys, as one of her weapons and Motochika Chōsokabe used the Shamisen, a Japanese traditional musical instrument. As the game contains a number of characters, the more weapons you have, the larger variety of actions the characters have. On the other hand, take Tadakatsu Honda for instance. He has historical background as an expert spearman, so we had him use a spear in the game. In this way, we take historical backgrounds into account on deciding what objects or weapons to have the characters carry with them.
Skills are also important in making characters unique. For example, Kai has a weapon called Nami-Kiri or “wave cutter” in English, so her Ultimate Musou Attack expresses a wave of water flowing out. Actually Kai’s historical background is that she turned back the enemy’s siege using water to submerge her castle. That kind of background also inspires us to match skills or expression ideas.
Having a ton of characters on screen at the same time is a staple of the Warriors games. How many characters can Samurai Warriors 3 display simultaneously and what did you need to do in development to achieve this?
We faced lots of challenges at the first stage, as this was the first Warriors project for Wii. We researched the hardware features to figure out what kind of graphical expression would be most suitable for the project.
Eventually Samurai Warriors 3 displays approximately 50 opponents at one time.
At the earliest stages of every Warriors project, we develop a test stage that is densely filled with opponents. It would sound reasonable that the more enemies the better, if we do not consider the hardware specifications at all. But the test stage is actually much less entertaining than final ones; if you face too many opponents, you can hardly recognize where your character is, or you feel less exhilaration by defeating them. We always adjust so that players can feel the core concept of Warriors titles: “A Warrior worth a Thousand.”
How did the partnership with Nintendo to include a Mystery of Murasame Castle mode come about?
This project was a great chance to partner with Nintendo, so we wanted to do something to nurture this relationship, more than just releasing Samurai Warriors for the Wii. Samurai Warriors 3 takes place in Sengoku, or the Warring States period, in Japan. Nintendo owns Mystery of Murasame Castle, a classic masterpiece starring a samurai. So we made a proposal to develop a collaborative game mode and Nintendo kindly agreed to that. As the team members had strong feelings for Mystery of Murasame Castle, the mode eventually contains much more than originally expected.
And how did you create this mode for Wii?
What we intended to create was the Mystery of Murasame Castle using the action gameplay of Samurai Warriors. I could not imagine how the game would be if we made what had been a 2D game into 3D environment; but when we saw the artwork of Takamaru in 3D, we intuitively felt it would work very well. It was really fun to design levels where we could include gimmicks like thunder balls or fire cannons or monstrous enemies, which could never be included in the main part of Samurai Warriors, which takes place in actual Japanese history.
The Murasame castle mode also has online play. Can you tell us how you created the online infrastructure for Samurai Warriors 3?
Actually it was not so difficult to develop the multiplayer itself, as Warriors games traditionally have a simultaneous 2-person multiplayer mode. But in many parts of the game we needed to secure traffic and avoid lags in order to realize both the gameplay of Warriors games, where a number of soldiers are running all around the field, and that of Samurai Warriors, where players complete the mission objectives while moving around the field. We made some adjustments, putting the largest priority on exhilarating gameplay. As for Murasame Castle mode, dividing the castle into multiple areas turned out very well.
Online multiplayer will not split the screen so I’m sure you can experience much more exhilarating gameplay. I do want all the players to experience that!