I’m sure some of you have heard of TYPE-MOON and their games, such as Tsukihime and Fate/Stay Night. Although they started out as a doujin circle, TYPE-MOON are potentially the most influential company today in the visual novel industry, if they were to release a new title.
When T-M released their debut project, Tsukihime, they were merely a doujin circle with very limited resources. By the time they released Fate/Stay Night, they were a new commercial company just entering the visual novel market. But today, they enjoy access to all the funds and time they desire to invest in their new titles while they continue to widen their fame through various media.
Case in point: It’s actually been 6 whole years since the release of their last title, Fate/stay night (not counting all the spin-offs). But the origin of their upcoming project, Mahou Tsukai no Yoru, goes even further back.
Mahou Tsukai no Yoru was a novel written by T-M co-founder, Kinoko Nasu, 14 years ago as his first attempt at writing a complete novel. You could say that it was the basis for all of his future works. For instance, in the “Nasu-verse” timeline, it takes place prior to Tsukihime.
Fighting game fans may recognize her better through Melty Blood, but the central character in Mahoyo is a mage named Aoko Aozaki, during her high school days. During the events of Mahoyo, Aoko is still a young girl with uncertainty towards the future, like any other girls her age. Well, maybe not exactly like other girls, considering her personality. But Mahoyo does mark the true beginning of all of TYPE-MOON’s work.
One interesting aspect to Mahou Tsukai no Yoru is that Hirokazu Koyama, who is the graphics chief of TYPE-MOON, is doing the character designs instead of Takashi Takeuchi, who designed the characters for all previous T-M projects. There are still people who say they prefer Takeuchi’s art style, but the truth is, his illustrations were all colored by Koyama anyway, so the game will almost certainly retain the beautiful color schemes T-M products are known for. And of course, Nasu is still the writer, and even tweaked the text for the visual novel version.
But other than the artwork and the storyline (usually guaranteed to kick ass), there are a couple more aspects to Mahoyo that make it so greatly anticipated. One is the visual presentation. If you’ve ever had a chance to play Fate/Hollow Ataraxia (a fan disc of Fate/Stay Night), you would have noticed the rather remarkable programming work pushing the limits of the visual novel technology the game runs on.
As of today, even though it’s been 5 years, I haven’t seen anything as epic as the Saber vs. Archer battle scene at the bridge. Again, it’s been 5 years, so one could only imagine what the developers would be able to do with today’s technology. Judging from the few Mahoyo screenshots from magazines, it appears that scenes they would normally have to draw a CG for, are instead represented by layering several still pictures one atop the other — and this is in an engine normally used just to display a character picture and the background in conventional visual novels to boot.
One line in the Type-Moon Ace magazine interview even says that the amount of text data for the code was far larger than that of the narrative itself in one of the scenes. Just to remind you, we’re not talking about an action game, but a visual novel.
The other aspect I’m looking forward to, personally, is the music. TYPE-MOON’s previous works did have great music, but even as a fan, I have to admit they were only average in comparison to the rest of the visual novel industry overall. As mentioned in various places, the ending theme will be performed by Supercell, most famous through Hatsune Miku and Bakemonogatari’s anime ending. But that’s only the ending theme.
What I’m really looking forward to, this time around, is the game soundtrack. TYPE-MOON have hired Hideyuki Fukasawa, who worked on games such as Street Fighter IV, Shin-Onimusha Dawn of Dreams, and Chaos Legion, as one of the composers for the game. If you aren’t familiar with his work, here’s a sample from Street Fighter IV. You can also listen to the soothing sample track on the official Mahoyo website.
With all these elements combined, I can’t see how Mahoyo could possibly not be interesting. I’ve always personally felt that Kinoko Nasu’s works were epic enough to match any of the mainstream titles out there. It’s just that the anime adaptations (with the exception of the Kara no Kyoukai movies) and the limited resources of his old games never allowed him to do full justice to his creations. People say the 15 hours of gameplay they’ve announced for Mahoyo is short, but some of his previous works were unnecessarily long with scenes that could be cut, and his work is like a puzzle that can be enjoyed multiple times with new things for you to notice each time.
Story-wise, Mahoyo is about three characters: Aoko Aozaki, who is forced to succeed a mage’s family; Alice Kuonji who has lived as a mage all her life; and Shizuki Soujurou, who has just moved to an urban city from the countryside and everything is new to him. An old school TYPE-MOON fan could probably guess there’s a lot more to it, but I’ll just leave it at that. Interestingly, Mahoyo isn’t an eroge like TYPE-MOON’s previous titles, so perhaps, that will help the story stand out better, too.
Following numerous delays, Mahou Tsukai no Yoru isn’t going to be just another visual novel release when it is published this September. It’s going to be a historical accomplishment in the visual novel industry.
Here’s an interesting stat I’ve heard from an acquaintance who works in the PC game publishing business: Mahoyo received 4,000 pre-orders in the first week of pre-orders being available. In this niche industry and bad economy, many games don’t reach numbers that high even in their last week of pre-orders. It’s already considered a hit if it sells over 10,000 copies!
For reference, Fate Stay Night sold 100,000 copies in the first week of its release. Hollow Ataraxia sold 140,000, and Fate/Stay Night Realta Nua — an all-ages port for the PlayStation 2 — sold 180,000.
To make matters crazier, the release date of Mahoyo is September 30th — the same date as Final Fantasy XIV. I bet Akihabara will be a war zone that day.