Played the Magnacarta 2 demo on Japan’s Xbox Live Marketplace yet? Now you can learn about the characters and the monster AI. Masahiro “Mabi” Knittel, Localization Producer at Namco Bandai, introduces us to Argo, Juto, and his rival Crocell in this interview.
What can you tell us about the lead characters like Juto?
Masahiro “Mabi” Knittel, Localization Producer: Juto is a boy that washes up ashore, after having lost his memory. So, he suffers from amnesia. He is essentially on a journey to discover who he is and what his destiny is. Being the main character in the story, the story follows Juto as he searches for these answers.
How does Argo fit into the story?
Argo is the former leader of a tribe of large, bulky creatures. He joined the counter central unit in order to resist the main villain, Schauenzeit. He’s there to give assistance to Princess Zephie who is resisting Schauenzeit because they both have the same goal.
And Princess Zephie is Juto’s love interest?
I’m not going to comment on any of that. But I will say, that Zephie and Juto have a relationship that is unique in that she is there when Juto’s island is taken over by Schauenzeit’s forces. She feels a sense of responsibility for what happened to the island and takes him under her wings to make sure he stays safe. Juto is essentially cared for by her as she feels a sense of responsibility to him.
Can you tell us about the other characters?
The other one you can switch out in is Crocell, he’s a fire wizard. He has a rivalry with Juto from the get go, right when they meet they do not get along essentially like oil and water. There’s a lot of really humorous banter that goes between Juto and Crocell. They are kind of always saying quips at each other.
Where did the idea for the character switching system come from?
That was one of the design elements we wanted to add to the battle system to keep things fast paced and exciting. Players control one character. When they burnout that character and enter an overheat players will be prompted or nudged to switch characters. Players will get a good taste of the strengths and weakness of all characters as they rotate them on the fly.
I noticed you can pull monsters by getting close to them and having them chase you. Do monsters have any other AI features like jumping out of hidden areas to surprise you?
I haven’t seen anything like that put into the game. What they have is essentially sight aggro if they see the players they move towards the characters.
There is some AI in that, I don’t know if you got a chance to explore the combat mechanics of chaining attacks and doing a chain break, but when you try to chain attacks together you have to time things very well in order for things to pull off. There are some creatures that will attempt to thwart this by stunning before you go into that chain. If you don’t watch for that you’ll get stunned right as you’re about to chain an attack and they’ll essentially stop you dead in your tracks. There is a little bit of that programmed in the creativity of the enemies attacks.
What else can you tell us about the enemy’s AI? I made it up to the werewolf boss, which pounded me with strong attacks. Do bosses or regular monsters have any other tricks like stunning?
Each monster has unique characteristics. The werewolf boss has its set of attacks and the werewolf thieves have their set of attacks. As you go further into the game you will run into monsters that have stuns, monster that cast spells at you, give you status ailments.
You’ll see teams of enemies where one is a wizard and there are a couple of sword fighters that accompany them. If you just leave the wizard unchecked and not take care of that wizard, he’ll be attacking at a distance and afflicting the player with status ailments. It’s definitely something you have to reckon when you’re fighting teams of enemies like this. They do have a team play mechanic and the player is essentially compelled to deal with multiple threats at once in a really chaotic battle environment, switching back and forth between characters.
There isn’t much time between the Japanese release and North American version, but are there any plans to enhance the US release with extra features?
No, essentially what we have is the game localized in English. We don’t have any plans to enhance the game with Japanese voice overs or anything like that.
I heard Magnacarta 2 has DLC…
We have been considering various DLC options. As far as what’s going to happen and how that’s going to play out, we don’t have anything solid so we can’t comment on DLC plans.
Is Magnacarta 2 guaranteed to be an Xbox 360 exclusive, unlike Tales of Vesperia which has a PlayStation 3 version coming out soon?
We have plans for no other platform, at the moment, except for the 360.
How come you decided to build Magnacarta 2 for the Xbox 360 instead of any other console?
At the time when the development team was considering what platform they were going to build the next game on, the 360 was the next-gen platform. This was several years back. The 360 was, essentially, a new platform. It was next-gen, the graphics were superb, and the power of the platform was much more than any of the other consoles out there.
The development team wanted to take this game series in a new direction and felt that with all of the things they wanted to do with the graphics, the epic story, the voice acting, the volume of graphics, sound, AI, and storytelling the next-gen platform was the way to go. So, they decided on the 360 at that time.
Since then the PS3 has come out, but at that time it was a no brainer choice.
The game has been in development so long there must have been some changes. How has Magnacarta 2 evolved? Was the battle system the same? Were there alternate characters that got cut?
I’m not the one really familiar with the development process from start to finish so I don’t know what sort of evolutionary changes occurred in the planning or design docs.
Does Namco Bandai view Magnacarta as a franchise like Tales?
This is actually the first Magnacarta that Namco Bandai Games is publishing in the United States. Previously, it has been published by Atlus. We hope this is the start of a new franchise. But, it is a first for us as a company to tackle. We’re optimistic.