Yuke’s is bringing us Neverland Card Battles to us on October 28, which is actually before it comes out in Japan. Since the game is still in development I caught up with Ken Koyama, Product Manager at Yuke’s Company of America, to ask about Neverland Card Battles’ progress and their relationship with Idea Factory. One thing surprised me. Right now downloadable content packs are being considered for Neverland Card Battles, something that is a still new territory for PSP games.
How did you guys get set up with Idea Factory?
As you know, our head office is located in Japan. Throughout many business communications in Japan one our representatives was able to get a hold of Idea Factory. We did a little talking and Neverland Card Battles came out. We definitely jumped the gun on it.
Did you guys contact Idea Factory or did they contact you?
You it’s kind of funny, it’s a bit of both. We actually approached them about Neverland Card Battles since it was never released in the US and we were curious why it was never released in the US. They came back to us saying like would you like to publish it in the US?
I see. Do you know why it wasn’t published in the US the first time around?
From my understanding, they couldn’t really find a publisher who agreed or understood the concept of the game.
Maybe you can tell us a bit about the concept then?
It’s originally a PS2 title created in Japan, never released in the US. As you know, the PS2 format is pretty much on its last end of its leg. However, the PSP is gaining some strength. We felt there was an opportunity to bring Neverland Card Battles to the US.
Now, it’s a card based strategy RPG type of game. Basically, you’re battling out with a deck of cards versus another person’s deck of cards. What makes our game different from other card battling games is you play on a board against another person on a game board. You have to move some characters around and capture territories to use some cards. Card games have the basic structure of bring out mana, use your mana, bring out a creature or a spell, and then there is an attack phase, a defense phase and it’s the next person’s turn. Neverland Card Battles has the same kind of strategy as most other card based games. However, we introduced a totally new strategy by adding captured territories as mana and no other card game does it.
What are dominators?
They are people who control the card decks. Any player who comes in with a deck to play with are considered dominators.
Are they story based characters?
Yes. As you play Neverland Card Battles you run into many different kinds of dominators with stories and backgrounds.
Is there an overarching story linked with the other Idea Factory games?
The Neverland series is an ongoing series Idea Factory has printed many, many games with. Our game has characters from the Neverland series and some of the stories are linked in with Neverland card battles. I personally don’t know how well they are linked in or what other games they are intertwined with. People who are very familiar with Neverland series will notice some of the linked characters from Neverland Card Battles.
Was it difficult to localize with all of Idea Factory’s mythology?
There were some ups and downs with localization, but we worked with a really good localization house and they were able to handle it all. We are pretty happy with the localization of the title.
Are there any changes from the PS2 version?
We changed the screen size to a wide screen version. There are some changes made to the movies, voices, and anime style of game too. The bigger change we have to say it’s one, on the PSP, and two, you can play ad-hoc with someone else.
Speaking of the voices, I heard there are English voices are there Japanese voices too?
That’s a good question. Our plans are to have it English based only. Maybe in the future as downloadable content a Japanese voice pack is possible. Again, this is all kind of up in the air still.
Whoa. A downloadable voice pack? That’s a pretty cool idea.
We noticed there are all of these new games coming out with downloadable packs and we want to stay update with that. This is something we’re considering, but there is no guarantee with it.
Are you thinking about any other downloadable content like extra story missions or characters?
There have been talks around some of these things like adding new characters, adding new levels, adding – all sorts of things. Again, being such a new thing for the PSP this is still something we’re looking into to see if we can do or not do.
Is this something Yuke’s is looking into or Idea Factory is looking into?
Where will the content be developed?
The content will be developed by Idea Factory since they are the main developer.
Neverland Card Battles is Yuke’s first non Yuke’s published game in the US. Congratulations!
I appreciate that.
Do you guys plan on localizing more titles?
Of course! From the beginning when we established this company that was one thing we never wanted to shy away from. We do have a great internal development company, but we feel that there are many other great developers in Japan who have yet to bring games out in the US. We hope to be the gateway or doorway for them.
Very interesting. What about more games from Idea Factory?
We definitely have more a lot more titles we’ve seen from Idea Factory that we’re reviewing in house now. They have to go through heavy review from legal to marketing departments and see if it’s something we can roll with. Obviously, Neverland Card Battles is the best one out of all of the ones that we’ve seen so far, but we’re still reviewing titles and maybe pursing things with Idea Factory to keep this partnership going.
Are there any other companies you’re hoping to work with from the localization side?
There are many other companies and we’re open to any companies. We definitely don’t shy away from any companies if everyone is satisfied with a deal.
Images courtesy of Yuke’s.