For our Record of Agarest War interview we spoke with Mike Manzanares, Producer at Aksys and Sugano Kenta, Director at Idea Factory. Manzanares outlines some of the changes in Aksys’s version such as a new localization while Kenta shares his vision for the game and picks his soul breeding partner.
What goals did you have in mind when developing Record of Agarest War?
Sugano Kenta, Director: It wasn’t a goal per se, but our focus had been always how much of its originality can be expressed through the game during the development process. Since our development process fell on the period when next-gen consoles started to hit the market, we were expected to create a high-end game, but our focus was rather the playability as a RPG game.
What inspired the Soul breed system?
We had always wanted to create a game in which we can express passing of eras, but we figured it’d be more interesting to add a concept of generation changes where a main character has a child and the kid has his own child when he grows up and so forth, which has developed into the current Soul Breed System.
How does the gameplay change depending on the hero you get?
How to clear each generation is basically the same. Rather, we were careful not to create too much discrepancy in the gameplay among generations. On the other hand, heroines that will be selected in each generation do create changes in the gameplay. In other words, depending on whether you select your favorite heroine for your soul breed, or select a heroine according to the type of your main character, the abilities of your main character would greatly vary.
The balance has been adjusted to some extent since every heroine selected in each generation will each affect the abilities of main character in the last generation. But, some users might need to switch the majority of the party members, or change the strategy completely at some point in the gameplay, so in that sense all they would need to do is to choose a heroine differently to create a big shift that they need in the gameplay.
Can you tell us some of the challenges you faced when writing a story with different heroes?
The main challenge was simply that we needed to handle so many characters. Since they aren’t secondary characters either, we needed to come up with different appearances, personalities and other characteristics for each character and we had some hard time creating variations among characters. Besides the main story, each generation required an episode that completes within a span of one generation and we had a hard time tying up the main story and the story for each generation.
How did you go about designing the girls?
We had our designer create many rough drafts based on our ideas and images. Once the design is settled, we started figuring out which color images will best fit the image of the character and adjustments were made as necessary. We repeated this overwhelming process for each character. Our focus during the process was that each character has unique characteristics as opposed to similar designs among one another.
Which one of the potential marriage partners would you pick?
I wrote the story myself, so each character is my favorite. But if I have to choose, it’d be Dyshana and Ellis. Not only they’re one of the main characters, but they also appear in the game from the beginning to the end as party members, so I have a particularly strong attachment to them. As a partner for a soul breeding though, I prefer Valeria. I like her look as well as her cute personality where she is normally pretty gutsy, but obedient in front of her favorite guy.
How do you feel about Record of Agarest War being released outside of Japan?
Frankly, it’s still hard for me to believe it’s really coming out overseas. There’re rather big differences between the game contents and the genre preferred in Japan and overseas. Since we weren’t planning it to be localized originally, the game is made to cater to the Japanese audience.
Also, since it was developed three years ago, the graphics might not look as good as the games released recently, which is my main concern at the moment, but I believe that its playability as a RPG game can be very much appreciated by the overseas users considering that there are Japanese users who still continue playing the first game of the series. That said, just the thought of the game that I engaged in is played by overseas users excites me very much. I want to thank all the people who worked on the localization of the game as well as all the users who took their time to play the game.
Is Aksys editing Ghostlight’s translation?
Mike Manzanares, Producer at Aksys: Yes, we’ve pretty much re-written it from the ground up to give it that Aksys touch.
Can you detail the extra content from the Xbox 360 release that Aksys added to the PlayStation 3 version?
New illustrations unlocked for attaining certain titles (character rough drafts, etc), new illustrations for certain events, implemented the "racier" pictures from the 360 version into the PSN version, additional JP voice samples, some spiffy new effects during some/most dialogue sequences, implementation of a real background for battle (instead of the solitary battle grid in the original JP release).
We read a rough estimation on the forums, but is there a more accurate size of the PSN download?
We’re looking at a little over 9GB.
How come Aksys isn’t releasing the PS3 version of Record of Agarest War in stores?
Reasons beyond our control.
I heard that Aksys is considering a Collector’s Edition…
You heard correctly.
Can Aksys use their time machine and see if Agarest Zero is coming to North America?
That pesky Marty McFly hasn’t returned our calls, but from what I understand of temporal theory a lot of it depends on how this one does.