Nintendo took a chance with a brand new for North America, but classic in Japan RPG series this past January when they released Glory of Heracles. The Nintendo DS game has a script written by Final Fantasy VII, VII, and X scenario writer Kazushige Nojima, which features a band of amnesiac immortals searching for their identities.
In this roundtable interview we identified with the staff behind the game. Mark MacDonald for 8-4, an top tier external localization firm, and team members from Nintendo jumped in to discuss Glory of Heracles.
Can you tell us about the story? Why did Heracles wash up on the beach without his memory?
Mark MacDonald, Executive Director of 8-4 Ltd.: Good question…that I shouldn’t answer! Seriously, this is one of the major points of the story that is slowly answered through the course of the game – I’d hate to ruin it for anyone.
Rich Amtower, Localization Producer at Nintendo of America: Yeah, that’s kind of what the game’s about right there, figuring out what happened to you and how you got where you are. The fun is in answering that question!
What was it like working with Kazushige Nojima?
Kentaro Nishimura, Assistant Producer at NCL: It was an exciting and valuable experience. He has strong personal feelings for the series, so the scenario expanded considerably more than we had originally planned and so did the amount of gameplay accordingly. It made our development process more challenging but added more value to the quality of the product.
How is Heracles personified in this game?
Mark MacDonald: Well actually that question is more complicated than you probably realize (and goes back a bit to why I shouldn’t answer your first question), but let’s just say he could be the strong, silent type, or a big dumb jock, or a brilliant military leader, or all of those things, or none of them. Believe it or not, that answers your question. In a way. …Kind of.
Kentaro Nishimura: He is accompanied by various characters, including Leucos, an immortal who he encountered on the seashore (doing a lousy job of posing as a member of the opposite sex,) Axios, a pretty-faced man very popular among girls, and Eris, a girl who lost her memory in an accident.
Other than Heracles, what Greek legends does Glory of Heracles touch on?
Mark MacDonald: You’ve got your Achilles, your Icarus, your Prometheus, your Clash of the Titans—you name it. None of them are just the straight legends of course; the game takes elements from all the classic myths, but they’re all then tweaked or twisted in different ways as they’re incorporated into GoH’s original universe.
What is your favorite mythological reference?
Kentaro Nishimura: Personally speaking, I am interested in Roman and Scandinavian myths along with Greek myths. I believe it traces back to my involvement in Fire Emblem series. And of course Japanese myth is one of my great favorites.
Rich Amtower: Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the Trojan Horse makes an interesting appearance in the game.
Mark MacDonald: Not really. Because all the games touch on a lot of the same myths, they share some elements of course, but in terms of series canon, Glory of Heracles is actually an entirely new game. Which was nice, in a way, in that it gave us a lot of freedom in how to best personify all the different characters.
While this is the first game for North America, The Glory of Heracles series is as old as the Famicom. What are some of the challenges of localizing an established, but unreleased series?
Mark MacDonald: In this case we were actually lucky that Glory of Heracles was designed to stand on its own, even in Japan where the series has a long history; there really aren’t any major connections or references to previous games—it’s something of a “reboot”, if you will. Otherwise there might have been a lot of extra time needed to play and research the earlier games for any elements that carried over, or references to those games we would’ve had to figure out a way to work around.
Did Nintendo enhance the North American version at all?
Kentaro Nishimura: Yes we did! When you start the game after completing it once, you will see…, well please try the game find out what awaits you!