One of the biggest surprises this year was the return of the .hack series. CyberConnect2 and Bandai Namco Entertainment remastered the .hack//G.U. series for PlayStation 4 and PC. In addition to Jenni’s awesome coverage, Siliconera had a chance to speak to the mastermind of the .hack series, Hiroshi Matsuyama.
It’s awesome to see .hack return to consoles. How did the .hack//G.U. Last Recode project get started?
Hiroshi Matsuyama, President of CyberConnect2: The idea to create .hack//G.U. Last Recode came about because we wanted to deliver something special for the fans of .hack for the 15th anniversary of the series. We chose the G.U. storyline to remaster for two reasons. The first is because we feel the G.U. storyline is very special to the fans, and the second is because the game actually takes place in 2017.
What was the biggest challenge when remastering the game?
The biggest challenge we faced was to go beyond a simple HD remaster project. We wanted to create something that would meet the expectations of our fans. In doing so we have implemented several modifications to the game to deliver something that feels fresh and nostalgic. These modifications include increasing the speed of battles to make the game flow better for today’s audiences and a Cheat Mode which players can activate from the start of the games to give them fully maxed stats and just enjoy the story. We also included a new fourth chapter, .hack//G.U. Reconnection, as an epilogue to the .hack//G.U. trilogy.
As a protagonist, Haseo is quite different from the cheerful Kite in SIGN and the cynical Tsukasa from the SIGN anime. What did you want to different with Haseo compared to the previous .hack leads?
The theme of Haseo’s story is “growth” and at the beginning of his story is a need for revenge. Throughout Haseo’s journey we wanted to express key elements that a Shonen-manga hero would have; rage, despair, conflict, courage, and victory.
.hack//G.U. Last Recode is said to have enhanced battle balance. Could you tell us more about how you rebalanced the game and why you changed it?
We made a number of enhancements to the battle system, the most noticeable being that we increased the speed of battles and the amount of damage to enemies to match the standard level of current games. We also revised the hit stop motion during fights to make battles less stressful.
Reconnection brings Ovan back to the fold and adds a new form for Haseo. How do these characters play in Reconnection, what kinds of new enemies and areas will we see?
The story of .hack//G.U. concludes with Vol. 3, so the fourth chapter is really more of an epilogue for fans to play through after they finish the main storyline. We implemented a few new actions in Reconnection which include a new weapon called Gate of Ouroboros for Haseo’s 5th form and eight types of new skills for the new Double Trigger system.
Revealing too much about Ovan’s new form and actions will spoil the story, but the main enemy of the new chapter is called Vegalta, and the new area you’ll encounter is called Q’ha Holme Cavern.
What happened to Ovan after G.U. was a loose thread fans have been wondering about. Are there other .hack questions Reconnection finally answers?
I’m sure fans will get answers to a number of loose threads fans have been wondering about.
Sorry, we can’t go into that right now. Maybe one day.
Looking back at the entire .hack series, what would you have done differently if you were to reboot it today?
We here at CyberConnect2 tend to always look towards the future and what new project we can create. So in that sense we really haven’t thought about how we would do things differently if we were to reboot the .hack franchise today.
.hack has been a series about blending an online world with a real world. When the series first started social media wasn’t nearly as popular and VR technology was far away. Given the advances with technology what would you like to do with a future .hack title?
I’m sure it would be really interesting to show the connection and interaction between a game and real life while focusing on VR and/or AR. However, although advanced technology is an important factor for the .hack series, the drama between characters is the key element we focus on the most.
There are so many threads from anime series and games in the .hack universe, is there an ending point planned for the entire series?
Yes, we do have something in mind.