Sekai Project has been busy with its new Sekai Games initiative that aims to bring a wide variety of genres to the worldwide console market. Siliconera spoke with the publishers to learn more about the project.
Siliconera: Sekai Project announced a number of titles at E3 [as part of a new iniative, Sekai Games] and the line up goes beyond visual novels with M.A.S.S. Builder and A Magical High School Girl. What kind of games can we expect from Sekai Games in the future?
Audun Sorlie, Console Project Lead: With Sekai Games (SG), we really strive for a diverse, exciting catalog of brand new independent games from all over the world, as well as some internally developed surprises. It’s not that we left behind visual novels, not at all, but we want to make sure everyone can find something they can enjoy in our catalog, which is why we debuted on the Switch with the roguelike RPG “A Magical High School Girl“. We’ve been working on SG for quite some time now to facilitate resources and make the engine run smoothly, so it’s exciting to see it come together finally. You’ll also see some classics that have been left in Japan until recent times make its way over to our shores.
A Magical High-School Girl
Rabi-Ribi was one of the games that went beyond visual novels. Are there plans to work with Crespirit again?
Audun Sorli: We worked on a new game with Crespirit called “A Light in the Dark”, which is out now in fact. It’s a bit of a hybrid between visual novel and traditional adventure games. We love those guys and we will continue working with them as long as we can. We are also preparing some cool stuff for the Rabi-Ribi physical that Limited Run Games will be putting out in the coming months.
We’re still going to see a number of visual novels like fault and My Girlfriend is a Mermaid?! on consoles too. Many of the visual novels Sekai Games published were originally doujin PC games. How did Sekai Project bring these to consoles?
Audun Sorli: Bringing doujin games to consoles can be a difficult process as many games are made outside of the guidelines set by the console providers. We have a Tokyo office which has a development team, so we license the doujin games directly and do the porting work at our offices. In doing so, we still have direct contact with the doujin circles and make sure we do it right based on what they want to see from the port.
What was the biggest hurdle to overcome on say adapting a visual novel for Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4?
Audun Sorli: Biggest hurdle easily is porting the proprietary engines! Dear lord in the heavens I could cry you a river over just how frustrating that can be, especially if it is an older game and the documentation has since gone missing. Many make the assumption that a visual novel is basically just a small script file with some effect callups, but the fact is that some of these games make use of some really complicated engines that just don’t want to play nice.
Beyond that, you also must consider the fact that visual novels are not always the most interactive of genres in terms of direct control, so reading on a TV over long periods of time can be straining. For those, we try to include a variety of extras in our upcoming releases that have some interviews, insights, art galleries, this sort of thing that makes the overall product a bit more fleshed out for TV usage.
The Switch is a different thing altogether, we really love that thing because it’s so versatile and you can bring it on the go, making it a perfect fit for a visual novel. Much like the Vita, it’s sort of made for the genre.
There are a lot of visual novels Sekai Project helped localize, which ones have the most requests for a console version?
Audun Sorli: The “fault” series is to me the biggest request, and my personal favorite. We have been working on that one for a while, and we want to make sure we can get the various installments out without much delay in between as we know people really love that franchise. On the Western side of things, I’ve been getting quite a few requests for Highway Blossoms. For me, it depends a bit on the length of a visual novel, and also the number of routes.
Audun Sorli: When I went to Japan recently, I got to visit the MyDearest offices and really hit it off with the guys there while trying out their most recent demo of “Tokyo Chronos“. Looking at the possibilities of visual novels being merged with interactive VR, it makes me think that Lawnmower Man got it right and it wasn’t just a movie to show Pierce Brosnan without his shirt on. The pedigree behind the game is so strong as well, I just felt like this is a product that could bring a lot more people to the world of visual novels, which is a goal I’ve felt strongly about since the late 90s. I don’t play VR game much, but if there is one genre I see that can really take charge and evolve via VR, it’s visual novels. And “Tokyo Chronos” looks like a game that will really deliver that sense of evolution.
The E3 announcements have a little teaser on the bottom about “Samurai Cop”. What… is this?
Audun Sorli: The movie Samurai Cop is from 1991, and tells the tale of San Diego rogue cop Joe Marshall who as told in the movie is trained by the masters in Japan in the arts of the Samurai and goes to LA to take down the Yakuza. Back before all of this video game craziness in my life, I was helping a man called Joe Bob Briggs researching some films, one of which happened to be Samurai Cop which has never been released at that time. So, I actually know the main actor from the film and we are pretty good friends in real life. He chilled at our offices one day, looking as fit in his 50s as he did in his mid 20s, and asked me why we don’t make a game based on Samurai Cop instead of all these anime girls.
So, at first, I wanted to make a game where he turned into a magical anime girl. But then as I started thinking about it, I got the idea of making a What If game. What if Samurai Cop was actually good movie, and got a video game tie in? This is what the game is, it’s a side scrolling beat-em-up made on NES hardware specifications, with modern enhancements being optional. It’s a total vanity project, but it’s exciting since we have several video game music legends from the NES era signed on already to contribute since this was my area of expertise back in the day. We’ll have more to say about this game towards the beginning of next year.