Mages/5pb started making a splash in the West with Corpse Party, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds, and Steins;Gate which will be localized for PC by JAST. More Mages games are coming over, but what ever happened to the original Phantom Breaker which was supposed to come out last year care of 7Sixty and what else is Mages working on for the West? That’s what Siliconera asked Mages producer Masaki Sakari.
What happened to the release of Phantom Breaker for the US?
Masaki Sakari, Producer: [Laughs] The deal we have is 7Sixty has almost full control of the project. We just gave it to them and all we can really say is if we try to put pressure on them, it’s on their table. I know it’s not good to keep fans waiting. We’re going to hope for the best and keep our fingers crossed that they get it through.
What can you tell us about the new Phantom Breaker game in development for PS3 and Xbox 360?
It’s going to be a fighting game. I’d consider it as a step-up from the original Phantom Breaker in terms of system and mechanics. It’s more like Super Street Fighter IV or Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. We can’t do something like Street Fighter III to IV.
Does 7Sixty have control of Phantom Breaker: Extra or is that Strangely Compelling’s project?
I probably won’t use 7Sixty this time.
How has Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds sold so far? Has it done well?
It’s done pretty well. It performed the way we wanted to. We are hoping it would still kind of extend its life cycle. It actually has surprisingly long half-life. We are amazed by how the curve hasn’t tapered off as quickly as we thought it would. It’s still selling comfortable numbers even three months after it’s been on the market which is pretty good news for us.
What were the factors that contributed to Battle Grounds’ longer life cycle?
I think Mages is still not a globally well-known brand. I’m sure a few anime fans here and there who know Steins;Gate might have heard of Mages and 5pb, but I don’t think Mages as a company is extremely well-known around the world yet. That’s why users and players don’t buy it for the brand immediately on day one. I think what’s really happening here and what I would like to think is the quality of the game is being evaluated for what it is and then people are telling their friends about it, so it slowly keeping the momentum going.
Why did you decide to have line system running like King of Fighters instead of free running like Dragon’s Crown or other beat ’em ups in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds?
What we wanted to accomplish with Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is for players who might not have necessarily got into fighting game might pick this game up, and then be curious about fighting game and pick that up as well. We tried to keep the systems extremely similar. In a lot of the other side-scrolling beat ’em ups, up will move you up in the plane, but we wanted to use up for jump because that’s how a fighting game would normally function. We wanted to keep the control and the feel as close to fighting game as possible, which is why we chose for the two planes option.
Interesting, for a fighting game is not available in America…
[Laughs] That was actually unexpected when we are developing it.
What do you want to do next? Will Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds become its own product line and get a sequel?
Since we have Phantom Breaker doing fairly well in the States, I want to continue to have everything exist. We’ll try to continue pushing Phantom Breaker through while we are working on possible future iterations of Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds. There might be a few more things in the pipeline that we would like to bring to the West. They might be action games or fighting games. I can’t really go into too much detail, but there is stuff on the drawing board right now.
Is this related to Phantom Breaker or Mages in general?
Mages in general. New IPs, different IPs.
What kind of action game are you thinking of making?
Hmm… What I really would like to do personally is to create an 8-bit dot animation game on the next gen consoles, so it might have something to do with that.
What consoles are you thinking of developing for? Wii U? PlayStation 4? Xbox One?
We as a company doesn’t have much tie with Nintendo. We haven’t published any game on their platform, so it’s pretty safe to say it’s going to be on PS4 or Xbox One.
I really respect Sony a lot when they announced Mercenary Kings the other day end because they would allow a dot-animated game exist on a next gen console. It really shows the kind of of philosophy and forms of expression of art, and doesn’t necessarily have to be 3D, doesn’t necessarily have to push the envelop and tax their system as much as a game possibly can. I really appreciate that and see a bright future for game developers who want to experiment with different forms of expression and I hope that Microsoft can do something similar and announce another title that kind of shows dot animation is still very viable form of expression.
Is Mages going to focus on PS4?
M Personally I’m very big Xbox fan. I love the titles and I love the achievements and I would really like to do some work with them. But I have to admit from the business standpoint, PS4 is much more appealing probably from our execs as well because there’s just a lot more market share out there, and the 360 didn’t perform quite as well as or any where near as well as the PS3 in Japan. So it’s very difficult to get them on board. I’d say business-wise, it would probably look like PS4, but I personally would like to see something happen on Xbox One.
And you’re bringing Ketsui which was originally an Xbox 360 title to PS3. Will you bring this to America or other regions?
I would say that in our contract licensing agreement between Cave and Mages, it only included the Japan region, so I can’t really say much about what their plans are for overseas. If it is going to come outside of Japan, we’ll have to go look at the contract and possibly amend it to include other regions.
What about the science adventure series, Steins;Gate is coming over, but what about the other games like Robotics;Notes for example?
One of the big problems with the text adventure novels is the sheer amount of text. Since that is what affects the quality of the game, we will need to get really good localization and we have to look beyond that how much we can possibly sell. We would incur huge development costs in the form of localization for sales numbers that are kind of hard to project right now. if we can see a solid need, it’s definitely a possibility we’d like to explore. However, that being said, it’s really hard to say as of right now because of the sheer amount of development costs.