If you’re wondering why Yoko Taro would be talking about the upcoming Vanillaware game 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, he’s also wondering the same thing. Here’s a special interview with the NieR creator.
Atlus let Yoko Taro play the game for about three hours, and to put it shortly, he felt quite confused, so much so to the point that normal people might quit, he joked. However, he felt that there’s so much information and that it’s very interesting. He’s being interviewed by voice actress Tomomi Isomura for Atlus.
What character did you personally find interesting?
Yoko Taro: “As creators, we tend to end up predicting all kinds of things such as this character must have this kind of role, and such. In the opening there’s this guy, Juro (Juro Kurabe)?”
“Yeah, that guy, he faces this way while all the other members are looking the other way. When I first saw that, I thought everyone other than the guy in the middle must end up dying or something. Either that or the guy in the middle, Juro, who dies. I was predicting death from the start, about whether this guy will die or not.”
Are there any character episodes you found interesting?
Yoko Taro: “This girl (Megumi Yakushiji). There’s a scene where she puts on an apron and cooks. You can choose between a Hamburg steak or salted mackerel. It made me wonder about the meaning behind that. [laughs]”
Maybe they just wanted to show off Vanillaware food?
Yoko Taro: “Vanillaware graphics is known for making very tasty-looking food.”
What are your thoughts on Vanillaware?
Yoko Taro: “In short, they’re a miraculous company! To create action-adventure games using 2D illustrations in this era, that’s something other makers can’t do. I think of them as a company that works with lost technology of some sorts. What came to mind when I played was that Vanillaware games tend to have a bunch of sexy or cute girls so I had the impression that there are more male fans, but this time around with 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim I think there’s a mysterious sex appeal to it that women might like.”
Yoko Taro asked who the most popular character is and Atlus says based on early reception it might be Tsukasa Okino, a boy who cross-dressed and meddled with Takatoshi Hijiyama, who mistook him for a girl and fell in love and been teased for it since.
What impressions come to mind when you think of Vanillaware staff?
Yoko Taro: “I’ve gone out for drinks with Vanillaware president Kamitani-san (George Kamitani) on several occasions, but ‘cheerful old guy from Kansai who you’d never expect to be able to draw such delicate graphics’ is what comes to mind. I’ve never met any of the other staff, but in my mind I imagine them always quietly drawing in the studio, I believe they must be that kind of studio. Did you go to Vanillaware for an interview like this?”
I’ve never been there
Yoko Taro: “Then instead of interviewing me, how about interviewing Kamitani-san! Has Atlus gone mad? First of all, I’m not even an employee of Atlus, why am I even here… looking back, I don’t even know how it happened…”
Can you share your thoughts on Vanillaware challenging the adventure game genre?
Yoko Taro: “Vanillaware is very famous for their action games and side-view RPGs, which I’ve had a lot of fun playing, but this time (with 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim) it’s an adventure game, so the biggest point is that you can take your time to look at the backgrounds.”
Yoko Taro: “So stuff like sunbeams and shiny light from windows look very beautiful. Up until now (for previous Vanillaware games) we’ve been breezing by these, but now we can take our time for each room, and moreover since it’s not an action game it won’t take you away with battles, so I thought it was really nice that you can actually see the beautiful artwork.”
Yoko Taro: “This time with everything from the light source showing through windows to subtle lens flare movements, and you’ve seen how the dust particles shines in the classroom, there are really all kinds of detailed movements going on. I felt that it makes it too good to pass up.”
Do you play adventure games often, Yoko-san?
Yoko Taro: “I actually don’t play adventure games that much. Actually, I don’t even play games that much at all… [laughs]. How do I put it—I enjoy making games more than playing them, and that takes up most of my time so I actually don’t play games that often. But I do occasionally play adventure games. Sony’s recent release Detroit: Become Human left a big impression on me. Even among adventure games, 13 Sentinels is completely different from the ones we’ve seen shifting to 3D up until now, and it is really refreshing to see it shown as a 2D sidescroller. It’s the type that I really like.”
Can you tell us about any expectations for 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim?
Yoko Taro: “I truly believe that games made by Vanillaware are treasure of the gaming industry, and I hope they forever continue releasing games. I know it’s early, but I already want to see a sequel! Yes, I want to ask them to make a sequel before it even comes out! I know there are some folks from Atlus over there, so yeah, I would certainly like to ask for a sequel. I’m expecting a sequel! I’m expecting a sequel!!!”
Can you share a message to the fans that are looking forward to the release of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim?
Yoko Taro: “I think you must buy this game! The reason for that is—in order to keep the existence of this Japanese national treasure of a company known as Vanillaware, they must sell as many copies possible. I don’t care whether games of other companies sell, and I really wouldn’t care at all if Atlus were to go under! However, Vanillaware games are the one thing we can’t lose in Japan, so let’s all buy 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim!”
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim releases for PlayStation 4 in Japan on November 28, 2019.