SINoALICE released its global version today and we had a fun chat with Yoko Taro, producers Yoshinari Fujimoto (Square Enix) and Shogo Maeda (Pokelabo) about the mobile game.
Sato, Siliconera: SINoALICE has a unique take on “fairy tales with a twist” as a dark fantasy featuring girls based on different fairy tale characters. And they must kill, a lot, to resurrect their author. What led to the decision of going with fairy tales as a theme?
Yoko Taro: “I’m answering so many email interviews now and this is my 77th question. I’ve already gotten many questions asking about why I chose fairy tales as a theme, so I’m pretty exhausted. So I’d like to quickly summarize my answer, which is ‘I want a lot of money’.”
Was it your intention to go darker than the original fairy tales?
Yoko Taro: “I have no such intention. I, Yoko Taro, am dedicated to my mission to bring happy cheerful stories to my customers. Sure, you can call me a courier of happiness. So, there are no dark stories at all in SINoALICE. I’m quite proud that the stories are bright and peppy, so much that Disney would be green with envy.”
Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
Yoko Taro: “It’s my job, so none were enjoyable for me. I felt like a lowly laborer covered in mud, and as I typed my keyboard I was thinking ‘I want to get this over with and have a drink. Wouldn’t that be great?'”
Smartphone games have been stepping up their multiplayer gameplay and SINoALICE offers its own with co-op and real-time guild vs. guild. Can you tell us more about the game’s multiplayer modes?
Shogo Maeda: “There are two forms of co-op in SINoALICE. The first is to play with your friends and defeat the boss in a quest. The second is to form a guild with up to 15 people and fight against other guilds in a guild battle. In both, the strategy is key, and it’s important to work closely with your allies by communication.”
A function unique to the global version is a country flag system that allows you to fight battles while representing your nation. Is there more to this function?
Shogo Maeda: “In the global version, there will be players from many different countries, so we thought it would be easier for players to interact with each other by knowing where other players are from. So we added a function that allows players to set country flags for each user and also for the guild.”
Fans of Drakengard and NieR can look forward to weapon stories in SINoALICE. While we understand that Yoko Taro was not directly involved in these stories, can you give our readers an idea about what kind of stories to expect?
Shogo Maeda: “Like NieR and Drakengard, the stories are made up of four blocks. They are often dark, like the SINoALICE world. SINoALICE has a variety of weapons and each has a weapon story, so you can look forward to various stories.”
Yoko Taro: “There are a few patterns to the weapon stories. A common one is a story of someone who gets carried away and conceited and gets into deep trouble in the end. You see… when there are successful people like wealthy people, people in power, or handsome men who get forced off their high horses and descend into failure, I feel a sort of gloomy excitement. Don’t you feel the same?”
The game’s first collaboration is with NieR: Automata and NieR Replicant as a NieR series 2-part event. Since these are titles handled by Yoko Taro, was it easier to put together a collaboration story for SINoALICE, despite taking place in different worlds and settings?
Yoko Taro: “SINoALICE is a ‘social game’ so the story is built so that it’s easy to have collaborations. It doesn’t matter so much if it is NieR or not.”
On the other hand, is it more difficult when it comes to working with other properties, such as the Code Geass and Re:Zero collabs we’ve seen in the Japanese version?
Yoko Taro: “For Code Geass and Re: Zero, or even for NieR, it was a lot of work to make edits so that people who don’t know the original title would understand. I think there’s a limit to what you can do in that regard, and I feel I wasn’t successful. It’s common to have collaborations in mobile games, but there’s a high cost associated with explaining things to customers, so I don’t really want to do them.”
Now on that note, can we expect to see the same collaborations in the global version?
Shogo Maeda: “We hope to implement collaborations we’ve done in Japan to the best that we can.”
It took over a year for SINoALICE to get its first male character with Aladdin… was this due to Yoko Taro’s hatred towards ikemen (handsome men) or…?
Yoko Taro: “The team told me to make a male character, so I did. But it seems he’s not very popular so I’m sure they regret it now. I actually like characters who aren’t popular.”
We still talk about the time Yoko-san was told that gacha games need to show more skin in order to make money, so he decided to put Dorothy a massive deep-sea diving suit for her Cleric Job that only showed a part of her face. Can you tell us more about that design?
Yoko Taro: “Mobile game devs tell me that swimsuit outfits make more money, so I should make one, so I made Dorothy’s aquatic outfit for her Cleric class, but the sales weren’t very good. The devs said, ‘not a diving suit like this! A swimsuit that shows more skin!!’ so I released Dorothy’s lazy bear minstrel class, but sales went down yet again. Who can trust these devs?”
Dorothy and her aquatic outfit for Cleric
Dorothy’s Lazy Bear Minstrel outfit
Did you get in trouble for that?
Yoko Taro: “I turn 50 this year. Now that I’m an old man, I don’t get in trouble with anybody anymore. People just look at me from a distance, as a hopeless grandpa.”
Yoko-san, you’re known for drinking while doing some of your writing work, especially for the more emotional parts. Have you had much to drink for SINoALICE? If so, what’s your drink of choice?
Yoko Taro: “I drink beer, white wine, and whiskey soda. People don’t believe me when I say so, but I buy the cheapest one available at the supermarket. It’s because I can’t tell what anything tastes like when I get drunk…”
The year is 2021 and Saito-P is the new overlord of Square Enix (and Pokelabo while he’s at it). This is not good for Yoko Taro and the gang, however, Saito-P will grant one wish that is to make any collaboration happen. While you’d still be stuck under his oppression, what collaboration would you pick if given any choice to bring some light to the world?
Yoshinari Fujimoto: “The answer’s simple. I’ll have Yoko-san write the scenario for a ‘Saito P collaboration’ in which we’ll expose Saito-P’s private life and set up the worst ending possible!”
Yoko Taro: “I’d choose a Disney collaboration. I’ll pour in all of the violence and sexually explicit content I could muster. Saito-P will go down with me.”
Lastly, please share a message for Siliconera’s readers.
Yoshinari Fujimoto: “We’re supposed to deliver you the first mobile game by Yoko Taro, but who knows what’ll go on in the world anymore. If we can’t deliver, please don’t get mad!”
Shogo Maeda: “We’ve made you wait a long time until the launch, but know that SINoALICE will draw you in like no game has ever done before. Please make sure to play when it’s out.”
Yoko Taro: “This is the 88th question I’m answering. I’m so tired of writing… hey by the way, these answers are written by the writers at Siliconera. Did they sound like Yoko’s answers? Please continue to enjoy Siliconera!”