Kadokawa Games is a more familiar brand in Japan than it is in the west, but recently the company has been working tirelessly to bring their popular titles over to the western audience. NIS America was kind enough to give us the opportunity to sit down with Yasuda-san (president of Kadokawa Games and writer for GOD WARS Future Past), Miyaoka-san (director of Metal Max Xeno), and Kouno-san (the very cool and laid back producer for Metal Max Xeno). We hope that all of you will enjoy this interview and feel encouraged to go out and try both GOD WARS Future Past and Metal Max Xeno! Let’s jump in!
GOD WARS The Complete Legend - Launch Trailer (Nintendo Switch)
Metal Max Xeno - Launch Trailer | PS4
Honey-Chan [Miyaoka-san]: Where did the name Metal Max Xeno come from, and what inspired you to create the franchise?
Miyaoka-san: When you look up the letter X in the dictionary, there’s only about a page of words that start with X. That’s pretty much it! *laughs* As far as inspiration, a lot of it came from movies like Mad Max and really trying to recreate that world in a gaming format.
Honey-Chan: [Yasuda-san] What inspired the GOD WARS franchise?
Yasuda-san: I grew up in an area of Japan called Shimane-ken, which is much older than that of Kyoto and has a very rich history. This location dates back to the origins of Japan! After traveling around the world and experiencing other cultures, I realized just how fascinating Japanese culture really was, and so, I wanted to explore more of the thousands of years of history and tell that story through my work.
Honey-Chan [Miyaoka-san]: What made you choose tanks as the main travel option in the game? Why not a car or a plane?
Miyaoka-san/Kouno-san: Tanks are just very fearsome and have a lot of firepower. Machine guns are cool but the really big cannons are interesting. Tanks are also man-made and so they’re versatile in their movement, and because you’re doing a lot of monster hunting in the game we came to the conclusion that tanks are the strongest to destroy the monsters.
Honey-Chan [Yasuda-san]: The GOD WARS series is well known for its turn-based tactical approach and in the west, a lot of players are more accustomed to real-time action oriented titles. What was your reason behind choosing that style of gameplay?
Yasuda-san: Historically, there’s been a pretty huge gap ever since the release of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, and I wanted to sort of fill that gap by creating a new tactics-based game and continue the legacy of the tactical series. I also really love tactical games and wanted to ensure that gamers of this generation could enjoy the genre as much as I do, adding in the more notable gameplay mechanics that current players are familiar with (buffs, debuffs, etc). My long term goal is to continue polishing and refining the game to help it evolve to the next level and make it a better game overall. In fact, my big dream is to make a RTS tactics RPG and really create a unique experience using various elements!
Honey-Chan [Miyaoka-san]: The customization feature within Metal Max Xeno was very well made, allowing you to really fine tune your tank to look colorful and stand out. The character customization section was also polished as well. What was the creative process behind adding the feature into the game?
Miyaoka-san: As a hardcore gamer, I really enjoy a lot of games, and so I wanted to add elements into Metal Max Xeno that I liked the most. Whatever elements I enjoyed I took them and tried to make them better for our game. I started out playing Wizardry and from there moved onto other titles gradually, so it’s more or less a combination of all genres that helped to inspire me. I really love Fallout 3! When I played Everquest I thought of it as a more realistic version of Wizardry, but I do sometimes go back to play Wizardry because it means a lot to me.
Honey-Chan [Yasuda-san]: Earlier you talked about coming from a very historical period. A lot of players in the west may not be too familiar with the Japanese cultural references in the game. What was your approach in delivering this content over to the west, knowing the culture differences?
Yasuda-san: Without going into too much detail, ‘Kojiki’ was sort of the motif for the first game since it’s one of Japan’s oldest historical written pieces. One of the biggest hurdles was trying to express the uniqueness of the culture without damaging its cultural significance. Other titles like Shin Megami Tensei have also used the motif for their titles, but I really wanted to emphasize its richness so that everyone can enjoy it whether or not they truly understood it completely. If players could approach it from the perspective of the game being fun and interactive, sort of like how children enjoy anime, they can become more indulged in Japanese culture without feeling too lost.
Honey-Chan [Kouno-san]: The art style in Metal Max Xeno has certainly changed when compared to previous titles in the series, and it looks great. The cel-shaded approach really gave the game more life. Was there any reason why you chose this particular style?
Kouno-san: The biggest reason for the change was due to the hardware upgrade from Nintendo to PlayStation. The series isn’t really known for being high end but we still wanted to create something appealing and stylish for the new platform, since our game overall is quite unique and we want to retain that uniqueness. When I had the chance to work closely with Miyaoko-san I was totally moved by its unique approach, similar to Ken to Mahou’s unique style, and at that moment I knew creating a new style would surely work for Metal Max. Ultimately, that led to the outline style that you see in the game.
One of our character designers, Atsuji Yamamoto, stated that having an outline for the characters really added more appeal and attractiveness in a visual sense. The art style feels very familiar to the Japanese audience and hits the spot.
Honey-Chan [Yasuda-san]: Which platform do you prefer to work on more? Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4? And second, will we see a sequel for the game?
Yasuda-san: For GOD WARS Future Past we initially thought that the Vita was the main platform and because of that, there were limitations that didn’t allow characters to really have the freedom to move around. As a result it created long loading times and so I had to reconsider the game from a different perspective in terms of gameplay, graphics, and tone it down to work on the Vita platform. With the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 I was able to really fulfil what I truly wanted to do for the game, and so I’m happy with both.
As for the sequel, I’ve already started writing up the next story! This is the first time I’ve mentioned this to the western audience by the way!
Honey-Chan: Lucky! *laughter*
Honey-Chan [Miyaoka-san]: Will we see a sequel in the Metal Max franchise? Will it be Xeno 2? An entirely new name?
Miyaoka-san: Actually, Kouno-san has asked me to start writing up a new scenario for the sequel and it hasn’t been passed onto Yasuda-san yet, so to be quite honest! *laughs* Regarding the name, we’re still not sure what it will turn out to be, so you’ll have to wait and see!
Honey-Chan [Everyone]: Any final words for fans of Kadokawa Games?
Kouno-san: Metal Max Xeno is releasing this month and I’d love to keep working alongside Miyaoka-san to ensure the game improves! Any feedback that fans have I’d love to hear them, so that way we can incorporate it into future titles. I really want fans to experience the new elements and mechanics that Metal Max Xeno has to offer!
[We provided a bit of feedback on the character customization, to which Kouno-san replied, “it’s quite difficult to implement such detail! We really would love to but yeah, it’s very challenging”. “I got, I got it”, said Miyaoka-san] *laughs*
Miyaoka-san: Happy Hunting!
Honey-Chan: Really, that’s it?!
Miyaoka-san: *laughter* With Metal Max Xeno we’ve made a lot of changes to make the gameplay more interesting, so you can simply go on and ignore the story and just, you know, go full blast into… happy hunting! *huge laughter*
Yasuda-san: So GOD WARS is actually made up of three storylines, with the last section bringing the total to 160 hours of gameplay. If you’re able to complete that last portion of the game and see the cutscene, there’s actually a hint to the next sequel! I hope that people will play it to the very end to find out!
We’d like to say a huge thank you once again to NIS America and Kadokawa Games, for giving us this wonderful opportunity to sit down and enjoy a wonderful interview and discussion with Kouno-san, Miyaoka-san, and Yasuda-san. We hope to have the same pleasure again in the near future, and to discuss more about new titles coming from Kadokawa Games! Yoroshiku! Be sure to also check out our reviews for both titles!