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RPGamer Feature - TGS 2012 - Marvelous AQL Interview

RPGamer's Michael Baker sat down with Esteban Salazar from Marvelous AQL to discuss upcoming titles and the company's plans for Steam.


Michael Baker: How about we start with the Steam release of Half-Minute Hero. What's going on there?
Esteban Salazar from Marvelous AQL: So yeah, it comes out on the 27 at 10 AM. The "ultimate" version of the game. It's essentially the Xbox version with all the Steam features added, and keyboard support, and all the retro modes from the PSP version that were cut in the transition to the Xbox version. Those are restored, those are back.

MB: Are those the same, or are there any additions?
ES: The PSP ones are the same as they were on the PSP. There are no new stages or anything like that. But yeah, they're exactly the same as they were on the PSP. They do have, for the first time ever, a translation into something other than English.

MB: Which languages?
ES: French, Italian, German, and Spanish...so now people who couldn't play it on the PSP can play it in any language they prefer; in any language they want, wherever they're from. So yeah, it's our first game on Steam. I think it might be Marvelous's first game on the PC. I might be wrong, but I don't think we've ever put a game on the PC. Steam as a platform is really cool; I'm very fond of it, it's lucrative, and there aren't a lot of Japanese games.

MB: I'm sure that's going to be changing quite soon. Falcom's already having fun with it.
ES: They are actually, the Ys games were released through our subsidiary, XSEED, so that's us too. So we're kind of blazing -- I like to think we are -- blazing the path for Japanese games on PC, on Steam, and we hope to do a lot more depending on how well Half-Minute Hero fares.

MB: How much does it cost the company to try something like this? I'd think it would have fairly low overhead.
ES: Yeah, I mean the port wasn't... the thing is it's Marvelous dipping its toes in the water. They had decent results with Ys, but XSEED did that. We're trying to see how it will work out if we do the publishing ourselves, if we spend a little more money on marketing. Hence all the watches and the videos and the stuff like that. All the contests.

ES: Exactly. And so going forward, that way we will be in a position where we have XSEED and Marvelous AQL Japan, and we can both put out stuff on Steam. It could mean that we'd be working side-by-side on parallel projects or whatever. So yeah, I'm very excited about the launch. Also tired, because I'm doing a lot of stuff. But excited, I'm very excited that a whole new group of people is going to be able to play the game. Have you played the game?

MB: No, I've never had the chance. No PSP. So aside from Yuusha 30...er, Half-Minute Hero, what else is on the horizon?
ES: For Steam? Right now, we're not really sure. Because the sales for Half-Minute Hero would help adjust the priority of the different projects. I personally would like to see Grand Knights History come out on Steam, since that's never been released outside Japan.

MB: That one kind of got dropped halfway through, didn't it? (Editor's Note: XSEED had actually completed the localization.)
ES: Yeah, it was scheduling thing, scheduling and resources. They just weren't there. I think it'd do great on Steam; I think people would love that game. The art's beautiful. Again, I'd like to do it but I'm not sure the logistics are there. And then the sequel...

MB: Yuusha 30 Second? I was trying to think of what the English title would be. I'm not really used to referring to them in English.
ES: Yeah, that's what it's called actually, Yuusha 30 Second. I'm not really sure what the English title would be, but we'll probably use that pun. It's too good not too. And then Takagi-san, our producer, said if the series takes off again... well, it never really took off, but if it does take off and did very well he'd like to make more Half-Minute Hero games. So, if the fans keep buying it and they tell their friends we might see Half-Minute Hero 3 or maybe something else, a different genre, in that universe. Who knows? Totally a possibility.

MB: Maybe Half-Minute Hero 3: The Final Countdown?
ES: The Final Countdown? Well, Takagi-san is the producer and the creator, and he has a story he wants to tell, so I dunno, that'd probably be the fifth game in the series. Time Over, or something like that. Time Extended.

MB: Time Out. Time After Time.
ES: Yeah, exactly. Out of Time, OverTime, lots of stuff. But yeah, the sequel or anything really in our catalogue that we have clear rights to and is cost-feasible to port over, and if we can work with the original developer to do it. We want to hear from people, actually. If there's an AQL game that people want to see, then let us know. We'll do our best to make it happen.

MB: So besides Steam, what about Vita releases?
ES: Vita, yeah. We announced some games at the Sony press conference yesterday. We had Valhalla Knights 3, to which Michael Cunningham (RPGamer Editor-in-Chief) tweeted, well, that your staff wasn't very pleased with the first two.

MB: Mm, yes. I can't really recall the comments, but yeah...
ES: Well, I've seen the design document for Valhalla Knights 3, and it looks awesome. The design for it is really cool.

MB: The question is, is the play awesome?
ES: I haven't played it. I know nothing about it except that it's coming and the design looked pretty awesome.

MB: Some series have managed to impress us on the second or third (or fourth) try, so...
ES: So yeah, get hyped! We also have Soul Sacrifice, which we're working on. Our team is working with Inafune-san from concept and that's the really fun game. It's kind of in the monster-hunting genre.

MB: How's it different from Monster Hunter, then?
ES: Before battle, you choose what kind of magic you want to take with you. It's kind of like the weapons, except you can have four different types of magic. So you can have ranged and close-up magic, and switch up styles on the fly.

MB: So how many varieties are there?
ES: There's quite a few. And there's support spells... It's really cool. And it has four-player multiplayer. The design on it is really cool. Every time I go down there they're working on it hardcore, and I'm like, "This looks really cool." So that's coming spring 2013. And then we also announced Senran Kagura Shinobi VS, which is the next game in the series for Senran Kagura, you know...

MB: Yeah, I know.
ES: The huge breasts.

MB: The massive case of Gainaxing.
ES: And the Vita now, it has a touch screen, so who knows what crazy features they'll have.

MB: I can only imagine, and knowing some of the Japanese people I do, I don't want to imagine too much.
ES: I think they have a big reveal on that for the first of October. So you'll find out more about that then and what they're doing with it. Probably not too much right now, but with future game series or tie-ins I can imagine some really strange stuff as side-games. Again, if players have any ideas or things they'd like to see...

MB: And again, knowing some of the fans I know, that'd probably be a really bad idea to ask for fan input on this particular subject.
ES: Well yeah, we may not use it, but we're always receptive to these ideas. But yeah we're really psyched for Steam and the launch next week. We have more videos coming, six in all. We're furiously editing the third one right now. It's going to be great; I think people are going to be really pleased. It's going to open up a whole new audience for the game. People are really going to enjoy it.

MB: Yeah, it always looked interesting.
ES: Anyone who really likes RPGs would like Half-Minute Hero. (Editor's Note: RPGamer agrees having awarded the PSP version with multiple awards in 2009, including Best PSP RPG.)

MB: It's got all the weird humor in there.
ES: Yeah, it parodies RPGs, but it also loves them at the same time. And even though each RPG is only thirty seconds long, longer if you extend the clock, there's just as much action, y'know, rising action and crescendo as there is an 40-hour RPG, in one little tiny story. There's a whole bunch of them. There's sixty-one, sixty-two of those little stories.

MB: So about an hour and a half worth?
ES: Yeah, (laugh). I don't think anyone can go through the first time and beat it in thirty seconds. The first stage. I'd be very impressed if someone could pull that off. But yeah, it's a good homage, an ode to RPGs, the 8-bit and 16-bit RPGs that we grew up with and love.

MB: Anything else you'd like to share with us?
ES: I'd like to say that Marvelous is known for its fine selection of games. We have some good RPGs in the catalogue. So you can look forward to Marvelous games, RPGs, on many different platforms. Marvelous is a really smart company like that. They're not afraid of any platform. They're open to new business ideas.

MB: Not afraid of any style, for that matter. Like the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games. That's about as different as you can get.
ES: Yeah, and those. Those might wind up on Steam someday. Maybe a whole new audience will take off there. Those people who started playing FarmVille and then said, "What's this? Is this a rip-off of FarmVille or what?" Then come around full-circle.


We'd like to thank Esteban again for taking the time to sit down with us, and we hope everything goes for the best in the coming months with all the new RPGs coming our way. No word was given about North American releases of any RPGs talked about here outside of the already confirmed Half Minute Hero Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy coming to Steam on Sept. 27.



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