RPGamer Feature - Metal Saga Interview with Atlus

Metal Saga
Developer: Crea-Tech
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: Rating Pending
Release Date: Spring 2006

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RPGamer recently had a chance to talk with Atlus USA regarding its next roleplaying title for the PlayStation 2, Metal Saga. Bill Alexander and Jamie Ortiz took time out of their busy schedules to sit down and answer a few questions that will hopefully explain some things you may have been wondering about regarding this title. Atlus was also kind enough to provide five exclusive screens for your viewing pleasure, which can be found on the right side of this page.

RPGamer: Many thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with us. Could you please introduce yourself, and explain your relation to Atlus?
Bill: My name is Bill Alexander and I’m the QA Manager and an Editor here at Atlus. I’ve been working for the company for about five years now.

Jamie: My name is Jamie Ortiz and I'm an Assistant Editor. I just recently joined the localization team here at Atlus.

RPGamer: From what has been revealed about the title, we know that Metal Saga takes place in a futuristic Terminator-type man vs. machines world. Can you give us any details about the main characters?
Bill: You take the role of a young boy who’s the son of a famous hunter. In this game, hunters earn their living by defeating monsters and collecting the bounties. You can also choose from a variety of other characters to have in your party, including a cowgirl named Charlene, a swordsman named Rashid, and two different mechanics. Since tanks play a big part in the game, it’s important to have a good mechanic in the party. There are other interesting characters that can join your party too, including dogs.

RPGamer: There is one question that is weighing heavily on everyone’s minds: What is with the bazooka dogs? Are they on our side? And if so…where can I get one?
Bill: Fortunately, if you can find one, it’ll join your side, and it’ll give new meaning to the phrase “man’s best friend.” You can outfit a dog with a variety of different arsenals. In this case, its bazooka is much worse than its bite.

RPGamer: Metal Saga, also known as Metal Max in Japan, has had several incarnations dating all the way back to the NES. Will there be any tie-ins to the older games, or will this title be completely self-contained?
Bill: While there are a few obscure references to older games in the series, players do not have to have played those games to enjoy this one. There are plenty of jokes, references, and parodies for everyone to enjoy.

RPGamer: Can you explain in some detail how vehicles will play a role in combat? Will you be able to get in and out of vehicles during a fight?
Jamie: In Metal Saga, battles are all about your vehicles. As you proceed through the game, you’ll want to obtain as many different vehicles as possible because each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, some vehicles are specially equipped to fight underground enemies, while others are designed to battle enemies in flight.

Yes, you’ll have the option to exit the vehicle during battle if you like, but it’s not advised! Your tank is your best weapon. This will become apparent in the areas you cannot enter with your vehicle and will have to venture through on foot. There will also be times during battle when your vehicle sustains heavy damage and you’re ejected from it. When this happens, you’ll have to fight the rest of the way mano a mano, so be sure to stock up on grenades when you have the chance!

RPGamer: Can you tell us about equipment upgrades in Metal Saga? Are all upgrades for characters and vehicles bought in shops/found in the field? If not, does Metal Saga utilize some sort of item synthesis system?
Jamie: Equipment upgrades are crucial to progressing through the game. Stronger enemies will require special capabilities and increased firepower. While most equipment upgrades can be purchased at a shop or garage, unique pieces of equipment can only be obtained by combining parts at an assembly shop.

RPGamer: What type of skill system does Metal Saga utilize?
Jamie: Here's how skills work: each character starts out with a couple of skills, and can learn up to six. There are Masters who can teach the characters new skills. Each Master offers a unique, but not complete, list of skills (except for the Grand Master, who can teach all skills... including the special ones that none of the Masters have). You can choose to "forget" old skills in order to learn new ones.

There are two types of skills: (a) those that you select from the menu and use in battle or on the overworld map, and (b) those that are automatically activated at the beginning of battle. In either case, you pay money for skill usage. For Type (a), you pay a certain amount per use. And for Type (b), you pay a certain amount per battle (since they are used automatically). Skill usage fees are added up at the end of the battle, and automatically deducted from your earnings.

RPGamer: Judging from this screenshot, Metal Saga will include at least one mini game. Could you tell us a little bit about them?
Bill: The mini-games are a total hoot. My favorite is the one where you have to pose on stage just like the muscle men do. In the game pictured, you bet on frogs just like going to the race track. There are quite a few games, including a casino. Once you’ve found them, you can go back and play them as much as you want.

RPGamer: If you had to name one thing that sets Metal Saga apart from other RPGs, what would it be?
Bill: That’s difficult to put in words. For starters, the game is hysterical at times. Even some of the enemies will make you laugh. Unlike games that claim to be non-linear, it really is up to you how you play and where you go. Most “non-linear” games are really multi-linear, meaning you choose from various pre-determined paths. But, in this game, there are no pre-set tasks. There are a ton of optional quests you can choose to undertake or not. Plus, the incorporation of dogs and tanks adds a lot of variety to gameplay.

RPGamer: If Metal Saga turns out to be a hit, would Atlus consider bringing over some of the older Metal Max games for say... the GBA?
Bill: Certainly anything’s possible. Of course, it depends on a lot of factors, including the longevity of the GBA as well as the availability and willingness of the developer to license the titles.

RPGamer: When can we expect Metal Saga to be released?
Bill: We’re shooting for spring, but I can’t give you an exact date because there are so many steps involved in the process of publishing a game, including manufacturing and shipping. I can promise you that we’ll do our best to complete the localization as quickly as possible without sacrificing the quality of the translation.

RPGamer: Lastly, is there anything that you'd like to say to our readers?
Bill: If you ever found yourself as a kid tying G.I. Joe figures to your dog’s back with old shoelaces, or running down your younger brother or sister with your Big Wheel (like we all did), then this is the game for you.

RPGamer would like to extend its thanks to Bill Alexander and Jamie Ortiz for revealing quite a few details about Metal Saga. Make sure to keep an eye out for an in-depth review of this title when it releases in the upcoming months.

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