RPGamer Feature - Lost Odyssey Interview
Lost Odyssey
Developer: feelplus Inc.
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: 02.12.2008

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Hees Kyung, Global Product Manager at Microsoft Game Studios, recently took time out of his busy day to answer a few of our questions regarding the company's upcoming title from Mistwalker and feelplus Inc, Lost Odyssey. From downloadable content and mention of demos to a description of the game's story, many different features are spoken about in great detail.

I'm sure our readers are interested to learn more about the battle system, specifically on the rings that appear when a character executes the attack command. How does this work precisely?
Similar to many Japanese traditional role-playing games, the combat in "Lost Odyssey" is turn-based. But we wanted to take it a step farther, so we’ve inserted the Aim Ring System. When a party member equipped with an enhancement ring attacks, instead of just letting the attack play out cinematically, the player actually can inflict varying amounts of damage by using the aim-ring to time a "Perfect," "Good" or "Bad" attack. It adds a real-time element that few games in the genre have.

About the different types of magic, we know that there are four types: white, black, spirit, and composite magic. The last being a combination of different types. Could you share a little more detail on the system?
While the first three types of magic are directed to either one enemy (to attack) or one ally (to heal), composite magic is used to attack all enemies or heal all allies at once. There is also spirit magic, which serves as support magic to other spells and attacks. And as you said, you create composite magic by combining other different types of magic. A good example is the All-Flare spell: This is created by combing the Shadow spell (spirit magic) and the Flare spell (black magic).

How do characters gain abilities? Are they character specific, unique, or shared?
Most characters will gain experience points and increase their abilities like traditional RPG games. Mortal characters learn new skills this way, in a preset order as they level up. However, immortal characters remember their forgotten skills by linking with a mortal character's learned skills, which eventually allows them to use the skills by themselves.

A huge portion of the game is dedicated to cinematics and developing the narrative, though we know relatively little about what's going on in the story. Care to share more info like names of places, countries, people or the basic premise or a brief plot outline?
In this game, you will play as the immortal man Kaim who lived for 1,000 years. He is looking for his lost memories and will pursue a magnificent mystery with sadness hidden behind these memories. In his quest he will meet other immortals and people from his past. Narratives are presented in the form of stories written by novelist Kyoshi Shigematsu and will appear from time to time as the story unfolds. Our hope is that you will find each story very moving as you play, and drive you to reflect deeply about life. It is not completely serious though – the comical character Jansen lightens the story and brings about laughs.

Is the story based on or inspired by any previous work?
Lost Odyssey is a result of over 20 years of Sakaguchi-san’s experience since he made his first hit game. In his quest to create a very emotional and thought provoking game, Shigematsu’s novel of short stories "1000 Year Dreams" served as an inspiration and were eventually incorporated into Lost Odyssey.

Will there be any noticeable differences (other than default language) between the NA and Japanese versions?
Lost Odyssey was not conceived as a region specific title, so all versions of the game will be the same aside from the language differences. Sakaguchi-san envisioned a game that touches upon universal human themes that all people can relate to, so there was no need to customize the game for specific regions.

With Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi behind the helm of this project, what steps have been made to differentiate Lost Odyssey from the Final Fantasy series?
The Final Fantasy games are a very traditional RPG series with deep storylines. When Sakaguchi-san came back to game development after 3 years away, he wanted to make an innovative game that rouses emotions from players. Blue Dragon’s emotional impact emulated from the courage and spirit from the main character. In Lost Odyssey we want players to be absorbed into the stories of the characters involved, to feel their sadness and contemplate about their lives. We want this to be a very moving and emotional experience.

What aspects would you be proud to say are similar?
Each game is rich in storytelling and traditional gameplay that RPG players love. They also all feature beautiful graphics, engaging characters and the melodic music from Nobou Uematsu, who has worked very closely with Sakaguchi-san from the early Final Fantasy games.

Are there any similarities between Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon?
Aside from both games being from Mistwalker, both games are at its core traditional RPG games. However, Sakaguchi-san and his team took it a step further with innovative gameplay mechanics, such as the Aim Ring system in Lost Odyssey. And of course, both feature music from the legendary Uematsu-san. He conducted a performance in Japan this past November of music from both Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon.

Any chance of a demo on Xbox LIVE anytime in the near future?
We have not announced a LIVE demo as of yet, but we always consider all options.

What sorts of Live functionality will Lost Odyssey have?
Stay tuned for more information about Lost Odyssey on Xbox LIVE. At this time, we have only announced exclusive downloadable content for fans who pre-order Lost Odyssey, but you may have read about DLC coming to Japan. It’s safe to assume we’ll see similar content here in the U.S.

What was the hardest part about developing Lost Odyssey?
The hardest but also the most rewarding part about developing Lost Odyssey was creating a captivating story that will make an emotional impact on players. The Mistwalker team poured their energy into the perfecting the characters and the storyline. The utmost attention was paid to expressions of each character, and as a result they did a very good job of explaining delicate nuances and showcasing a wide range of emotions.

What is your favorite aspect of Lost Odyssey?
As Sakaguchi-san said best, it is watching the reactions of players to Lost Odyssey. The best is when a player gets teary reacting to the characters and stories when playing the game. Our goal is to bring a tear to each player’s eyes.

Are there any special editions planned for North America?
No but fans who pre-order Lost Odyssey will have access to exclusive downloadable content via Xbox LIVE.

Any details about the official soundtrack? Could it possibly be made available on iTunes?
Uematsu-san has created beautiful original songs and scores for "Lost Odyssey" – stayed tuned for more information about its availability.

RPGamer would like to thank Hees Kyung and Microsoft Game Studios for taking time out of their day to sit down with us. Lost Odyssey has been rated "T" for Teen, has a suggested retail price of $59.99, and will ship to stores in North America on Tuesday February 12.

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