In an attempt to continue to bring you the best RPG coverage available, RPGamer is proud to bring you this exclusive interview with Atsushi Taniguchi, the producer on From Software's recent release, Lost Kingdoms.
RPGamer: Please introduce yourself.
Atsushi Taniguchi, Producer.
I joined From Software as a 3D graphic artist before becoming the Graphic Director. From there I went on to become a Producer. I am both Producing and creating the graphics for the games I've been involved with. Lost Kingdoms is the second title I've had the opportunity to be a Producer on.
RPGamer: Why was the decision made to have the lead character be female? This question only comes up because the majority of RPGs feature a young adult male in the driver's seat. Was it made with a female character in mind the entire time because of story purposes?
Atsushi: Yes, we've always envisioned the lead character of the game to be a female. In creating our lead character - Katia, our idea was to develop a character that was not the typical over-the-top action hero that gamers have seen time and time again, but rather a Princess of a once peaceful kingdom, and who is definitely not used to fighting. But when an invading force threatens to destroy the Kingdoms, she quickly realizes that she is only one that has the power to save the Kingdoms. Together with the Guardian Creatures Cards she is able to collect and summon, she becomes more powerful and is able to battle the evil hordes of monsters that have invaded the Kingdoms.
RPGamer: I'm sure you've heard or seen a number of people draw parallels between the card collecting parts of Lost Kingdoms as being a trait common in recent RPG trends. What do you feel sets Lost Kingdoms apart from other games with similar systems?
Atsushi: I think the main thing that sets Lost Kingdoms apart from other RPG games that feature card-collecting elements is that Lost Kingdoms is purely a real-time action RPG. This adds both excitement and tension, and immerses the player into the action-oriented gameplay, requiring them to make spilt-second decisions. But at the same time, we've developed an expansive card-based system that requires a great deal of strategy that we think RPG gamers will really enjoy. In addition, I think RPG gamers will really enjoy the Two-player Versus mode we've included in the game, where they can pit their card collection against a friends in a battle to the finish.
RPGamer: What differences exist between the Japanese and North American versions of the game? Were there any significant additions or subtractions from the game?
Atsushi: We made a few game balancing adjustments, but nothing major.
RPGamer: Along similar lines, regarding the localization of Lost Kingdom's, what can you tell us about what has been done to give the game a proper localization, without sacrificing any of the originality of the game?
Atsushi: Of course there will be a difference as the two languages are so different, like in any English/Japanese translation. However, we paid special attention to the localisation and had a professional translator translate all the text. To ensure we kept with the same mood and feeling of the Japanese original the translator played the Japanese version many, many times before he started translating, he also worked closely with Activision to ensure he grasped the correct atmosphere. In my opinion, the English text is very high quality and I very close to the Japanese original.
RPGamer: Did the fact that Lost Kingdoms is one of the first RPGs for GameCube present any problems during development?
Atsushi: Generally speaking - no, not limited to GameCube at least. Developing for new hardware always means a lot of hard work. Once we understood the specs of the GameCube and had decided the game's contents there were no real problems.
RPGamer: A lot of developers have stated that the GameCube is extremely easy on which to develop games. Did you find this to be true for Lost Kingdoms as well?
Atsushi: The LK team was made up from people previously developing on PS1 and PS2, so as I mentioned above, it was hard in the sense that we had to get used to new hardware. I think the knowledge we've gained through developing Lost Kingdoms will stand us in good stead for our next project.
RPGamer: Can you explain what sets Lost Kingdoms apart from other RPGs that feature cards as a primary component? Do you fear the inclusion of these cards will lead to unfair comparisons to Yu-Gi-Oh and other card combat/collecting type games?
Atsushi: I think the biggest thing that sets Lost Kingdoms apart from other RPGs that feature cards as a primary component is that Lost Kingdoms' card based battle system is very intuitive. I found that in playing other card-based RPG games there were so many rules that you needed to learn before you could start being successful. With Lost Kingdoms, we wanted players to be able to jump in and start having fun immediately, but still have a lot of depth to the card system so that if the player wants to learn more, or develop their own battle style they could. Also, in Lost Kingdoms the creatures are summoned in real-time with each battle depending on the behavior of each creature, so the player has a lot of strategic decisions to make, at the same time their able to feel a sense of solidarity like "one for all" or "all for one" as the battles rage.
RPGamer: Several of From Software's recent titles that have been released in North America have not been as well received as one would hope. What elements of Lost Kingdoms do you think will help it avoid a similar fate?
Atsushi: This is our first game for the Nintendo GameCube so it's difficult to make comparisons. For me one principle stands out when I produce a game, this is to try and make sure the game will stand out in people memories. I believe such games will be popular amongst players all over the world. I hope we have achieved this with Lost Kingdoms.
RPGamer: Finally, what was the inspiration for the Guardian Creature Cards? (Mythology? Popular Novels?)
Atsushi: Some ideas were taken from these sources; others were simply created by ourselves.
RPGamer would like to thank Mr. Atsushi for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us. If you're interested in learning more about Lost Kingdoms, check out our gamepage here, and be sure to stay with RPGamer for the very best in RPG coverage.