Arc System Works’ latest fighting game, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, is scheduled to release in Japan on October 24 for PlayStation 3. Yesterday, Famitsu posted an interview with Toshimichi Mori, the game’s producer. In the interview, translated below, Mori talks about the new characters, the story mode, and other original content included in the console release.
The Reception of the Arcade Version
How are the reactions since November 2012 release of the arcade version?
Toshimichi Mori (below, Mori): It’s been very positive. This time we introduced “Overdrive” as a new system, increased the game speed and made some major changes to the game systems, but the players have happily accepted the changes.
Why do you think they were so well-received?
Mori: We had continued to use the systems from the first title Calamity Trigger (CT) for quite a long time, so I think that part of the series was a bit tired. Renewing the systems with that timing is one reason. Another is that with the addition of Overdrives, a comeback factor was introduced, which I think has refined and added depth the game’s elements. Players are using Overdrives in ways that exceed the development staff’s expectations. Personally I like sharp game elements, so I’m satisfied with the Overdrive system.
In the ARC REVOLUTION CUP (ARCREVO) qualifiers, we saw a number of big comebacks from Overdrive combos.
Mori: That’s exactly what I was looking for. When facing bad character match-ups, you’re forced into an disadvantageous situation, but with the addition of Overdrives the ability to aim for a one-shot comeback is greater than before. Overdrive isn’t a simple damage increase, it uses the character’s unique traits to strengthen them, which I think worked out well.
So the addition of Overdrives has increased the breadth of strategy?
Mori: Indeed. Taking Hakumen for example, some players use his Overdrive for a comeback combo, while others use it early to build his specific gauge. Naturally things will differ depending on the character used, your own fighting style, the opponent, and the state of the match, which I think has widened the player’s possibilities. With the release of the console version, I think if the research progresses further, new usages will be discovered so I’m looking forward to how players take on the challenge very much.
What has been the reactions to the new characters Amane, Azrael, Bullet and Izayoi?
Mori: I think it’s been the best in the series so far. Amane is especially popular with the female players. He’s a character for those who like the bishonen type, but together with Ishida’s voice acting he’s been highly praised.
Amane’s battle style is unique as well.
Mori: I pitched Amane to the development staff as a character that wants to grind away at health, but they keep working on him and made some adjustments. With a level 3 drill, “Doo!”, he can take away your life and bring the battle to a close in a single moment. I think there are a lot of people who hooked on that feeling when they land that.
Chipping away with the drill certainly feels good. What about Azrael and Bullet?
Mori: Players say that Azrael’s Black Hawk Stinger’s knockout power feels really good. He’s a character with simple concept of finishing the fight with an intense strike, a concept that’s been realized. Bullet’s voluptuous appearance has made her quite popular with male fans. Her throw combos are also exhilarating.
How about Izayoi?
Mori: Her appearance has a catchiness to it, so the reaction right after her announcement was very good. Her moves are very cool, so think it would have been nice if she had a bit more powerful impact.
Chronophantasma drew attention for finally progressing the story, but what’s been the reaction from fans who played the arcade version?
Mori: Many “I’m anticipating the console release” responses (laughs). The arcade version doesn’t actually conclude the story. Fans would like to imagine that the home release’s story mode will bring a conclusion.
It definitely ended with a “What happens next!?” type of feeling. I get the feeling that Kokonoe’s was saying something profound at the end of the credits…?
Mori: Heheh (laughs).
“Heheh”, huh? (laughs) How was the content of story received?
Mori: We’ve included endings for each of the respective characters, and that’s been praised by story fans. Jin being very heroic was met with high praise. There was a big response to the novel original character Celica making an appearance. However, the response has been “and then!?”. Look forward to the console version’s story mode for that continuation.
Kagura, the New Character Wielding a Great Sword
Kagura and Terumi were announced as new characters for the console release. You can you tell me what each of characters is like?
Mori: First, Kagura is a character who appeared in the arcade version of Chronophantasma in name only. As to what type of character he is, he has a positive personality, something that was missing in BlazBlue. His role in the story is moving the plot forward. There’s a lot about him that makes you think, “he’s direct and cool”, so the player reception should be positive.
What type of character is he in battle?
Mori: His concept is as the first character in BlazBlue created with a focus on charge command special moves. For that reason, all of his special moves are charge commands, and he only has two, a projectile and an anti-air technique.
He seems very simple and easy to grasp.
Mori: He doesn’t have any character-specific gauges, so we think he’s simple and easy to use. His special techniques are also easy to do, so he’s intended to be a character that newcomers to fighting games can easily pick up.
What weapon does Kagura use?
Mori: He uses a ridiculously massive great sword. Since his special moves are charge commands, we’ve given his normal attacks that use the sword long reach. He gives off the image of smacking down the opponent as they move with his large sword.
What is his character-specific “Drive”?
Mori: Kagura’s Drive is “Stance”. Pressing the Drive button puts him in a stance, and from that there it leads into a variety of moves. He has multiple stances, including standing, crouching and mid-air, and he can unleash attacks with each button, so he has quite a few follow-up variations. However, it takes a moment for him to take a stance, so how he follows from that gap is a key point.
It seems that the usage of stances will bring out each player’s personality.
Mori: Right. Besides fighting by using his variation-heavy stances for different purposes, he can fight by using his projectile and long-reach attacks to bait jumps then intercept with his anti-air special move. We think how you use those styles will give him a breadth of strategy.
How mobile is he?
Mori: Because he’s a charge command-type character, we’ve given some weight to his mobility. Initially we thought about giving him a step-type dash like Carl, but it was tough for him without being able to run. It’s slow, but he runs.
Terumi, The One Holding the Key to the Story
Next, let me ask about Terumi.
Mori: The story mode in BBCP has three parts, the Chronophantasma arc, the Six Heroes arc, and the Sector Seven arc, but Terumi primarily appears in the Six Heroes arc. Because Terumi has a very important role in the story, talking about his situation will get into spoilers, so unfortunately we can’t tell you the details.
You’d be getting into the core of the story.
Mori: Right. He knows the truth behind the story, so please play story mode and confirm with your own eyes.
Now then, let me ask about Terumi’s battle style. He possesses Hazama, so does play similar to him?
Mori: Their abilities are completely different. We conceived Terumi as a character uses a lot of Distortion Drives for a flashy fighting style. Because of that, he has more Distortion Drives than special moves.
That’s something new. You need Heat gauge to activate Distortion Drives, so wouldn’t using them over and over be a bit difficult?
Mori: Terumi’s Drive makes it easy to build Heat gauge. If you use his Drive effectively, you can actively use gauge-dependent systems like Distortion Drives and of course Rapid Cancels and Crush Triggers. We think it gives the character an extraordinarily high degree of freedom.
I see. So he doesn’t use Ouroboros like Hazama?
Mori: He only uses Ouroboros in special moves. If he used it too much, he’d be the same as Hazama. For that reason his normal attacks have rather short reach, making him a sadistic beatdown character. He moves fasts, so he might even be easier to use than Hazama. We plan on making him an easy character for female players to use as well.
The Over 30-Hour Story Mode
BlazBlue being a fighting game with a story mode you can enjoy like an adventure game is a point of attraction. What type of structure does the story mode have in this title?
Mori: As I mentioned before, the story mode has the main Chronophantasma scenario, as well as the Six Heroes and Sector Seven scenarios. There’s a lot of material related to the novel, so to avoid a “I didn’t read the novel so I don’t understand” type of situation, we’ve included the novel’s story in the Six Heroes arc.
That’s great. How much volume does one scenario have?
Mori: There’s a lot of volume. The main scenario is 10 hours. We’re making Six Heroes and Sector Seven 5 hours each. Including the “true scenario” that you can play after completing all three, it’s over 30 hours of volume altogether.
That’s an amazing amount of volume.
Mori: Right. I wrote the scenarios myself, but the size significantly increased from what was initially planned. The major premise in this title is progressing the story, so the story builds up as well.
Is Ragna the only controllable character?
Mori: Ragna is the main, but it can be Jin or Noel or whoever, depending on the situation. For characters you’ve never used we recommend playing using the simple “Stylish mode” controls. Each character has a feature scene within the story mode, so look forward to what role your favorite character plays.
Do the scenarios have branching paths?
Mori: Naturally we’ve included gag routes. But fundamentally it’s a single, straightforward story path.
With that much volume, does it get deep into the story?
Mori: Yes. “What happened in Ikaruga?”, “What did Jin see?”, including the novel, the truth to 70-80% of mysterious elements of the BlazBlue series will be revealed.
It’s something that can’t be missed as a fan.
Mori: Actually the scenario was rewritten once. A “It’s not interesting like this. Rewrite!” type of thing. I wasn’t able to sleep afterward for quite some time (laughs). As for why I rewrote it, the outcome of the story was already determined, but I was lost on how to build the story up to that conclusion. Finally it became something that even I could agree on, so please play it until the very end.
Seems like a scenario you put a lot of work into. Does the game have an opening animation and theme song?
Mori: Naturally it does. It’s been properly included as it has been with the series. Don’t worry. Though the announcement is a bit ahead, we’ve made an animation that will meet everyone’s expectations.
The Popular Challenge and Tutorial Modes, Alive and Well
BlazBlue series has been praised for its Tutorial mode that teaches the fundamentals and it’s Challenge that allows for combo practices. What kind of structure do they have in BBCP?
Mori: The tutorial is broken into multiple parts, beginning, intermediate and expert, with a different character teaching you in each part. I can’t specifically say it yet, but first is an “amateurish girl”, then “a three-person girl”, followed by “a Librarium member”, and finally a “princess”, and a person who becomes more strict as the subjects become difficult (laughs).
Hidden, but putting it in a way that those who know will understand (laughs). Are the lines fully voiced?
Mori: Yes. It’s fully voiced, so voice actor fans should enjoy it.
So how is Challenge Mode?
Mori: Basically it’s the same as before, with the focus being on taking on possible combos. It’s made for all characters, including the new characters Kagura and Terumi. Terumi is a pre-order bonus character, so if you reserve the title in advance you’ll be able to use him.
The Network Mode, Emphasizing Communication
How is the network mode, the biggest draw as a fighting game?
Mori: All of the staff are putting their all into it.
Mori: Yes. we’ve already implemented enjoyable online battles in the previous games, so in BBCP we focused on player communication and made some significant updates to those features. First, the network mode has a world map type of “world”, with “hierarchal cities” (lobbies) Kagutsuchi and Ikaruga on the map, which you enter for versus. It’s similar to Ad Hoc Party.
Do players control their on avatar to enter battles?
Mori: Yes. Players control a pixel-drawn character, and when two sit at a versus machine, they can immediately begin the online match. Of course, before and after the match, you can communicate via chat.
They’re like the BlazBlue cabinets found in gamer centers.
Mori: Exactly. We want players to play against their friends and communicate using the chat, in the same way you would enjoy yourself while waiting in line at a game center. And of course, for those who don’t want to bother with lobbies, we’ve included the “Player Match” and “Rank Match” modes from the previous titles.
The network mode seems quite complete, but do you have any plans for tournaments and campaigns using the network?
Mori: If think it would be nice if we could, but for that sort of thing I think you should go to an arcade first.
Inclusion of the Standard Game Modes
What about the other game modes?
Mori: We’ve included all the modes from the previous titles and newly added a glossary. The customary gallery mode includes illustrations from a variety of artists. For this title I checked on the specific details of the game, so I think players will be satisfied with whatever mode they use. I can’t say it outloud, but hidden modes are also…
Mori: That’s something to look forward to after the release. (laughs)
With a story mode you can enjoy for tens of hours, tutorial and challenge modes where you can learn the game, a network mode that allows you to play with everyone, and a number of modes you can play alone, it’s a volume of content that’s never been seen before.
Mori: We’re making this with the intention of being the fighting game with the largest amount of content in history.
Just that volume is impressive, but I’m wondering about the state of development. Currently what percentage is complete?
Mori: At this point in time about 35% . The network mode is taking time, currently. However all of the base material is complete, so you can that development is progressing well.
Do you have plans for downloadable content after the release?
Mori: Of course we plan on preparing content. Please wait for more information in the future.
Finally, do you have a message to the fans?
Mori: BBCP has the greatest amount of volume in the series, so I think you’ll want to get your hands on the game. All of the staff are putting in effort so that you absolutely won’t regret the purchase, so please look forward to its release. Also, we have still have some shocking information to reveal, so I hope you will pay attention to future announcements.
Source: Famitsu, translation by USD