More info on THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU -LIVE Remix- continues to come out, this time as an interview with Producer Ichiro Hazama, Director Tatsuya Kando, and Co-Director Hiroyuki Ito by Famitsu! Along with the interview are some new screenshots from the game that will be released later in the year on iOS and Android devices.
Below is the full interview, thanks to Zephyr!
■ Background of development and direction
- In August 2012, the iOS version "The World Ends with You -Solo Remix- has been released, is there any history developed in this work?
Tatsuya Kando: During the production of the iOS version, we were thinking about adding a new social element, and I had planned an axis mode that ultimately played a part in battle. The project had expanded more than expected, and it was good judgement to release it separately as there is a history that led to this decision. So, when developing the original version we shelved, I included a play based on "treasure hunting" or "playing tag" using the stage of Shibuya, and I was able to showcase it as this social app, -LIVE Remix-.
Ichiro Hazama: Since it was planned as -Solo Remix- first, and then I heard that we were planning to separate the two works, I thought “What?” (laughs) But, because these works are divided into two, the appeal of each stands out. I think it was the right decision for Tatsuya Kando to work on them separately.
- Divided into two works, why have you decided to release the other one with GREE?
Hazama: While working independently on -LIVE Remix-, I decided to consult GREE. Then, it happened to be that somebody was a big fan of “The World Ends with You” for the Nintendo DS. The conversations went smoothly from there, and I was happy to work together with GREE. In this title, with me being the creator of course, I think it’s important for everyone to love the work of the people who are involved.
Kando: In “The World Ends with You”, there is collecting pins, working with a variety of people in order to survive, and since there are many elements from the original that lean towards being social, it was easy to blend it as a social game.
- Can you describe the development in a way people can relate to, Mr. Kando and Mr. Itou?
Kando: The production and management is GREE, and we are standing in a position of supervision. We checked how the configurations and ideas of events are forming, and I was also involved with the production in collaboration with GREE. At this point now, perhaps part of the results were due to how we were involved.
Hiroyuki Itou: Not only was I able to make social apps closer to what we conceptualized together with GREE, I was also able to make it challenging. I think that by progressing in that direction, it has become a good collaboration. When I make a social game, it’s easy to make it interesting, however it’s difficult to make it balanced. While consulting with GREE, I am looking for a game design that not only feels easy to understand, but with profound and deep battles.
Kando: Because it’s a social game, because it’s a package game, don’t assume so quickly. There is fun in each of them and I want to make something that fits that.
- Producer Hazama, what kind of orders were between both of you?
Hazama: Because the original “The World Ends with You” is a rated title, and it’s becoming a social app, please don’t regret for what it is. I strongly believe that anyway. With that said, Mr. Kando and Mr. Itou were also the core staff of the original version and, since we knew each other since the start, I wasn’t worried.
- Mr. Hazama, what are some of the important aspects that went to making the social game?
Hazama: There are two specific points that were key in the creation of this social game. One was, of course, charging for the game as it prevents players from truly enjoying it. The other was the coherency of the gameplay, whether or not the player would know what to do when they look at the screen. I have no intentions of charging for the game as it prevents players from truly enjoying it and have discussed these points together with Mr. Kando and Mr. Itou.
Kando: In regards to charging, we have included various mechanisms to utilize within the team play that can be purchased. However, this does not prevent players playing for free from contributing to their teams. I thought about making something that allows both hardcore and casual players to have fun.
* Explore the streets of Shibuya in a team
- How does this game work? Please tell us the concept.
Kando: In “The World Ends with You”, partners will be paired with Neku to solve the mystery of the Reapers' Game. However, the concept is that, instead of just a pair, this time you will fight as a team. Players can communicate with each other and it ties into how it will solve the mystery of the Reapers' game.
Itou: In this work, you split up with teammates to explore the city of Shibuya, unearth new discoveries in each area, and locate and defeat strong Noise. You compete with a rival’s team based on accumulated points obtained in battle with Noise and throughout the adventure, and obtain rewards. The Reapers' Game progresses in real time and the experience feels live.
- Will there be hints for the location of the Noise?
Kando: Yes. Hints of the where the Noise are hidden is scattered throughout each area. For example, you can find clues in areas where there are no Noise and as you proceed with the search, utilizing hints such as “Explore 104 level 5." You can share hints on the bulletin board with your team, especially ones that aren’t easy to find. In addition, the location of where the Noise Ringleader is different depending on the day.
- Communication within the team is important. How many people will be on each team?
Kando: This game is intended for teams of 20. The Reapers' Game will gradually end in one week, so you'll need to develop good relationships between the other players to proceed successfully.
■ Games that take advantage of the touch screen
- The battles are full of action.
Kando: Yes. Likewise in the original version, we aim for battles to be exhilarating in operation with the touch screen, and since it’s a social game, even if you do not focus on the screen, it can still be operated comfortably in one hand.
Itou: Neku is automatically moving with a smart phone on one hand, so I’m aiming for it to be operated just like he does in order for players to experience the thrill of "The World Ends With You" entirely.
- In terms of the operation, how is it being handled?
Itou: Although I think it can be operated intuitively to take full advantage of the touch screen, I have heard comments about it being difficult. It seems that not many people use smart phones on a daily basis and it was difficult for them to truly experience it, so I opted for minimum operations of touch and flick.
Kando: Operations made on the smart phone are usually unconscious, especially if you’re only going to touch and flick. As it is, I wonder if you can play it without feeling discomfort.
Itou: Judging by the feedback from the users, I will continue to add pins that invoke commands such as rolling and rubbing. I think it can be operated in way that it’s easy to get used to.
Hazama: Part of the work is enjoying the touch actions and I believe it stands completely different from the traditional social app games.
- Indeed, not every game app can take full advantage of the touch screen.
Hazama: Although the game has yet to be released, I think you really shouldn't have to take into account as far as the game goes, “Just because it’s on a smart phone, it has this kind of play." In the future, I believe many of those games will take the lead we have. In that sense, the answer is that the significance of the title does not correspond to the system.
■ The update “Sub Pins” will be added.
- Having to form a deck of pins in advance, what is the maximum number that can be equipped?
Itou: There are four pin slots maximum available in battle. In -Solo Remix-, there were six but we had to cut it down to just four in order to simplify the gameplay. However, there is also a “skill deck” with four slots that you can set to affect your battle skills’ and attack power. Altogether, it will build a deck of eight pins. This will lead to more motivation to get more powerful pins.
Kando: However, the skill deck will not be automatically available from the beginning. It will be added later through updates. We also plan to add new pins later on.
- For the growth of pins, what else do you have in store? In the original version, there were others that evolved over time.
Itou: Firstly, I think there will be synthesis between pins.
- Looking at the menu, there is a Pig Noise at “Gacha”.
Kando: Like in the original version, Pig Noise drop rare pins. A special Pig Noise is scheduled to appear.
- Will elements from the original version such as the clothes and food be reflected and relevant?
Itou: While they will not be present in this game, we plan to put an emphasis on pins as a substitute.
■ New characters and world setting
- This story is told in a parallel world, should I worry if this is directly involved with the main storyline?
Kando: Although it’s not directly linked to the main storyline, the view of the world has some kind of connection there. Think of it being similar to that of "Another Day," the alternate universe scenario made available after the ending in the original version.
- To start, will you be able to control the player Neku?
Kando: Yes. You will be able to participate in the game as Neku, but not everyone will have that opportunity. It is a mystery why that is so. However, Joshua and Beat will eventually be playable characters.
- Looking forward to the game! What events can you enjoy inside the game?
Itou: In one event, the Reapers Yashiro Uzuki and Kouki Kariya appear as Game Masters to impose missions.
- I see. That’s a relief for fans who like Zeta (Minamimoto Sho). (laughs)
Itou: I think eventually he’ll make an appearance. (laughs)
- What is the role of the new reaper that recently appeared?
Kando: She is a reaper that plays the role of navigation. Her full name is Atarashi Koko-chan.
- The reaper’s name, there is a zodiac hidden in her?
Kando: It’s the very beginning of the zodiac. It’s the mouse or “child”. (Part of her last name, Ko, means child in Japanese)
- After the iOS’ version’s secret ending, there is a mysterious character that appears.
Kando: That’s right. However, these two are not one in the same. [Editor's Note: Meaning nicknamed "Hype-chan" is not Atarashi Koko-chan]
- Well, what is exactly that character?
Kando: It was mentioned in preparation at the time for the -Solo Remix- interview. If we’re able to have many users dive deep into “The World Ends with You”, -Solo Remix-, or -LIVE Remix-, I think I will continue on to the next one.
- I want you to spread the word! Thank you for the message towards the end.
Kando: That message being kept to -Solo Remix-, I have included a new element into -LIVE Remix- called “”Dokatto”. I hope you’ll have lots of fun.
Itou: We have also included a “Gattsuri” BGM there.
Kando: It’s about at the highest tension Takeharu Ishimoto has ever created. (laughs) I think you can expect an answer in one of the new songs.
Itou: In this work, it’s the type of social game where you’re not forced to a challenge. People who are not fans or fans of “The World Ends with You” will enjoy it the same way. Since the basic version is free, please try playing by all means.
Kando: I think the best thing about “The World Ends with You” is that it isn’t about the type of genre. I hope that even those who are reluctant to social gaming will try it.
Hazama: This game will not be the same social game it was up to now. We welcome those who love our games and want to enjoy the title with open arms. “It was fun playing”, is what I hear from others so please look forward to this!
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