PG-Team, am 29.03.2013, Seite 2 von 2
PlanetVITA: Hello Ross! We already talked about the 3DS and PS Vita a few months ago, but can you re-introduce yourself to our new readers that got into the world of portable gaming since then?
Ross Brierley, Ghostlight: Hello. Good to talk to you again. (laughs) For those of you who didn’t see my previous interview I’m Ross, the Community Manager here at Ghostlight. I’ve been working here since 2007, when I joined as a games tester and I became Community Manager early 2011.
PlanetVITA: Devil Survivor Overclocked was supposed to be release in 2012. What kind of problems occurred so that the release date had to be pushed back to April 2013?
Ghostlight:Originally we had hoped to bring the game out for Q4 last year and as much as we (and of course Atlus) would have liked this to have happened, we fell short due to the usual sorts of publishing reasons.
I’m afraid that I can’t go into the specific issues surrounding Devil Survivor Overclocked, but to cut what would be a very long story short, by the time we had received approval from Nintendo for the title and even with all of Atlus’ help, we were running too close to the cut-off with retail for the holiday season. This meant that we would have been taking a huge risk in trying to rush the title to market so we took the difficult decision to delay until Q1 2013 giving us more time to generate awareness of the title with fans and retailers alike.
We know it can be incredibly frustrating for fans when games are delayed (it’s just as frustrating for us too) and we really appreciate everyone’s patience and support, but one thing I will say is that releasing games on any console format is never as straight forward a process as our fans might think. Even if a game has already been released in another territory, there are still a huge amount of technical issues that we must overcome before we can put the game on the shelves in Europe and that’s without considering the issues of marketing and manufacturing for retailers across dozens of countries through the PAL region.
I could write an essay on the types of issues we face when bringing over titles from Japan and the US, but I’m sure it would bore your readers to tears. (laughs)
PlanetVITA: Devil Survivor Overclocked is an expanded re-release of an US- and Japan-exclusive DS game. What incentive does it offer for PAL 3DS owners who already imported the original game? Why should they not miss out on the 3DS version?
Ghostlight: There are actually plenty of reasons why fans of the original Devil Survivor will definitely enjoy the newly revamped Devil Survivor Overclocked as it has been significantly enhanced in a number of reas.
Perhaps most importantly, there is a brand new eighth chapter to the game which concludes the game’s storyline beyond the original, and all serious Devil Survivor fans are not going to want miss out on seeing how the story plays out. (laughs)
Additionally, the game’s narrative is now fully voiced throughout which means that every line both in and out of battle is brought to life with more emotional impact. All character portraits, scenery, battle sprites and demon artwork have been remastered in higher resolution for the 3DS version and even the game’s interface and text have all been vastly improved visually.
There are actually now a massive 150 demons for the player to access in game whereas the original featured a still very impressive 120. Also, in Devil Survivor Overclocked, Demon auctions aren’t the only way for the player to source demons as players can add their fused or created demons to the Compendium where they can then be accessed later and summoned for a fee. The Compendium itself also offers a profile on each demon which provides valuable information about the mythology of each particular demon type.
Another new feature to the gameplay is that various in-game accomplishments will earn the player “Titles” which carry points with them. This enables the player to convert the points into rewards at the end of each game cycle. The harder it is to earn a Title, the more points they’re worth which means the player can access better rewards which will make later cycles even more fun to play.
Not only that, but there are a number additional music tracks plus the option to play the game under different difficulty settings so as you can see, the 3DS game has gone through quite an overhaul since the original DS release.
PlanetVITA: With Fire Emblem: Awakening, a second strategy RPG is set to be released in April. What makes Devil Survivor Overclocked unique compared to his contemporary and what could draw fans of the genre to it instead of Fire Emblem?
Ghostlight: Honestly speaking I have to say that I think they’re both fantastic games, but they are in many ways at very different ends of the SRPG spectrum, both in terms of their style of storytelling and gameplay.
Whilst still being a fantasy RPG Devil Survivor Overclocked, like many of the Shin Megami Tensei games, features a darker atmosphere along with the amazing artwork you would expect from an Atlus title. It also has quite a sinister and compelling storyline all set in modern day Tokyo where technology plays a key role in the story.
In terms of gameplay Devil Survivor Overclocked offers the best of both worlds. During battle, while manoeuvring your units on a SRPG style grid, you are able to utilise some character powers in real time in this mode, but when one unit attacks another the game switches to a more traditional turn-based JRPG-style fighting system for a single turn (plus any bonus turns that the player has accumulated) before reverting back to the grid system.
Outside of combat Devil Survivor Overclocked has lots of other interesting features including the SMT series’ traditional focus on acquiring and fusing new demons to make them more powerful.
PlanetVITA: Along with Devil Survivor Overclocked, you also announced the EU release of the DS sequel, Devil Survivor 2, albeit without a release date. What is the current situation of this game? Can we even hope for a localisation of the recently announced 3DS port, Devil Survivor 2: Break Record?
Ghostlight: Unfortunately while we’d still very much like to release Devil Survivor 2 we’re finding it difficult to secure interest from retailers in DS titles; understandably so, given the increasing focus on the 3DS. However we are still working hard with retail to fix a street date as well as looking into alternative release plans such as the possibility of selling the game exclusively in a special Collector’s Edition via our website. We’re going to be announcing details of exactly how we’re going to do this in the near future.
As for Devil Survivor 2: Break Record I’m afraid that there’s not much I can say about it at the moment. We love working on the SMT games and we’re in regular communication with Atlus, but until any agreement is reached that’s all I can tell you.
PlanetVITA: In Japan, Devil Survivor is released under the Megami Ibunroku label instead of the regular Shin Megami Tensei brand name. What does Devil Survivor Overclocked offer that makes it still a distinctive part of the Shin Megami Tensei series?
Ghostlight: In Japan the Devil Survivor games, the Shin Megami Tensei games and the Persona games along with several other sub series are all part of the larger Megami Tensei series. Here in the west for various historical reasons all of these sub-series are referred to as Shin Megami Tensei games.
While each of these sub series have a different focus they tend to share a number of features that give the games a very distinctive feel. Devil Survivor Overclocked definitely shares this feel. It has the compelling storyline, the mix of technology and modern fantasy and the great artwork you expect from a SMT game. And of course there is the focus on summoning and controlling demons which is a regular feature in the SMT series.
So while, yes, in Japan it is not a part of the Shin Megami Tensei series, it does share a lot of the same gaming DNA.
PlanetVITA: Atlus is well known for making their games extremely challenging yet still fair, especially when it comes to the Shin Megami Tensei series. How does the difficulty of Devil Survivor Overclocked match up to those standards and are there helpful options to ease inexperienced players into the strategic gameplay?
Ghostlight: As opposed to the original DS release of Devil Survivor, Devil Survivor Overclocked features a new easy mode, giving newcomers to the Shin Megami Tensei series or the SRPG genre a chance to ease their way into the game. There are also a robust set of tutorials to help new players get the feel of things.
That’s not to say that the game is easy. When I was playing in Normal Mode I generally found the game to be pretty challenging. However I always thought it remained fair throughout and when I died I could usually - with a bit of thought - pinpoint what I did wrong. And let’s not forget that ultimately the tougher a game is, the greater the personal satisfaction when you finally reach the goal. (laughs)
PlanetVITA: What are your expectations for the success of the Playstation Vita, after Sony downgraded their forecast for the system repeatedly?
Ghostlight: Obviously the Vita has not had the start that people were hoping for. However, since the price cut in Japan it seems to be performing better there and there are a reasonable number of excellent games available for the handheld.
In general we found the PSP’s audience very receptive to JRPGs and other niche games and if the audience for the Vita has a similar make up then I’m sure that it will be a very successful platform for us.
One interesting thing I’ll note is that when the Vita was released we saw a noticeable increase in sales of our JRPGs on PSN, which does suggest that Vita owners do seem to be interested in the types of games we publish.
PlanetVITA: Ghostlight was involved in numerous western publications of japanese RPGs. How do you estimate the importance of mobile role playing games for both the Vita and the 3DS? Especially the Vita was already able to gain success in Japan after the release of Persona 4 Golden and hopefully will be even more successful with coming titles like Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki.
Ghostlight: In Japan the release of major JRPGs can have a large positive effect on the sales of a console although to be fair that goes for a major release in any popular genre. While the smaller western fanbase for JRPGs means that they don’t have quite the same impact here, a successful console requires different types of gamers to buy into it and if enough high quality JRPGs are released on a console or handheld then western JRPG fans will buy into it.
PlanetVITA: We know you probably can't say much about that yet, but are there any plans that Ghostlight is going to bring some Vita JRPGs over to us in Europe? And also, if there would be one PS Vita game that you'd like to share with us European gamers (in terms of publishing it here), what would it be if given the chance?
Ghostlight: While we haven’t acquired the rights to any Vita title as yet, we are however currently evaluating and actively investigating several key Japanese titles for the platform. While I can’t mention any names many of them are excellent titles and could perform well for us and for the Vita platform.
On a personal level (and I can’t speak for Ghostlight here!) I would love to bring some more Nihon Falcom games over such as Ys: Memories of Celceta. I loved working on Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and while they are quite different in terms of gameplay I’ve really enjoyed all the Ys games that have been released over here.
PlanetVITA: Thank you for having this interview with us Ross! But the one most important question as the last; imagine you find yourself trapped in a city swarming with demons, your only weapon being what you have on you and a cell phone running a demon summoning program. What would you do?
Ghostlight: Summon more demons of course! I mean, at that point it could hardly make things worse, could it?