When considering the broad range of gaming experiences to be found, a common topic can be Japanese releases full of potential and promise that never get localised. The costs and logistical challenges often require that Japanese and Western companies team up, especially in the case of download games, in order to share these games with a global audience.
It goes both ways, and Intergrow is a publisher that has assisted a number of companies in publishing titles to the eShop in Japan - the likes of SteamWorld Dig and Mighty Switch Force! are examples. The route to release is now being reversed, as Intergrow is teaming up with Rising Star Games to bring Sadame to the 3DS eShop in North America and Europe. An action RPG with multiple characters and an exaggerated portrayal of historical Japanese military commanders, it's certainly eyecatching.
Thanks to Rising Star Games we had the opportunity to pose some questions to the game's designer and writer, Kazunori Watabe, to learn more about the imminent eShop release.
First of all, can you please introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Kazunori Watabe and I'm the original designer and scenario writer for Sadame.
Sadame translates as 'fate' and the plot references Nobunaga - can you give us some detail on the storyline of this game?
The title of Sadame, as you mentioned, means fate that you can't escape from but in this game we used the kanji characters that is read as "Shukugo", which is a Buddhist word.
The concept was based on a world view of reincarnation. Personally I'm not sure if reincarnation exists or not, but the concept for a game where you retry the same stage again is a perfect match for the Diablo style of treasure hunting.
The combat system is designed to be easy to get into but gradually expands as you progress through the game.
Looking at the gameplay, how is the hack 'n slash action aspect designed - is the combat system easy to learn?
I'm a big fan of the XBand roguelike games and Diablo-like hack & slash games, so I realised that there wasn't anything similar to this in the Sengoku period (Japanese Warring States, Japanese history, approx. 1467-1568). The combat system is designed to be easy to get into but gradually expands as you progress through the game.
With four classes included there's incentive to play the game multiple times. First of all, can you talk about the four classes and their distinctive abilities?
Samurai is the standard fighter with excellent defence and close combat skills.
Ninja on the other hand is good at attacking from father away, but is not as good as the Samurai and protecting himself.
Monk is a warrior priest with a short range, magic-like powerful attack that consumes ki, making him the so-called 'Nuke character'.
Rogue has good melee and long distance attacks, as well as tricks or status effect attacks. This makes her good at fighting with the boss enemies.
Do you envisage players completing the game fully before trying a second character, or to have multiple save profiles underway at one time?
When you start the game with one character you'll acquire unique items that can be used to strengthen the other characters, so I would imagine that players will progress with multiple characters at once.
Also, if you play with multiple characters your other save data characters can join you as an Ally, which makes the battles a little easier. This Ally data can also be exchanged with others using Street Pass.
Which is your favourite character to use, personally?
I like Rogue!
If you play with multiple characters your other save data characters can join you as an Ally, which makes the battles a little easier.
Can you tell us a little more about the RPG elements, namely levelling up characters, earning new equipment and collecting loot?
It's very much a traditional RPG game system whereby you earn experience points to level up your characters by defeating enemies. As you level up you'll receive points that can be used to learn new special abilities. Defeating enemies and smashing crates and other objects lying around will get you various objects created from an automatic generation system. This is a system where a prefix + base item + suffix are combined to create a new poetic-like name, such as "Dragon Chatter". There are of course items with traditional names too.
How important is it for players to closely manage and focus on levelling up and improving equipment, for example, in order to tackle the increasing challenge of the game?
Of course it is very important that you continue to improve and strengthen your characters with better items to make good progress.
With over 20 boss fights in the game, can you talk a little about their designs and sources of inspiration?
We wanted to give the game a unique look and feel so we created huge bosses that would startle the player. Although huge, the bosses are loosely based on Japanese civil war military commanders. We exaggerated them greatly from each episode and made them into fictional monster characters. For example, the source of inspiration for the shrimp-like boss was an episode where a shrimp fisherman's speciality was a traditional dance routine.
What attracted you to the 3DS eShop when developing this game?
When we were thinking about the platform the Nintendo 3DS eShop looked like it was the place with the most fans interested in this kind of game.
I'm a big fan of European history and have put in many thousands of hours playing games such as Paradox's Crusader Kings and Europe Universalis series.
Are you confident that a Western audience - through Rising Star Games publishing the title - will be excited by and embrace Sadame?
It's difficult for me to gauge how well the game will be received outside of Japan. I'm a big fan of European history and have put in many thousands of hours playing games such as Paradox's Crusader Kings and Europe Universalis series etc. I'm quite curious to know how many American and European players have an interest in Japanese history.
That said, Sadame is not a realistic portrayal of history and was designed to be an exciting, fun action game for gamers to enjoy, so it doesn't really matter if you're interested in Japanese history or not.
Does Intergrow plan to bring more of its games to the West in the future?
I can't say which games at this time, but we would definitely like to release future games outside of Japan too.
We'd like to thank Kazunori Watabe for his time - Sadame is out this week (25th February) on the 3DS eShop in Europe and North America.