It's just a few short weeks until Platinum Games' stylish shooter Vanquish hits store shelves, but to tide you over until then we've got an interview with the game's producer, Atsushi Inaba. As well as talking about Vanquish, we discuss a possible Bayonetta sequel, the commercial failure of MadWorld and the future of the studio.
Q: Vanquish is due for release pretty soon now, does the finished game match the vision you had at the start of the project?
Atsushi Inaba: Initially, we thought there would be more action moments. The main point of Vanquish is to combine shooting and action into one game, so the balance between action and shooting we thought would be more action orientated. As we went along, we realised that some of the action game elements would break the essential rules of the shooting genre, so we decided to scrap them. But still, the initial idea of making a shooting 'slash' action game - we are satisfied with what we have now.
Q: It's a shooter, it's got a cover system - it's far more western in style than something like Bayonetta. To what extent have you looked at titles like Uncharted or Gears for inspiration?
AI: Gears of War is definitely a great game, and there are many great games in the shooter genre, but it's not like we were particularly influenced by these titles. Again, we just had this idea to create a shooting game, and obviously we've played a lot of shooting games. So maybe some of that came through in the product, but we didn't really make a conscious effort to recreate one game or another.
Q: It is far more western in feel, though. Are you worried this might alienate Japanese players at all? Are you worried they might not be as in tune with it as they were with Bayonetta?
AI: It's definitely true that not many Japanese people are familiar with the shooting genre, they have no exposure to that sort of game - it's not like they hate it, they just don't know it and haven't heard of these games. We think there's definitely a chance that once they pick up a good shooting game, then they will love it and keep playing it. Hopefully, as a Japanese game created by a Japanese studio, this game will have more appeal in Japan. If those people are introduced to this genre and keep playing other great games, we'll be happy and honoured.
Q: I've mentioned Bayonetta a few times now. How much of the Bayonetta philosophy has been adopted in Vanquish?
AI: These two projects started from completely separate and different ideas, so we didn't try to insert certain elements of it in Vanquish. But at one point in development, Bayonetta finished, and we reallocated those people to the Vanquish project. So a lot of the action elements in this game were created by the developers who worked on Bayonetta. So, in that sense, you might find some elements that are similar to Bayonetta.
Q: Online retailer Play.com is offering a deal where you get Bayonetta for free with Vanquish. It's clear that you guys want the game out there - for as many people to experience it as possible. Is it a series you're looking to go forward with from here?
AI: Obviously there's no concrete plans we can talk about yet, but our basic stance is, that as long as there are users who love the IP and the game, and as long as there's demand, we'd be happy to keep creating games based on that IP.
Q: Vanquish has a fantastic depth of field, with rockets flying past your head and shrapnel flying all over the place. It's a very visceral experience. Was 3D technology ever considered for the title?
AI: That's definitely an interesting idea, it'll probably look amazing in 3D. Since this game is already pretty hectic and tiring and tense gaming experience, but if you had to wear the glasses and watch the 3D screen for hours, it might be a bit too much.
Q: Vanquish is a single player only affair; why was that decision made?
AI:One main reason is that Sam is too powerful, he has so many abilities, like boosts, time stops, AR mode - and you can imagine if you have two characters with these abilities, it would be really hard to get gaming balance right. So if you want to make a multiplayer mode based on this game, the choice we would have would be to scrap some of the ideas just for the sake of multiplayer play, or to stick to single-player and keeping it top quality. We chose the latter. We wanted to introduce this new form of gameplay with Vanquish.
Q: A lot of people are of the opinion that multiplayer modes distract developers from making a good campaign. Do you think that this is something the industry needs to address, that multiplayer modes should be ditched in favour of creating a solid campaign?
AI: I'm not against the idea of multiplayer, it depends on the game. Some games are good with multiplayer, and with some games it just doesn't match. So you need to make a sound decision based on experience and knowledge, and you need to have a clear goal on what you're trying to achieve with multiplayer. That is the basic stance, I'm not for or against.
Q: How has it been working with Mikami-san? He's obviously an incredibly talented developer, how does his creative vision match that of Platinum Games?
AI: The partnership with Mikami-san was great, he has a tremendous love and passion towards games, and that's something we have in common. The working relationship has been really good.
Q: So is this the first of many working relationships between Mikami-san and Platinum Games?
AI:As you may know, Mikami has his own studio, and when we first set up Platinum Games he already had the idea to create his own company. As Platinum Games, Vanquish was the first - so far the only title that we worked together on. But in the future, it might happen, it might not happen, but we can't elaborate too much on that right now.
Q: I wanted to ask a quick question about MadWorld: it was a great game, but it flopped from a sales perspective. What went wrong there? Was it a problem with launching on the Wii?
AI: As you pointed out, unfortunately MadWorld did not do as well commercially as it did critically. But sales is a living creature, it's really hard to point a finger at one reason. It might be that - as you pointed out - the game was released on Wii. Or it could be that it was too violent for Wii users. We could have done a better job of presenting the game in a way that people would understand it. There are many speculations that we can conduct but we don't really have a clear answer. Creating an innovative and stimulating title like Madworld on Wii was not a mistake itself, so I don't regret creating that game. Although it didn't do very well in terms of sales, we shouldn't stop creating new inventions.
Q: So have you been scared off the Wii at all? Is it still a console that Platinum Games will support?
AI: Not particularly. The choice of console really depends on the type of game you are creating. We are always open to any kind of console and any kind of genre - so if we create something that will be suitable for Wii, then we won't hesitate in doing that.
Q: Vanquish is out pretty soon, but it's releasing alongside a number of other triple-A titles. Are you worried about Vanquish from a sales perspective? It's a tough time of year to release...
AI: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried at all, but as a new IP like Vanquish, it'd be hard to release at any time in the year. I just hope that many users will pick it up and enjoy it.
Q: Last question then: Vanquish is pretty much wrapped up now. What's next for Platinum Games? Can you give us a hint as to your next project?
AI: There's already a couple of new projects up and running, but that's really all we can say. We are working on new ideas, so look forward to more news on that in the future.
Vanquish is available on Xbox 360 and PlayStaion 3 on October 22.