PG Inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (Pt. 3)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

The Instrument Called PlatinumGames

Kamiya: I feel a certain bond of trust with all of us who entered Platinum the first year it was founded. It makes you wonder why they chose to come to our company in the first place. My team: Shirai, Sada, Ohkura.

Inaba: We couldn’t do the usual recruiting cycle right after founding the company, so instead we went around asking at game design colleges. I was surprised how many hopped on board this brand new company whose name they had never heard. Of course, it’s those very staff who today form the core of our development teams.

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Kamiya: I believe there is something about our company that attracts people who like to try new things, explore uncharted territory. The reason we are able to split up into teams and make games is that we respect each individual’s originality. Of course, this style can cause some conflicts with new hires who are used to the culture of other companies. But there are also many cases where they are able to move past those conflicts and embrace the PlatinumGames way.

Inaba: That’s true, since you cannot expect a company’s culture to change to fit what you are used to. When you are committed to creating brand new games, the individuality of each staff member becomes very important.

When you think about it, in time this leads to the company taking on a personality of its own. For you, Kamiya, if you cater to the users’ every whim and compromise your vision, it will probably be the last game you ever make. That is why you have to let that personal touch permeate your games. If you have an idea you cannot just keep your mouth shut. If you betray the players’ trust, it will come back and bite you in the ass. It is true that from a management perspective it makes sense to forget inspiration and uncharted territory and go for stability with sequels to proven series. But stability is not the be all and end all. There is nothing wrong with a sequel to a great game, but sometimes there are other things you want to do, things that you need to do.

Kamiya: This may not be directly related, but the games I played before entering the industry hold a special place in my heart. They represent something I aspire to, something I devoted myself to more than studying or relationships. To a certain extent there has been a retro revival in recent years, with many games from the 80s being made available on download services like PS, etc. However, many of the minor titles never have a chance to see the light of day. I think this is the one of biggest shortcomings of modern gaming culture. There is a treasure trove of great games out there, but they are being thrown out and forgotten like yesterday’s trash. A lot of those games are no longer playable. This is a challenge that we, as an industry, have to face.

Inaba: I agree. We grew up alongside games – they are more than just a job for us. I am sure there are others out there who feel the same way about video games. Who knows, in the future there may be fans who feel just as passionately about PlatinumGames titles.

Kamiya: If those people, in turn, end up pursuing a career in the game industry, we can really say we had an impact on their lives. Those impressionable years back in middle school ended up determining the direction of the rest of my life. If we can inspire others to devote themselves to games, nothing would make me happier.

Inaba: To make that dream a reality, it is up to me to foster an environment that allows people like Kamiya to continue to express their creativity. At the same time, I have to keep an eye on the next generation, and make sure they are able to produce Kamiya’s games after me. Well, until Kamiya’s career is finished, I’m prepared to keep supporting him as his producer.

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Kamiya: Yeah, I have been getting all self-important about my style as a director, but at the end of the day I’m just happy to be able to make games in a place like this. I mean, there are plenty of companies who keep you on a tight schedule, making sequels to games where they could change the entire development staff without anybody noticing. The only reason I am even able to go on like this about creativity is that I work in this environment. I’m not out there making games by myself – it is thanks to the development staff and everyone at PlatinumGames. I can’t picture myself anywhere else.

Inaba: I agree that our development environment is essential. But for me as a producer, I have to take a more active role in creating and maintaining my ideal office space. I don’t mean that in the sense of a floor plan or anything like that – I see the PlatinumGames environment as an “instrument”, a tool to bring out the best in our employees. In a way, it is a bit similar to a theme park, guiding the experience of those inside. I can’t say I have realized my ideals yet, but slowly but surely I am getting there.

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PG inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (PT. 2)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

key-visual10

For the Sake of a Better Game

Inaba: One of the projects I worked on together with Kamiya that I remember particularly well is Viewtiful Joe. He had been a director before for Devil May Cry, but for Joe, I had him do the original game design documents and control the direction of the entire project. I told him, “I want you to work this out alone, without anyone’s help!” In order to give him free reign over the feel of the game world, I oversaw the project as a producer, and kept the team size small.

Kamiya: When I first entered the industry I went right into work on Biohazard. There was already a large team involved, with many experienced staff ready to lend me a hand. But with Viewtiful Joe I was in charge of all the planning and directing from the beginning.

Inaba: I still remember, during the days of Viewtiful Joe and Okami there were times when I thought you had totally lost your way. At one point during the latter half of development, you stopped giving people directions and handed the staff a design document that was basically a blank sheet. I should point out, the way Kamiya makes games is not logical; it starts from a feeling, “This scene looks good.” A director`s job is to fix an overall direction that a game will take, look at what his teams brings him each day, and decide whether it is good or bad. The problem was that there was a while when you weren’t able to make those critical choices. When a director is able to logically oversee a game without any issues, a producer like me can just focus on the people, resources, and capital management needed to deliver a solid product. But back then, I was mostly preoccupied with supporting you and making sure you were able bring things together.

Kamiya: I honestly had no idea what kind of game it would turn into.

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Inaba: I still occasionally reflect on the project. It wasn’t a logical game from the very outset. Whereas with Okami it started with you saying “I want to draw nature,” and I was just like, “Wow, that`s cool.”

Kamiya: I put a large emphasis on the quality of graphics in my games; I want the player to feel like they can almost taste the air around them when they are moving through the game world. Unlike the horror games I had worked on in the past, I wanted players to feel good when they saw the vast and beautiful landscape. That was the thought process that gave birth to the idea for Okami.

Inaba: However, the original concept you pitched back then was impossible to realize on consoles at the time. It would probably still be impossible today. About 2 months into the project we realized this and changed the art style accordingly. Originally “Okami” was supposed to be a game in which players could create realistic drawings through gameplay. It became clear this was just not feasible. However, through this process the concept of drawing a 3-dimensional ink painting was born, so I can`t say we were just wasting our time. That said, even though we had the art style in place from quite early on, the all-important game system itself took much longer to come together. I remember getting pretty angry, not just at Kamiya, but at the rest of the team as well.

Kamiya: Unfortunately, no matter how much I get yelled at I can`t come up with ideas I don`t have; I mean, it`s not like I was just fooling around all day. That said, the work we did at Clover Studio felt like the beginning of a large swell of creativity that continues to this day.

Inaba: The title was already announced and was being held up as the first big original game from Clover Studio. The only thing we had at that point was the promotional footage, but man, did it ever look pretty, haha. I`ve mellowed out quite a bit so I can no longer bring myself to get mad at people who are at least in their seat each day trying their best, but back then I didn’t show much compassion, and I was basically just yelling at people all the time.inside_4

Kamiya: At the time the team got together and we were all wondering if Okami would end up a failure. There was even some talk of it being cancelled. I responded saying that it would be a tragedy to release the game out into the wild in the state it was in; that`s how rough a state it was in for a while. I would start to shudder just imagining the users trying the game and feeling disappointed…if it was going to come to that I`d rather the game be cancelled.

Inaba: Yeah, and just forget the whole project ever happened. The time and love you put into it won’t be returned; those scars remain. But at least the users are spared. In that sense it can sometimes be better to cancel a game.

Kamiya: It`s true that both Inaba and I have a ton of treasured memories about games, but on the other hand we`ve suffered our share of disappointment at the hands of ill-fated projects. Back when we were kids, games were even more expensive than they are now. If you could get even one game per year you were lucky. Make a mistake and you wanted to scream, “I spent my hard-earned cash on this!?”

Inaba: We still face challenges as a small-staffed studio working on high-spec hardware. There are certainly times when we have to cut various features due to limitations on our end. However, I refuse to let challenges on our side dictate the entire course of production; it is not fair to the player. Instead of using these difficulties as excuses for compromising on quality, we just need to be that much more creative.

Kamiya: I`m not the type to organize all the individual moving parts of a game beforehand, so there are often times when I haven`t worked everything into the schedule. I often come up with good ideas in the middle of production, and the finished product ends up even better than I expected. I know it is a bit risky; I often think, “Man, I really came up with that in the nick of time.” But if that idea will make the game better, you have to do what it takes to get it in there.”

inside_5Inaba: Kamiya`s experience combined with a certain logical backbone are what allow him to see how the parts of a game fit together, but he comes out with the wildest ideas at the 11th hour. “Oh hey, I just came up with something!”
We have all come to dread those words. But when it turns out to be a great idea – and as gamers ourselves we all know a good idea when we see one – we just have to pull up our bootstraps and get it done.

Kamiya: It just so happens I was talking about this with a second-year programmer named Hirate today. If we as creators start deciding right off the bat that something is impossible, we will never be able to make anything. Imagine a game designer who is told by his artists and programmers that what he`s asking is impossible. It`s not like he can do those things himself; he`s finished. Good designers and programmers don`t let it end with “impossible.” The type of staff I trust the most are the people who will offer suggestions: “I can`t do that…but what about this?”
I believe that there are many people like that at Platinum. The thing that gets me most annoyed is when people come to me asking for me to okay some decision. I think I`ve broken everyone`s bad habits, but in the past it was rampant. I`d ask them to do something for me, and they`d come back saying “Is this okay?” I`d reply: “Don’t ask me what’s okay, show me what you think is okay!”

Inaba: On the other hand, you’re putting a lot of responsibility on their shoulders like that. But I have to admit that I too, as a producer, most enjoy the moments when someone reports back to me with an idea that exceeds my expectations.

Kamiya: Exactly. As a game fan myself, that joy even rivals that of trying a brand new game. That feeling of excitement takes me back to my experiences as a kid. The games I`ve worked on are filled with ideas that I didn`t come up with, ideas I couldn`t have come up with… in a way that`s what allows me to keep making games I truly enjoy.

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W101: Super Secret Codes

The Wonderful 101

Filed: The Wonderful 101

Hey, everyone.

It’s Ichi here! Remember me!?

Can you believe it’s already been 2 weeks since Bayonetta 2 released!?

Sometimes people tell me that game is the sole reason they bought a Wii U! Of course that makes us really, really happy, but while you’re at it, why not try The Wonderful 101 as well!? (Although I guess if you’re here on this site, reading this, you probably already have…)

Right, with that out of the way, I have a secret to share with you today!

We’ve been getting some messages here and there from people who are having trouble unlocking Wonder-Bayonetta in The Wonderful 101.

And with good reason! Out of all of the hidden characters in this game, Wonder-Bayo is by far the most difficult to get your hands on.

Our raven-haired beauty only shows herself to those who find all of the hidden items, fight the toughest enemies, and overcome the hardest challenges: only the most persistent and indomitable heroes!

 

In other words, one of the main reasons we put her in this game is that most elusive of holy grails in the world of video games: BRAGGING RIGHTS. You want to show off? You gotta WORK for it, buster! That’s how your efforts are rewarded.

So if you know someone who’s struggling to unlock this character, I’m terribly sorry, but you’re going to have to tell them this:

“UNITE UP OR SHIP OUT.”

Yeah. That’s right.

You think Bayonetta is the kind of gal that lets herself get unlocked by just mashing your palms on the controller for a couple of hours?

THINK AGAIN.

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Originally, this is where this new blog post was going to end.

However, just as I was hovering my cursor over that alluring “Publish” button, my index finger poised to deliver the decisive left-click, Kamiya walked past my desk, glanced over my shoulder, and nonchalantly remarked: “You know there’s a code for that, right?”

 

I… uh… Wut?

 

Kamiya: “Yeah, you know, the cheat code? Didn’t we already tell people about this?”

Ichi: “Cheat… Co… duh?”

This is where I incurred the wrath of Kamiya, and he decided to grab me by my neck and drag me out into the backyard. “Don’t tell me you forgot about this?” he asked me with a smile that could freeze a raging volcano. I responded thusly:

“I’m absolutely amazed, Kamiya-san! (That you still remembered)

You came by with absolutely impeccable timing! (Even though it’s been over a year since the game was released)

I just wrote a blog on that very subject! (Just let me delete the entire text first)”

But the timing IS actually quite fortunate, since we just released Bayonetta 2, and the world is still in a Witch Time-induced craze, so if we’re going to reveal a secret code related to Bayonetta, surely the perfect timing would be NOW, since a lot of people have freshly purchased Wii Us in their homes, and now that plenty of them will probably already have finished Bayonetta 1 and/or 2, it is highly likely that they’re looking for something else to point their Scarborough Fairs and/or Love is Blues at and so this is the ideal opportunity to let people know that they can in fact play as the renowned Umbran Witch in a completely different type of over-the-top action extravaganza and…

I think I’m starting to ramble a bit.

So without further ado, I present to you:

The Super Confidential “Buying Hidden Characters In The Wonderful 101” Platinum Cheat Code That Totally Nobody Knows About Because It’s A Secret To Everybody!

You’re going to have to meet these conditions first though:

– You need to have completed the game (it’s fine if you did it on a low difficulty!)

– You’ll need a boatload of O-Parts. And we’re talking a BIG boat here. Like, one of the fancy ones with a swimming pool and casino and everything.

– The cheat code has to be entered in very specific areas of the game.

– The cheat code is always the same though: Hold down ZR and press ↑↓↑→←XBYA

(Just imagine that you’re using the d-pad to draw the P+ logo!)

If you managed to pull it off correctly, you’ll hear a familiar jingle, and you’ll be able to use the secret characters from the next stage on!

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■ CENTINELS Set

Location: Starting position of the Prologue

Secret characters: Wonder-Captain, Wonder-Scarf, Wonder-Gramps

Special price: 1000000P

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■ Rivals Set

Location: Operation 009-B, starting position of the battle with the shield-generating device

Secret characters: Prince Vorkken, Chewgi, Immorta

Limited-Time-Only deal: 1000000P

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■ The Olden Days Set

Location: Operation 006-B, during the battle with Laambo, the position shown in the picture above (use the bowl of noodle soup as a guide!)

Secret characters: Wonder-Daddy, Wonder-Future, Wonder-Red (Emeritus)

Super cheap price: 1000000P

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■ Real Superheroes Set

Location: During the Epilogue, right after the first car is cut off

Secret characters: Wonder-Goggles, Poseman, Wonder-Director

We-Might-As-Well-Give-Them-Away deal: 1000000P

 

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■ Bayo Setta

Location: Starting point of Operation 001

Secret characters: Wonder-Bayonetta, Wonder-Jeanne, Wonder-Rodin

Premium price: 2000000P

If you’ve already completed Bayonetta 1 and 2 and you still haven’t had enough of the time-twisting hair-weaving witch, but you just can’t seem to unlock all of those bottle caps in The Wonderful 101 either, just use the above code and you should be fine and dandy.

And you can still just go out and brag about it! Yay!

See you next time, everyone!

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Bayonetta 2 Out In Stores!

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi everyone, this is Bayonetta 2’s director, Yusuke Hashimoto.

It’s been five long years… finally Bayonetta 2 is finally out in North America and Europe! I guess some of you might be playing it right now!

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I’ve been overjoyed to receive so many messages from all of you on my twitter (PG_y_hashimoto). Thanks so much. During production, those messages helped me out a lot, and now, I’m just thinking… I can’t believe it’s finally on sale. This will be the first title I’ve worked on that will hit the stores in five years.

I remember writing “See you next stage!” in the staff comments for The Eyes of Bayonetta, the art book for the original game. Back then I just meant for it to pertain to whatever next game I worked on. I never dreamed it would come to mean me directing the sequel to Bayonetta.

A lot has happened in five years. Going from producer to director, moving to a new console… there was a lot of trial and error involved in moving forward, but I think we were able to give so much to the final product because we always believed, we want as many people as possible to enjoy Bayonetta 2.

This time around, we’re really blown away with all the opportunities we’ve had. We were able to add Japanese audio, so many collaboration costumes with Nintendo, and even a port of Kamiya’s original classic to the package… honestly, a deal like this feels too good to be true.

I hope you all enjoy Bayonetta 2.

See you on my next PlatinumGames’ project!

Yusuke Hashimoto

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Character Design Pt. 3: New Characters, Extras

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi, it’s Mari Shimazaki again – lead character designer.

We’ve got just one week until Bayonetta 2 hits the shelves. Are you ready?

Loki

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For my last little update before the game goes on sale, I’d like to talk about some new characters at the center of Bayonetta 2’s story, and some “extras.

In the original Bayonetta, our main character traveled with a little girl named Cereza. This time, it’s a mysterious kid that sports some attitude.

Designing him had its twists and turns. First he was actually planned to be a girl, but Kamiya saw that and said “…I did that the first game.” So we changed it to a boy.

If I talk about him too much I’m scared I might ruin some of the game’s story, but I think I can at least talk about the colors, accessories, and patterns I chose for him. I wanted him to have a modern look that still was also reminiscent of the otherworldliness of his character.

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Also, I’ll say a thing or two about the cards he uses.

In the actual game you only see him use a few specific ones, but I actually drew an entire set, kind of just because I wanted to.

One set totals to 22 cards.

There are also Verse Cards in the game that preserve the same basic design, but they were a collaboration work between the entire team. They made 53 cards altogether.

If you’re into cards those numbers might ring a bell. That’s right: they’re the same number of cards that you’ll find in a set of tarot cards (Major Arcana) and playing cards.

There are a lot of explanations for how tarot cards and playing cards originated, but for Bayonetta 2, I liked to design them thinking “what if the real origin of tarot/playing cards lies with Loki?” That helped me design them to make sense in Bayonetta’s world.

As for his 22 card set… can you guess the tarot counterpart for each card?

Might be interesting to put them side by side and try to see if you can tell.

 

Masked Lumen

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Masked Lumen… another key figure to Bayonetta 2’s story.

Just like Loki, I won’t tell you too much about who he is to avoid spoilers, but I’ll at least say the two concepts that I kept in mind while designing him were “straight lines” and “grace.”

Super Mirror/Couture Bullets

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After acquiring the Super Mirror 2, Bayonetta can become an Umbran Gekka, Policewoman, Schoolgirl… They’re what’d you’d call “unlockable costumes.”

The basic design process I went through for these costumes was to brainstorm with Hashimoto and think about what costumes the fans would like. Then, out of those, Kamiya, Hashimoto, and I each chose a costume of our liking.

For the first Bayonetta, Kamiya was the director, so he chose the P.E. Uniform.

For Bayonetta 2, Hashimoto was the director, and he chose the Umbran Gekka.

Kamiya admitted that he probably indulged himself a bit too much when he made his choices for the first Bayonetta, so he chose something with a bit more mass appeal for this game: the policewoman. Hashimoto chose the Umbran Gekka, and I chose the schoolgirl outfit.

The process taught us about each other’s individual preferences, which was fun.

During game development, we always get to making these extras at a time when the staff really have their hands full. Sometimes it’s hard to put in everything we want, but we all still really want our fans to enjoy the game as much as possible, so we do what we can.

Some of the ideas that the staff had were pretty out there. I ended up drawing some interesting sketches so if I ever have the chance I think it’d be fun to show you.

After you finish your first playthrough of the game, be sure to try out the main game, Muspelheim, and Tag Climax in your own favorite costume.

Be just a little more patient—good times are right around the corner!

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Bayonetta 2 Misc. Tips and Tricks

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello everyone. Once again, this is the arcade-frequenting, karaoke-loving game designer Ryoya Sakebe. Chances are good you’ll find me at one of these places on my days off.

This time I’d like to share a couple behind-the-scenes tidbits from the development of Bayonetta 2.

(Spoiler warning!!)

The dedicated among you may already know some of these, but bear with me.

1) Where’s Loki?!

In the first part of the game’s story you travel with your companion Loki. He is able to transform into a flying squirrel, and while on the move he hangs out within Bayonetta’s substantial bosom. Lucky jerk. But when Bayonetta unleashes the Beast Within and transforms into a Panther, where do you think he goes? Don’t worry, she doesn’t leave him behind!

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↑Here’s Flying Squirrel Loki holding on for dear life. Move the camera around to get a closer look; he’s super cute!

2) Don’t fall for the PKP combo trap

If you fully execute a combo, your final hit will summon a Wicked Weave, dealing much more damage than a regular attack. Out of all the possible combos, the quickest way to get out a Wicked Weave is the Punch-Kick-Punch combo (known as PKP for short.) What an easy way to rack up a ton of damage, right? Wrong. You still have a long way to go…BD (sunglasses smiley)

While the PKP is fast and can stun enemies, we purposefully made it less powerful than other combo finishers. Moreover, if you send an enemy flying with PKP, you’ll have to go chase them down before you can start your next combo. If there are any true Platinum rank chasers among you, please remember: you will never achieve true strength while relying on PKP.

3) The secret effect of Tetsuzanko

Here’s another little known fact.

Pressing Punch after moving the analog stick from back to front executes the devastating “Tetsuzanko”. Purchasable from Rodin’s store, it takes a different form depending on the weapon you have equipped.

With Rakshasa equipped…

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↑The start of the Tetsuzanko animation with Rakshasa equipped. Leap back away from the enemy and…

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↑Close the gap in an instant with a slash!

This movement makes it a bit of a tricky attack to use effectively. In fact, the part of the animation where you jump back is not just for show; it allows you to dodge enemy attacks. Which also means you can activate Witch Time! While you’re slashing away at an enemy, if it looks like it is about to attack, quickly input the command for Tetsuzanko. In a single fluid motion you will jump back, dodge the attack, activate Which Time, and launch an attack of your own. Just think of the combo points! It can be tough getting the right timing in the middle of a difficult battle, so give it a try against Accolade, or some other easy enemy. Trust me, you will feel like a total boss.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today. There are still plenty of fun little facts and stories left to tell, but they will have to wait for another day. See you!

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Scenario Writing in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games

Hello everyone, it’s been a while. This is Hideki Kamiya, director of the first Bayonetta, and supervisor on Bayonetta 2.

At long last, the release date is right around the corner! It’s been a long road getting here, filled with bumps, twists, and turns. There was even a time when we almost lost hope of releasing the game altogether. It makes me happy that we can bring you Bayonetta 2, and I would like to extend my personal thanks to Nintendo for stepping in and making this game a reality.

In a blog a while back, I briefly mentioned my role as scenario writer on this project. To my surprise, a lot of fans seemed really surprised by this news, and I realized that I haven’t properly explained what this entails. This time, I’d like to explain how I worked on the scenario for Bayonetta 2.

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But before we get into that, I’m sure many of you are a bit confused about what a game supervisor does. It is quite an important-sounding title, but to put it simply, they supervise the project from a position one-step removed from development. At PlatinumGames, the person who has the final say on what goes into a game, and who is ultimately responsible for how it turns out, is the director. I believe that every game should be infused with the unique color of its director. Because of this, my involvement in Bayonetta 2 consisted of regular meetings with Director Hashimoto where I only provided advice when necessary. The one exception perhaps, was Jeanne; when it came to her character, I butt in with my comments at every opportunity.

That said, not only was Hashimoto the producer on the first game (the person in charge of team management and strategic decisions for the title), as an artist he also designed all the enemy angels. By the way, he is once again doing double duty on Bayonetta 2; this time as director / enemy designer! Since he is someone who deeply understands and shares my vision for the world of Bayonetta, I hardly needed to nit-pick his decisions whatsoever. And Hashimoto isn’t the only one returning for the sequel.

With “Don-san” programming the enemy angels / demons, Shimazaki designing the characters, Yamaguchi handling the animation, Ueda and Mr. Rei Kondo on music, sound effects by Daisuke and Sound Deluxe, and Tsuda and cinematic director Shimomura in charge of cut scenes, all the key staff that together created the world of Bayonetta came back for a return performance. I had nothing to worry about.

Long story short, I was not directly involved in the day-to-day production of Bayonetta 2. The scenario, however, is a different story. I talked with Hashimoto and we decided that, since Bayonetta’s dialog is one of the key things that makes her character, it would be best for me to continue my role as scenario writer.

However, with my hands full directing The Wonderful 101, I didn’t have the luxury of devoting myself to working on the scenario. Help came in the form of Bingo Morihashi, a skilled scenario writer who happens to be an old colleague of mine from my Capcom days.

I chose Bingo for this job because he has a lot of experience writing for games that have a similar style to Bayonetta.

A game scenario is about more than just having the characters deliver the story. With the pace and progression of the game in mind, you have to consider the timing of the cut scenes and battles; it is the key to composing the game’s overall balance. Constantly interrupting the action will kill the player’s momentum, but a complete lack of context to get the player pumped up will make the climatic moments fall flat. The job of a game scenario writer is to dole out story appropriately, while making sure the game still feels brisk and fun. Bingo, with his wealth of scenario writing experience, was just what the doctor ordered to complete the scenario.

Planning for the Bayonetta 2 scenario began during a discussion with Hashimoto. It was almost like a casual chat, where we went back and forth saying “what if this happened?” and “what about this character?”, deciding the overarching story and overall structure of the stages. Once the rough outline was in place, we brought Bingo into the discussion and had him fill in the details. Next, we had Bingo turn this outline into a game scenario. This became the first draft of the scenario: a detailed plan for each stage explaining when each cut scene would play, how each character would make their appearance, and the way each story beat would unfold. From here, I worked on the flow of the characters’ dialog and added scenes to bring out that unique Bayonetta flavor. At this point it was basically the text equivalent of a storyboard; everything was in place. Since the first draft was well structured, I was able to concentrate on bringing out the personality of the characters and fleshing out the world without having to worry about the story / action balance. At the end of this process, we completed the final draft of the scenario.

Next, building off this scenario, cinematic director Shimomura added his own interpretation and touch to the scenes. Ultimately, we ended up with a story so wildly over-the-top that it might even outdo its predecessor. I can’t go into any story specifics here, so please play the game and experience it for yourself!

We are nearing the end of this post, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about the scenario writing process. We have inherited the same Bayonetta flavor from the first game… no, that’s not quite right. The truth is, the two stories are inextricably linked; they are two sides of the same coin. For those of you who will be entering the world of Bayonetta for the first time, I highly recommend you play through Bayonetta before jumping into Bayonetta 2. To those handsome individuals among you who have already played through the first game, it wouldn’t hurt to play it again as a refresher.

Actually, on second thought, it might be interesting to go back and play the first game after you have beaten the sequel… I’ll leave it up to you.

As always, please let me know what you think about the game!

Until next time!

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The Wonderful 101 Original Soundtrack Digital Release!

The Wonderful 101

Filed: Games, The Wonderful 101

Hello everyone, my name is Hiroshi Yamaguchi. I was a composer on The Wonderful 101.

Starting today, people around the world will be able to download the official soundtrack for The Wonderful 101! But that’s not all. This is the first soundtrack released under our very own PlatinumGames record label: Polaris Tone. As the game celebrates its 1st anniversary, I could not be happier to bring you the soundtrack.

I worked on The Wonderful 101 for around two years of its development. When I first joined the team I was the only one in the BGM section. While experimenting with various directions to take the music, rough design documents and in-progress screenshots were my only reference.

Even at this early stage, the concept of 100 heroes coming together in the Unite Morph was already in place. More than just your run-of-the-mill hero series, it was a tale of courage and comradery; a story of 100 brave heroes working together to stop evil on a massive scale! With this world in mind, I set out to make catchy music that would appeal to an audience just as wide as the universal themes of heroism that the game is all about.

The first song I completed was for the opening stage: “ST01 Roll Out, The Wonderful 100! Battle in the Blossom City Burbs.” I really liked the hook at the end of this song, so I decided early on to use it as a recurring motif throughout the whole game. Around this time I had also finished a rough version of the music for the second stage: “ST02 Head for Blossom Tower”, using ideas I had left over from stage one. Just as I was patting myself on the back, thinking how smoothly everything was going, Director Kamiya requested a common jingle that would appear in the music for each stage. It proved much more difficult than I initially anticipated. It is embarrassing to admit, but it took me over 40 attempts to get it right. You can hear the fruit of my hard work in “Roll Out Jingle 1.” I break into a cold sweat now just hearing the word “jingle.”

Three months after I started on the project, Takizawa, a composer with three years experience in the company, joined me on the team. About half a year after that, a new composer (in her first year at the company) named Kurokawa also joined the project. While originally conceived as a mid-sized project, by the time Kurokawa joined us the game had already grown considerably in scope, and the overall shape was starting to come together. I thought to myself, “this one is gonna be huge” and, as expected, we were super busy right up until the end of the project.

The highlight of the project for me was composing “The Won-Stoppable 100.” You may have read about this in Director Kamiya’s blog, but we decided to redo it right before the game went gold. It was a do-or-die situation for me. There were points where I was on the verge of giving up. I would go up to Director Kamiya and Assistant Producer Kurooka and beg them to accept my latest version of the song. Then one day, Takizawa comes out and says, “Listen, I’ll take care of the implementation of all the sound data. Mr. Yamaguchi, you just focus on making this song the best it can be.” What choice did I have? What kind of composer…what kind of person would I be if I didn’t make something spectacular!?

I delegated as much of my work as possible to Takizawa and Kurokawa and devoted my full attention to composing. That is the story of how, in one month, we got the theme song composed, recorded, and downmixed. As we approached our physical and mental limits, my co-composers gave it their all to get the game finished. I’m sure seeing the game come together before our eyes gave us the motivational boost to make it through. As I scrambled to get the song composed, many other people were working to get the English and Japanese vocals decided, the lyrics translated, and the recording schedules in order. It is fitting that many people had to work together (unite up?) to get the theme song finished.

The making of this music may have been stormy at times, but the clouds have cleared, and I am very thankful that we can bring you the soundtrack. We all came together to make this soundtrack something that resonates with people. I hope you enjoy it!

That’s all from me. Everyone, please listen to the soundtrack and feel your heroic soul ignite!

Akira Takizawa

Hello, Takizawa here. (I’m the one with the sharp-looking eyes that would make even Wonder-White envious.)

It’s finally out: the wonderful soundtrack we’ve all been waiting for. If I ever don a mask, call me Wonder-Happy! This project was the longest I’ve ever worked on a single title. I could wax nostalgic for hours about the various bittersweet memories and heartwarming moments I had with my teammates over the course of production.

 

Burnt by the searing sun of summer,

Touched by the lonely winds of autumn,

We cross the perilous thin ice of winter,

Will spring never come!?

 

Wow, I’m not sure what came over me. I was about to go into a Wonder-White-esk soliloquy. For sensitive listeners like myself, I recommend the track “A Sign” from Vol. 1. It may seem like just a short atmospheric BGM, but because it is so versatile, we ended up using it as a connecting piece throughout the game! Even the staff have forgotten how many times we used it, but if you have time on a rainy afternoon, feel free to give it a count! Until next time!

Hitomi Kurokawa

Hello everyone, my name is Kurokawa. The soundtrack for The Wonderful 101, the first game I worked on, will be available starting today! I’m speechless! When you spend over a year working on something, you really get emotionally attached. I got really excited when I heard it was going to get a digital release!

The other day I went back and listened to all 127 tracks…wow, that sure is a lot of music. Intense too, especially the second half.

The theme phrase is used in over half the songs, so it is a lot of fun to see how it has been arranged in its various iterations. Before long you’ll be spotting that theme phrase like a champ. To both fans of the game and those of you who have not yet had a chance to play it, I hope you enjoy the music we made and, as you listen, find yourself immersed in the heroic world of The Wonderful 101!

Composers

From left: Akira Takizawa, Hitomi Kurokawa, Hiroshi Yamaguchi

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Happy Anniversary!

The Wonderful 101

Filed: Games, The Wonderful 101

Hi everyone, The Wonderful 101 director Kamiya here. A full year has passed since the game was released, but I imagine many of you in Europe and Japan were able to give it a try thanks to the recent Mario Kart 8 promotion.

August 24th was the 1-year anniversary of the release of The Wonderful 101 in Japan but, to be honest, since I still receive messages of encouragement from fans around the world on a daily basis, it really doesn’t feel like that much time has passed. I am truly thankful that so many of you hold the game so dearly.

Now that we have the corny introduction out of the way, let’s get down to business. I have some exciting news to bring you today. We’ve been working behind the scenes, trying to find a way to release something many fans have been asking for, and today I can finally announce it: The Wonderful 101 Official Soundtrack is going to get a digital release! It clocks in at a whopping 127 tracks! This would fill 5 CDs, but we are splitting it up into two tidy volumes, each of which you can download for just $10 a piece. With this you can enjoy every track from the game wherever you are.

The sound quality is a step up from the music in the game itself, so even those of you who spent hours in the Sound Test are in for a treat. The theme song for the game, “The Won-Stoppable Wonderful 100”, has also been remastered. The game version of the track was edited to loop endlessly, so we got Hiroshi (lead BGM composer) to go back and give the song a fitting conclusion. The soundtrack is the only place you’ll find this version.

SoundtrackJacket2 Vol. 1 album jacketAlbum jacket images Vol.2 album jacket

To give you some background on the music direction from my perspective as director, I began by explaining to Hiroshi that I wanted to use an orchestral style to capture the feeling of an epic battle. I imagine the initial impression many people have of the game is a bunch of cute characters frolicking around a colorful world. However, my plan from the start was to create a unique feel by having this light-hearted world juxtaposed with the daunting threat of a massive alien invasion. To do this heroic ballad justice, we needed an equally grand orchestra. A cute exterior with an epic and dark heart; you could almost call the game “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Of course, having this ferocity extend to the game’s difficulty may have deviated a bit from the plan…

Another episode that deserves mention is the kerfuffle was had making the theme song. Of course, it was mostly my decision to throw out the near-complete version of the song and start from scratch right before the game went gold that put us in that situation in the first place.

I had decided from the start that the song needed to have vocals, but I just couldn’t seem to settle on an overall style. Near the end of the game’s production, we had PG staff lay vocals over some modern anime style tracks, and the song was coming along nicely when, all of a sudden, it hit me: The song had to be in the style of 60s anime / special effect-filled hero TV shows! The music from “Captain Ultra”, “Captain Scarlet” (the original American version), and “Stingray”, the so-called “supermarionation” series, as well as Japanese TV shows like “Pirate Prince”, “Super Jetter”, and “Ultraman”, while classical, somehow manages to seem fresh when you listen to it nowadays. These songs effortless convey the coolness of the hero, and the more you listen to them, the more you feel your own heroic heart begin to stir. This style perfectly captures what The Wonderful 101 is all about! There was no doubt in my mind when I came to this realization…right before the end of production. I went over to Hiroshi, he looked at me, said I was crazy to ask for such a radical change so late in production, and told me it was impossible.

Just kidding, he totally made it happen! :D

It goes without saying, the subsequent process of finding professional vocalists (in both English and Japanese), getting a handle on the 60s anime / supermarionation style, and arranging the song in the time remaining put quite a load on the already-busy Hiroshi. It was crucial to capture that 1960s flair. As I am sure you can imagine, for Hiroshi, born in 1979, grasping the subtle distinction of 60s shows as opposed to those from the 70s (or even recent ones for that matter), was quite the challenge (and time was short, remember.) But this is Hiroshi we are talking about. Having survived many of my selfish requests in the past, I gave him my absolute faith, hardened my heart, and turned down his submissions one after another. The fruit of our labor: an epic song that, I’m sure all who have heard it will agree, truly burns with the passionate soul of a hero.

Despite all this work on a single track, the soundtrack for The Wonderful 101 managed to reach 5 CDs worth of music. I feel this with each project, but there are really not enough words to express my gratitude to my sound staff. Hiroshi has been with me over many years, and I’m sure many of you would recognize his music, but I cannot forget Takizawa, who backed up Hiroshi in his many hours of need, and quickly adapted to a development schedule filled with curveballs to make all kinds of wonderful tunes. I also want to give a shout out to Ms. Kurokawa, the lone women in our mostly-male sound team, whose deep understanding of hero TV shows and powerful compositions betray her outward kitten-like appearance. Some friends also came from outside the company to lend us their strength over the long development period: Mr. Kondo (whose work many of you may recognize from Ōkami ), Mr. Norihiko Hibino (who I’ve worked with since Bayonetta), and Masato Kouda (an old friend who joined Capcom the same year as me and worked with me on Devil May Cry.) Thank you for putting up with my outlandish requests; I couldn’t have done it without you.

The massive number of tracks in this collection, the music that allows the game to reach its full potential, is a testament to the sound team’s hard work and their desire to give players an unforgettable experience. Everyone, please enjoy listening to these songs as you picture each level in your mind’s eye, and when nobody’s looking, I hope you whisper: “Unite Up!”

The soundtrack will be available for download starting September 15th. If you have any messages, please send them to my twitter:

@PG_Kamiya

Until next time!

Download on iTunes / Sumthing.com. The price per volume is $9.99, with individual tracks available for $0.99.

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Figuring Out Damage Motion

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello everybody! I’m the lead motion designer for Bayonetta 2, my name is Takaaki Yamaguchi. I’ve been making motion in action games for over ten years now. That fact is starting to make me feel old.

Anyway, let’s talk about what a motion designer does. We discussed this back in our old Bayonetta blogs as well, but basically, we give movement to anything in the game that requires motion. We end up playing an important role in several areas of the game—making sure all the characters don’t look like they’re stumbling around, getting the main character’s controls to feel right, making enemy movement easy to understand, and so on.

Working on a sequel, it was our job to carry over the feel of the motion from the original Bayonetta, and make it even better. For this blog, I’d like to talk specifically about damage motion for enemies. You know, that motion you see when you land a huge deathblow on an enemy and they get knocked back and explode or whatever. You might have never thought that deeply about it, but for an action game, getting the right reaction out of the enemy after you’ve pulled off a killer combo is absolutely critical. Do a slack job and the thrill of battle will turn into a total letdown. Enemy damage motion is something I’ve always regarded as highly important in the games I’ve worked on. I always am asking myself if there’s not something new I can try to create more satisfying combat than before.

My challenge to myself for Bayonetta 2 was to create the right enemy motion for each attack. We had plenty of enemy reactions that would change depending on what attack Bayonetta performed, but I wanted to take this further for Bayonetta 2. It’ll probably be easier to understand if you just see it, so take a look at the videos below.

This is Bayonetta:

This is Bayonetta 2:

What’d you think? It’s easy to focus on Bayonetta, but if you watch the enemy in both videos, you’ll notice it plays the same motion for each attack in the first video, while in the second, the enemy’s reaction changes based on the kind of attack being performed.

This is just one example from the game, but each little detail like this I think really added up to make a great feeling game overall. Doing a little research, I realized that the enemies in Bayonetta 2 have an average of 3.5x the number of reactions as those in the original.

Well, I could keep writing and posting videos about how this game feels, but obviously there won’t be any way for you to know until you’ve actually put the controller in your hands and are playing the game yourself. If I’ve driven anyone’s curiosity, please try playing the game after its release.

Until next time!

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