Lots of exciting PSP announcements recently and Last Ranker, a new IP from Capcom and imageepoch, is my favorite. Dozen of pages were dedicated to the RPG in two recent issues of Weekly Famitsu and together with pictures from TGS 2009, let’s see what we know so far about the game.
“The Strongest” Development Team
No Japanese media reports on Last Ranker go without mentioning the all-star production crew. Producer Minae Matsukawa (right) has worked on Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten and Gyakuten Saiban 4 (the series known as Phoenix Wright in the West). Director Kazuya Niinou worked on Etrian Odyssey and , Scenario Writer Kazushige Nojima (inset) wrote for Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts, Composer Yoko Shimomura (second from left) contributed to Street Fighter II and Kingdom Hearts series while Character Designer Tatsuya Yoshikawa (second from right) drawn for Breath of Fire and .
Matsukawa tells Famitsu that the reason for this heavy weight development team is because this is Capcom’s first RPG in a while and they would like to try out a completely new team for a completely new IP. Although he is pleased that some of the industry veterans are in the team, Niinou admits he is a bit nervous actually. He tells Famitsu that Street Fighter II is the reason he is in the industry, so the idea of fighting-themed story pops up once it was decided that they will be working with Capcom for an RPG.
Niinou also came up with the “Strongest RPG” tag line because he think it’s something every RPG players would like to achieve. Most of his game so far has been command-based system, so why the timing-based system of Last Ranker? According to him, it’s because PSP users seem to like pressing buttons to make their characters perform certain actions.
With such credibility in the staff, it’s no wonder that the theme of the game is “aiming for the strongest”. The main character Zig left Cantalera, nomadic people with its own culture, and went to Bazaruta. A country where “power is justice” and almost all of its people are warriors and their ranking are registered with an organization. Newcomer Zig’s ultimate goal is to take over the top spot.
Each character in the game has a ranking displayed on their head (left) and players can take their ranking after beating them. The big numbers on the top right of the screen is Zig’s rank. There will be stories about both the victors and the losers in the game. However, the game is more than just maintaining your victorious run, there will be elements like the weight of being a winner and also players questioning themselves about the true meaning of victory according to Niinou. Players will also be able to find out more about the game’s world and the conflicts between the characters.
The concept of the game is for it to be like a fighting-themed shonen manga (youth comic?), where friendship and winning-losing play a big role. Nojima says that since the characters are not too young, they try not to make their characteristic too linear. People who aim to be Number 1 often have a different mindset and as a result, players won’t be able to guess the characters’ next action too easily according to Nojima.
It has been a while since Character Designer Yoshikawa last worked on a RPG and he enjoys the process of working on a new IP. Although his task is mainly character design (with directions from Niinou), he was also asked to produce concept arts for the game. He says there will be a large amount of character in the game.
Sick of the daily routine of nomadic lifestyle, ambitious Zig (voiced by Kamiya Hiroshi) left his people to look for meaning of life and powers. He has a nickname that roughly translated as Lion From The Border.
Ren (voiced by Marina Inoue) is the female main character who join Bazaruta around the same time as Zig. She joined the organization to increase her popularity which she hopes will helps her quest to revive her own country Salvador. Ren is a partner but also an opponent of Zig earlier in the game (she can be seen with rank 72,001 while our hero is at 95,001). Director Niinou says Ren is a strong but very funny person.
A Cantalera like Zig, Faz (voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura) used to be Zig’s best friend but he questioned Zig’s real motive when he abandoned his own race to join Bazaruta. In order to stop Zig, Faz joined Bazaruta too and they will meet each other in battle at certain point of the game. From the screenshots in Weekly Famitsu, Zig’s rank is 82,526 when he meets Fazz, who is already 24,311.
The battle system is not command-based, by pressing a button, your character will attack immediately and return to his original position but since this is still an RPG, your character will not be able to dodge while making attack. Niinou explains that it’s basically turn-based with timing being the key element and something players will be able to pick up easily. Players with good timing skills will be able to beat their higher ranking opponents easier.
The game is essentially one against one but there will be times when your opponents play dirty and ask for helps. Although there is no team battle, there are scenes where your partners will be featured in some battles, which help to give players sense of co-operation. Niinou says the concept of the battle system is also like a fighting-themed shonen manga, where friendship and co-operation are the key elements. Besides enemies with ranking, there will be monsters in the game too.
Your character will has main and support weapon. Using Zig as example, his main weapon is sword and support weapon can be items like gun, shield or even another sword. Besides fighting for ranking, players can take on quests like investigating ancient remains and finding certain items. These quests can be done together with a partner and will have impact on your ability to rank up too.
The concept behind the music is “Strong, Comfortable and Cool” according to Shimomura. Since the game’s main focal point is its battle system and in order to show that it’s a well-designed system, there will be lyrics (in English) in the BGM for battles. Although she is not someone who always try out new things, she made several songs for Last Ranker that seems out of place in battle scenes but it’s something she find very interesting.
Last Ranker is currently 40% done, although it doesn’t seem much to people, Niinou says the first 30% always has the “thickest wall” and things will move faster after that since most developers already have a better idea of the game.
Posted in PSP on Sunday, October 11th, 2009 at 1:00 am | Tags capcom image epoch interview last ranker rpg | Comments Feed | You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.