Recently, we got to sit down in a group interview with Senran Kagura producer, Kenichiro Takaki from Marvelous and Honey Parade Games, and talk to him about his new studio, the upcoming third person shooter spinoff Peach Beach Splash and the answer to the age old question: life or hometown. Since this was part of a group interview, all FanboyNation questions are in italics.
For people who don’t know about Senran Kagura, how would you best describe it to them; the game and the world?
Senran Kagura at it’s base is a series of action games about girls who attend ninja school as they learn to become real shinobi. It is basically a coming of age story as they learn to become one. Along with the action, there are elements that are somewhat erotic or sexy, and there is also quite a bit of comedy. It’s primarily an action game, but in the past we have released a rhythm game as well, and this time we are doing a TPS [third-person shooter] so, it’s the kind of game that has an environment and atmosphere that can be easily applied to other genres as well.
What made you want to go with a third-person shooter for this title? When you decide on which type of game you want to design, is it based more on the story or do you base the story around the gameplay?
Good question about story vs. gameplay, naturally the first thing I want to make as a creator is a good game or an interesting game so I decide on what kind of game I make first, the the story that best matches the game and the tone after that. As for why I decided on a TPS this time around, when the first game [Senran Kagura Burst for the Nintendo 3DS] in the beginning it was meant to be a small title for a niche audience within Japan, but over time as more games were created especially with the Vita version Shinovi Versus, the game started to pick up more fans overseas and around the world. As the series got more popular, I thought that this was a good chance to try a new genre and aim for something that would be a bit more popular with fans outside of Japan. Third-person shooter are a popular genre around the world, so I choose that to hope to expand the audience a little more.
Where do you see the future of the Senran Kagura series going? Will there eventually be a third main storyline or more side story type games?
So the answer is pretty much both. With the main action series, we are going to be returning to that again, so it will be the third entry in that line. If PBS [Peach Beach Splash] does really well, we could follow it up with another TPS game, a direct sequel to PBS. We also recently announced a new title called Shinobi Refle for the Nintendo Switch which is going to be another…quite a different game from anything that has become before it.
Aside from what was shown in the Japanese Nintendo Direct, was there anything else that you can share with us about the Nintendo Switch project?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot we can say at this point because it is still very early in development. But it was mentioned in the Nintendo Direct as well the we are working very hard on using the HD Rumble and trying to express softness as a sensation that players can feel while they are playing the game.
All the titles seem feel like they all use the same graphics engine. For future releases, will you will be using the same graphics engine, or will you be building something that will take more advantage of the PlayStation 4 or the Switch?
The games have been using the same engine, but the is one point where the engine was pretty heavily refreshed after about maybe two or three years. So within the next two or three years, this is something we’ll be looking at again and we would make a decision on whether to keep using the same engine, refresh it again or start from scratch and build a new engine. Anything that makes the characters look cuter or prettier on screen, we’ll do whatever we can technically to make that happen.
Recently, you just created your new studio within Marvelous. Do you have a project going now and is it a Senran Kagura project, or is it something completely different?
So at the studio, at H.P. Games [Honey Parade], we have multiple projects going on at once. I am going to continue working on the Senran Kagura series, so there will be more Senran Kagura games coming. I also want the younger members of the studio, such as assistant producers, to provide their own ideas for new games and to make new titles that I haven’t thought of myself based on other ideas from within the studio. I hope there will be new Senran Kagura games and new things you might not expect from our team in the past.
Could you tell us about your new studio you opened up recently and how is the progress going with that?
The new studio is called Honey Parade Games. It is much of the same staff members from before the studio existed, people who were working with me at Marvelous. Now that we have our own studio, we feel we have a bit more direct ownership over the games we are working on. It has given us a boost to morale and people are working really hard on something they feel will be unique and really give the studio it’s voice.
I noticed on your company logo features seven characters that represent your seven works. Is there any significance to that?
Among the seven characters, the one that is in the middle, the girl who looks a little glamourous, she represents the Senran Kagura series. The other six characters are all for games that have yet to be made. They are all ideas and at this point, it might be a year or five years or even ten years before you even see the game they actually represent. These are like the seeds of ideas, sort of a little premonition of things to come.
Is there any different genre you would like to explore?
I had my first child not too long ago, a daughter, so that has inspired me to think about making something unlike Senran Kagura, more like an all ages title, something for kids to enjoy. Something my own kids could enjoy. I also like sports games and racing games, so the different things that I like I would like try to give a shot to those genres as well some time.
The anime Keijo is kind of similar in tone to Peach Beach Splash. Would you be open to doing a collaboration to make a Keijo game?
Sorry, I am unfamiliar with that title, but if it’s something that is similar to Senran Kagura, I would be interested to know more about it.
Can you tell us about what your DLC plans are for the American audience? I noticed your game has a card mechanic, collectable cards with different stats. Is there going to be any different DLC characters, maybe card packs or something?
Yes, there are definitely DLC plans. In fact, the game is already out in Japan, and there has already been some DLC releases in Japan. Yes, there will be new characters. We have tie-in characters again with Dead or Alive, Ikki Tousen and we have Super Sonico this time around, she’s brand new. This DLC is all planned to come out in the west as well.
Lastly, do you have a message you can give, sort of a fan message for your American audience?
I think there are a lot of people who have heard of Senran Kagura but never played it. Or maybe they were interested in it, but they weren’t really into the kind of gameplay that it had before. I am hoping with Peach Beach Splash there will be an opportunity for people who haven’t experienced the series so far to jump in and try it out and see if they like it or not. I believe that they might be surprised, and I really want as many people as possible to play my games.
What is more important, life or hometown?
[Laughs] You gotta have them both. You can’t choose between one or the other. (For context, read this Gematsu article)
Watch Takaki demo the game below.