4Gamer: 2018 Retrospective and 2019 Aspirations Interview with 4 Atlus Developers

4Gamer has conducted their annual end-of-year games industry retrospective and aspirations interview for 2018 and 2019, this time with 195 Japanese game creators and celebrities.

Four Atlus developers are among the interviewees:

  1. Daisuke Kanada [Director & Producer]
  2. Katsura Hashino [Director & Producer]
  3. Kazuyuki Yamai [Producer]
  4. Kazuhisa Wada [Director & Producer]

Last year’s 4Gamer interview with seven Atlus developers can be read here.

Daisuke Kanada [Atlus Director and Producer]

Major Titles: Trauma Team, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth

Question 1: Among the games released in 2018, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

“Detroit: Become Human”

The story, the direction, and the gameplay were all very impressive. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next. It’s a story that makes you want to keep playing it, even while you’re in bed. It’s an effective and sophisticated production that makes it feel like you’re in a movie. It has a seamless arrangement of UI and game elements.

I enjoyed playing from the viewpoint of, “What would I do?” After finishing the game, not only did I have a sense of accomplishment, but the various messages resonated with me, and it left me deeply impressed. When that feeling subsided, I wanted to see other possibilities, so I did a second and third playthrough. Every time the story diverged and changed, it was surprising and gave it a fresh feeling that made repeat playthroughs exciting.

If you need to classify it by genre, you could think of it as an “action-adventure” game. Extending past the boundaries of a game, it felt like playing a movie. I felt that it was one of those fully realized creations.

Question 2: What did you find to be the most impressive piece of entertainment released in 2018?

The movie “One Cut of the Dead.” 

Personally, there’s no other movie that made me laugh so much in theaters. After watching it, I sought to discuss my impressions with others. Whenever I met someone who hadn’t seen it before, I had to hold back my thoughts and recommended it to them, “It’s absolutely funny, watch it as soon as you can.”

However, without the framework of movies and games, when you consider entertainment as a whole, I think there is not much work of such excellent quality. Especially if you’re a creator, I think it’s a work that gives you energy.

If you have not seen it yet, I sincerely recommend it, and “It’s absolutely funny, watch it as soon as you can.”

Question 3: In 2018, which person did you personally pay attention to?

The two people are Masaru Hamaguchi and Shinya Arino of “Yoiko.”

These two have been active in show business for a long time. I personally find them entertaining, especially hosting game shows. Shinya Arino has been active in “Game Center CX” for many years, and Masaru Hamaguchi has been active in “Game Center DX.”

Beginning with “Yoiko’s Minecraft Survival Life” starting in 2017, the games were played by these two as “Yoiko.” More than anything, the shows by this duo are just “fun.” And if you like what they’re playing, you can buy the game yourself. This is also a kind of presentation. A promotional skill?

I think the ability to present a game interestingly is important for planners, so, if possible, I would like to acquire this myself.

Question 4: What resolution do you have for 2019, and can you share a message for 4Gamer readers?

In 2018, we devoted ourselves every day to the creation of “Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth.” Thanks to the efforts of the staff and everyone’s support, it was successfully released on November 29th.

However, in 2019, it looks like our busy days will continue. I would like to create a game that won’t be beaten by the “surprising work” I answered previously, and I would like to deliver it to everyone.

We look forward to your continued support, from Atlus and the Persona team.

Katsura Hashino [Atlus Creative Producer and Game Director] (Studio Zero)

Major Titles: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (Game Design, Direction). Persona 3, Persona 4, Persona 5 (Scenario Draft, Game Design, Direction). Catherine (Scenario Draft, Game Design, Direction)

Question 1: Among the games released in 2018, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

“Ketsui Deathtiny: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi”

it’s a port of an arcade vertical shooter released about 15 years ago. Growing up with “Tiger Heli” or “Twin Cobra,” Cave’s “Deathtiny” is the ultimate form of helicopter shooting.

It was supposed to be released last year, but we had to wait for a year more to get it. The feeling of M2’s thoroughness is preserved. In recent years, it’s hard to find games that are such a labour of love, so I think those that are are valuable.

The level of difficulty is very high, but when I die in arcade mode… I want to clear it.

Question 2: What did you find to be the most impressive piece of entertainment released in 2018?

The light novel “Moon, Laika, and the Bloodsucking Princess” from scriptwriter Keisuke Makino, who worked with us on “Persona 5.” I was surprised that it was so popular that it would be adapted. I was surprised that it was so popular that it was adapted [into a manga]!

They’re known quantities, but “The Greatest Showman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Both of them have calculated musical composition. The news of these big hits has left a impression.

While this is not something I started doing in 2018, our RPG currently in development was also a reason to investigate the origins of music in entertainment. I wonder what we’ll do.

Question 3: In 2018, which person did you personally pay attention to?

Max VerstappenHe is a young 2018 F1 driver with Red Bull Racing. He has a wild disposition, and in one shot, he rose to the top of the team. As a viewer, it’s interesting to watch this character in this setting (as someone who has the habit of looking at real things as a setting).

Modern F1 is almost entirely computer controlled, with science bringing up-to-date technology and the most sophisticated mechanisms. So the separation between the flesh and blood putting their lives on the line and their grip of the steering wheel is non-existent.

So with Red Bull in 2019, with Verstappen and other young drivers, with Honda’s engine challenging to regain its past glory for the first time, I’m looking forward to how these top teams will clash against each other in this dramatic setup.

Question 4: What resolution do you have for 2019, and can you share a message for 4Gamer readers?

Aiming for an official announcement, I am producing an entirely new RPG which is neither “Megaten” nor “Persona” at the new studio. In any case, I believe it will be a work which hasn’t quite existed until now. What is the future of fantasy? We are progressing with everyone in the team, improving it day by day. Staying open-minded, I’m working straight ahead as to not lose my way, so I’d like to continue doing so in 2019.

As for Studio Zero, “Catherine: Full Body” will be released on February 14, 2019 ahead of the fantasy RPG. A more extreme drama with great additions to the story. From beginners to experienced players, I think that a wide range of people will be able to enjoy it. Please pick it up by all means.

Kazuyuki Yamai [“Shin Megami Tensei” Series Producer]

Major Titles: Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha series, Shin Megami Tensei IVShin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Question 1: Among the games released in 2018, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

“Golf Story”

It has nostalgic but new pixel art. It has excellent and pleasant background music that feels appropriate until the last moment. It’s a game with depth that you can lose yourself in until your realize it’s late at night. I also came to like the rumble of the cotnroller (playing the Nintendo Switch version).

I felt that it was a well-balanced masterpiece with an overall high level of fun by just being present in that game world.

Question 2: What did you find to be the most impressive piece of entertainment released in 2018?

“Anime Crimes Division” (YouTube)

As a child, I couldn’t wait to see the continuation of anime and sentai shows on a weekly basis, and that feeling came back. It uses an inexpensive looking way to make people laugh. “I started watching it seriously, but because of the nature of the subject material, I couldn’t help but end up laughing.”

Whether the message it conveys is true or false, I naturally sympathized with it.

Question 3: In 2018, which person did you personally pay attention to?

Sakura Ando. Shamefully, I noticed her beauty and cuteness on morning television.

Additionally, I liked the cool music unit DATS.

Question 4: What resolution do you have for 2019, and can you share a message for 4Gamer readers?

Shin Megami Tensei V” is currently in development. Since the game’s announcement, I’m very sorry to have made you anxious without any further reports. However, please be assured that development is definitely progressing steadily.

“V” will represent the first home console release since 14 years with the launch of “Shin Megemi Tensei III: Nocturne Maniax.” We have implemented the industry-leading Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), and we’re developing with a fighting spirit.

UE4 lives up to the needs of the creators, giving us the freedom and unparalleled efficiency to do what we want to. Coupled with the thorough attention to detail that defines Atlus’ creative process, I would like to have more time to finish it, and the development team is currently working its hardest.

Thanks to that, we have gone through the process of checking the performance of the game’s scenes many times, which has continued amazing the development team, so we have a real feeling of excitement on a daily basis.

Finally, 2019 is likely to be a year where we ask “various things” to everyone. To be honest, I am full of expectation and nervousness, but I hope the staff’s efforts so far will be greatly fruitful. I would be happy if you could wait for a follow-up report for just a little while longer.

Kazuhisa Wada [Atlus Creative Producer and Chief Director]

Major Titles: After Persona 3, served as design chief, director, and producer of the Persona series

Question 1: Among the games released in 2018, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

“Fortnite”

Since you can see gameplay from other players’ point of view, there are always new discoveries and surprises to be had, and the game never gets old. Sometimes I feel frustrated with the differences between advanced players and myself (laughs).

I feel that the tempo of matches is good and without stress, and I think it’s really amazing that the game can be played for free. I’m paying a lot of attention to Epic Games’ future developments, including platforms.

Question 2: What did you find to be the most impressive piece of entertainment released in 2018?

The movie “The Greatest Showman“.

It has great music, dancing, and singing. It’s entertainment where your soul is shaken by this alone. It’s a work where you can watch with empty thoughts without needing to think about xomplexities, while receiving courage and energy.

“This Is Me” is really cool! Musicals are great.

Question 3: In 2018, which person did you personally pay attention to?

Kenshi Yonezu. He’s a national artist who has gained tremendous momentum. He can also draw illustration and make movies. Of course, he both composes and sings his songs himself. We live in a wonderful time where there’s the potential for a monster like this to be born with just a PC. I think he is an ideal creator for this new generation.

Question 4: What resolution do you have for 2019, and can you share a message for 4Gamer readers?

For me, 2019 will be an important year where we finally put into motion the various preparations and environmental improvements we’ve been making for some time. The accomplishments here will affect the next five years.

Time is finite, and while considering my own limits, I would like to devote my full effort so that I will not leave behind any regrets.

There are a variety of things planned for Persona in 2019, including the live performances at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in April which were announced already. The team will be doing their best, so please cheer us on!

4Gamer