GAIJINWORKS are bringing the fifth title in the Summon Night series to the PSP and it will also be Vita compatible. We spoke to the studio’s boss Victor Ireland to find out more.
Hi Victor! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about GAIJINWORKS?
I started GAIJINWORKS to continue the work I started at Working Designs, localizing Japanese video games, mostly in the RPG genre. We have some of the same key staff as the old Working Designs, and as we grow, I’d like to hire back more if they want to come.
You are working on the localization of Summon Night 5. For those that don’t know, what is the game about?
The game is about peacekeepers in a strange world that is kind of like a crossroads of other alien worlds. Each of the known “Otherworlds” has a specific kind of inhabitant, like machine men, spirits, beasts, etc, and they all mix in Lyndbaum where the Eucross and its “Summoners” keep the peace.
Being that this is the 5th mainline game in the series and there have been a fair number of gaidens, too, the game world has a well-developed and deep mythology. Fortunately the way it’s been crafted gives a wink to players who know the series mythology, and still holds the hand a little of players completely unaware of what’s come before, so both types of players can enjoy it.
You pick one of two main characters to play, one male, one female, and then choose one of four partners. What combination you choose will dictate, to an extent, what dialogue you see and how it reads.
What sort of gameplay can gamers experience within Summon Night 5? How long will it take the average gamer to complete?
Summon Night 5 is a strategy-RPG at its core. The battles are fought on a grid and it has the familiar base of a strat-RPG with some extra twists added, like the Summon Assist, where you can pick a close ally to help you complete a summon, or special summons that let you “tap out” a player and drop in a fresh one if the battle is wearing your team down.
You also get “Brave Points” for completing stated objectives on each battle or for finishing off an enemy, etc. Those brave points can be used to upgrade your players after the battle.
There are two kinds of battles, event battles and mission battles. The event battles are encountered during the game’s story. The missions are kind of like the bounty board in Arc the Lad 2, where you can accept side missions and by finishing those you can get rare items in addition to extra experience and other perks. And there are a lot of side missions – dozens and dozens of them, if you want to see everything in the game it will take a lot of time to clear them all.
In addition to the battles, though, there’s a lot of story mixed with almost a dating sim where you cultivate affinity with different characters via “Night Conversations” at the end of each day. The relationships you build using these during the game will dictate which of the many endings you’ll get.
Length of the game is hard to say. You can get through the game with one of two main characters paired with one of four crosses (partners), and if you blow through just event battles and few or no side missions you can complete it in maybe 25 or 30 hours? But if you want all the missions it’s well over 40 hours. And then if you want to see all the character and cross dialogue in the game, it’s probably well over 100 hours. There’s a LOT of dialogue to experience, too. When we did the line count when evaluating the game initially, it was over 40,000 lines – like 4 average novels worth of text!
As Summon Night 5 was a PSP title in Japan, you are working on the title for the PSP in the west, but it will be Vita compatible. Were you not tempted to redevelop it as a native Vita title?
Not really. It would take too much time, and cost a fair amount to further customize it for an already small market. The way we’re doing it, we are getting whatever PSP players are left PLUS the Vita players through the PSP emulation of the Vita. The quality and production value of Summon Night 5 is something that very, very few Vita games have, even now, and we’re trying to let RPG fans enjoy games like this in English while it’s still possible to rescue them.
You were looking at plans for a physical release of the game, are you still looking at releasing it at retail?
There will be very limited release through distributors, but other than that, the way to get it is to order directly from gaijinworks.com when the presale opens shortly. The games ordered directly from us will be physical+digital packages that will include the physical game and its pack-ins PLUS a digital code so collectors and Vita owners can download it from PSN for free. Essentially a 2 for 1 deal.
What made you want to work on Summon Night 5?
I like strategy RPGs, I like Summon Night as a series, and I like Bandai Namco games. It was a natural “want” for me. I’m still pinching myself that we were able to get the license and be the ones that get to introduce the first mainline Summon Night game to English speaking players! I think they’ll dig it.
What are your thoughts on handheld gaming, and the performance of the Vita? Do you think that Summon Night 5 will perform well given that it is essentially for the Vita’s predecessor?
Well, the graphics are clearly a little less than Vita native standard, but the game itself has such high production values for a PSP game, that you really stop focusing on that and just lose yourself in the game pretty quickly. I don’t expect players to have any performance issues with the emulation.
You recently released Class of Heroes 2G on the PS3, can you tell us anything about the Vita functionality for that game?
We took a long time to add a special feature to that game where PSP or PS Vita players could use their handheld as a controller for the PS3 game, and if they do that, the game will display extra information relevant to what’s happening in the PS3 game on the PSP/Vita’s screen. Stuff like monster stats, maps, etc. It’s a very cool extension of the game that makes the PlayStation 3 function kind of like a Wii U, but with a much more comfortable controller screen. I want to try to add this feature to all the PS3 and Ps4 RPGs we will do, and since we’re learning as we go, we’d love to hear what kinds of extra information your readers would like to see on that second screen. Come by our forums at gaijinworks.com and let us know!
Do you have any plans for Vita titles in the future?
We are interested in, working on, talking about, or negotiating for a number of titles for PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. I would like to get a few PS Vita games out, but it will depend on what’s available to license that “clicks” with my sensibilities.
We would like to thank Victor for taking the time to talk to us. Are you looking forward to Summon Night 5? Are you planning on picking up the physical PSP version? Let us know in the comments!
This interview first appeared in the fifth issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Stay tuned to more exclusive and new content in the magazine soon!