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[Interview] Fairy Tail producer on creator’s involvement, battle system, story, more

Posted on October 20, 2019 by (@Oni_Dino) in Interviews, Switch

Koei Tecmo and Gust surprised fans last month when they announced that a brand new RPG is in development based on the Fairy Tail manga / anime. Following the reveal, Nintendo Everything was able to speak with producer Keisuke Kikuchi.

During our chat, Kikuchi discussed a few aspects of the game, including the battle system and story. He also talked about the involvement from Fairy Tail creator Hiro Mashima. Oh, and we asked about Fatal Frame, because we absolutely had to.

Here’s our full discussion:

How long has the project been in the works?

Our first contact with Mashima-san, the author, was more than two years ago. The project began roughly a year ago – maybe a little longer.

How big is the party you can take in the field?

I guess there are two layers. First, up to five people can join the battle, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot switch members. You can recruit more than ten playable characters down the road. Those characters aren’t limited to Fairy Tail members – they could be from other guilds as well. You can make some very unlikely combinations and even create an all-girl team.

In 2016, Gust held a survey that asked fans about the anime they would want to see the studio collaborate with. Given that Fairy Tail was the winner, did that lead directly to the creation this game?

I personally don’t recall this event exactly, but I’m very pleased to hear that because we did start contacting the IP holder Kodansha and Mashima-san quite early. Fairy Tail is such a wildly popular IP both in Japan and abroad. (Laughs) I’m very happy to hear you ask about something from so long ago.

Author Hiro Mashima is said to be supervising this title. How closely is he involved? Do you have regular meetings where Mashima is providing feedback?

First of all, Mashima-san is such an avid gamer, which caught us by surprise. We found out he played quite a number of Atelier titles, as well. When we meet with him and present the builds of the game, not only does he provide graphical advice on 3D modeling and some of the looks and effects, he also provides a lot of creative advice from the consumer’s point of view. We’re really happy that he gives us such assertive advice because he really loves RPGs. One important message that we received from him is, yes, there are some aspects we cannot tamper with in order to maintain consistencies with the IP, but it’s very important to him that we create an exciting game rather than follow the IP beat by beat – he was very clear in requesting that. He always gives us creative ideas to work with, and sometimes he does suggest things that might not be the most convenient for us, but just his passion for gaming is very inspiring.

Can you discuss how you’re handling the battle system?

Enemies will have different formations on the battle grid, and each magic attack will have a different area of effect. For example, a magic attack might cover 2 vertical columns or 1 horizontal row on the grid. In addition to that, there’s the strength of the magic to consider, plus elemental damage factored in, such as fire, ice and such. The player will have to consider what magic to use on which enemies and how much area it will cover – what’s best for the situation at hand? That’s the basics.

On a more advanced level, the player will unlock more powerful magic to use during battle by leveling their guild and their affinity with characters, too. There’s combination magic attacks, magic called Unison Raids, magic that’s circumstantial to the battle situation – there’s even the Urano Metria magic that fans will recognize from the IP. So with all of that in mind, the player will have to choose their party, how they want to level their characters, how to facilitate combo magic attacks, and just figure out how to put everything together the best way to contend with the situation. That’s what’s so exciting about this battle system.

Is there anything you can share about how you’re approaching the story?

The game starts midway in the original canon. Basically it starts with the Grand Magic Games, which is quite popular among fans. The game story doesn’t cover the entirety of the IP partially because I’d like to make it successful and potentially create a sequel. Details will be announced in October, maybe November at the latest, so you’ll be able to find out more. There will also be some original stories created by Koei Tecmo focusing on each character, so I think fans can really look forward to that.

As someone who has had a big role with the series, we have to ask: are you interested in developing a new Fatal Frame game? Do you have any ideas as to how you’d make a new entry that takes advantage of Switch?

Yeah, I do want to make a Fatal Frame on Switch. I think it’d be a ton of fun to play with the console in handheld mode and moving all around. I have also worked on the horror video game series, Deception, where the player uses traps and such – so as always, I have a lot of ideas that I’m coming up with. But for now, we at Gust are focusing on RPGs like with Fairy Tail. But a lot of people often ask us about Fatal Frame, so we’re very happy to hear that. We announced a while back that there’s going to be a [Hollywood] movie, right? I’d like to make a game to coincide with that release.

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