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[Interview] Inti Creates on Luminous Avenger IX, working with Switch, future plans, and more

Posted on September 8, 2019 by (@NE_Brian) in Interviews, Switch

Inti Creates has a lot going on these days. Between Gunvolt, Blaster Master Zero, and Dragon Marked for Death, in a way there’s something for everyone.

When we had a chance to speak with Inti Creates president Takuya Aizu at E3 2019, we asked about almost everything the company has been working on as of late. That includes Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger IX (and what they’ve been able to do on Switch that wasn’t possible on 3DS), what to expect from future Dragon Marked for Death updates, whether we could see another Sunsoft revival like Blaster Master, and more.

Here’s our full discussion:

Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX was announced at last year’s BitSummit, and we were so excited when it finally resurfaced a few weeks ago. Now, it’s been awhile since we last heard about the game, so could you tell us what’s been happening behind the scenes since the initial reveal?

From the time we announced it at BitSummit 2018 to BitSummit 2019, the game basically progressed about 90%. Because when we announced it back at BitSummit 2018, the game was basically 5% done. It was basically a, “Hey, we’re doing this project, and we’re pretty much still basically at the starting line.” And now what we showed you at BitSummit a couple of weeks ago was the game pretty much at the precipice of completion – at about 95%. So you can say we’ve been taking the game from that 5 to 95 over the past year.

Speaking in a broader sense, how long has the game been in development?

Before we made the “hey, this is now in development” announcement last year, of course we have to plan the game, decide what kind of game we’re going to make – all of the planning stages. So that took about half a year, and then you have the year between the announcement so that’s 18 months, and we’ve got about two more months until full completion. All together you’re looking at about 20 months or a year and 8 months of development time.

After two games with Gunvolt as the main character, the series is now featuring Copen. What was the inspiration for creating a game starring this character?

If you look at Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 and 2, Gunvolt – he’s obviously the main protagonist in those two. Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 is just Gunvolt. The whole story is centered around Gunvolt, you play as Gunvolt. And Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, the game branches off after you play for a little bit and you can complete the story as either Gunvolt or Copen. The amount of content in Gunvolt 2 is about one and a half times the amount of content in Gunvolt 1, but you figure, “Okay, well GV then had about 1.75 games worth of content when Copen had just 0.75 games worth of content that you could as you could play as him as.” So we wanted to give Copen more time in the limelight to bring more balance to the amount of story you can enjoy between him and Gunvolt, so we decided that we want him to be the star of his own show, and in order to do that we have a spinoff title featuring him as the main character.

So let’s get into details a little here. What would you highlight as the main differences and new features of Gunvolt Chronicles compared to the Azure Striker titles?

I guess the first thing would be the biggest difference, which would be the fact that Copen has a whole new entire set of weapons that he can acquire from weapons that you can use in this game. His main ability is the main way in which you play with him – the Bullit Dash, the way he locks onto enemies, all that kind of stuff – is pretty much the same as it is in Gunvolt 2, but he has the EX Weapon system which allows him – kind of like you see in games in Mega Man – to copy weapons that he gets from boss enemies and us them as his own. So I would say the biggest difference here is that he has a whole new arsenal of EX Weapons at his disposal compared to Gunvolt 2.

With regards to the platform that Gunvolt Chronicles is being developed on, has a console like the Switch (with more power) allowed the development team to do anything that wasn’t possible with the 3DS?

I think some of the biggest things working on the Switch compared to the 3DS is you can have more things going on on the screen, so we were able to add more enemies on screen, more bullets on the screen. You incorporate different gameplay mechanics – especially different special effects, like if you notice the cut-in images that are very famous in the Gunvolt series, those look so much nicer on the Switch as opposed to the 3DS.

The other thing is since we’re working and developing from in the beginning in full HD, we’re able to do a lot more with the UI as well, and we can make the fonts a lot nicer and cleaner. You can use smaller fonts and things like that – kind of like a more polished, more grown-up looking UI as opposed to what we had in the 3DS version. Things like that.

Gunvolt Chronicles was initially announced as a Switch game, but now it seems that it’ll be coming to multiple platforms at launch. Could you talk a bit about what has lead Inti Creates to pursue this path? Is it just about reaching a broader audience? Or is it something sales-related with previous titles?

I think one of the biggest things was the release of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, which we released last year. When we had first announced Luminous Avenger IX, we didn’t necessarily announce it as a Switch exclusive, but more so all we had at the time was a Nintendo Switch version. And then the biggest change that happened after that was with the release of Curse of the Moon, we had major updates to our engine – our in-house engine we use to develop most of our titles. Because Curse of the Moon as you may know is running on pretty much every platform out there right now. So with the big changes to our engine, it allowed us to create multiplatform releases and for our games a lot easier than previously possible. At the end of the day, we’re not a giant developer – we still work in small teams and things like that. Up until changing our engine and allowing it to create other versions a lot more easily, that was one of our biggest bottlenecks that could create months and months and months of additional development time, so having that big change after Curse of the Moon to our engine was one of the biggest reasons why we were able to do this multiplatform.

Stuff like previous sales of the series doesn’t really affect this decision, but since it is a spinoff title – in itself kind of creating a new series so to speak – since it’s the very beginning of a series, we thought we have the capabilities to do so a lot easier now, so let’s put this game out so that fans of these games on PS4, on Steam can experience this series from the beginning.

We didn’t officially announce it as a Switch exclusive, but I don’t know if we maybe said that in an interview. I apologize if we created any confusion. But yeah, it was never officially a Switch exclusive. So apologies if we caused any confusion if we accidentally said that somewhere.

And tangentially related to that, a lot of Nintendo fans are curious to know: does Inti Creates plan to continue its support on Nintendo Switch moving forward?

We have every intention of putting pretty much every single one of our titles on the Nintendo Switch. Whether it will be available on other platforms or not is kind of like on a game-by-game basis. But don’t expect us to pull our support for the Nintendo Switch anytime soon.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact enough you really don’t have to worry about our support for Nintendo Switch disappearing. You’ve gotta remember, Inti Creates is basically a company that built its legacy from the get-go on Nintendo platforms, and we have pretty much all of the staff at Inti Creates loves Nintendo games, loves Nintendo platforms, so when we basically create a new game, the first system we always imagine it on is a Nintendo system, so you can pretty much expect this to keep kind of continuing our trend of creating games on a Nintendo platform and then where appropriate and where possible, porting them to other systems from there.

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