Level-5, Koei Tecmo talk Yo-kai Sangokushi – origins, making the strategy gameplay approachable, more
This month, Yo-kai Sangokushi launched in Japan. Famitsu caught up with two of the most important people that made the collaboration title possible: Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino and Koei Tecmo CEO Kou Shibusawa. The interview contains talk of how Yo-kai Sangokushi came to be, trying to make the game appealing to kids, the partnership between the two companies, and more.
We now have a lengthy abridged translation of Famitsu’s interview. Continue on below to read it in full.
The collaboration is made because of Whisper Kongming!? The meeting of two games
Famitsu: Yo-kai Sangokushi, which is a collaboration between Yo-kai Watch and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, is finally going to be released soon. First of all, please tell us about the chance meeting that made the planning possible.
Shibusawa: Yo-kai Sangokushi was first revealed at last year’s Level-5 Vision 2015, but the planning itself began the year before (2014) when I directly told Mr. Hino, “Let’s make Yo-kai Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. We have talked from long before to “make something together someday”.
Hino: That’s right. Thankfully Mr. Shibusawa has always cared for me ever since I entered the games industry, so it’s an honor that I could get a discussion in that way.
Shibusawa: When I met Mr. Hino and talked about games, his eyes were particularly shining, so it was just fun to have a talk with him. Those are the eyes of someone who likes games, and I like such people (laughs). Other than that, Mr. Hino made Yo-kai Watch, which among the cross-media IP originating from a game, is currently the greatest hit in history of gaming. I’m really interested in Mr. Hino’s strategy in making that succeed.
Hino: Thank you. I feel like I’m already very satisfied with that talk… so can we end this interview already?
Shibusawa: Eh, is it over already? (laughs)
Famitsu: Please wait (laughs). This dream interview will end up becoming a very short piece.
Hino: That’s right (laughs). But I’m really glad that I was not only valued by Mr. Shibusawa who really likes games, but also get to collaborate with him. Both the words of “Yo-kai” and “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” are going to produce something interesting.
There have been many IPs that want to collaborate with Yo-kai Watch, but the discussions always ended with the thought as to whether it would be actually interesting to tie [those IPs] up with yo-kai from Yo-kai Watch, because most of them failed to produce an image that would be enjoyable. But for this collaboration, when we were thinking of mixing Yo-kai Watch with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the fantasy began to expand when we thought that “Whisper is Zhuge Liang Kongming”. So that’s where I thought I really wanted to have a collaboration between Yo-kai Watch and Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
The birth of yo-kai generals, full of fixations
Famitsu: So Whisper Kongming was the first image. Speaking of which, how did you decide on pairing yo-kai with generals, like “Whisper” with “Zhuge Liang Kongming”?
Shibusawa: We talked a lot in determining those pairings. We gathered members of our company (Koei Tecmo) who made Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, held a “yo-kai generals meeting”, and scrutinized on which general would fit which yo-kai.
Famitsu: A yo-kai generals meeting, is it?
Shibusawa: Yes, we thought a lot about the characteristics from both the generals and yo-kai. For example, Komasan and Komajiro need the bonds of brothers just like in Yo-kai Watch.
Hino: That’s precisely why yo-kai generals’ pairings need to totally make sense. Like Fuyunyan Cao Cao totally fits with Cao Cao’s image.
Famitsu: So you considered even the setting, too.
Hino: It really matches so much, that I feel like I really want to make a Yo-kai Romance of the Three Kingdoms anime (laughs). It’s not a story of yo-kai wearing attire of Romance of the Three Kingdoms generals, but yo-kai performing as those generals. As a historical anime to be watched by children, the concept is Romance of the Three Kingdoms as it is, but for some reason they look like yo-kai, which I think could be interesting and easy to watch.
Shibusawa: Yo-kai are usually periodical, but to intentionally have them perform seriously could be interesting. I’d like to watch that anime (laughs).
Famitsu: If the anime is realized, children could become Romance of the Three Kingdoms fans. Speaking about that series, it’s a work that features many famous generals, but which ones are your favorites?
Hino: I wonder about Mr. Shibusawa’s favorite general, but for me it’s Cao Cao. In the Chinese TV drama, Cao Cao is the main character, but right from the first episode, he already massacred a lot of his friends. When he was going to do the righteous thing, he had to even strike through his own belief and dirty his own hands, which in itself is an aesthetic. Since I made a lot of stories about justice, I somewhat admire him. While I think “I can’t do bad things like Cao Cao did”, I yearn for the manliness to “do it” in order to reach my own objective. So Mr. Shibusawa, who’s your favorite general?
Shibusawa: My favorite general is now Whisper Kongming. (everyone laughs)
Ah but of course I really like Romance of the Three Kingdom’s Kongming too (laughs). But this time Whisper Kongming has really been made into the best character, so if someone likes Romance of the Three Kingdoms, they’ll definitely like him too.
Hino: Thank you. Whisper must feel the most honored to be liked that much by that Mr. Shibusawa (laughs).
Famitsu: So there is a lot of staff in Koei Tecmo’s development team which has developed Romance of the Three Kingdoms games for a long time. Are they also well-informed about Yo-kai Watch?
Shibusawa: We gathered staff in our company who like Yo-kai Watch and made a team from it.
Hino: I understand that well by looking at the situation during development.
Shibusawa: After all in a collaboration title, you need to show respect to the original work. If it is made by staff who really like Yo-kai Watch, with feelings like affection and dreams, I think that will definitely go through the fans too. That’s the most important thing in forming a development team for a collaboration title.
Hino: So the most important thing is that “you like it” indeed. We also would like to thank them. Yo-kai Sangokushi is indeed full of parts that can only be created by people who really like [Yo-kai Watch].