Although it's been available for a while in Japan, and we got to take a look at it on import back in March, Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light isn't yet ready to make the trip to North America or Europe.
There are still only a handful of role-playing games on the PlayStation Portable, and arguably no world-beaters in that genre for the handheld console, so Ignition Entertainment will be hoping that this game could fill the gap.
GameSpot got some time with two of the people behind the game's development, Hiroyuki Kotani, producer, SCE WWS Japan Studio, and Bob Timbello, development director, Hit Maker Co., Ltd.
GameSpot UK: Give us some of the background behind the game's story, and where it came from.
Hiroyuki Kotani & Bob Timbello: It may be unexpected, but actually the ideas of the story came from the movie Star Wars by George Lucas. I personally respect him. The most powerful enemy (in black) first appeared at the beginning of the story and there is a princess to protect. The plot itself is simple and predictable but still attractive by the way it is told. I learnt that kind of storytelling from Star Wars. I've heard that the frame of the story was taken from classics such as Greek tragedies. We have tried to develop a standard and fascinating story rather than an eccentric one.
GSUK: How do you go about putting an RPG story together?
HK & BT: First we find out how we can motivate players. To move their emotion to the ending we'd like to lead to, we work out all sorts of events and other features to grow player's attachment to the characters.
GSUK: There aren't many RPGs for the PSP yet--are you confident you can become a genre leader?
HK & BT: Well, there have been a lot of ported titles to the PSP but I don't see any title that makes good use of the PSP's 3D expression performance and Wi-Fi capability so I might say that Blade Dancer can be a milestone in 3D quality and Wi-Fi oriented playstyle. However, I don't think this title is the culmination. I think the genre, RPG for the PSP, will be changing as the hardware and people's lifestyles change.
GSUK: Tell us about the collaboration between Hit Maker and SCEI. Who did what on the game's development?
HK & BT: SCE developed the conceptual ideas. Hit Maker took care of all the other things in the actual development.
GSUK: Tell us a bit about the artwork in the game--what are the influences for it?
HK & BT: Eastern Eurasian architecture and topography formed the basis for the Blade Dancer world, wherein East blends with West to form a mixture of distinct cultural styles. As for the general tone of the background graphics, we had decided early on to maintain a certain degree of realism without clashing with the anime-style depiction of the characters appearing in the game. For the graphics team, the challenge was finding the line between realism and fantasy to form a world that was larger-than-life.
GSUK: Has the PSP allowed you to explore any features not found in traditional roleplaying games?
HK & BT: It's multiplayer party battle by Ad Hoc. When we developed the system, we had an idea of co-operative play and we have found out that what are pure malicious attitudes in web-based network games can be turned into some kind of fun or spices in face-to-face network play. It was a lovely finding.
GSUK: Will any content be added for the localized versions of the game?
HK & BT: We'll release the localized version for five languages; this is exceptional for a RPG title that has a lot in the script. There are some improvements to smooth the game process that are additional to the localized version.
GSUK: Are there any plans for expanding multiplayer mode?
HK & BT: Unfortunately, not at this point. However, I believe it is essential to expand multiplayer mode in game development for the PSP.
GSUK: What are the limitations of developing an RPG for the PSP, compared to, say, PC or next-gen platforms?
HK & BT: Creators of consumer games always have struggled with the limitations of the hardware. That is how we get new ideas and devices from this limited situation. I believe that the real limitations in developing an RPG for the PSP are not in the hardware but in the need of consumers. PSP is a portable gaming device and therefore is closely related to a player's lifestyle. So, the need for the PSP will be completely different from those for PC or next-generation platform.
GSUK: Can we expect to see more from the franchise after this release?
HK & BT: If players want, we'd love to do so.
GSUK: Thanks for your time.