GameSpot at Sega--Reader Questions Answered!

We talk to Sega developers in Japan and answer some of your reader questions from last week.

GameSpot is back from Japan where we checked out some of Sega's big releases for 2010, as well as talked to some of the developers behind games like Yakuza 3, Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll, Valkyria Chronicles 2, and Resonance of Fate. We've already given you a sneak peek at Sega HQ in Tokyo, but this time around, we thought we'd answer some of the more pressing questions readers had in response to our first post.

Yakuza 3.

The list of questions below is organised by game name. The answers have been provided by managing director of Sega Australia, Darren Macbeth, for questions relating to Yakuza 3, Shenmue, and Project Needlemouse; Yasuihito Baba for questions relating to Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll; Takeshi Ozawa and Shinji Motoyama for questions relating to Valkyria Chronicles 2; and Takayaki Suguro and Mitsuhiro Shimano for questions relating to Resonance of Fate.

Yakuza 3

GameSpot readers: Why does it take so long to bring Yakuza games to the West?
Darren Macbeth: We need to be comfortable that there is a strong enough market in the West to warrant local releases. Feedback from our fans online has suggested that there are more than a few gamers out there that are looking forward to a local Yakuza 3 release. We are listening to this feedback.

GS readers: Do the sales of previous Yakuza games in the West make any impact on your decision to release new Yakuza games in this market?
DM: Yes and no. Past sales are always a strong indicator of how a franchise is likely to perform. However, it is also important to invest in a franchise for the future.

GS readers: What other factors affect your decision to bring big Japanese titles like Yakuza to the West?
DM: Releasing Japanese titles in the West is a tricky beast. In a lot of cases, we have a very strong vocal group of fans who demand the opportunity to play these games in their local markets and are very outspoken in their support. However, when the time comes, they are reluctant to stay committed and actually make the purchase. For this reason, although taking consumer feedback into consideration is important, we really need to analyse the market and competitive landscape to determine for ourselves if localization of Japanese games is indeed warranted.

GS readers: Why did you decide to use English subtitles in Yakuza 3 rather than voice-over?
DM: These decisions are made on a case-by-case bases. In this circumstance, we simply felt it would be cooler to have a more authentic experience by retaining the Japanese language.

GS readers: Do you think Yakuza 3 will sell better than its predecessors in the West?
DM: There seems to be a bigger market for this sort of title now, so we do expect a positive result.

GS readers: Will Yakuza Kenzan ever be released in the West? What are the reasons for its delay? Can you reveal if there are any intentions to one day release it?
DM: There is nothing in the plan at this stage for Yakuza Kenzan.

GS readers: Will it also take up to a year to release Yakuza 4 in the West? Or will you be able to speed up the process?
DM: Right now, we are focusing on the release of Yakuza 3. The feedback we get from this release will help us in making future decisions.

GS readers: What advice do you have for Yakuza fans who are angered by the long delay between Japanese release dates and Western release dates?
DM: Please understand that we are doing everything we can to expedite the release of Yakuza 3.

Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll.

Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll

GameSpot readers: Will Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll support any online features?
Yasuhito Baba: No. However, looking forward, we’d like to consider online functionality with the next Super Monkey Ball title, but we haven’t decided if we will. We still don’t know what platform the next game will be on or when it will be released. However, we feel online functionality would mean people can enjoy playing the game for a longer period of time. And that’s something we want to do.

GS readers: How did the idea for using the balance board come about?
YB: Super Monkey Ball has always been a very simple game with very simple gameplay. We didn’t want to change this. We just wanted to come up with a new experience. The Wii Balance Board has been around for a long time, and we wanted to take advantage of it. The simple game mechanics of Super Monkey Ball made this a possibility, and we hope fans of the game enjoy it more with this new addition.

Valkyria Chronicles 2

GameSpot readers: What problems did you face switching from the PlayStation 3 to the PSP?
Takeshi Ozawa: We wanted to bring the game out as soon as possible and focus more on multiplayer and co-operative play, so that’s why we chose the PSP as a platform. However, it was really hard to port the battle system over. In the end, we think we brought the same experience to the PSP after a lot of work. We’ve also included a few new features and maps, which we hope players will be pleased with.

GS readers: What multiplayer options will you be offering?
TO: The PSP has both ad-hoc mode and wireless play, so it was a perfect platform for multiplayer. We'll be offering versus and co-operative play. Players will be able to choose from many customized units based on the existing classes, as well as different maps with new objectives. There is also a co-op mode that will allow players to work and attack together.

Resonance of Fate

Resonance of Fate

GameSpot readers: Will the battle system be turn-based or real time?
Takayaki Suguro: Both. We know that Western gamers don’t really like the slow nature of the command and turn-based battle systems, so we tried to create something different with the incorporation of real-time elements. We wanted to make a hybrid between a role-playing game and an action game.

GS readers: What reasons stand behind the decision to use guns rather than more traditional RPG weapons?
TS: We wanted to step away from traditional RPGs and go with something that will make sense given the game’s gritty context and setting in a world ruled by machines. Traditional swords and magic in RPGs is becoming very banal. We wanted something different with acrobatic actions and camera angles.

Shenmue

GameSpot readers: There's been a lot of community response regarding Shenmue. Does Sega ever intend to finish the series? If so, when? And if not, why not?
Darren Macbeth: We have read all the comments and posts on Shenmue. We wish we had an answer for you all, but at this stage, there are no plans to revisit the franchise.

GS readers: Is the big fan base and heavy community interest in Shenmue enough to inspire Sega to make another game? Or does that decision rely on other factors such as budget, and so on?
DM: Game development is a large investment with a complex process behind it that needs to span across many years. Before any game can get a green light, there are many levels of research and study that need to go into ensuring that it is the correct path to take. As important as interest from the fan base is, this is by no means the only indication factor that needs to be considered.

Project Needlemouse

GameSpot readers: Can you give us more details about Project Needlemouse?
Darren Macbeth: More information on this project will be revealed in the new year.

Stay tuned to GameSpot's Sega feature on December 28 where we'll be giving you exclusive previews on all these games and video interviews with the developers behind them.

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Discussion

105 comments
MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Also, here's some more research for you Sega: Shenmue 1 has an average user review score of 9.1, and the sequel for the DC has a score of 9.5. Ryo Hazuki DLC is the the highest rated AND most downloaded out of all of your Allstars racing DLC packs. Guess what's second highest rated? Ryo's Jacket for the avatars. His freaking jacket! Shenmue 1 is described as the greatest game of all time more frequently than almost any other game ever made (with the exception of Zelda OOT, FF7, and maybe one or two Bioware games). It doesn't take a genius! If you're not going to make it, find somebody who will!

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

"Before any game can get a green light, there are many levels of research and study that need to go into ensuring that it is the correct path to take." Umm, here, I'll help you "research" the demand for Shenmue 3. Look on any gaming forum, look at the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, look at any top list of most wanted sequels, look at the thousands of youtube fan videos, and then talk to some of the fans who havn't stopped believing in this sequel for freaking years. Here's a guess what you'll find: the game will sell well, especially if you release it packed in with the first and second games. Any gaming company that refuses to look at such a sheer quantity of demand for a sequel needs to pull their head out of their butts and start taking a few more chances.

Scarworf
Scarworf

Totally agree with you there, steveguttenberg. Just shattered dreams!

Megamanx266
Megamanx266

All I care about from Sega at this point is Project Needlemouse

wogboypaul
wogboypaul

i so want to play the yakuza games... they look AWESOME. shame australia doesnt sell it here.. idiots

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

So I guess it's time to give up hope on Shenmue 3, Shinobi 7, Golden Axe 4, and Streets of Rage 4? I mean, if demand from fans isn't all that important to them...

Peter_Desert
Peter_Desert

@alimn1984: hey, you tried the SEGA RACE TV at the SEGA Republic Dubai? where is that located in the park? I completely missed it when I was there last time =/ cool seing someone from dubai around here =)

cube-gage
cube-gage

Should they incorporate them into a Shenmue 3 trilogy pack? Should they develop it for the Wii, PS3 or 360? Release it multiplatform? Keep it up there sleeves for a rainy day or future SEGA console?. Then there is the complication added by Yu Suzukis Shenmue Online project that doesnt fit in to Segas plan for shenmue. Its very complicated really. My advice to SEGA is release the first 2 games on current gen systems online stores then build up loads of hype with stories and teasers for Shenmue 3 and go multiplatform with it. PS3 does seem as a logical choice for exclusivity as yakuza is doing well, but in the west 360 is king, especially popular with ex Dreamcast owners. So on both systems and a watered down version for wii would be fine.

cube-gage
cube-gage

Can I just say that Shenmue 3 will certainly happen at some point. Its obvious. S3 wouldnt cost anywhere near as much as the first 2 games, the yakuza engine is paid for, the story and musical score is mostly complete, the fan base is pretty big and nowadays even mainstream gamers know about the legendary shenmue. Can you imagine if Shenmue 3 was announced game sites and mags would be full of the news storys about it and would get everyone hyped, even people that hadnt heared of shenmue. The old excuse of shenmue costing allot to make and not going to sell is not applicable these days. Especially when SEGA is willing to take risks on new IPs like bayonetta and release yakuza in the west even though it had poor sales in previous releases. Shenmue 3 will come, I suspect Sega are just not sure what to do with it.Should they re release S1 and S2 on Wii, PSN, Xbox live? Should they redux those first two games?

bkohary
bkohary

How about asking Sega why they stuffed up the PS3 Bayonetta conversion.

QWERTYCommander
QWERTYCommander

I am almost sure they are gonna screw up Project Needlemouse in some way or another. Remember how they screwed up the 2.5D sections in Unleashed by making them slow and on-rails?

BatshtCrazy
BatshtCrazy

Shen Mue, Sword of the Berserk, blue stinger, crazy taxi, dead or alive, dynamite cop, fur fighters, power stone, nightmare creatures, house of the dead, spawn, evil dead no1 and LOADSSS more from the dreamcast. Those are the games i want to remember sega giving me. Not bloody monkey ball 16

BFKZ
BFKZ

Resonance Of Fate!!! I WANT!!!

alimn1984
alimn1984

Co mon GUYS! Yo know that Yakuza became sucessful cuz we the gamers of the earth(mostly Shenmue fans) had enough support on these kind of games mainly because we had a good exprience with Shenmue, you say there is enough support for Yakuza so u brining it to the west while you say for Shenmue we should think and plan 100 years! Co mon, that's old...I am a student in one of the fields of this industry,... I KNOW YOUR BUSSINES,... the first time you released Shenmue you made the decission after thinking for years so...now...there is nothing left to think about except what I am gonna to say... So, you just made the decission, started a series full of potential which introduced so many new ideas and ...to the world of video games and NOW it's still unfinished ...instead of hiding and playing with words please finish what you have started...you lost because of the HARDWARE war and This time the only thing you should think about is ...JUST RELEASE IT ON THE BEST CONSOLE WITH THE MORE USERS, that's enough... Because as long as you can do something like Yakuza 3 4 5 6 7..., you can do the same for Shenmue and for god's sake the team behinnd VF5 and... IS one of the world's best game development teams, (I mean AM2) beside...Yu is alive yet... and AM PLUS's recent title(SEGA RACE TV---which I tried at SEGA REPUBLIC at Dubai...The newly opened park was just really a nice exprience, still new ideas can be found) SO YOU KNOW The game is cool...The hardware wasn't right because of N! reasons...This time there are cool consoles and none of them are bad, however Wii's graphics for Shenmue as a game with high-end graphics is not suitable. To me PS3 is starting to doing well. (finally) and that new Xbox ideas are good, don't risk...go multiplatform as possible... more people will know and old gamers can finally have some peace. Regrads, Alimn

SharinganTH14
SharinganTH14

So they've ditched the likes of Shenmue and Virtua Fighter for the above titles that no-one will buy? Come on SEGA, you used to dominate the entire industry and now you're define by damn Super Monkey Ball??? Even if you go bankrupt making Shenmue 3, at least you'll go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

sco-fisticated
sco-fisticated

ikkante: SEGA released Sonic Rush, a multidimensional platformer in 2004. it was a hit. New Super Mario Bros. (DS) came out in 2006.

MVCFreak
MVCFreak

I want a New Virtual Fighter Game a new Daytona USA game!

marvin31
marvin31

I remember playing a fishing game on my Sega video game years ago and its the best fishing game I have ever played and I wish they would bring it again on either the Wii or the PS3, as I would definately buy ity.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Sales would go through the roof on an interactive story with fights sprinkled here and there, yeah... that'll sell real well in the US market. As much as I love Shenmue and hope that they release a third to finish the story, the sad reality is that it will -never- recoup the development costs. I actually had a dream where I owned the third game and then when I woke up I was pissed off that it wasn't real.

sirbargearse
sirbargearse

I remember when Darren was a rep working for Electronic Arts back when I was working at the Gamesmen. He was a young energetic guy who had much get up and go. Fast forward 15 years later and now he's a CEO. WOW! Amazing what can happen in 15 years!

MichaelRD777
MichaelRD777

The Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush games were awesome.If SEGA somehow f***s up with Project Needlemouse,then I'll have lost all respect for them

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

@ Musharasur - I wholeheartedly agree, but we can only support them IF those other games are any good... they can't expect us to buy trash in the hope that they'll eventually get to making the game we want. That said, Sega has some great looking titles in the coming 12 months, so I hope we're headed in the right direction. Before I die, on my list of things to do is "kick Lan Di's butt"... I really hope I can bring that true. Go Sega :)

Musharasur
Musharasur

My advice to those who want to see a Shenmue 3 is to support Yakuza 3 and future (good) Sega games. Resonance of Fate comes to mind. My advice to Sega (chances are they will never read this...) is to release Shenmue on Xbox Live and PSN in order to see the actual interest for Shenmue. At the end of the day Sega is just like any other smart business out there. They are in the business of making money.

zero_124
zero_124

i love resonance of fate

AnubisofSumeria
AnubisofSumeria

sega are stupid for not doing shenmue 3.. sales would go through the roof

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

Panzer Dragoon was one of my all time fav games back in the day. I would love a next gen remake, but only if it was an exclusive title for the PS3 system........... The 360 gets tones of Multiplatform games, and Sega needs to step up their support for the now 20 million PS3 owners world wide......... IMHO if they could get it to look just as good as Sonic's latest games while at the same time bring back the Free flight, and RPG elements from the older titles in the series I would be happy to buy it again it was so interesting, and had a great universe going.

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

The sooner Valkyria Chronicles 2 comes out for PSP, the sooner they can start thinking about porting it to PS3. so...PLEASE, SEGA

Sonicpower451
Sonicpower451

My new PS3 and I are already waiting for project needlemouse

thothgamer
thothgamer

What we want: A more day levels like in sonic unleashed wii and no were-hog or swords or genies! Why is that so difficult!

ruben5wat
ruben5wat

Shenmue III and a new SONIC Aventure!! (for Wii if possible)

demonkingx5
demonkingx5

Resonance of Fate was not that good it gets a 3 out of 5

NAWAF005
NAWAF005

please SEGA return the Chaos to sonic games pleeease !!!

ikkante
ikkante

Of course they´re developing a new 2dSonic, as always, Nintendo leads and the rest just follow the opened path. Nintendo has risked once again with a new "bidimensional" traditional Mario game, and then sega, aware that it will sell like hotcakes, is to launch a traditional sonic games.

left4right
left4right

my heart is pumping for the new 2d sonic, for all things holly dont screw it up sega.

Nakata1
Nakata1

I would appreciate more Phantasy Star games, even a 2D old school PS game on the DS would be awesome. Also please do something awesome with the Shining Force series.

Davo2700
Davo2700

Omg, YES!!! I've been waiting for news about Yakuza 3 in what would seem like an eternity.

Miicrox
Miicrox

Obligatory "I want Shenmue, bawwww" comment. Obligatory "I want Yakuza NOW, baww" comment.

szymon247
szymon247

With all the terrible games they've been releasing lately I just can't believe that he said that about Shenmue. It's their most valuable gem, seriously. I know it's not a simple game (like they're used to lately) and it's not going to be cheap, even though it wouldn't cost as much as first and second part since it doesn't have to be super-duper high quality graphics and they already have the story made but for Christ's sake, Sega! Shenmue is your biggest gem!

blaze_adeel
blaze_adeel

yakuza 3 was 1 of the reasons 4 a ps3 !!!

Harrishun
Harrishun

OBLIGATORY "I WANT MORE SHENMUE" POST.

beardrewz
beardrewz

I want a new Shenmue!!!!!!!!! please sega!!!! hell! bring back Panza Dragoon!!!!!!

BetardxFoosier
BetardxFoosier

Something about the next Condemned game would've been nice...

grothita
grothita

I'd like to know what's happened to my console port of House of the Dead 4.

dachase
dachase

The lack of info on the new sonic must mean they're considering adding some kind of cheap gimmicky gameplay element to "surprise" us with Sega needs to revisit and update some of their old franchises, an online Daytona would print Sega money...guess they dont like money? New Panzer Dragoon would be nice too....what happened Sega you used to be cool, you've changed man :P

Visa004
Visa004

end of eternity aka resonance of fate's demo is already out on psn japan for those who doesn't know yet.

aleiko
aleiko

Sonic Sucks =)...he did not "Sucked", but now?...he just sucks. I'm hurt