Eternal Sonata Director Q&A
Tri-Crescendo's Hiroya Hatsushiba talks to us about his inspirations and plans for Eternal Sonata.
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Currently scheduled for release in September in the US (and November in the UK), Eternal Sonata is a fantasy role-playing game set inside the head of Frederic Chopin. The game has impressed us more and more every time we've seen it. Intrigued by both its unique premise and some of its unique gameplay mechanics, we decided to fire off some questions to the game's director and Tri-Crescendo president, Hiroya Hatsushiba.
GameSpot: Eternal Sonata's premise is inventive to say the least. How did you come up with the idea of setting a game in Chopin's subconscious?
Hiroya Hatsushiba: People who play games and people who love classical music are not necessarily sharing [the] same type of interests. Most people in Japan know the name of Chopin; however, most of the people who know of Chopin think he is just some kind of a great music composer without knowing any more about him. Most of them have heard Chopin's music but not a lot could put his name to it immediately. By creating a colorful fantasy world in Chopin's dream, I was hoping that people would get into this game easily and also come to know how great Chopin's music is.
GS: Are any of the game's locations or characters based on specific chapters of Chopin's life or perhaps inspired by his music?
HH: The names of locations and characters are all related to music, but this doesn't mean those are directly linked to Chopin's real life. We made the setting and characters match the time when Chopin lived, but the world is purely fantasy.
GS: The game's combat system, particularly the light and dark gameplay mechanic that alters characters' abilities depending on whether or not they're in the shade, is something we haven't seen before. Where did that idea come from?
HH: The most important concept was to be able to learn the battle system quickly. We needed to simplify the controls as well. However, this reduces the potential variety within battles, so we came up with the idea of each special move in light and dark places behaving differently. Also, we created enemies that will change their forms depending on whether they are in light or dark places. I feel that we brought a new type of variety and strategy to the battles with this feature.
GS: Besides the language options, are there any differences between the Japanese version of Eternal Sonata and those being released in the US and Europe?
HH: The game is fundamentally the same, with localized text to match the territory. There are two differences in the North American and European versions. They are:
1. The North American and European versions have both Japanese and English voice-overs. The Japanese version has only Japanese voice-overs.
2. At the end of every chapter is a Stanislav Bunin performance of a Chopin piece for the piano, accompanied by a story of Chopin's life. In the North American and European versions, there is a slideshow of real-life pictures following in accordance with the story. In the Japanese game, there is a custom background for each performance.
GS: In Japan, a number of Eternal Sonata Xbox 360 faceplates were released alongside the game. Are any similar promotions planned for the US or Europe?
HH: We actually only made one faceplate in Japan and five faceplates have been made in the US. Currently, there are no plans for this kind of promotion in Europe.
GS: Are you planning to release any additional content for the game on the Xbox Live Marketplace?
HH: Yes. We are planning on releasing the following:
1. Piano Key (Used to unlock all of the musical performances at any time. Without the key, you have to clear that chapter in the game in order to unlock the performance.)
2. Gamer Icon Packs (Customize your 360 profile with official Eternal Sonata character graphics.)
GS: Finally, what advice would you offer to someone about to play Eternal Sonata for the first time?
HH: You will be able to enjoy this game without any prior knowledge of Chopin or his work. People who are not interested in classical music can enjoy this game as well. I am sure you will become accustomed to the control system quickly. I hope players will love the atmosphere of this game enough to play it through.
GS: Thanks for your time.