Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors Q&A

We talk to From Software's Masanori Takeuchi about the upcoming otherworldly action game.

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The original Otogi was a stylish entry in the Xbox's library that offered accessible gameplay and rich visuals. The game's story was steeped in ancient Japanese folklore and mysticism and was complemented by graphics that were impressive from both a technical and an artistic standpoint. However, as impressive as Otogi was, the game pales in comparison to its sequel. Otogi 2 is a superior follow-up that improves on its predecessor in every way. A host of new playable characters and a varied gameplay mechanic beef up the experience of playing the game.

Fans of the original Otogi's high-flying, ethereal action will find even more to love in Otogi 2.

At the same time, the game's rich visual style handily improves upon the work From Software did in the original game. Everything from the destructible environments to the enemies and playable characters features a lush design that's highlighted by a host of visual effects, such as lighting and particle effects. We had the chance to talk to Masanori Takeuchi--general manager of From's concept design department, who is currently serving as the game's producer--about the art in Otogi 2.

GameSpot: What is your professional background? What games have you worked on before, and what have you done on them?

Masanori Takeuchi: I worked as the manager of Otogi 2's development. In the past, I've worked on Xbox titles such as Murakumo and the original Otogi as the concept and art director.

GS: How did you approach the design of the characters in the world of Otogi 2?

MT: We designed the characters to represent Japanese tastes, which echo the base flavor of Otogi. It was a painstaking task to conceptualize and develop the image and characteristics of five new playable characters, all of whom appear physically to represent their special abilities. We wanted these new characters to contrast Raiko as the warrior, and each adds diversity through individual style and mannerisms: Seimei as a magician, Kintoki as a power fighter, Tsuna as a technical character, Sadamitsu who is the best for speed, and Suetake as a kaleidoscopic character. We have received many questions about the gender of Seimei.

GS: Was your work influenced by feedback on the original game?

MT: It was critical for us to listen to the feedback and special requests from fans of the original game. We decided to redesign and improve the lock-on system, increase the size of the game (the length of gameplay), and include more cutscenes based on this feedback. And, most importantly, we have made the environments even more destructible, which was one of the most impressive points of the original game.

GS: Where did you look for inspiration for the game's visuals?

MT: Nature changes dramatically throughout Japan's four seasons, so I had the opportunity to become inspired by the beautiful scenery. The game is also inspired by the amazing films directed by Akira Kurosawa in the 1960s. We were quite careful about representing the beauty of Japan while appealing to the taste of the hardcore gamer.

GS: How would you describe the art style of the game?

MT: Like the original Otogi, we tried to maintain the underlying Japanese flavor--an epic fantasy based on ancient Japanese folklore and mysticism. Rather than reproducing the actual Japanese architecture or style, we decided to design the environments based on what was in our collective imagination. We recognize that this game is fantasy-based, which allows us more creative and visual freedom.

GS: As far as the cinematic presentation goes, what would you say influenced that aspect of the game?

MT: The cinematic presentation in Otogi 2 was mostly influenced by Japanese animation. This is how we, as Japanese, can represent [our own background], and we hope the people overseas will enjoy this as well.

GS: What do you think are the strongest elements of the visuals in the game, and why?

MT: The destructible environments are definitely the strongest visual elements of the game. We spent much of our development resources getting the destruction right and creating the most exhilarating atmosphere. It is difficult to explain, but we really tried to create a lasting visual masterpiece.

GS: Did the gameplay of Otogi 2 have any influence on how you crafted the characters, the world, and the cinematic look?

Feedback on the original Otogi has led to improvements like a better lock-on system in Otogi 2.
Feedback on the original Otogi has led to improvements like a better lock-on system in Otogi 2.

MT: Surely the gameplay had much influence throughout the development of Otogi 2. We tried to design the characters and environment around the destructible environments in order to bring people further into the gameplay experience.

GS: Did you collaborate with the soundtrack composer at all?

MT: We created the sound within our internal resource. The soundtrack composer, who received high acclaim for the original Otogi, has come back to compose for Otogi 2. We wish that players of Otogi 2 will enjoy a soundtrack that we feel is even better than the previous one.

GS: What are you proudest of about the way the game turned out?

MT: Honestly, we cannot tout successful sales of the original. We are proud to create a sequel based on the enthusiastic requests and critical acclaim from the people who played the original Otogi. We created the sequel for the users who have supported us. We did our very best to give them what they asked for, and it is a great pleasure for us to ship a title that these fans will enjoy. Thanks!

GS: Thanks for your time.

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