Sigma Star Saga Weapon Customization Spotlight

Namco producer Philip Cohen discusses the innovative weapon customization system that is featured in the shooter sections of this upcoming RPG.

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Currently scheduled for release in North America next week, Sigma Star Saga is a GBA-exclusive role-playing game in which you'll assume the role of a starfighter pilot. It makes perfect sense then that the game will feature side-scrolling shoot-'em-up sequences. Developer WayForward wasn't content with just putting out a garden variety shooter, though, so it came up with an intriguing weapon customization system, as producer Philip Cohen explains.

Gun Data Options

By Philip Cohen
Producer

Creating your own custom weapons is as easy as constructing a sentence.
Creating your own custom weapons is as easy as constructing a sentence.

When I first sat down with WayForward to hammer out how we would handle custom weapons, one of the guys (I don't remember exactly who, but it was probably Matt Bozon) brought up this idea they were working on independently for an easy-to-use customization system. It would work like piecing together a sentence…you have a beginning, middle, and an end. By replacing one of the three sections with different variables, you could have an amazing amount of custom weapon possibilities. It's sort of like "Mad Libs" but in a game.

After a bit of work, the weapon customization menu was up and running! All of us would waste an amazing amount of time just trying out every combo we could think of and throwing it into a very early version of one of the current stages to see how it would behave. Truthfully, we only had a sliver of an idea of the types of custom weapons that would be possible. We couldn't believe the outcome of some of the combinations!

While tweaking the customization options, it became clear to us that some of the Gun Data we had just wasn't behaving properly when combined with other Gun Data, and they had to get the axe because we had to master the final version before we could fix them (time is the root of all good and evil in development). In some cases, the Gun Data would work fine, but was just way too powerful when combined correctly. Those were the ones that hurt the most to get rid of. My favorite of these, which I hope to see in a potential sequel, was the flamethrower! Slap it together with the Triple Node Orbit and you would have a circular wall of fire that surrounded your ship, eradicating anything it touched. You could just fly through the game and run into everything to defeat it. Though it got pulled from the final version, you can still see it briefly on the weapon customization menu with a Single Node Orbit in one of the videos we've released online.

Gun Data that you find on foot will afford you more weapon possibilities when you climb into your starfighter.
Gun Data that you find on foot will afford you more weapon possibilities when you climb into your starfighter.

With so many possible combinations of Gun Data to discover and mess around with, it can seem a bit overwhelming at times. Be sure to search everywhere as thoroughly as possible, and use your Scanner Tool everywhere you walk to find all the Gun Data. Be sure to help your buddies that are playing the game to find the Gun Data also, and see what combos each of you likes. One of the great things about Sigma Star Saga is that each player will have his or her favorite combo, which makes for a unique gameplay experience for everyone!

My favorite combos are the ones that tread the line between raw power and just zany behavior that's fun to watch. Here are three of my favorite combos (cannon type, bullet type, impact type):

Triple Node Orbit, Bounce Shot, Boomerang
With this combo, your shots will be bouncing all over the place--and when you hit anything the shots will bounce back in the opposite direction! You're basically raining down chaos. Alternately, you can switch out the impact type with Splinter, and you'll have even more objects flying around onscreen.

Triple Cannon, Super Wave Shot, Barrier
Here's a powerful Gun Data combo you can reasonably obtain by Chapter 4 (though I think you can start messing around with the Triple Cannon around Chapter 2, which I recommend doing because then you'll be cool like that). This combo creates a chaotic wave of crisscrossing bullets that make it nearly impossible for anything in front of you to get by, and when an enemy gets hit, a wall of energy forms in front of them that any enemy coming up from behind them smashes into! Not so great for tight spots though, so watch out!

Max Spread Cannon, Bubble Shot, Bubble
Hehe--this one isn't really all that useful, but it makes me laugh. What a way to go--killed by an onslaught of bubbles. Actually, you'll find that it's more effective than you would think in wide-open areas. And you're attacking with bubbles, which also makes you cool. Try swapping out the Cannon Type with whatever you desire to see other crazy weapon behavior.

Sigma Star Saga is currently scheduled for release on August 16. Expect a full review early next week.

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