Wednesday, September 2, 2009

EXCLUSIVE! Interview with Astro Boy Video Game Producer!

Here it is, folks! I am very excited and proud to share with you this exclusive interview between myself, speaking on behalf of the Astro Boy fan base, and Cameron Rains, producer of the Astro Boy Video Game for High Voltage Software. There are some great pieces of information here, more than any other coverage this game has gotten if I do say so myself, and it's all for you Astro-fans! I also threw in a funny bonus question at the end, and I think you'll all get a kick out of the answer!

The Astro Boy Video Game is set for release on October 20th from D3Publisher. After reading this interview I'm sure you'll be looking forward to picking it up!

Extra special thanks to Cameron Rains for taking the time to give such detailed answers and to David Saba of fortyseven communications for arranging the interview!

Now, without further ado, click the link below for the entire interview, and be sure to leave your comments!

1.) How did High Voltage first get involved in the Astro Boy video game?

CR: High Voltage Software is full of manga, comic, and anime fans alike and when we were presented with the opportunity to make an Astro Boy game, well, elated doesn’t quite cover it.
2.) What are some of the challenges faced in developing a game based on a movie that is itself still in production at the time?
CR: With movie license games, schedule is always going to be the biggest challenge. We were very lucky to have such incredible partners such as D3P and Imagi to work with. The professionalism of these two companies helped us so much by making approvals and asset delivery a breeze, facilitating a quick production process. This allowed us to make a high quality arcade shooter/brawler in a short period of time.
3.) Who do you hope to be the target audience of this game? And don't just say "Everybody!"
CR: We are definitely reaching out to fans of the film, but we also hope to excite all Astro Boy fans the world over. We also strongly believe that the game features an accessible arcade-like experience that gamers will really enjoy.
4.) Games based on cartoons and movies don't always have the best reputation. What does the Astro Boy game do to avoid this trend?
CR: Above all else, we adopted a gameplay first approach. We wanted to make an action-platformer/shooter that rocked and stood up to the perennial champions of the genre. Following in the footsteps of classics like Defender, Mega Man, Ikaruga, and Treasure’s Astro Boy: Omega Factor, we had a solid understanding and appreciation for what makes this genre great. Funneling that good old nostalgic feeling into a new game that really pulls on what is best in the genre definitely allows Astro Boy: The Video game to avoid the pitfalls that most traditional license games fall into.
5.) I really like the decision to design the Astro Boy game as a "new classic". What factors went into making the game this way?
CR: Early in design we all reminisced about the fun we used to have frantically jamming quarters into arcade cabinets as kids, and really wanted to channel that into our game. We also were huge fans of the Treasure title, Astro Boy: Omega Factor for the GBA and noted how well they handled the license. That being said, working in a 2½D perspective (definitely the look of the “new classic”) also allowed us to create an experience that is accessible for players new to games but decidedly nostalgic for people that grew up with the NES.
6.) How challenging will the game be on its various difficulty settings?
CR: Astro Boy: The Video Game will be released with four difficulty settings spanning from Easy to Hero. We did this for several reasons, but the primarily accessibility. We wanted to make sure that there would be an optimal way to play for all players. We want a father who has been playing Mega Man his whole life to be able to play the game, enjoy it, and then hand it over to his son who is new to gaming, who in turn will play the game and enjoy it.
7.) How will the motion controls work on the Nintendo Wii version?
CR: The Wii version provides the player the option of playing with Standard or Motion controls. Utilizing motion controls the player can shake the Wiimote or the Nunchuck to engage a special attack. Additionally, we provide the player with the option to completely remap their controller. We do this across all systems, and it is just one more way that we are striving to create a comprehensively accessible experience for the player.
8.) I understand that there is a two-player co-op mode, but both players will be controlling Astro. How exactly does this 2 player mode work?
CR: Players have the opportunity to play through the entire story mode of the game utilizing drop-in-drop-out gameplay. It is truly as easy as a second player picking up a free controller and playing, and since both players get to be Astro Boy, everyone gets to unleash his amazing powers. In addition the story mode, players can play cooperatively through our Arena Mode, a round based survival mode where players compete for high scores.

(Additional clarification about this two player mode was provided after the interview. There will indeed be 2 different Astros on screen at the same time when there are two players!)
9.) Do Astro's powers and abilities have to be earned through gameplay, or are they all available from the start? Are they upgradeable?
CR: Astro is provided with all of his abilities pretty much from the get-go, but he will need to find and collect upgrades throughout the game in order to grow more powerful. We have gone to some good lengths to hide his upgrades throughout the levels of the game, so if getting 100% completion on a first playthrough is something that is important to the player, they will have to be diligent in their approach.
10.) Without giving too much away, explain a little about the game's story and how it relates to the movie as well as the classic manga and anime. Are there any major changes or additions?
CR: Astro Boy: The Video Game follows the major events of the film, a fantastic coming of age story that bends rejection into the ultimate triumph. We were able to do some traveling in the game that the film cuts between, creating new fiction and some new characters that are unique to the game.
11.) Will there be any appearances by other famous characters from the history of Astro Boy band the works of Osamu Tezuka? How about an appearance by Tezuka himself?
CR: Astro Boy: The Video Game works within the narrative framework of the film, and with that in mind you will see some cross-over. We were able to create brand new characters for the game that are inspired by the story of the film, but are decidedly Tezuka in style. We were really in awe of the manga’s style and were really excited to bring that to the game.
12.) What kind of secret stuff can we look forward to unlocking?
CR: Sprinkled throughout the game are hidden collectables which will both upgrade Astro’s powers and abilities as well as unlock powerful cheats for the player to use in game. Good luck finding them all, we went out of our way to hide them really well. Old school style.
13.) What else can we look forward to from High Voltage in the future?
CR: High Voltage Software always has a few pots boiling! We are really excited to be working on a brand new IP, The Grinder. The Grinder is a brand new cooperative FPS that focuses on taking the fight to some of the most famous monsters of all time. This definitely takes us back to our roots in the Hunter series, oh yeah and the guns are pretty sweet too! In addition to The Grinder we are now working with TRI’s Infernal Engine and are looking forward to bringing our solid track record with the Wii to the XBOX 360 and the PS3, with more solid HVS titles.
14.) Anything you'd like to say to the Astro-fanbase as we await this game?
CR: When making this game, the entire team went to great lengths to ensure that we were creating an amazing game that would honor the license and Astro Boy fans to the highest degree. This game is truly for the fans and we can’t wait to give them all an opportunity to check it out this October.
15.) And finally... The eternal question! Astro Boy versus Mega Man: Who wins and why?
CR: You have to give props to the original Astro Boy. I mean, where would Mega Man be without Astro Boy to pave the way? Not to mention these three words: Butt Machine Guns. Enough said!

2 comments:

Andrew said...

LOL Love that final Q & A. :]

Highlights of the interview for me include:

"Astro Boy: The Video Game follows the major events of the film, a fantastic coming of age story that bends rejection into the ultimate triumph. We were able to do some traveling in the game that the film cuts between, creating new fiction and some new characters that are unique to the game."

And

"Astro Boy: The Video Game works within the narrative framework of the film, and with that in mind you will see some cross-over. We were able to create brand new characters for the game that are inspired by the story of the film, but are decidedly Tezuka in style. We were really in awe of the manga’s style and were really excited to bring that to the game."

Great job on the interview. Looking forward to the game :]

MangaBottle said...

BRING THE STUPID MOVIE OUT ALREADY!!!
I wanna stop obsessing and get back to my LIFE!!! TT_TT