Interview: Toshimichi Mori from Arc System Works
The Blazblue series has continued Arc System Works’ lust for 2D fighting games in a very successful fashion, with several games and spin-offs already produced. Part of the reason behind its success can no doubt be attributed to Toshimichi Mori, a producer on the Blazblue series, who was up for an interview at a recent event regarding the series latest incarnation on the PlayStation Vita, Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend.
Brad: Any obstacles for putting Blazblue on the Vita?
Mori: Not really, we were amazed just how much of the console version’s code we could re-use on PS Vita – so, we had it up and running very early on. The challenge was keeping the framerate high – but with some optimisation, this was also not so difficult to achieve. The PS Vita is a very powerful piece of hardware and we’re very pleased with the results.
Brad: How do you find the touch controls on the rear of the Vita have changed the way Blazblue works?
Mori: I’m not a big fan of ‘easy specials’ that you often find in fighting games – we have implemented ‘Stylish Mode’ for this entry-level style gameplay. When we approached the back touch panel we wanted to do something different. For this we wanted to emulate the ‘hitbox’ it’s a kind of super-hardcore arcade stick than only has buttons – so all inputs are tapped in. While this set up requires much practice – with patience, you can execute moves much faster than you ever could with a stick.
Brad: Why should someone purchase Blazblue on the Vita instead of another console? Does it complement purchasing it with another console?
Mori: People often complain about the controls on handhelds for fighters. I think everyone agrees that the Vita D-Pad is very good – and well suited to fighting games, so that difference is no longer a problem. The Vita’s screen is also beautiful, and the smaller size, in some ways, makes BlazBlue look even sharper – even more colourful. People who own both versions can play story mode on the move and then transfer their saves to their PS3 when they get home.
Brad: Kokonoe has an announcer sample. Is this indication of anything to do with future character releases?
Mori: Lots of people always ask about Kokonoe – she’s one of the most requested additions. Will she be playable? Who knows!
Brad: If you could summarise Blazblue in one single word, what would it be? That word can’t be ‘Blazblue‘.
Mori: ‘Entertainment’ or ‘Total Entertainment’ if I’m allowed two! When we set out to make BlazBlue, I wanted to create a fighting game that didn’t just appeal to competitive fighter fans – but also to anime and manga fans. Not everyone likes to play online. Not everyone is good at fighting games. We wanted to offer some good content for these people – which is where story (and all the other extra modes) come in. We really wanted players to engage with the universe and characters, not just the gameplay. As a result of this BlazBlue has a very broad fanbase.
Brad: Will this version of Blazblue have ongoing support or will there another version for damage tweaks?
Mori: We always support our fighting games of course. When you have a game played at such a high level in arcades it’s important to do this. You have not seen the last of Blazblue.
Brad: People continually discuss Guilty Gear vs. Blazblue as a concept. Do you feel this would work and why/why not?
Mori: Another much requested game! We feel that sometimes combining two very different universes is not always a good idea. Something is often lost from one or the other – people always request it, and we will always listen of course, but there are no plans currently.
Brad: What is your favourite fighting game that is NOT from Arc System Works?
Mori: Garou, or Fatal Fury for the west. I always liked the fact that, originally, it had a story. This was lost in later games – so it was something I promised I would do for BlazBlue.
Brad: These days leaks in games are happening all the time. From game endings to unreleased character information it seems there are people are there really trying their hardest to get this information early. How do you work around this and if you can’t, how would you respond?
Mori: When people want to know this information it’s very flattering – but when you are working on a game you want to surprise and entertain. When you work so hard on a game for so long, the team do not want information to leak out so we are very quiet on what we are working on.
Brad: Which direction do you want to see the Blazblue franchise heading?
Mori: I always wanted BlazBlue to be a trilogy. And I always wanted BlazBlue to appeal to as many people as possible – so this is the direction I will continue to work towards.
Brad: If you were able to put one single character from any non Arc System Works franchise into Blazblue, who would it be and why that character? Additionally, if you had to pick one which was only from Arc System Works franchises, who would it be?
Mori: I think Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury is pretty cool! My favourite character from Arc games is Hakumen. I had the idea for him when I was still in school. He’s been with me a long time and is very close to my heart.
Brad: Final message for Blazblue fans out there?
Mori: If you have never played it – please give it a try, we think you will be surprised by how much BlazBlue offers as a fighting game. If you are a BlazBlue fan? Many thanks for all your support and to all those who enter into the community and enjoy face to face competitive play- it makes our efforts all worthwhile!