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Disgaea 4 Epic Interview: RPG Land + Nippon Ichi

By Heath | October 10, 2010 at 8:30 am

The lights on and the TGS party over, we pulled some chairs up to what was once a table and talked straight with Nippon Ichi about the next main-series Disgaea title.  We learned about some game systems, the reasons behind certain decisions, and just exactly where some of the character and theme inspirations came from. 

(RPG Land) HEATH HINDMAN: OK guys, first off, why PS3 for Disagea 4?
The Disgaea series and other Nippon Ichi games have been on various platforms, so why the return to PS3 for this game?

(Nippon Ichi) SOUHEI NIIKAWA: It’s true that the Disgaea series has
been on many platforms, but the main-series titles have always come
out on TV consoles first. Think about it, H.   Disgaea and Disgaea 2 debuted on PlayStation 2;
Diagaea 3 was PlayStation 3, and so Disgaea 4 will be too. Sometimes there might be ports or spinoffs on the handhelds or other systems, but and the new, main-series Disgaea titles will always be on PlayStation TV consoles.

HEATH HINDMAN: Since moving main series entries to portable platforms like the PSP is a big trend in Japan right now…why NOT put a main series entry on something like the PSP?

SOUHEI NIIKAWA: Well, with the Disgaea series, we want the whole world to enjoy those games, and when you look at it on a worldwide scale, the PSP is a tough platform — especially in the West! If you’re making games just for Japan, then a portable system is fine, but if we want to appeal to the worldwide  audience, the PS3 is the appropriate platform.

(RPG Land) JANELLE HINDMAN: It’s interesting that Nippon Ichi would have the world in mind first, before just Japan.
HEATH HINDMAN: Almost ironic when you think about the name of the company…

SOUHEI NIIKAWA: It is interesting. When we make a game, we try to focus on the Japanese fans to an extent, to try to make them happy. But at the same time, in the video game market, the Japanese market is shrinking. So when you talk about “the market,” you have to look at it on a worldwide scale.
So making the game and selling it, those two things have to be considered separately. But in creating the game itself, you want to have fans all over the world be able to enjoy it.

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HEATH HINDMAN: That makes sense.

SOUHEI NIIKAWA: That’s the only way we can survive.

JANELLE HINDMAN: So what did you learn from Disgaea 3 that helped you shape Disagea 4?

SOUHEI NIIKAWA: Well we learned from our success and our failures. When you make a new game in the series, you need to look at what went right and what went wrong, and look at the reviews and what people have been saying, and try to improve on whatever you can. So, in a sense, everything that was done for Disgaea 3 has helped us take steps towards Disgaea 4.
The first thing, that we’re most excited about, is the new graphics.
We got a lot of comments from gamers, from fans, and from press about the character sprites in the other Disgaea games, so we did something about it. The designers and the team, they wanted to try to animate
it, see what would happen if they made it more lively and much more clean than regular sprites. So that was something they worked on after Disgaea 3.

HEATH HINDMAN: And if I may say, I wasn’t sold immediately with seeing it via projector on a giant screen, but after seeing it on the TV screen, the game looks totally good.

SOUHEI NIIKAWA: I was worried, wondering if it came out clean enough. It was very hard work — this game has been in development for three years — but we got Mr. [Takehito] Harada’s animations captured perfectly.

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JANELLE HINDMAN: This one’s for Mr. Sato. The music we heard playing today, was it the soundtrack for Disgaea 4?

(Music Composer) TENPEI SATO: Yes. The soundtrack is about one-quarter to one-third finished, and the completed songs were on loop during the press conference.

JANELLE HINDMAN: About how many tracks will there be?

TENPEI SATO: Between 40 and 50. Of course, in the game, there will also be songs from the older Disgaea games, arranged or remixed.

HEATH HINDMAN: Rank your favorite Disgaea soundtracks.

TENPEI SATO: *Laughs* When it’s finished, 4 will be my favorite.

HEATH HINDMAN: *Laughs* Aaaaah, I knew you’d say that!

TENPEI SATO: *Laughs* Nono, there’s a good reason though! Every time I make a new Disgaea soundtrack, I get letters and emails from people all over the world. With every game, there are new
fans in different countries, and I draw inspiration from them, from their stories, from their compliments, and from the various music styles of the world. So every soundtrack is more like the whole world’s Disgaea soundtrack, not just Japan’s.

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HEATH HINDMAN: So back to the game itself, you’re going with a political theme. Why?

SOUHEI NIIKAWA: Well, Disgaea 3 had a school setting because that opened up possibilities for new game systems. After that, it seemed like going back to the old way for Disgaea 4 would be kind of boring. So now it’s time for a new direction. A political theme opens up new ideas for new systems. I slapped the idea on Mr. Yamamoto’s desk and said “Make it happen!” *Laughing*
(Nippon Ichi) MASAHIRO YAMAMOTO: It’s true. I heard the theme of the game, so
I put in some gameplay systems to fit it, like an election system and a political cabinet. You’ll see more details on these systems soon.

HEATH HINDMAN: So…since it’s all political…who in this game is Barack Obama?
(In the background, several Nippon Ichi employees break into laughter.)

MASAHIRO YAMAMOTO: *laughs and nods* Well, he’s not in the game in literal appearance, but he did inspire one character.

HEATH HINDMAN: Can I get a name?

MASAHIRO YAMAMOTO: Haha, well…I won’t give away who it is yet, but he says Mr. Obama’s popular catchphrase.
[In unison]
HEATH HINDMAN: “Yes we can?”
MASAHIRO YAMAMOTO: “Yes we can.”

*Everyone leaves*
And that’s the story of the time I ended up alone in Tokyo.

RPG Land thanks Nippon Ichi for taking time out of their cabinet-forming and sprite-sharpening to talk with us about this game.  Look for more Disgaea 4 updates on RPGLand.com and the official Disgaea 4 website.  Eventually, there will be a version of that site available in English, but for now, Japanese is the only game in town.  Disgaea 4 will hit Japanese stores on Feb. 24, 2011, then arrive in North America in the summer of the same year.

Launch projectiles at RPG Land on Twitter and Facebook, dood!

Topics: Disgaea 4, Interviews, News, Nippon Ichi, NIS America, NISA, Tokyo Game Show 2010