Atlus USA is a publisher of games that don’t suck, such as the Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga games that rocked last year. One game in the company’s pipeline is Metal Saga. Bill Alexander of the localization team was kind enough to answer some questions I had about the game, then pass on some exclusive screenshots (bottom). What a guy!

Heath Hindman, RPGLand.comBefore we get started, can you introduce yourself and describe your role in Atlus’s publishing of Metal Saga?
Bill Alexander, Atlus USAMy name is Bill Alexander, and for this title, I have been working primarily as an editor. However, I will also be overseeing testing of the game once the English text has been implemented.

Heath HindmanThe first question that popped into my mind was “Why Metal Saga?” What drew you to this title and what makes you feel like people will buy/play/like it?
Bill AlexanderFirst of all, I loved the Mad Max movies, so for me personally, the world in which the story took place was compelling. However, as soon as you start playing it, you’ll also see that the designers have a very bizarre sense of humor. This makes the game not only hysterical at times, but also truly unique from other RPGs. The game is loaded with parody.

Heath HindmanI see “hunting down outlaws” listed in the features. Can you explain the process the player goes through when hunting down an outlaw in Metal Saga?
Bill AlexanderNo problem. First of all, there are two types of outlaws. When you go to the Hunter Office, you’ll see wanted posters listing the bounty on each outlaw’s head. Once you beat one, you can return to the office to collect your reward. But, each week there will also be a “target-of-the-week.” This is a type of monster that you should track down and exterminate with extreme prejudice. The more of them you obliterate, the better—if you want a big fat reward.

Heath HindmanThe game’s story sounds like it boils down to “Man vs. Machine: Holy Crap, They’re Taking Over!” This has been done many times, so what makes Metal Saga‘s story different from the pack of other stories that have gone this direction. Reassure me, here.
Bill AlexanderIt might seem like that based on the Prologue, but that’s probably the most serious part of the game, which pokes fun at just about everything. It’s really not about saving the world from machines. You have so many choices and there are so many different endings that how you play is entirely up to you. Only one of the endings involves the storyline introduced in the Prologue.

Heath HindmanSo from what I understand, Noah (the original evil robot) started destroying humans because he determined they were the cause of pollution. Noah then spawns all kinds of subordinate robots. That seems like they’d create as much pollution as the humans. Do any of the robots ever get hit by this wonderful irony?
Bill AlexanderNo, they’re too busy filing 2 by 2 into the ark to escape the flood. Er, wait a minute… that’s a different story. Actually, most of the monsters in this game aren’t that smart; that was Noah’s job. They’re just his cronies. Besides, who’d think a bunch of pesky humans would be so difficult to exterminate?

Heath Hindman(This question based on this image.) Sweet. This guy looks awesome. Is he? What’s his deal?
Bill AlexanderYeah, he’s a bad ass. I think he’s the second cousin of Aladdin, or maybe it was Lawrence of Arabia.

Heath Hindman(This question based on this image.) Well, we naturally have to ask the same question about the scantily-clad female with a huge firearm. What’s her character like?
Bill AlexanderShe’s the jalapeño in your chili! You definitely want her in your party!

Heath Hindman(This question based on this image.) I’m not even going to ask a question here. I’m just going to slide this picture across the table and wait for answers to happen.
Bill AlexanderIt really gives new meaning to the phrase “man’s best friend,” doesn’t it? Just rub her belly and keep her well fed, and she’ll be a great addition to your party.

Heath HindmanHow’s the localization process gone for you? Has it taken longer or shorter than you expected? Were there any translation problems or big obstacles that you didn’t anticipate?
Bill AlexanderEach project is unique and has its own speed bumps. Fortunately, we haven’t encountered any major problems except the sheer size of the game. With all the possibilities, there’s a ton of dialogue to be translated and edited.

Heath HindmanI noticed this game puts non-linearity as a huge selling point. If we took a 1-10 scale where a 10 is “Completely freaking linear,” (Maybe something even beyond FFX) and a 1 is “Not linear at all” (perhaps something like SaGa Frontier?), where on the scale would you put Metal Saga‘s non-linearity?
Bill AlexanderThere are a number of different endings, and really no mandatory quests. So, you can go around and do whatever you like: gamble, play mini-games, collect bounties, mod your tank, etc. So, I’d rate it like a 2 or a 3 on your scale.

Heath HindmanCare to explain the combat system a bit?
Bill AlexanderThe game features a turn-based combat system in which the player selects an action from the battle menu for his party member to perform. These actions differ between party members according to their vehicles and individual abilities.

Heath Hindman(This question based on this image.) What’s this guy doing?
Bill AlexanderHe’s blogging about how unfair the outcome of last season’s American Idol was. Actually, he’s operating his Satcom—a really powerful computer used to store data and select various options in the game, such as controlling remote vehicles.

Heath HindmanWell hey, thanks a million for answering our questions. We definitely appreciate you clearing things up and telling us more about this game. Any final words for the readers?
Bill AlexanderMetal Saga really shows that a game doesn’t have to take itself too seriously to be fun. I think anyone with a sense of humor will appreciate this game. It’s a blast.

RPG Land thanks Mr. Alexander and Atlus USA for rocking out with us and answering our questions. Look for Metal Saga this spring.