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Eiyuden Chronicle Devs Open Up About Murayama's Passing And Going Beyond A Suikoden Successor


Because the variety of online game remakes, remasters, and non secular successors grows, so does the hesitation surrounding these initiatives. Although some would possibly see these video games as loving homages to the artwork and tales that made us who we’re, it is simply as simple to see them as makes an attempt to bottle lightning–or maybe, extra precisely, nostalgia. So, how do these video games set themselves aside? Properly, as Rabbit and Bear Studios’ debut title Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes–a non secular successor to legendary RPG Suikoden–proves, having a workforce of veteran builders united below a beloved collection’ creator is a good place to start.

Rabbit and Bear Studios launched again in 2020, with 4 ex-Konami builders at its helm: character designer Junko Kawano of Suikoden fame, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow director Junichi Murakami, Suikoden and Silent Hill’s Osamu Komuta, and Suikoden’s creator, the late Yoshitaka Murayama. The workforce got here along with a really clear function: to create the sport the 4 of them had at all times dreamed of creating, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.

Nowa and Lian tackle their comrades.

“All of us are ex-Konami, so we would meet up and drink collectively generally,” Junko Kawano instructed Prime Time News24. “One time once we had been consuming and speaking to one another, we form of realized that we have reached a superb age, and that we actually needed to develop a recreation that we had been deeply keen on collectively. So we determined to type the studio.”

After the studio had been fashioned and the workforce cemented their imaginative and prescient for the title, they determined to launch a Kickstarter to assist fund the challenge. Although the studio opted to not explicitly seek advice from it as a non secular successor to Murayama’s Suikoden collection within the description, followers shortly made a connection between the workforce’s imaginative and prescient and the critically acclaimed collection. Inside three hours, Rabbit and Bear raised over $500,000, exceeding the preliminary objective that they had set for themselves.

Within the days that adopted, stretch objectives had been added, with the promise of a companion recreation being launched if the studio hit its astronomical finish objective of $4.5 million–it did, and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was launched on Might 10, 2022. Nonetheless, large crowdfunding success–and the burden of being an assumed non secular successor–comes with numerous strain.

“Since I’m the particular person least concerned with Suikoden, I believe I am additionally the one most exterior of all of the strain. It [was] most likely the simplest for me,” artwork director Junichi Murakami stated. “Nonetheless, I do know numerous the folks at Konami. I perceive the sensation and the burden of that title. Even when I’m not straight associated to that title, I do know I’m making a recreation with these members. I really feel that strain.

“The goal for us was actually how a lot we may notice the factor that Murayama-san needed to realize. In that sense, I imagine Murayama-san was truly below the best strain,” Kawano added.

But for as a lot strain as Murayama had positioned upon him, Kawano, Murakami, and Komuta made it clear he was pushed by a really particular imaginative and prescient for his next–and regrettably final–project. From the very starting of Eiyuden Chronicle’s growth, Murayami knew who the sport’s protagonists can be. He had a transparent thought of what they might seem like, how they might match into the world, and the way their tales would collide and conclude. He conveyed this all to his workforce, who then got down to carry his visions to life whereas additionally showcasing the expertise and artistry that they had acquired over many years of working in recreation growth.

“I began by studying concerning the setting made by Murayama-san. For the principle characters, he gave me the knowledge first. So I knew this is able to be their age, this was the sort of weapon they might carry …Even a number of the hair colours had been predetermined,” Kawano stated. “I took all the knowledge I obtained from Murayama-san and got here up with completely different variations of those characters. After which he stated, ‘Sure. Now maintain going.'”

Nowa and party members stand by a fountain.
Nowa and occasion members stand by a fountain.

Because the latter half of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes identify implies, the team–and significantly Kawano–then created over 100 recruitable characters for the sport. All through growth, it turned a gaggle effort to stability these characters–ensuring every one had an fascinating design and function in Eiyuden Chronicle, whereas additionally ensuring the sport’s core thread and principal solid weren’t buried beneath all of it. It is a delicate balancing act that, Komuta says, could be “troublesome to strike.”

“As for the characters associated to the principle story, Murayama-san had decided their tales so the spine was already established,” Komuta instructed me. “Nonetheless, for the characters apart from the principle characters, the timing wherein they be part of, their background, and the way that particular person develops, was extra open. There was a setting, however we needed to truly deepen the story and the design.”

Because of Murayama’s fantastical setting, the sheer quantity of characters that wanted to be designed, and Rabbit and Bear Studios’ personal creativity, the workforce was capable of dream large whereas filling out Eiyuden Chronicle’s roster. From Mellore, a self-proclaimed magical woman adorned in a Sailor Moon-esque uniform, to Kawano’s favourite character, a luchador named El Alicante, Eiyuden Chronicle has fairly the colourful cast–and I’ve but to even point out the large, sword-wielding kangaroo.

That is to not say, nevertheless, that there aren’t loads of lifelike or edgy characters in Eiyuden Chronicle as nicely. It’d come as little shock given Murakami’s historical past with the Castlevania collection, however his favourite characters had been a pair of “cool-type” girls he created.

“Mio and Hildi are my favorites. Mio is a lady samurai warrior after which Hildi is the assistant commander to Seign, and I truly created each of them on my own. Each of them are girls with a “cool-type” character as a result of…” Murakami gave a coy smile, and I watched as each Kawano and Komuta started to snort. “I like cool girls.”

Equally, Komuta shared that his favourite character was additionally a robust lady: Basic Elektra.

“Initially, Elektra was not speculated to take part in battle, however as a result of I favored her a lot, I requested Murayama-san and Murakami-san if we may improve the variety of characters so we may add her,” Komuta stated.

General Elektra.General Elektra.
Basic Elektra.

Although Murakami may not have been accountable for designing all Eiyuden Chronicle’s characters, implementing them into the sport’s hybrid artwork fashion fell upon his shoulders–and, in keeping with Murakami, this course of was troublesome and time-consuming. Equally to Octopath Traveler, Eiyuden Chronicle locations expressive, 2D character sprites atop 3D environments to create an expertise that feels lush and trendy, in addition to according to its ’90s-RPG roots. Although I discovered the top consequence stunning and very natural-looking, Murakami stated making certain that was the case took the workforce about two years.

“Merging these artwork kinds is definitely very, very, very exhausting,” Murakami stated. “It took us greater than two years as a result of you need to be certain all of your 3D angles and digicam work don’t disrupt the 2D expressions, or make them look positioned unnaturally, or clip something… It truly took numerous time to make it appear completely pure.”

Merging the outdated with the brand new was a recurring theme in Eiyuden Chronicle’s growth. Komuta, for instance, recalled the workforce having a dialog round a traditional, ’90s-RPG function that some had been nervous could be a bit outdated: the save level.

“We did have a dialogue,” Komuta stated. “The save level was truly essential to Murayama-san’s idea, because it offers you a sign of how the state of affairs is progressing. He had a robust give attention to conveying when the sport may naturally be suspended by utilizing a save level. However however, with a view to strike a stability between this traditional function and one thing trendy, we included some auto-save features. We need to have a superb stability between the trendy and the traditional.”

Some issues, nevertheless, had been set in stone from the beginning–including the sport’s music. On the subject of which musicians would create Eiyuden Chronicle’s rating, Murakami stated that even earlier than launching their Kickstarter, the workforce was set on two artists particularly: Michiko Naruke and Motoi Sakuraba.

“We knew that, alongside the 4 of us, they might actually be the core and one of many strongest appeals of this challenge,” Murakami stated. “In that sense, we knew we needed Michiko Naruke and Motoi Sakuraba to affix us. We felt they had been artists that actually represented Japan whereas additionally being well-known abroad.”

Each Naruke and Sakuraba have a formidable variety of well-received video games below their belt, with Naruke’s most notable work being her preparations for the Wild Arms and Tremendous Smash Bros. collection. In the meantime, Sakuraba’s portfolio consists of plenty of titles from the Tales, Star Ocean, Golden Solar, Darkish Souls, and Mario sports activities collection. Collectively, the pair created a soundtrack each I and Prime Time News24’s reviewer discovered “very good,” and actually proves Murakami appropriate: These artists did contribute considerably to Eiyuden Chronicle’s core enchantment.

Nowa approaches a character waiting on the docks.Nowa approaches a character waiting on the docks.
Nowa approaches a personality ready on the docks.

Different components that add to Eiyuden Chronicle’s enchantment are merely how a lot enjoyable it lets you’ve and its sheer replayability. In keeping with Komuta, the timing wherein you add a personality to your occasion can change the script and the way the character speaks, attractive gamers to replay and try and seize characters at completely different factors all through the sport.

“There are specific scripts you can’t hear within the early state of affairs as a result of they’re tied to a personality changing into a member within the latter a part of the sport. So in that sense, if you’re replaying the sport, you possibly can possibly discover these characters of their first place and listen to a unique script if you happen to beforehand picked them up within the second place. For all of these characters, we now have ready these scripts,” Komuta stated.

Moreover, a number of the recreation’s recruitable characters are optionally available, which means it is very simple to overlook them your first time taking part in. And but, this can be a very intentional a part of Eiyuden Chronicle’s design, Komuta stated. In keeping with Komuta, “How you discover heroes and members of your occasion is a enjoyable and essential a part of the sport.” He then added there’s one character particularly, hidden inside a hidden dungeon, that he recommends gamers attempt to discover. “It is enjoyable,” he stated with fun.

Kawano and Murakami additionally identified that a number of the recreation’s funnier moments–such because the theater and the new springs–play out otherwise relying upon your present workforce composition.

“The theater, I believe, is fascinating. In each the Japanese and English variations, the voice solid acts in keeping with the continuing story. You may even have completely different [character] combos and various things will occur in keeping with these combos,” Kawano stated.

Retaining according to his extra mischievous assertion earlier, Murakami stated the onsen–or scorching springs–was one among his favourite components. Naturally, all three of the founders started to snort.

“I believe followers may have enjoyable with the new spring scene. I would like you to truly discover and watch all the scorching springs scenes with all the characters. Significantly once they enter the tub.”

Nowa and his party members relax in the hot springs.Nowa and his party members relax in the hot springs.
Nowa and his occasion members calm down within the scorching springs.

Within the few hours I spent with Kawano, Murakami, and Komuta, I am unable to depend the variety of instances their laughter stuffed the room. From the workforce chuckling whereas sharing tales concerning the recreation’s growth, to a close to teary-eyed Komuta guffawing as I defined that, in English, we name cats kneading “making biscuits,” there was this sense that this workforce exuded levity and pleasure. The founders acknowledged that Murayama was maybe essentially the most joyous of all of them, continuously dreaming, laughing, and provoking their work. Once I shared my condolences and requested how issues have been on the studio since his passing earlier this yr, I may really feel the burden of his loss start to fill the room.

“It was an enormous shock to us,” Kawano stated. “We had been already within the course of of manufacturing the title and the discharge date had already been decided, so we had been on this closing stage and probably not capable of halt manufacturing.”

“In that sense,” Murakami added. “It was virtually a aid. We had to use and focus ourselves–we have not had time to lament his dying. Now we have to maintain going.”

Komuta nodded in settlement with Murakami, earlier than including in one thing that warmed my coronary heart.

“Luckily, Murayama-san was concerned within the closing changes, so we had been capable of actually full this title.”

Earlier than our time was up, I requested the workforce what they thought actually distinguished Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes from being a Suikoden successor. In the end, Komuta stated that the workforce’s expertise, needs, and method to creation are what elevates it.

“There is no such thing as a member of employees concerned in growth who thought we had been simply making a sequel to Suikoden,” Komuta stated. “Nobody was considering like that, or got here at it from that place. It in the end is a completely completely different recreation.”

And but, I do not suppose it is inaccurate or unsuitable to say that, in some ways, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a non secular successor to Suikoden–and a worthy one, at that. To be one of many handful of studios that can bottle lightning–that can create an expertise that makes gamers fondly recall taking part in one among their favourite games–is an unbelievable feat. But on the similar time, it is rather more than that.

Eiyuden Chronicle is a recreation 4 mates determined to make over drinks and jokes about needing to get began earlier than they obtained any older. It is a recreation that seeks to grant almost three many years of needs made by each Suikoden followers and the collection’ creators. And most significantly, it is a shining instance of an artist’s closing work absolutely realized. It’s wondrously cathartic to know Murayama was there to ship the final rounds of edits and adjustments–to know that he was there to witness his imaginative and prescient delivered to life. And but, it’s maybe simply as stunning to see how deeply his desires impressed his three pricey mates, every of whom have spent the previous couple of months making certain the remainder of us may see them, too.

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