XCN Soul Calibur IV Q&A; with Katsutoshi Sasaki, Director
With 3D open-world games and First Person Shooters proving so popular on Xbox 360 do you think fighting games are as popular as they used to be, and how can Soul Calibur IV appeal to a wider audience?
Every genre has a peak of popularity. FPS and open world games are popular all over the world now, but it is because of a trend. The trend will get more people playing that genre, and those people will bring in more people, which will make for a good continual flow of players into the genre.
Even though the fighting game genre has been around a long time, I have to agree that the number of people playing the genre has decreased. So, we have made this attempt to collaborate with Lucas Arts to get new people interested in fighting games again. I am hoping this collaboration will be a trigger for people to play SoulCalibur, and we are also hoping more people will rediscover the fighting genre. Finally, I believe that fighting games will be more interesting as the number of people who play this genre increases.
What type of modes will you be offering on Xbox LIVE? Do you have anything a bit different up your sleeves?
There are three gameplays online. The first one is the standard fight, the second is a special one to compete against each other with customized weapons and equipment, and the last one is ranking.
�Gold� can be earned by playing Single player. You will be able to collect custom parts by using Gold to create your own character with various skills and looks. We believe that it will be appealing to play online battles with your own character creations.
The players can also compete the ranking on single player arcade and TOLS. Players will have a lot to do, such as aiming for new high scores and earning Gold. Challenging each other surely develops their skills, so this online feature does not only let them play online battle, but also expand their SoulCalibur gameplay.
Given his stature, Yoda had a very distinctive combat style in the Star Wars movies, all made of jumps and flying somersaults. Did you manage to faithfully recreate his style in the game?
We have developed Yoda as he moved in Episodes 2 and 3, which include some acrobatic movements. If you can master Yoda in the gameplay, he will move very aerobically just like the movie.
We just learnt that the game will show another Jedi, the Darth Vader apprentice featured in SW: The Force Unleashed. Which will be his main features? Will he be able to use force powers while fighting?
His fighting style has characteristic of speedy combination with his lightsaber which is held upside down. You can�t miss with a lot of his skills such as Force lightning and awesome combination in the air.
In LIVE play will we be able to put up tournaments with more players, and will there be a spectator mode to watch the other players� fights?
We don�t have any plan for tournaments or a spectator mode, but at the multiplayer session of Player match, you can see the opponents battle.
We know with this episode you are introducing "Critical Finish" moves. How do they work? Can you give us some examples?
Critical finish is an attack that you can defeat a guarded opponent with a single attack. Even if your life gauge has low status, there will be a huge chance of activating Critical Finish if your opponent is in Soul Crash status. If the Critical Finish actually hits the opponent, you are the winner. It is a real pleasure when you succeed!
Are you introducing more interaction with the environments? Will there be destroyable objects, or things that we can use to damage more our adversary?
There certainly will - we have various interactive stages. For example, you can spread the fighting arena when you strongly hit your opponent to a fence or you can slam your opponent into a gigantic pot.
When including characters from movies (Star Wars), why not include legendary �martial� artists like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li�?
We didn�t choose real people because we want the players to enjoy creating their own character with Character Creation.
We've also been left in the dark concerning the Create-a-Soul mode. Could you name some specific examples as to how it�s improved compared to the older version, and will players be able to adjust the look of existing characters in this mode?
One of the challenges for this Character Creation is �simple operation�. Character models will be automatically set by choosing �Equipment policy�, �Faith policy�, and �Battle policy�.
By choosing weapons and equipments, the players can customize parameters of Health Power, Attack Power, Protect power, and more skills.
The skills range from something to cover your weak points to special abilities which SoulCalibur has never had before. I would highlight one example� there is Guard Impact, the representative system of SoulCalibur, and �Auto Impact� is a skill to support it. When you put it on, Auto Impact is automatically used. It is important to find an effective skill to fit your play style or the character you use.
How many polygons make up the average character in Soul Calibur 4?
It is a secret! (laughs)
Soul Calibur - Good, Soul Edge - Bad, Do we get to choose our soul paths from the beginning, Darkness or Light and how many different endings can we expect to see as we battle as either?
We didn�t create the way to choose good or bad. Darkness or light depend on the stories of the characters. The story is developed that good character is Light, and bad one is Darkness, but we have not made a simple Dark or Light drama. We gave the characters their objectives and conflicts, and then created them to try to explain their values and life philosophy.
How many characters are there in total including all unlockable ones, and which is your personal favourite and why?
There are totally 33 characters in the game.
My favourite is Hilda, who I wanted to express her feminine side without showing her skin. Everyone picks up the exposure of the characters� skin, but we didn�t emphasize it without their characteristics.
Are not you afraid that characters from the Star Wars universe will not get a warm welcome from hardcore Soul Calibur fans? Will Darth Vader, Yoda or The Force Unleashed character be connected to the story in some way?
There is nothing to be afraid of. I would think that hardcore fans will appreciate the attraction of beating the SW characters. On the other hand, SW fans want to beat SC characters with SW ones. Such battles that the fans can�t lose or don�t want to lose are the real joy of disparate battles, I think.
The story of SW characters is� well, you�ll just have to wait and see, but don�t miss it!
Soul Calibur was one of the best fighting games for the Dreamcast, what makes Soul Calibur IV to the best game for Xbox 360?
I believe that it is a big attraction for players that SoulCalibur can be played all over the world while the players are at home, and also can offer an experience which they have not had ever before.
One of the examples will be Character Creation that was not included in the Dreamcast version. We believe that everyone will have fun through the online feature.
Did the game feature a big story, like the story mode from the Dreamcast Version?
I am sure that we have created a dramatic story for the characters who were involved in the ultimate battle of SoulCalibur and Soul Edge. Since we are focusing on expressing each character�s objective, conflict and way of his/her life throughout the battle, we really want everyone to enjoy the endings of all characters.
The characters that are exclusive to each console, will they ever appear on the other as downloadable content, we know Xbox 360 fans would love to be able to fight as Vader?
There is no plan for that so far. I can understand that the fans have interests in the dream battle� so we are trying to distribute appealing DL contents, but we want you to know that we have prepared huge volume of gameplay which will satisfy everyone who purchases the game.
Some players felt that some characters were unbalanced in the previous games. How have you ensured the characters are well balanced in SCIV?
Not exclusively SC3, but we consciously try to include the players� needs to the next title after the series released. SC3 was balanced to bring the personalities of the characters, and then create the playability in arcade. This time, we coordinated to take advantage of tactics which added new skills and Critical Finish based on that.
In terms of the game's storyline, who is the lead character if any?
We should not call them as main characters, but Siegfried and Nightmare can�t be taken out from the ultimate battle of this theme, so those two characters could be it.
Can you tell us about the story behind including Star Wars characters in the game? Are you all big fans of the movies?
Inside story� hmmm� Right after we decided on the guest characters, the SC team tried to figure out how to develop the characters. At that point, we have had a lot of all-day meetings to exchange ideas with the development team of LucasArts. At first, both teams tended to be reserved, but gently opened up to listen to the idea of SW characters� creation, like how to create the actions, visuals and sounds. Later it seemed to be a tech exchange in the spot level like GDC. We have had a good experience with LucasArts development team; they all have a great nature about them.
Jedi�s have lightsabers that can slice through anything and they have the force... How will this be implemented in to the game?
At first, the two worlds are not on the same line. The SW characters came to the SC universe beyond time and space. You will find how they came to SC universe in the game. In SC universe, there are two materials, Cortosis and Phrik that have power to withstand the power of lightsaber. The idea is that the weapons and equipments from SC universe contain materials at high concentration and that�s why the lightsabers can�t cut through all the things. We reached to this setting after we discussed the details with LucasArts.
As for Force, we did not have any problem in implementing it into the gameplay. We portrayed it as an absolute power. We, however, didn�t make it as the skill which can be used unlimitedly.
Will we be getting DLC in the near future? New costumes, weapons, characters..?We plan to offer enjoyable content in the future. However, I don�t want all of the players to misunderstand, we are sure that everyone will have so much fun with the game itself without DLC. It is not like you must get DLC to have fun with this game.
We�ve seen that you can inflict damage to people in the amount that they will lose armour/clothing, will this have an effect on how the character will play? Will they receive more damage?
By attacking a part of damaged equipment, it will cause more harm. The destructible parts are the top, middle, and bottom.
When your opponent is in SoulCrash status, you can destroy their clothes and armor, then you have the chance to use the Critical Finish.
With a Star Wars: Force Unleashed character in SCIV are we going to see some SCIV characters in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed?
We don�t have any plans for this. We have seen TFU when we visited at Lucas Arts, and it was very appealing without SC characters. The cut scenes and Force actions are overwhelming.
Is it a coincidence that Master Yoda will represent the light side on the Xbox 360 and Darth Vader the Dark Side on the PS3, is this a hidden message maybe? :D
There is a hidden message. It is an image of the product. I was inspired with the image colour of 360 which should match the green of Yoda, and as well the black PS3 fitted Vader. Some people laugh at the strategy, but I just let them. I quite seriously made this decision and I believe it succeeded.
How does adding Yoda affect the gameplay when fighting against him? Wouldn't it be hard to hit him considering how short he is?
Don�t you think it will be interesting if you can duplicate the acrobatic actions from Episode 2 and 3 into a game? It was true that adjusting his height was a hard point, but Yoda needs to jump for fight, and I believe that his size brought up merit and demerit without damaging his characteristics. I don�t think it�s really an issue.
Are any of the original team from Soul Calibur or even Soul Edge been involved with Soul Calibur IV?
There are a few. As may be expected, over 10 years the original members have decreased, but the team is well mixed with tradition and innovation every time a new blood comes in. I have been involved since SC3 and am a relative new comer.
Does the Quest mode make an appearance with more features than the last?
SC3 is a title which we focused on single player mode. SC4 is a title including online feature, so those are different way to approach the gameplay. We aimed to create both single player and online play, and establish a mode which produces a synergistic effect on both.
Have you ever considered including customisable weapons?
You could say that we have adopted customizable weapons this time.
The players can customize skills with Character Creation. Skill can be set by equipping weapons and parts, so players will feel almost the same as customizing the weapons themselves.
The adjustable skills offer a range from something to cover your weak points to special abilities, which SoulCalibur has not had ever before. I would show one example� there is Guard Impact, the representative system of SoulCalibur, and �Auto Impact� is a skill to support it. When you put it on, Auto Impact is automatically used. It is important to find an effective skill to fit your play style or the character you use.
Can you please tell us something about the controller settings and the use of the buttons/sticks. Will it be possible to configure the controller and will the right stick be used for combos etc.?
It is possible to change the configuration of the buttons. Our main purpose is that the players can customize the configuration by themselves to fit their play style. The right stick is not used for combos.
Will it be possible to create your own Character for the Single-Player and play with this Character on Xbox Live too?
It is possible to play online battle with a character that is customized in Character Creation. Also, we prepared VS special to let the players enjoy. We recommend that you customize your health power, attack power, protect power and skills to fit you. And find your own battle style, then challenge the online battle. You can enjoy playing more.
Do original characters from Soul Blade return, such as Soul Edge? Will this be a possibility for DLC?
There is no other characters who was not in SC3 but come back. Are you talking about Li Long? He is a character which receives many requests from the fans, but unfortunately he doesn�t come back this time. There will be no distribution on DLC, but it could be fun to offer a part of the reprinted costumes.
Will there ever be a time when we can have Darth Vader and Yoda on the same console or will one character always be exclusive to one type of console?
We don�t have any plans for that.
Will we get to see more of Ivy's clothing like the American version or will we get the skimpy outfit like the Japanese version?
Ivy�s clothing on American version? I have not seen such thing, so I don�t get your question.
I can tell one thing, the players can customize even the regular characters. Why don�t you create your own Ivy with unique costume you choose? It should be fun!
Thanks for your time!
Posted By: Robert Cram