Japanese mythology-inspired co-op RPG Toukiden: The Age of Demons isn't just for fangirls like Brenna, according to producer Kenichi Ogasawara.
I'm pretty excited about Toukiden: The Age of Demons, but I'm also aware that I'm a weaboo. I get a bit misty-eyed about all things Japanese folklore, I'm openly devoted to Omega Force's Warriors franchise, and I like tough co-op RPGs. If Toukiden can be said to have a target demographic outside Japan, I'm probably it.
Unfortunately, there's only one of me, and I can only buy so many copies. Producer Kenichi Ogasawara doesn't seem fazed; he believes Toukiden's appeal is "universal".
"Toukiden’s biggest appeal is the instinct stimulating and exhilarating 'targeted destruction system,'" he said.
"Using attacks that slay, thrust and crush, there is universal appeal in heroically destroying parts of an enormous enemy. In addition, I think that the strategic depth of the Mitama system and the unique Japanese settings have allowed us to bring a fresh and exciting game to western gamers."
Well, it's certainly true that most of us like blowing things up - but mostly in military shooters, or science fiction. Traditional Japanese folklore is an unfamiliar theme for many westerners.
"Absolutely no previous knowledge of Japan is needed since we’ve created a game that can be enjoyed by anyone. During the course of the game, players will naturally become exposed to Japanese culture and Japanese historical figures," Ogasawara said.
"For anyone who becomes interested in Japan while playing the game, if they decide to read up on Japanese culture, myths, folklore or history, I think this deeper understanding would add another layer of enjoyment to the game."
I'm not at the end of my objections; in Japan, it's easy to find co-op partners. In places where portable games systems are less common, and population densities are often lower, it can be much harder.
"The entire main story of Toukiden can be enjoyed in single player mode," Ogasawara assured us.
"After the main story is cleared, more powerful enemies will appear so it may be more efficient to defeat them in co-op play. In addition to Ad hoc play, there is online multiplayer so it should be easy to find co-op partners."
This isn't the first time Omega Force has made a co-op action RPG - anybody remember Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce on the PSP? Given the franchise's popularity on both sides of the Pacific, it seems odd that Omega Force didn't leverage it, or another of Tecmo Koei's properties such as Ninja Gaiden, given the already risky prospects of both the Vita and the hunting action genre - think Monster Hunter, which sells great guns in Japan but not internationally, despite critical acclaim. Ogasawara said it's in the studio's best interests to take risks.
"Omega Force was originally created as a team to take on new challenges and create new things," he said.
"In Japan, hunting action is a major game genre, but it was a genre that Tecmo Koei had never attempted. For this title Toukiden, Omega Force tackled it with head-on with the aim to create a hunting action game that hunting action game fans would enjoy.
"I think we have made this a very Tecmo Koei-like original hunting action game. Gamers are always looking for new stimulation. While it is important to satisfy the fans of our existing franchises, we also need to continuously take on new challenges."
"Omega Force was originally created as a team to take on new challenges and create new things."
This view of Omega Force as an innovator may raise eyebrows, given how well the team is known for the Warriors franchise, which has spawned countless sequels, spin-offs and tie-ins. To the bafflement of those who don't enjoy them, these titles sell strongly, pretty much guaranteeing a western release for each new title. This is because the franchise has a passionate and devoted fanbase, eager to consume and compare each new iteration, deconstructing the constantly evolving formula. Ogasawara hopes Toukiden can inspire the same passion.
"I think it is highly possible. The Toukiden development team members have previously worked on various Warriors games, and we’ve invested a lot of the technical know-how of the exhilarating action that the Warriors franchise is well known for," he said.
"We also designed the game with a more of a 'strategic action' feel than most Warriors games using the battle conditions of Slayers versus gigantic enemies, so I think that even the overseas gamers with a discerning taste for action games will find this game enjoyable. A free demo of this game has been released on PSN, so we hope people will play it and experience the allure of this game for themselves."
Toukiden: The Age of Demons arrives on Vita in the west on February 11 in North America and February 14 in Europe.