Virtua Fighter 5 R: The ONLY Interview
Check out our huge, exclusive interview with SEGA AM2 development boss Makoto Osaki to get the full story on Virtua Fighter 5 Revolution, and various other hot topics.
Kikizo: In VF3, many move animations had to be specially re-done for Taka due to his size. Again, this is the case in VF5R. Was it difficult going back through all the skills and re-doing them specifically due to Taka's presence? How did you decide which attacks should have special animations and properties versus Taka?
Osaki: It is indeed difficult! The hit and defense motions - when Taka gets hit - are unique to him, and their instances have increased considerably. But not just for Taka and Jean getting smacked around, but for all the other characters - since we've got two new move sets, we need to develop animations for all the other characters when they get hit, as well. We actually re-did a whole lot of animation for VF5R as a whole, to make things look more natural in reaction to being hit.
Kikizo: VF5R introduces a new character, Jean. How did you go about developing his character? Why the choice of traditional karate as his martial art?
Osaki: Well, we didn't have karate up until this point. It seemed strange that I didn't have it - I mean, Tekken has had it for God knows how long. We've had a bunch of other traditional Japanese martial arts represented up until now, as well - Aikido with Aoi, Judo with Goh, Sumo with Taka-Arashi. It just seemed weird that we didn't have Karate in there, you know? So we designed a half-Japanese, half-French karate-using character. Doing a karate-based character was also a good choice in that his skills and motion design was pretty easy - we had a lot of reference materials available to us, and we were able to get all of his skill motion done by using motion capture.
Kikizo: Jean's the second VF character with silver hair as a default color - is there a significance to that hair color in the game, or is it just a stylistic choice for the character designers?
Osaki: We try to design characters so that when you see the character lineup for VF5, you say, oh, Akira, he's the "nekketsu" [spirited martial-arts devotee] character, Shun Di's the old martial arts teacher type, Jeffry's a power/throw type, Blaze is this tiny, fast, annoying little thing! [laughs]. But weird hair colors like that... they're viewed as "cool" and "distinctive" by a lot of Japanese. You know, it's in the vein of the "Visual Kei" image a lot of J-Rock bands have. One character we've been missing from the lineup so far is a sort of "Visual Kei" type.
Kikizo: Going off of that, I've heard that the character of Jean was designed specifically to appeal to female players...
Osaki: Well, we did think a bit about the fujoshi appeal... [laughs] but that's not the main reason, I assure you! But yes, we can certainly see how the design elements - silver hair, the "visual-kei" aesthetics, the Western/Japanese mix - appeal to, uh, that crowd. [laughs]. But the main reason was just to fill out the roster - we didn't have anyone like Jean in a VF game yet, and we didn't want him to look too similar to anyone else, either.
Kikizo: How do you go about deciding how to re-balance the abilities of the characters each time you make a revision to the game?
Osaki: Every time we do a revision to the game, our motion director and ace player, Katagiri-san, works to adjust the game balance. Every time, we have a certain "scene" for the version. Up until this point, we've tried to equalize the balance amongst all the characters with a more "mild" game balance. But for VF5R, we've gone in more of a... how would you say it... "destructive" direction. By that I mean that all the characters have some powerful, hard-hitting attacks and potential to inflict a lot of damage on each other given the right opportunity. Both characters in a match have strong moves available to them. This means that a single round can end very fast when compared to the original game. However, we have gleamed that this is the sort of thing that our users want.
Kikizo: So more high-damage combos like in VF2 and VF3.
Osaki: It's more in line with the initial version of VF4. Virtua Fighter 2... man, that game was HARSH. You'd eat Akira's Tetsuzankou and you could pretty much kiss that round goodbye. You had matches ending in three seconds back then!