One of my personal highlights from E3 2012 was the chance to share a conversation with Takuya Matsumoto, lead designer of the forthcoming Wii game The Last Story. Before the interview, I was given a personal demo of the game, which looks to be a lot of fun (if not a bit overwhelming, considering were I jumped in). If The Last Story is going to be the Wii’s final epic RPG, it’ll be sending the system out triumphant fanfare.
Before we get there, though, Takuya Matsumoto gives us a peek (through an interpreter) towards what we can expect from the game, what he’s most proud of, and where he’d like to turn next. One platform that has attracted his curiosity is going to surprise a lot of gamers.
Gamertell: When you were developing The Last Story, what type of experience were you hoping to provide gamers?
Matsumoto: During battles and the story, I wanted to express the emotional aspect that the characters have with one another in a real time world. Usually in a turn-based system RPG it’s really hard to convey that because there are bits and sections of it. There’s a gameplay and there’s a battle section. We wanted to make it seamless without forcing the information upon the player. We want the players to actually feel what [the characters] are going through.
Gamertell: Is that partly why you set the game in more of a single town instead of offering an open world experience? Does that facilitate those types of relationships?
Matsumoto: Exactly how you described. More than making the world vast we wanted to condense everything. By doing so there are more characters talking to one another, there’s more interaction with NPCs, there’s more new stuff for the players to do rather than just explore a vast world.
Gamertell: Which aspect of The Last Story, then, are you most proud of?
Matsumoto: I guess that would be how each user has a character that they like. There’s so much emotional involvement that each fan will have a different point of view on each character. I think that’s because we were able to express to the users what each character is going through in their mind. As a level designer, that’s one of the things I was really concentrating on doing. We get a lot of good feedback on that, and that’s one of the things I’m really proud of.
Gamertell: Do you feel The Last Story is the next step forward in JRPGs? Considering the recently released Xenoblade Chronicles has more of an MMORPG feel to it, do you feel that’s something the genre is moving towards or do you think they’ll continue to offer a more closed, personal experience?
Matsumoto: I do think Xenoblade and The Last Story are good examples of the next step in the typical JRPG—of the turn-based style. I’m not saying which one is better and which style will survive better, it’s just two different types of game play. I think it is a step forward. They all have their own good parts, but I think we did a really good job with a new form of RPG.
Gamertell: Was there a point in the development of The Last Story when the Wii U specs starting coming out that you considered putting off the project to take advantage of the capabilities of the Wii U?
Matsumoto: Out of my imagination and from my own personal opinion, just the visual aspect of what The Last Story has and the game’s strategic aspect it could’ve done really well with the Wii U. There’s a screen and there’s a game pad in your hand, so there’s a lot of strategic movement you could’ve done. There’s a possibility we could’ve stopped and started for the Wii U.
Gamertell: Maybe a sequel, then.
Matsumoto: That sounds great.
Gamertell: Looking beyond The Last Story, AQ Interactive has developed two 3DS games: Cubic Ninja and Zoo Resort. Are you looking to continue 3DS development or do you plan to branch out more towards Vita games following Browser Sangokushi Next?
Matsumoto: AQ merged with Marvelous Interactive and Marvelous already has a lot of IPs on their own. So, there are a lot of 3DS and Vita titles in the works right now. From late this year to early next year you’ll start seeing a lot more titles from us for those two platforms.
Gamertell: Which of the past AQ games is your favorite?
Matsumoto: KORG DS-10.
Gamertell: With the rise of gamers with iOS or Android devices, do you think those systems will pull gamers more towards casual games or do you think the systems will rise up to the point where more hard core games are going to be released on them?
Matsumoto: One of the things I really thought about when I saw the third generation iPad was the amount of resolution that thing has. My first impression was that it could be more than a PS3 because no matter how much you zoom in it’s still crisp and really sharp. With that type of hardware, it’s way beyond just the casual market. You can really start creating games for the core market, as well. It definitely has the potential.
Gamertell: Is developing for the iPad something you’ve personally considered, then?
Matsumoto: There’s no project as of yet, but that is something I’m really curious of working on. The way to create a Wii game seems really similar to an iPad format, so it should be easy to start creating those types of games. It is something I’m curious about.
Site [The Last Story]
See all of Gamertell’s E3 2012 coverage.