Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Biggest Takuya Aizu Gunvolt Interview That You'll Ever Read

Heya folks! So, a couple days ago, I had the honor of interviewing Inti Creates President Takuya Aizu again during his visit to GDC 2016. The main topic of the interview was Azure Striker Gunvolt and its sequel, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, although a couple other topics were also touched upon, such as the ending of Mega Man Zero 4 and whether Zero might still be alive. It was overall a very enlightening discussion! Aizu-san was kind enough to provide some very detailed responses to a number of difficult questions! He was even so generous as to reveal some new details about Gunvolt 2 to me! I was able to ask over thirty questions in total.

You can catch the interview in its entirety below after the jump! Hope you folks enjoy it! Special thanks to Matt Papa for acting as our translator.

Skybane: Aizu-san! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us again about your awesome games! First off, I just want to tell you again how much of an impact your games have left on me over the years. I cannot thank you enough for being there to give us these games that we all so thoroughly enjoy!

Aizu: Thank you very much!

Skybane: Thank you, great to have you! So, we got a number of questions together from our fanbase for you. In particular, there are a lot of people asking about Gunvolt 2, which is to be expected in light of all the news that's been revealed about the game lately. I know that you kinda have to be careful about what you say regarding your upcoming titles, though, so don't feel pressured to answer what you don't think you should answer.

Anyway, we saw the new Gunvolt 2 trailer a couple weeks back, and I must say, it was quite phenomenal! It certainly came completely out of the blue! Personally, I was not expecting to see so much Gunvolt 2 news so soon after Magfest.
But going in to the first question: why is the tail end of GV's hair now blue/indigo in the new trailer?

Aizu: When the designer was thinking about possible changes to make to the character design (as you saw, other things besides the hair were changed), there was talk about, like, "why don't we make GV's hair blue." That might, of course, lead some people to think, "Oh, well, that change was made because of Joule," but from a design perspective, there really isn't a particular reason for it. It's kind of up to your own interpretation. Of course, you also have to take into account that not everyone who has seen the new art has gotten the true ending of Gunvolt 1, so we can't just upright say "Oh, this was changed because of this reason." It would kinda kill the suspense of Gunvolt 1 for those who haven't played it. So that's why the change is there, but for the people who haven't played Gunvolt 1 or gotten the true ending in Gunvolt 1, it kinda leaves it up to their imagination.
Gunvolt's new design features a darker color scheme and bluish braid.
Skybane: Copen was just revealed as a playable character for Gunvolt 2. Are GV and Copen's storylines going to be interwoven into one storyline in the game, or are there going to be two separate storylines for each respective character?

Aizu: Both stories start at the same time, but shortly after that, both characters branch off into their own stories. So, for both Gunvolt and Copen, they both start from the same place, but quickly branch off in their own directions.

Skybane: We also got a sneak peek at Lumen's new design in the Japanese version of new Gunvolt 2 trailer, and she appears to have merged with Joule completely. Does this mean that Lumen's personality is gone in Gunvolt 2?

Aizu: *chuckles* The answer to that very much lies within the story of Gunvolt 2, so we can't really speak about that right now.
Lumen, as she appears in Gunvolt 2.
Skybane: I do have to ask about something else regarding this topic, though. After the fight with Nova, Lumen says something to the effect of "GV, take good care of Joule," and then disappears. Does this mean that she died after the Nova battle?

Aizu: Well, with that whole subject line, there's really not a whole lot we can say at the moment. So, in terms of what is the deal with Lumen/Joule, you'll have to wait until you can play Gunvolt 2.

Skybane: Gotcha. Okay, here's a popular question. Are you guys translating the game yourselves, or are you getting 8-4 to do the job again?

Aizu: We are working with 8-4 again on the translation, but as you may know, we got a lot of feedback from the first game in regards to what people thought of its English translation. The team at 8-4 is very much aware of that feedback, so the translation for Gunvolt 2 may vary a little bit from what you saw with the first game. We have the utmost faith in 8-4's abilities, and have no doubts in our minds that they will produce a fabulous translation.
Suffice to say that 8-4 took a...large amount of creative liberties when they translated Gunvolt 1.
Skybane: Are you keeping the Japanese voiceovers this time around in the English version?

Aizu: We will not be cutting the voices.

Skybane: YES!

Aizu: *laughs*

Skybane: Has GV's gameplay style changed much in the second game? It kinda looks the same in the new trailer.

Aizu: For the most part, nothing's really changed with him. As far as his standard tag-and-shoot style is concerned, that hasn't changed, but as for his special skills, we'll have announcements on those later.

Skybane: This question is from our friend Kiwi: "How did Jota get that scar on his right shoulder [in the beach artwork drawn by Hatakeyama]?" I would like to go even further and ask: how did he get the scar on his left eye?

Aizu: Ah! I'm not entirely sure off the top of my head about that one. That's something that I unfortunately won't be able to answer right here and now. I'd have to check with the scenario writer about that. *chuckles* It's a pretty detailed question, a good question, but it's a pretty fine detail, so that's something that probably only the scenario writer would know off the top of his head. The scenario writer, Toshiyaki Tai, has a lot of ideas going around in his head when he writes these things, so make no mistake that there is a point and reason behind it, but all those small details aren't always conveyed to every person on the team. If there's anybody who knows all those small details at any given time, though, it's him.

Skybane: I would guess that it had something to do with his military activities?

Aizu: It's a pretty high probability that that is the case, but only Tai-san can say for sure. There's definitely a reason for it, I just personally don't know. One of those guys definitely does, though. *chuckles*
Jota (bottom-left corner of the picture) has a scar across his right shoulder.

Skybane: This is a game development question: Mario Robledo asks, "When making a game, how important do you believe the story aspect to be in contrast with the actual gameplay? Do you look for a balance or is the gameplay definitely the most important part of the product?"

Aizu: Obviously, balance is very important, but when you're making an action game like Gunvolt, the first thing you really need to figure out is how the game is going to work, how the gameplay elements are going to all come together, and how to make it enjoyable for the player. Once you get those ideas set in stone, then you can start thinking about what enemies you're going to incorporate in this game, what the bad guys are going to look like, and then from there you can really start to craft your story. The story kind of falls into place from there. So, you can say that we sort of start with the gameplay, and then the story comes after that. But obviously, striking balance is very important.

Skybane: Here's a question from Joshua Lagorio: "Who's your favorite Adept?" And you can't say all of 'em!

Aizu: Ah! In terms of abilities, I like Carrera the most, but in terms of just pure character, I like Daytona the best.

Skybane: Daaaaytooonaaaaa! [Those who've listened to the Gunvolt drama track "Fire and Water" know who I'm mocking here.]

Aizu: *laughs* I like the fact that Daytona likes what he likes and is not afraid to broadcast that to the world. I think that's pretty cool.

Skybane: Here's a good question from Taichara: "Will QUILL be any part of the plot in GV2? Surely there are other cells -- and Asimov's death is going to cause a mess."

Aizu: Yeah, you can imagine that Quill's in a bit of a jam after the events of the ending of GV1. They're kinda having a bad time, so maybe you won't be seeing them around.

Skybane: I'm pretty sure this next question has been answered someplace else, but I don't exactly know where, so I'm going to ask you it anyway. Charlotte Bowen asks, "Will any of the Steam updates be added to the 3DS version of GV1?"

Aizu: What we can say for sure is that the Japanese Voice Mode from the Steam version is definitely coming, with the voices and re-translation to go with that. That much we can say for sure. As for the other Steam updates...*Aizu gave a long "Hmmmm" here* There's not a whole lot we can say on the matter. There are various hurdles that you have to clear for this sort of stuff. But again, what we can say for sure is that the Japanese Voice Mode with the re-translation is definitely coming.
The Steam version of Gunvolt featured many gameplay modes that were not present in the 3DS version, such as a permanent Anthem mode and a "Christmas Mode".
Skybane: Here's another one from Mario Robledo: "At which point do you realize that you're going for a sad or a happy ending in a story? MMZ and now ASG had some rather bittersweet/sad endings. Is it always clear from the very beginning?"

Aizu: You know, it's funny, I personally don't think Zero 4 had much of a sad ending, because at the end of the day, the world is restored to peace.

Skybane: Zero dies, though, right?

Aizu: Well, you don't know for sure whether he's alive or dead. So, since the world is at peace, how sad of an ending is it, really? For all we know, Zero might live on to fight for humans and reploids another day. All you know is that his helmet was there [at the end of the game].

Skybane: Okay, I have a follow-up question to that now: What about in ZX, then? Doesn't Model Z contain Zero's soul? The biometal is even voiced by Zero's voice actor.

Aizu: Well, a lot of time has passed between the events of Mega Man Zero 4 and ZX. It's not established 100% whether Zero is alive or dead. So, if he does continue on after the events of Zero 4, you may lose him at some point in between that very long span of time. It's hard to say.

Skybane: Interesting! This is why we need a bridge between Zero and ZX. *chuckles*

Aizu: But going back to the scenario question for Gunvolt, the Director for the Zero series and Gunvolt are different people. I think everyone knows that happy endings always make you feel very good, but there's no real "shock value" to them. It's just like, "Okay! Everything's happy! Okay. We're good." Whereas a not-so-happy ending tends to stick with you more. It leaves a more lasting impression. So, with that in mind, in a case like Gunvolt 1, it all really depends on how you look at it. Depending on what you focus on [in a "sad" ending], you could either be like "Maybe it's happy" or "Maybe it's unhappy." So, with that being the case, everybody kinda makes their own judgments and it leaves a more lasting impression.

Skybane: This one's from Riela Marcellis: "Western fans are missing a lot of info from drama tracks and other sources of supplementary story information, any plans to do something about it?"

Aizu: As you know, we're a pretty small company, so anybody responsible for making English things often happens to be the person sitting across from you at the table. So, while we were able to do the Fleeting Memories side story, the drama tracks are a whole different ballgame. But since we are a small developer, it kinda comes to the point where we have to say, "Okay, do we want to focus more of our manpower and efforts on working to expand the story of the first game for others, or do we want to make a separate game?" So, obviously, we're making a separate game, but in terms of the sub-content, from here on out we'd like to do what we can to make that stuff available in English so more people outside of Japan can enjoy it.
Three Gunvolt drama track albums have been released in Japan thus far, none of which have made their way to the West. As a result, fans are taking the liberty of translating the tracks into English themselves.  

Skybane: Alright, this one's from Anonymous: "Does Panthera really die? I think it's too easy for him as he has a same Rank-potential as Gunvolt or Shiden. If he really died, why he is the only one who doesn't get revived by Elise."

Aizu: It's a true mystery! No comment!*laughs*

Skybane: Well, the Dengeki Nintendo Magazine said that he was dead, or at least the translation that English people received said that he was dead. Mistranslation? *laughs*

Aizu: *laughs* No, that's not a mistranslation. It's a true mystery, though! A very mysterious adept, after all.

Skybane: Ah, here's a question that I've been wondering about for a long time! What is Gino's septima?

*Matt didn't need to translate this question into Japanese. Aizu caught it right off the bat and started laughing.*

Aizu: Ah! We get this question a lot. That, too, is a mystery! *laughs* Perhaps Director Tsuda or Scenario Writer Tai has that information, but they have never passed it on to me. Maybe it's a matter of them not wanting people to know. Perhaps.

Skybane: They don't even want the President to know? *chuckles*

Matt: We're not sure. Only they know for sure!

Skybane: How long until Fleeting Memories season 2?

Aizu: As you can probably imagine, Tai-san has been very busy doing all this stuff for Gunvolt 2, and other games as well (he doesn't just work on Gunvolt, he works on other games, too). So, as of what we know right now, you'll probably be looking at some time towards the last quarter of the year: October/November/December, something like that.

Skybane: Are Monica and Gino scheduled to make an appearance in GV2?

Aizu: Hmm. No. *chuckles*

Skybane: Really? So we may not find out about Gino's septima until much later, then?

Aizu: Well, okay, they probably won't show up. I shouldn't say definitely won't. It's more like probably won't.
Skybane: So, are we to assume, then, that Gino's going to be a secret boss?
Aizu's reaction to this question.
*This was another question that didn't need to be translated into Japanese. As soon as I said this, Aizu-san blasted into laughter, and then gave a very long "Hmmm"*

*...followed by another "Hmmm"*

*He was finally forced to answer, "Pretty low chance of that happening," and then laughed again.*

Skybane: Okay, next question! "Did Asimov ever care about Gunvolt, or was he always just a means to achieve an end for him?"

Aizu: Ah. Well, what I believe is that Asimov definitely wanted to work with Gunvolt, but at a certain point in the game, their relationship kinda changed. Until he revealed his true intentions to Gunvolt, he didn't know whether he would follow along or not. So, up until that point [when Asimov betrayed Gunvolt], he very much indeed wanted to be as close as he could to Gunvolt because he had his own "secret goal" in mind, and wanted Gunvolt to be a part of that. So yeah, I believe that he indeed had his best intentions at heart, in the hopes that Gunvolt would join him in his true goal.

Skybane: Asimov's such a cool character! I like how he's an American!

Aizu: Well, he doesn't speak much English, but... *laughs*

Skybane: Yeah, that's really funny! I loved that part in the "Ninja Arts" drama track when Monica is pointing out to Asimov how he doesn't speak perfect English, despite being an American. *laughs*

Aizu: *chuckles* Yeah, it's very much a funny joke. Maybe at the end of the day he can speak proper English after all. *chuckles*

Skybane: Alright, here's another one: "If you had a septima, which one would you want?"

Aizu had to think about this for a moment, but he eventually came up with an answer.
X-ray vision!
Aizu: X-ray vision! But...more of with a Gal*Gun twist to it. Going beyond just the potential perverted things you could possibly do with that, though, I think the ability to see what others can't is pretty cool. So, for example, if there's something dangerous like a hidden bomb or something, you'd be able to find it faster than anyone else. Or, on the contrary, you could look into the ground and see where there's oil or natural gas hidden...Of course, being able to see through clothes is nice, too! *chuckles*

Skybane: Are you planning on a physical release for GV2?

Aizu: If that's something that we feel that a lot of fans are asking for, that's something we can certainly look into and consider.

Skybane: How old was GV when he met Asimov?

Aizu: GV was nine years old when he met Asimov.

Skybane: How about a Gunvolt artbook? Is that something that you guys are still thinking about?

Aizu: We are very much aware that a lot of fans want this, and we, too, would like to make an artbook. We're basically thinking, "When would be the best time to release such a thing? In what manner would be the best way to release such a thing?" That is something that we are putting a lot of thought into, so at this point, the best I can tell you is, "Look forward to more information about that in the future."

Skybane: This question isn't listed, but I'm wondering about it anyway: "Is Ippo Yamada Asimov?"

Aizu: *chuckles* It is a complete and utter coincidence!

Skybane: *laughs* I have a hard time believing that! He looks so much like him!

Aizu: Yeah, we can't really believe it either! *laughs* There's absolutely no relation between the two, though; it is completely a coincidence. The directors and the designers said this themselves.

Skybane: We [English Gunvolt fans] were making a lot jokes about this in the chat of the Magfest stream, when your shows were going on.
Suffice to say that Aizu found this more than a little humorous.
Fellow Inti Magfest chatters, with this reaction we have reaped our reward!
Aizu: *Bursts into laughter* But yeah, they're very much different people, Ippo and Asimov.

Skybane: Will the same songs be shared between GV and Copen storylines? Assuming that there's a kudos system for both characters, which it looks like there is.

Aizu: There is indeed a kudos system for Copen as well. The songs, too [are shared between both characters].

Skybane: Leland Queen asks, "What have been key influences as far as the series is concerned? Any specific connections to Mega Man X?"

Aizu: If there are any instances of that, that would be because Tsuda-san, our Director, not only did direction work for Mega Man X2, but he also worked on Mega Man X3 as well, so if there are specific MMX references in Gunvolt, that would be all his fault. *chuckles*

Skybane: Why isn't GV in perma-Athem mode in the new Gunvolt 2 trailer?

Aizu: No comment! You just have to find out when you play Gunvolt 2.

Skybane: Thought I'd try my luck! Okay, got an additional note here from my streaming pal, Josh. He says, "Bring back the Chain Rod (Mega Man Zero 2)."

Aizu: While that's not much of a fit for Gunvolt himself, we would love to think of a game where you'd be able to use a cool weapon like that again.

Skybane: What do you think people will enjoy the most about Gunvolt 2 in terms of gameplay?

Aizu: Copen being a playable character is by far the biggest addition to the new game. Just the fact that you can play as him is definitely something that I think a lot of people will enjoy. Not only that, but people who played Gunvolt 1 will be familiar with the way Gunvolt plays, so if they're looking for a gameplay style that they know, they'll have that option available. Also, considering that the game branches off into two separate stories, there's basically twice the amount of content this time around, so people will be able to learn more about the world of the game itself.
The Adept-Killer, Copen, was recently revealed as a playable character for Gunvolt 2, to the pleasure of a ton of fans!
Skybane: Okay! Well, I think we are pretty much finished here, so before we end, I would like to ask you, Aizu-san: Are there any final words that you'd like to impart to the followers on our page and even the followers of my blog?

Aizu: In order to make the most enjoyable game that we can, our team has been working extremely hard to make this game [Gunvolt 2] as fun as possible. So, while some time might pass between this first announcement that you guys got and the next one, be sure that we are working as hard as we possibly can to make Gunvolt 2 as enjoyable a game as the first one.

Skybane: Alright then! Well, Aizu-san, I certainly cannot wait for Gunvolt 2!

Aizu: Thank you very much!

For more news from Inti Creates, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out their English webpage here.
Huge thanks to Takuya Aizu for agreeing to this interview, and Matt Papa for acting as our translator! I hope you folks enjoyed this interview!


  1. This interview is GOLD! Thank you so much! Also, Aizu-san is a fantastic guy!

    ... the part about the MMZ4 ending, though. Not sure if it messes with my head of makes me happy because my old fanfiction turns a little less absurd now XD

    And you DID ask about Gino/Zeno's septima! I was curious for so much time! And you got an... interesting answer out of this, heh =3 Thanks a lot!

    1. It was even better in person! Maybe someday I'll get up the confidence to edit that video footage and show it to you folks. It's just that I really don't like video editing, lol.
      But yeah, Aizu-san is indeed an awesome person! Really down-to-earth, humble, kind, considerate, and super easy to make laugh! Really great speaker, too. Talking to him is always an honor!

      Also, right, I felt the same way about his Zero 4 input. You should have seen my expression when he said Zero -might- not be dead. :P I mean, it's true that his death was never confirmed in Zero 4, but it's pretty crazy to believe that he survived that fall!

      Oh, and yeah, you bet I asked about Gino's septima! That question has been plaguing my mind for ages! I'm only disappointed that it may be a while until we find out what his ability is, exactly...if we ever do. lol

  2. Good job Skybane, thanks for asking him all my questions :D. I really like his answer about the physical release of GV2 but I hope he is aware that people, even if they want it, they are not going to be very vocal, the fanbase for GV is very small.

    1. Yeah, that's definitely something worth noting. I'd say he's aware of that, though.

  3. Can't say I'm surprised Inti are working with 8-4 again for Gunvolt 2's translation, given how... creatively liberal their script was for GV1. At least both Inti and 8-4 are aware of the feedback. I'm also glad to know the voiceovers will be kept intact.

    1. Yeah, same here as far as the voiceovers are concerned! In terms of 8-4, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't skeptical myself about them doing GV2, but at the same time, I can acknowledge the fact that they've done good translations elsewhere (Monster Hunter, for example). Case in point, I think they can provide a faithful translation if they only want to.

  4. Since when is Asimov American?
    I so hope that they come out with a physical release.
    If Zeno isn't playing that big of a role why can't he throw us a bone!
    He is awesome and I want to know more about him.
    Interesting about the whole Asimov and GV thing but also a little contradictory.
    If he wanted to be close to GV why didn't he just do the whole knock him out and wait till he comes around cliche.
    I personally hope that Zeno's septima is time.
    That would be OP and bad@$$!
    Something around the lines of slowing down time or possibly even stopping it.
    That could explain how he can joke and say dodged something by a hair.
    Also it could explain how no one really knows his septima
    And his ability to come up with jokes and one liners on the fly.
    But I hope that the later is just natural talent.

    1. A power like that which would be like Quicksilver's if I could put time in a bottle moment would be awesome.
      I hope that they give it to someone.

  5. Don't know about anybody else but I find it hilarious how the black sheep tea is made up of
    Gunvolt who is Japanese
    Gino who is Italian
    Moniqa who is German

    Asimov who is American
    And Asimov dies.
    It's kinda like the world axis powers

    I'm definitely sure that it wasn't intentional but it is funny as anything.

    1. I don't think that you meant it but saying it like that is kinda offensive.

  6. I honestly doubt we've got much to worry about GV2's localization, considering they seem well aware of all the flack the first ones' got (enough to retranslate it and fix the vast majority of its issues).

    And Gino just gets more and more mysterious.
    (Also, I can not un-see Ippo Yamada as Asimov now.)


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