We’ve seen party games try the game board style approach. However, Billion Road stands out in the crowd with it’s unique and zany elements of investing in Japanese real estate. Sure, it’s cartoonish and playful, but this game has what it takes to end friendships as learned when we spoke with producer Aoba Miyazaki.
Because of its interesting systems, we had the chance to interview Miyazaki-san about the game and learn more.
Azario Lopez: I feel like we should open up with asking how did the team come up with the core concept of Billion Road, by mixing a party game with the world of investing?
Aoba Miyazaki: We thought that if we made a game using real locations, players would have a more authentic, personal experience than if it were just a bunch of made-up places. At the same time, we’re hoping that people who have never been to Japan or don’t know much about it will see this as a chance to learn all about our most popular places, foods, souvenirs, and all the other things that the different regions of Japan are famous for. Ultimately, our wish is that everyone who plays Billion Road will immediately start planning a trip to Japan!
AL: Would you suggest players use this game to teach them the pros and cons of investing in the real world?
AM: Absolutely! The game features lots of famous goods and events from across the country, so there’s a lot to learn from playing the game. It really is a great way to learn about Japan, so we hope everyone will give it a try!
AL: Does Billion Road have the power to end friendships?
AM: To be honest, I’d have to say…yes. Obviously you have to beat them in the game, but mind games are also an important part of victory. Defeating your friends mentally is a huge part of the gameplay experience. Of course, the consequences of beating up on them too much might reach out into the real world once the game is over, too… But still, we hope you all can enjoy these kinds of playful mind games with your friends and family just as much as the game itself!
AL: The monsters within the game are each unique, how did you come up with so many types and was your goal to create as many cute companions as possible? Do you have a favorite monster companion?
AM: There were lots of conversations between the game director and Takayuki Doi, the game’s artist, about how each monster should look and feel. In some cases, a monster’s traits and abilities came first, while in others we started with their appearance and went from there.
In every case, though, Mr. Doi was able to perfectly capture each monster’s personality and purpose through his illustrations. He really has an amazing talent for that kind of thing. That being said, while we wanted to come up with as many monsters as possible, we also wanted to make sure none of them ruined the game balance. Having more monsters means you have more potential strategies for victory, but it also increases the chances of breaking the game.
As for my favorite monster, that would have to be Lazy, who doesn’t really do anything but lay around the map and sleep all the time. I just think he’s so cute! Sometimes I even catch myself opening up the Monster Manual and just staring at him…
AL: What is a good strategy that you can share with our readers to get a head start in the game?
AM: It kind of depends on each player’s personality; one person might not mind going into debt right away, while another might be terrified of owing any money at all. But one good piece of general advice is to head straight for the goal right at the start of the game, even if it means landing on a red square and losing a little cash.
One thing you don’t want early on is to be furthest away from the first goal and end up getting attacked by an evil monster. Try to get to the goal first, earn some nice reward money, and start investing in places with higher rates of return. As the game goes on, you can then use all that money you’ve earned to buy more real estate, venues, etc. to keep on increasing that return. And of course, make sure you use helpful monsters to counteract the financial mischief of all those evil ones! You’ll need all the help you can get to make it to the end…
AL: The game is played across the map of Japan. Being that it is so large and colorful, are there any Easter eggs or hidden objects left by the team the players can look out for?
AM: They’re not Easter eggs exactly, but we’ve filled the game with all kinds of real-world references for each city and region, so I really hope players will take the time to pay close attention to even the smallest details. We worked closely with Mr. Doi to make sure each in-game city represents its real-life counterpart in the best way possible. Also, the backgrounds will change based on the in-game season. So in winter, you’ll see white fields and snow-capped trees, and in fall you’ll travel past multi-colored leaves.
AL: Do you have plans to support the game post-launch with DLC or new maps?
AM: We don’t have any plans for that at the moment, but we’d love to hear from fans about what they’d like to see in the future!
AL: Is there anything you’d like to say to anyone looking forward to or just hearing about Billion Road?
AM: We’re really excited to be bringing a game like Billion Road to the western market! This kind of board game has often been seen as only really appealing to the Japanese market, so it’s rare for them to be released outside the country.
The game represents every single region of Japan really well, and we think it will lead to fun conversations between friends and family even after the game is over. And of course, all the monsters with their crazy abilities and personalities are very much looking forward to playing with you too! So let’s begin our adventure to become billionaires together!
Billion Road is coming to Nintendo Switch and PC-via Steam on April 16.
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