Ahead of the Western launch of the MAGES-developed and Spike Chunsoft-published Science Adventure visual novel ANONYMOUS;CODE, we interviewed the franchise’s creator, Chiyomaru Shikura.
We discussed certain setting and gameplay elements of ANONYMOUS;CODE, as well as what fans can anticipate from the future of the Science Adventure franchise as a whole.
You can read our full interview below:
Orpheus Joshua: ANONYMOUS;CODE features unique gameplay systems, such as the Hacking Trigger, that has the player directly interact with Pollon as an in-universe character. Was this challenging to implement during development? Do you recall why this system was first implemented into gameplay?
Chiyomaru Shikura: In the early days of video gaming, only through the correct entry of a long password could you access the records of your journey and witness the story unfold before your eyes. The more prominent the storytelling element was in a game, the more carefully and painstakingly we jotted down the passwords. Then came the age of saving and loading. One may say that most video games from that point on became presentations of a “time loop”—in a way that’s different from how it’s commonly depicted in works of animation. Would you consider that a legitimate way to cheat? No, it’s more like magic.
And if that’s the case, it wouldn’t be wrong for a story’s protagonist to have the same power. We, the players, aren’t gods to the characters, but rather, their equal. Such a relationship would allow the players to be immersed in the story, as well as feel the tension and sense of reality within the game. In the long history of video games as a medium, this may be a breakthrough—or, rather, breaking the rule. However, rules are meant to be broken…when we’re talking strictly in terms of entertainment, of course.
Orpheus Joshua: Given that ANONYMOUS;CODE takes place in 2037, how did your team decide on which technological and societal predictions would be believable for modern players?
Chiyomaru Shikura: People of my generation had a significant interest in the so-called “Year 2000 problem” towards the end of the century. Storage was an expensive commodity, so a strategy taken to reduce the amount of data was to store just the last two digits of the Western calendar year. As a programmer, I was very concerned about this method: what came after “99” (the year 1999) was “00” (which could be taken as the correct year 2000 or the year 1900).
This could lead to a massive problem. Would all the digital infrastructure really continue functioning without any repercussions? But the year came and went as a matter of course and became part of history. The whole experience was so surreal, like modern-day magic. In ANONYMOUS;CODE, we selected the Year 2036 problem and the Year 2038 problem as keywords and did extensive research on them, starting with Wikipedia (lol). And for the story’s setting of a peaceful near future, we picked a time right in between those two years—2037.
Orpheus Joshua: Considering ANONYMOUS;CODE’s gameplay features with the player being a character, it’s tough to imagine it receiving an anime or manga adaption. Regardless, are there any plans for either of those possibilities down the road, and if so, what would the approach be like?
Chiyomaru Shikura: The existence of a protagonist is a must in works of animation and manga, whereas games—a type of interactive media—are free of such limitation. And in many game titles, the protagonist is you, the player. I’m afraid I took too much liberty in writing the story of this game… However, there’s a powerful creative ally in any sort of visual work, called God’s Eye.
The question “Whose point of view is this from?” recurs as you watch this title’s world. In one of the opening scenes, a boy recites an epic poem as he sits at the top of a building. He has the power to perceive everything, like the Eye of Horus. He’s a character best suited to be the Player—the taciturn protagonist—in a visual adaptation of ANONYMOUS;CODE.
Orpheus Joshua: Have you considered bringing the casts of the many Science Adventure games in a more direct, perhaps non-canon, crossover experience? With so many strong character choices, it seems like a fun game, though understandably overwhelming.
Chiyomaru Shikura: The protagonists in my stories are limited to powers that go unnoticed by the vast majority of the people on Earth, not some grand magic that wows everyone who sees it. That’s why they can never become world-renown heroes. It’s enough that they’re heroes to those who’ve played our games. This is perhaps inevitable, as my stories are deeply rooted in science.
To the fans of our series, however, the protagonists undoubtedly possess special powers. If we’re to bring such individuals together…it might be best to do so in 2026 A.D. There’s actually a deep meaning behind that timing, but it’ll remain a secret…until the day the title is released. Just so you know, I’m a big fan of the Avengers.
Orpheus Joshua: Each entry in the Science Adventure series focuses on specific areas of Science, whether they be more fictional or realistic, like how STEINS;GATE featured time travel and ROBOTICS;NOTES had augmented reality. What kind of science fiction concepts have you considered for future entries? Is there a specific scientific theme you’ve been trying to work into the series?
Chiyomaru Shikura: A simple idea that originates from a human mind may evolve into a hypothesis, which is then further expanded through technology. Once it reaches the realm of quantum physics, its behavior may be perceived as paranormal. And those ideas will guide us to a higher dimension—or “meta.” Who awaits us there? The answer is the Players. I’m connected to them, as they connect me to you.
Orpheus Joshua: I’m sure you might be aware that visual novels are becoming more popular globally. I’d like to know your thoughts on this and if you ever thought the Science Adventure series would still be evolving so many years later to a much larger audience.
Chiyomaru Shikura: We are naturally thankful to all Science Adventure fans; they are the reason we have been able to continue as a series. It is because of their deep knowledge of our works. I am always overwhelmed by the high level of the fans, and sometimes they discover commonalities and coincidences that even I had not noticed. I sincerely hope that the community will evolve beyond national borders and help to evolve the genre as a whole.
Orpheus Joshua: Is there anything you’d like to share with fans awaiting the Western release of ANONYMOUS;CODE?
Chiyomaru Shikura: Please be sure to protect your save data with the utmost care. Thank you!
Anonymous;Code will launch in the West on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on September 8, 2023.
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