If you haven’t heard of Granblue Fantasy then it’s about time we changed that. Officially launched in the west in 2016 to mobile devices, western players have consistently found fun in the game’s RPG mechanics, characters, and story. Now, Japanese developer Cygames is expanding the world of Granblue Fantasy by bringing the IP to the fighting game genre with Granblue Fantasy: Versus.
Developed in partnership with Arc System Works and published in the west by XSEED, Granblue Fantasy: Versus presents some huge steps forward in terms of presentation with its anime-like graphics and animations. During Anime Expo 2019, Noisy Pixel had the opportunity to interview producer Yuito Kimura and director Tetsuya Fukuhara, in order to get a better idea of how they are bringing this mobile RPG to the fighting game genre.
Azario Lopez: What was your biggest take away from Granblue Fantasy: Versus‘ open beta?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: There was plenty of useful feedback from players especially from those who were beginners. We found that some players had trouble activating the Super Skybound Arts, which makes us consider implementing some simple commands to activate these skills. With that said, we need the learning curve of activating these attacks to restore some of the game’s balance so we are now returning to the game to see what the best answer for this will be.
AL: Is addressing feedback something you plan to do throughout the development of Granblue Fantasy: Versus even after launch?
TF: Yes, leading up to the game’s launch we are planning on bringing the game to multiple events to get feedback from players to help us with the game’s development. We don’t plan to make any large changes to the game’s systems at this point, but we do want to get the game’s balance right which is something that we will return to.
AL: Granblue Fantasy has a large following of fans, how do you make Granblue Fantasy: Versus a fighting game, but still preserve its world?
TF: When it comes to fighting games, there will be times when you have to fight your ally. Lancelot and Charlotta would never actually fight like this, but suddenly in this game, they are now fighting against each other. Our goal here was to give them a reason to actually fight. Sure, we could have just let it slide because it is a fighting game, but that’s something that we didn’t do.
So instead, we gave them a motive and tied that into a story that makes their interaction make sense. Something else we did was give each character a unique interaction depending on who they’re fighting. We did this to preserve the character’s relationship with each other and also to allow it to make more sense in this world.
AL: In terms of post-launch content, which I’m sure you can’t talk about, can you tease any DLC in terms of characters or costumes?
Yuito Kimura: We will have post-launch characters added to the game, but when it comes to costumes, the way that we implement character animations would take a lot of resources to implement. So in the future, if we were to do new costumes, it would better for us to just do a whole new version of that character. We have to be really careful about how we use our resources post-launch, but we are fully committed to giving players a unique experience with each character, even if it’s a different version of the same character.
AL: So can we expect any bathing suit characters in the future?
YK: If we’re going to do that then we will just create a swimsuit version of the character.
AL: You kind of touched on this with the response you got from player feedback, but would you say that Granblue Fantasy: Versus is marketed towards hardcore fighting fans or more casual players?
YK: Our focus with this game is mostly on newcomers to the fighting genre. The reason is that the main Granblue Fantasy fanbase are those who play on their smartphones. While these players are good at the mobile game, they might not have too much experience with fighting games. We didn’t want to build a wall that makes fans hesitant to actually start the game. There are many games available for hardcore fighting game fans, if you are looking for something hardcore to play, we recommend Guilty Gear, but for our game, we want to not only make this game accessible to fans but hopefully reach new ones.
AL: The background animations during the matches are so beautiful that they are actually distracting, could you tell us about why you created these scenes to play out like an anime?
YK: Presenting exciting and detailed background art is a pillar of the Granblue Fantasy IP itself. We are constantly putting time into the quality and detail of this art so extending this into Granblue Fantasy: Versus was just natural to us. During development, Cygames was able to do quality checks and provide feedback to the game’s look. Interestingly, we had some of our own background artists write up the textures for the game, which was a fun collaboration between Arc System Works and ourselves.
AL: So when it comes to a story, will each character have their own Story Mode?
YK: With the lore of Granblue Fantasy and all the playable characters within it, it would be tough to tell each of their stories in this game. So what we did for Granblue Fantasy: Versus, is create one main story that features all of the characters who each play their own role and have their own highlighted moment.
AL: Do you have a favorite character, and why is it Charlotta?
YK: For the characters from the Closed Beta, Charlotta is my favorite laughs, but if I’m playing to crush you then I’d probably pick Ladiva, who is the pro wrestler that wasn’t available in the Closed Beta.
AL: Do you have plans for other Beta tests in the future?
YK: We don’t have any other online beta tests for the future at this time before release, but we are appearing at various events to allow players to play.
AL: Do you have plans to release Granblue Fantasy: Versus on other platforms?
YK: It’s not official, but we are considered releasing the game on other platforms and PC.
AL: You recently announced that XSEED will be publishing Granblue Fantasy: Versus, how has it been for you to work with this western publisher?
YK: So this isn’t because they are in the room with us right now that I am saying this, but out of all of the options that we had, XSEED brought the most passion and planning. Their experience is also deep-rooted in publishing Japanese IP, which made it a natural decision for us to go with them as the publisher.
AL: Is there anything you’d like to say to the Granblue Fantasy community or new fans looking forward to Granblue Fantasy: Versus?
YK: For those of you who are familiar to the IP, thank you for enjoying our game. In the near future, Granblue Fantasy: Versus will be released and also the second season of the Granblue Fantasy anime, both will be officially distributed in the west, so there’s a lot coming up and we hope you enjoy. For those who haven’t experience the IP up to this point, this is the perfect time for you to become a fan especially with the care that we put into this series.
If you want more Granblue Fantasy: Versus, check out our preview of the Closed Beta.
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