Last month, Gematsu sat down with SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy producer Yasuyuki Oda and designer Kaito Soranaka, and NIS America producer Toshi Beppu and senior product marketing manager Travis Shrodes to discuss the upcoming all-girls tag team fighting game. Unfortunately, Oda ran late and was not present for the majority of the interview. But we did get quite a bit out of Soranaka.
Get the full interview below.
Will there be any costumes from Days of Memories or SNK Beach Volley: Gal’s Attack? (via @cactusblosomb)
(Editor’s Note: Days of Memories is a series of dating sims starring the girls of SNK that first released for feature phones in Japan in 2005. SNK Beach Volley: Gal’s Attack a volley ball game starring the girls of SNK that released for feature phones in Japan in 2006.)
Soranaka: “As far as we understand, there will not be any. We can double check when Mr. Oda shows up.” (Editor’s Note: We forgot to double check.)
Does the character customization allow for custom character creation? Or editing of current characters in terms of body proportions? (via @RuralGaming)
Soranaka: “Outside of the costume customization and the three default costumes that each characters have, there will be no making custom characters.”
Can you describe the level of customization that you can apply to existing characters? Can you alter body proportions? Basically, is there anything outside of costumes and accessories?
Soranaka: “Outside of costumes and accessories, you can change the battle voices for each of the characters. There are various patterns. Also, when you want to take screenshots of the characters, you can change their poses for the screenshots, as well as change their backgrounds and place stickers on them.”
Is the screenshot feature more like a Photo Mode, or can they be taken during battle?
Soranaka: “There is a specific mode called ‘Customize Mode,’ at least in Japanese, where there is a set background, and you can move characters in the background, and then by using, for example, the PlayStation 4 Share functionality, you can take screenshots of that, but it will not be for battle screenshots.”
Soranaka: “There will be a story mode. So I guess that would be the equivalent of an arcade mode.”
Can you talk about how many stages can we expect?
Soranaka: “There will be seven stages for a regular story mode.”
Beppu: “Adding onto what Mr. Soranaka said, depending on the two characters that you choose, the conversations that come out will be unique to those two characters. There will be tons of different interactions you can see by choosing those two characters.”
Do those two characters that you choose also alter the story itself, like the ending?
Soranaka: “Adding onto what Mr. Beppu said earlier, depending on which characters you choose the conversations will be different, but depending on the main character—the Attacker character—there are different endings for each character.”
Just to clarify, based on the footage I have seen the Attacker character changes each time you switch between fighters in battle.
Beppu: “Yes, yes, so you choose an Attacker and you choose a Supporter—they are just basically names, but are equally as important when you are playing the game.”
Shrodes: “They are basically your first slot character and second slot character.”
What other modes are you planning outside of story mode?
Soranaka: “So we can’t really go into too much detail, but outside of the story mode and customization mode, there is the standard versus mode as well as other modes that have been included in The King of Fighters games in the past. So you can pretty much expect that much in terms of game modes similar to The King of Fighters.”
Can we expect any surprise modes?
Soranaka: “Something different from The King of Fighters—it is not actually a mode—but it is possible for you to play two-versus-two players-versus-players compared to The King of Fighters where you have one player controlling three characters and the other player controlling three characters. In this one, you can have two players versus two players.
Beppu: “So Travis, yourself, myself, and Mr. Soranaka can all play at the same time.”
Can you tell us how many characters are planned for the final roster?
Beppu: “Uhh, we cannot right now, but—”
But why? ◔̯◔
Beppu and Soranaka: (Laughs.)
Shrodes: “We are timing out our releases fairly evenly from now until launch, so please look forward to more.”
Beppu: “Yes. (Laughs.) That is the cookie-cutter answer we can give you right now, so sorry about that.”
I tried. Can we expect other characters from non-The King of Fighters series?
Beppu: “To answer your question, yes. For the same reason we talked about earlier, we cannot really go into details about it, but yes.”
I did not want to ask about specific characters since I know that is a sensitive subject, but when I polled for questions on Twitter, everyone was asking about SNK Gals’ Fighters‘ Miss X. Can you say whether or not Miss X will appear? (via purifyws and many other users asking about Miss X)
Soranaka: “What we can tell you is that we are very aware of people asking about Miss X, so… we will see what we can do with it moving forward—that is the answer I can give you right now.”
What is your take on the thought that SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is too heavy on fan service? (via @IkariLoona)
Soranaka: “SNK has been made aware of the fact that a lot of the female characters in The King of Fighters series have been getting a lot of attention. In a way, we kind of wanted to use that to our advantage, which is why we came up with this game. And compared to games like The King of Fighters series, Samurai Shodown series, Fatal Fury series, and Art of Fighting series, it will be a much lighter-hearted game.”
Shrodes: “From the NIS America point of view, we are looking at it as a game that really hones in on the female characters and really spotlights them. There will be systems in this game that you will not see in the other titles, and it is a very interesting and different game, and a really great platform to show off the fan-favorite characters.”
Can you explain where the partnership between SNK and NIS America came about?
Shrodes: “I cannot really go too deep into the woods with it, but needless to say, we are always in talks with various different Japanese developers to be able to promote their games overseas. This sort of turned into a right time, right place situation where we saw the game, really liked it, and we are big fans of SNK, myself included, and really jumped at the idea of being given the responsibility of promoting this in the west. So we are really trying to go out and make this into something really special, because we are not a company that is necessarily associated with fighting games, but we think we should be on the forefront of everybody’s mind when it comes to great games from Japan.”
I guess I was more so asking if this game was born due to that partnership, or if this was something already in development beforehand. Because normally you see NIS America announcing localizations for titles that have been previously announced for Japan, where in this case it was simultaneous.
Shrodes: “Yeah, that is what we are traditionally known for, but I think it is more a part of—especially for our plan in 2018 to be more on the forefront of these things—we initially started the company with more of a passive partner of NIS Japan, but since then, given the popularity of these titles in America and Europe, we have actually gained a lot of prominence and respect from the main company. So going forward, especially this year, instead of the usual six-to-nine months delay usually expected in title announcements, we will be looking to make announcements simultaneously or closely following Japanese partners. Because we are trying to make it more of a global release whenever we can. That really extends more into the partners that we are working with, and that has to do with sometimes these titles not being NIS-name published, as in this case. This is a title that is being published by NIS America specifically in America and Europe, but that is not the case in Japan. But yeah, big year for us and we are really pushing what we are able to do as a company.”
Getting back to the game itself, can you explain how the tag system works? (via @NotTheBased)
Soranaka: “Can we talk about the battle system as a whole, because that kind of goes hand-in-hand.”
Yeah, go for it.
Soranaka: “Compared to other tag games, usually when you have two characters, each have their own health bars, but for this game, you share a single health bar, but different SP (special skills) bars.”
(Editor’s Note: At this point, Oda walked in and greetings were exchanged.)
Soranaka: “In traditional fighting games, your HP might force you to switch out your first character for your second character, but in this game, you want to base character switching on your SP gauge, because once you use up your SP gauge for one character, you can switch to your second character and utilize their SP gauge. So a lot of the resource management in this game is based on how you use your SP gauge. To go more into the SP gauge aspect of things, it is what you use for any special skills, and you need four bars to perform a Dream Finish, which is required for you to finish off your opponent. Basically, it is your super combo skill.”
To clarify, you cannot win the battle unless you use a Dream Finish?
Beppu: “Yes, you have to connect on your Dream Finish in order to finish off your opponent.”
So how does that work in terms of having the health bar? What happens if you lower your opponent’s health to zero, but you do not use a Dream Finish?
Beppu: “Your opponent needs to be at a certain point in their HP bar in order for a Dream Finish to finish them off, otherwise it will just be a high damage attack. And you want to put your opponent down to a low HP, and then finish them off with a Dream Finish.”
Shrodes: “Just to add real quick, the idea is that when you get to zero HP, it puts you in a very dangerous state of being in an extended stun, where basically every other big hit results in a stun. So you have to be very careful at that point as you will make for a very good target for a Dream Finish to hit.”
While we are on that subject, can you explain a bit about the control scheme, and how the “one-button” system works? (via @JBootyfulChest)
Oda: “Since we are releasing this game on PlayStation 4 and Switch, we wanted to focus on easy controls with the analog stick and face buttons, therefore by pressing one button and a direction on the analog stick, you can perform a special. And on the flip side, that may sound really simple at first, but we wanted the players to focus more on SP management, how to use their items in the game, and in that aspect, we added a different kind of complexity that other fighting games may not have.”
Will game offer a more complex control system for people who want to play more traditionally?
Oda: “At this moment, there are no plans to add a traditional command control system. The buttons will be split into low attacks, high attacks, and your special buttons.”
Where do you see SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy in terms of the competitive fighting game scene?
Oda: “We do see potential in this game being played on the competitive scene. Ultimately it depends on how the users receive the game, and while the game may seem really simple at first, once you start to play it and see all the complexity it offers, we hope that the users see that side as well and hopefully the game has a presence in the competitive scene.”
Shrodes: “And from the NIS America point of view, we are trying to get into as many events as we can this year to get the game out to fans. Hopefully the fans decide after launch how successful that will be. But we are planning to do some tournaments at a hopefully a couple of different events.”
Is there a reason you are not putting out a physical standard edition of the PlayStation 4 version?
Shrodes: “I unfortunately cannot really get into the details of that. All I can say is that Nintendo has always been a great partner to us, Sony as well, and that is just sort of how it fell into place regarding the deal with both parties.”
Are there any new advanced offensive or defensive mechanics making their debut in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy? Such as assists, new cancels, and the like? (via @Newbobhead)
Oda: “One of the big ones is that there is an air dash system, so you can dash through the air. The single-button system, something we mentioned earlier, is another one of them. There is over 20 different items that you can get while in battle that you can use to assist with your combos, or getting out of combos. Another thing is we have a real-time switch system, versus fighting in order, so you can use that to combo your first character’s combo into your second character’s combo. So it helps you extend your combos out a little longer.”
Is there a limit to character switching?
Beppu: “Yes, so there is no limit to normal switching, but if you switch out during a combo, it will use up some of your SP gauge, and during one combo, you can only switch once.”
Will the net code be similar to The King of Fighters XIV or all-new? (via @GALLOIsFree)
Oda: “For the most part, it will be very similar to The King of Fighters XIV. You can make your own rooms and invite people in and out, or you can just do online matchmaking. So it should be fairly similar to The King of Fighters XIV.”
Are you planning any version-specific features, such as PlayStation 4 Pro support or Switch Joy-Con two-player? (via @videoman190)
Oda: “We wanted each version to be as similar as possible. We did not want there to be any differences. But to expand on the examples you brought up, there will be Joy-Con compatibility as in if you have a single Switch, you can play with each player using one Joy-Con.”
…and PlayStation 4 Pro support?
Oda: “There is no native 4K support. But as with most games, there is minimum PlayStation 4 Pro compatibility requirements that we have to follow, and we do follow those.”
Can you share a message for fans before we head out?
Soranaka: “Compared to previous SNK fighting games, we have really challenged ourselves to give it more of a, not enjoyable, but more of a fun atmosphere. We really want our fans to look at that side of things. And we have been getting a lot of questions about the characters, but we would also like to share the different ways you can play this game.”
Oda: “At first glance, this game may look extremely different from other fighting games, but if you ever get a chance to get your hands on it, we guarantee you that it will be fun, so please look forward to and enjoy this game that we are creating.”
Shrodes: “Just a couple of things. We spoke a little bit about the control scheme, but did not go into the depths of it. The button scheme is basically light, heavy, special. The one-button is basically Super Smash Bros.-style. So one button plus an input. So Circle and up, down, that sort of thing triggers different specials. X is grab. The one-button came from the idea of a Dream Finish being activated on one button. Block is also a button. So if you hold down L1, it puts out a shield, again Smash style, so not like a normal block, but more of a degradable shield. Then you get the SNK roll from that with the directional input after block… It should be considered more like an approachable fighter, like Smash, but with a whole lot of SNK elements to it, and other things that go way outside of The King of Fighters like the wall bounces, air dashes, instant switching, and all these other really cool mechanics.”
Thank you for your time, everyone!