Capping off our series of BitSummit 7 Spirits interviews, we sat down with Inti Creates president and Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX producer Takuya Aizu to talk about the newly re-announced title, the Gunvolt series in general, and the future of some of the studio’s other franchises.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX is due out on September 26 for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC.
Get our full interview below.
Gematsu: Luminous Avenger iX is the first independent title from Inti Creates coming to PS4, Switch, and PC at the same time. Is this an indication of a new multiplatform strategy for Inti Creates?
Takuya Aizu, Producer and President: “One of the good things that came with the release of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was that we had to make improvements and adjustments to our in-house engine, with which we develop most of our games, to be able to work across all platforms. So when it comes to Luminous Avengers iX, it’s a spin-off of the Gunvolt series, while still the start of a new series, so we wanted to make that a multiplatform release from the get-go. So if we ever did a sequel to Luminous Avenger iX, the chances of that being multiplatform are pretty high. But when it comes to other titles, we’re still a small company, so I think each title is more of a case-by-case basis kind of thing. But yeah, having Curse of the Moon be multiplatform set the stage to allow us to do that much easier going forward.”
What would you say the chances are of Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 and 2 coming to PlayStation 4, and Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 coming to PC?
Aizu: “There are mainly two reasons why these have yet to be ported. The first reason is that the Gunvolt team, which is responsible for creating all the games in that series, are very much like a set unit of people, so if anything happens within the development of Gunvolt-anything, it needs to be within this one team. So when it comes to porting, we want to focus on releasing new titles as that’s what our fans want to play, so if we decide to port the games, that could take four months, or six months, and every month that the Gunvolt team spends working on a port, that’s that many more months of a delay for the next title. So you have that timing issue of how much time you can really dedicate to porting when you’re still trying to work on creating new titles. And of course, the second thing is that there’s obviously a cost measure. We’re not a giant company, we have to be able to be sure that porting would not only be worth the development time and costs, but also whether it looks like we would lose money when we put it all together. There are other factors you may not realize off the top, such as paying more royalties to the voice talent, and all these other parts of the equation that need to be considered.”
Can you guys talk about what went into the decision to make a Copen-focused game rather than an Azure Striker Gunvolt 3?
Aizu: “When you look at the Gunvolt series as a whole, in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 you were able to play from the beginning to the end as both Gunvolt and Copen. Of course, Gunvolt had an entire game to himself with the original Azure Striker Gunvolt. But when you compare the amount of time you get to play as Copen to the amount of time you get to play as Gunvolt, Copen is a lot more lacking in terms of the amount of content he has. We’re very proud of the gameplay mechanics we made for Copen and think they’re a ton of fun, and know that a lot of people wanted to see more of him—both the fans and us. So we thought if we’re going to make more Copen content, then it was fit to have him have his own story focused around him with a lot more content and his own thing around him as a centerpiece.”
Can you talk a bit more about that story and where it is in relation to the previous two games?
Aizu: “Well, the first to note is that it’s called Gunvolt Chronicles, so there is an obvious line that goes back to the original Gunvolt story. But how many lines there are or how much of that plays into the story can maybe be up to the player’s interpretation. But make no mistake, there is a connection as it is in the same universe. But it’s also a spin-off title at the end of the day. The other part of that is that we did just (re-)announce the game, so while we want people to be excited about the gameplay and action, there are a lot of fans that are excited for the story. But since the reveal is still fresh, we don’t want to give away too many story tidbits just yet, so we hope that people are looking forward to us sharing more information as we get closer to release.”
You mentioned there being systems already built for Copen that you’re bringing over to this game, but will there be any new systems for Copen?
Aizu: “As far as Copen goes, the basic core foundations of what make up his actions and moves and stuff like that have been carried over from Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, but there have been some adjustments and fine-tunings made, some of which will be quite obvious once you get your hands on the game, like the way his bullet system works and things like that. So there have been those adjustments. But the biggest part of what differentiates Copen’s abilities in Luminous Avenger iX from Gunvolt 2 is all of the new EX Weapons he can obtain. There’s a whole new cast of bosses, so there’s a whole new set of EX Weapons available to him, which if you played Gunvolt 2 you’ll know EX Weapons play a very big part in how his action works, so we’re looking forward to be able to introduce a whole new set of EX Weapons that completely evolve Copen’s gameplay possibilities.”
What sort of EX Weapons will players be able to acquire?
Aizu: “Unfortunately, we plan to announce a lot more specific details regarding EX Weapons in the coming weeks and months, so there’s not a lot I can say right now, but we will be putting out that kind of information in bits and pieces as we get closer to release.”
Can you talk a bit about Lola and her Idol Mode, and maybe explain the decision behind her ability to transform into an idol that uploads videos to the net?
Aizu: “I guess from a scientific perspective, I’m not quite sure how I can explain that to you. But in the world of Gunvolt, I think a lot of it is very similar to a more real-life science-fiction type of thing, except for the fact that you have what are called ‘Adepts,’ people that have special powers known as ‘Septimas,’ which is where Gunvolt really strains from real life and goes into the fiction category. As far as Lola goes, she’s basically this robot that Copen designed to be his combat partner—it has all these different types of things it can do to help him in combat, and the biggest thing is that it can copy those powers from other Adepts, and Copen can use them as such. One of the powers that Lola had copied, which enables her to become this idol character that can sing and make all these special powers happen from that, was copied from the abilities of one of the main characters of the previous game named Lumen. So that’s how she’s able to do that. That’s a power she obtained from another very important character in the Gunvolt series. Which is how this little tiny spherical robot turns into this beautiful girl who sings with magical powers.”
Have you guys said whether the game will have dual voice-overs?
Aizu: “For voice options, it will be Japanese-only. But there will be English text, as well as other language options.”
I know there’s going to be a physical release here in Japan, but are there any plans for that in the western world?
Aizu: “We want to do a physical release in North America and Europe. Inti Creates is able to self-publish in both Japan and Asia, but we need to work with a partner to do that everywhere else. We’re currently in talks with partners we’ve worked with in the past to produce physical versions of our games, but nothing is set in stone just yet. But we are in talks with different companies about that. We want to do it. But I think the biggest caveat to it all is that we may not be able to do it in time for the digital release. If we can that would be wonderful, but there’s definitely a big chance that if we do a physical release in North America and Europe, it’ll be out after the digital release.”
What are the chances of an Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 after this game?
Aizu: “The director for the Luminous Avenger iX series is different from Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 and 2. This one is directed by Toshiaki Tai, who was a planner for Gunvolt 1 and 2. As far as the main Gunvolt series goes, that is firmly in the hands of the director Yoshihisa Tsuda. He wants to make a new one, but hasn’t done anything yet. The desire is there, but there’s no really anything to speak of at this point in time.”
You’ve previously done an original video animation for Azure Striker Gunvolt. Do you see more cross-media expansions like that in the future?
Aizu: “As the producer of the series, I definitely love the idea of cross-media and want to do more of that. I have to get the director to make the game though. So if the director plays ball with me, maybe we can do more of that, but until then my hands are a bit tied. But definitely as a producer, I have a keen interest in that for sure.”
Can you talk a bit about the future of Inti Creates’ other titles like Mighty / Gal Gunvolt and Gal Gun?
Aizu: “For Gal Gun, we have no intentions of ending the series, but as you may know things with some of the platform holders have changed recently. Right now the Gal Gun team is kind of putting their heads together and figuring out where we’re going to go from here now that changes have been made among some of the platform holders. They’re basically in the process of claiming their next move and figuring out what they want to do from here. As far as other series like Mighty Gunvolt go, we actually announced this in our panel yesterday, but we’re making a greater effort to put more of our titles on Steam, so something like Mighty Gunvolt would definitely fall under that area. As we get all of our planning together, we’ll get a clearer idea of when we’d be able to release more games on Steam. That’s definitely part of an overall plan for a lot of our other titles—getting them out on Steam.”
Can you talk more about the Gal Gun situation?
Aizu: “Well as you may know, Gal Gun 2 released on PlayStation 4, Switch, and Steam, so if we can still continue to do that, we would love that. But Sony’s standards for sexual content have gotten significantly stricter in recent days, so we have to see what possibilities lie ahead with that in place and what we can do with those new restrictions as we figure out a path forward.”
You guys have worked a lot with bigger companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco in the past, whereas you’re more independent nowadays. Are you open to still working with bigger companies, or do you plan to remain more independent from here on?
Aizu: “We as Inti Creates have never really stopped doing contract games like we have in the past. I guess maybe the scope has changed. But as of 2019, I’d say about 60 percent of our titles are self-published, while 40 percent are contracted titles that we’re hired to make. A lot of the games we’ve worked on recently are for the Japanese domestic audience and are not very high-scale titles—like children’s games—so our western fans might not know about those. So while it might not seem like we’re doing many of those, we’re still working on contract titles to this day.”
We’re being told our time is up. Thank you for your talking to us, Aizu-san!