Bandai Namco On Why A 2D Fighting Game Was The Right Choice For Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball FighterZ was one of the biggest surprises of this year's E3. With its gorgeously detailed renderings of classic Dragon Ball characters like Goku, Vegeta, and Frieza, its ferociously cluttered combat, and high-octane anime midfight scenes, it shocked many at Microsoft's E3 conference.
To learn more about what why Bandai Namco teamed up with Arc System Works for the game, why 2D was the right call, and how the game will address the issue of retreading the same characters and storylines from previous games, we caught up with producer Tomoko Hiroki.
Game Informer: When did you start talking with Arc System Works about creating a fighting game?
Tomoko Hiroki: We actually worked with Arc System Works for Extreme Butoden (which is a 3DS game), so when we were working with them we eventually came to the conversation of, “Okay, how about creating a genuine 2D fighting game based on Dragon Ball for (at the time) the next generation of consoles.
What was it about Arc System Works that attracted you to them for the 3DS game in the first place?
Because we’ve had games like Super Butoden (a fighting game that released on the Super Nintendo - Ed) we’ve had a lot of fans saying, “We believe the roots of Dragon Ball [in games] are actually 2D fighting games.” And we knew that Arc System Works had this pedigree. That’s where we felt their appeal was, and why we’re deciding to work with them.
How much attention did you pay to making sure the game is accessible to newcomers?
We’ve actually focused on making it accessible for those casual fans, as well. One of our big goals is to have those Dragon Ball casual fans realize how fun a genuine fighting game can be through this game. And we want eventually, those guys, to become actual fighting game users. So that’s where this project all began. So, we’re constantly thinking about satisfying obviously the core fighting game audience, but also Dragon Ball fans well.
How much tutorialization will there be to teach new players how to play the game? Arc System Works has always been really good about having these tutorials for players to learn the game.
You’ve got a really good point, and that’s what we’re working on right now, actually. Since we’re still really not in early, but like a midpoint of development, that’s exactly what we’re making right now, because we want to make it easier for users to join in. It’s difficult for us to give you details right now because we’re still making it, so maybe in our next interview we’ll be able to give more details.
In the fighting genre, Arc System Works’ Guilty Gear is seen as the deep end of the pool. What sort of changes did you look for in that system when creating Dragon Ball FighterZ? Did you look at anything in Guilty Gear and think, “That shouldn't be in this game?”
We weren’t really thinking about it in terms of subtraction. It was all about looking at different games and looking at their pros and cons and trying to bundle that all together and think, “What’s best for Dragon Ball?” and create something new. So, I don’t think there were specific features that we were thinking of not including.
A lot of the recent Dragon Ball Z games have been fighters, but they’ve been three-dimensional, behind-the-back, split perspective games. Why shift from 3D to 2D?
We’re trying to aim for the core fighting game fans as well as the casual fans, and for esports these types of 2D fighting games are very hype right now. And so we thought that this kind of huge movement in terms of esports, and combining that with a franchise that’s loved throughout the world like Dragon Ball would be a perfect match.
And this time around, were focused on this highly animated expression, and so we wanted to combine 2D and 3D. So the game looks 2D, but the characters are based on a 3D model, so that you can change the angle of the camera and reproduce the famous scenes of Dragon Ball.
You mentioned esports. Do you have any plans about what you’re going to do with the game once it comes out? Will you support tournaments, or have your own series?
We don’t have details right now, but we are considering that. And I do understand that esports is really a community, fan-driven society so I guess it’s all up to the users I would say, but we want players to give us their feedback as much as possible before and after the game is released so we can keep on polishing the game.
For of Dragon Ball Z games, the story is set in stone. Are you planning to go back through the series’ classic sagas again or do you have any plans for how you’re going to deviate from that?
I can’t go into details about the story right now, but what I can say is that we’re trying to deliver the story to users from a different approach from previous Dragon Ball games, so we hope they can look forward to that.
Of the six characters in the demo, who are you most excited about? Which character are you hoping makes the cut?
My character out of the six we’ve revealed so far is Majin Buu. He’s quite unique and technical. You can probably tell that he’s not moving that fast because he’s like the heavy-type character, but he’s got a long reach. For example, his arm stretch out, or he can take a part of his body and throw it at the opponent, so he’s unique in that way. For the characters we’re looking forward to in the future, we obviously can’t say specific character names, but we would rather say that the characters that we’ve revealed so far are quite standard, but we can definitely tell you that the characters in the future are going to be more unique.
If at all possible I would love to see Arale from Dr. Slump in the game.
We heard that.
For more of our thoughts on Dragon Ball FighterZ, check out the clip from a recent episode of The Game Informer Show podcast below.