We sat down and got to talk about Revolve8 with gaming legends Koji Igarashi and Masayoshi Kikuchi. Here’s everything we learned about their new and ambitious mobile title.
What do you think about when you hear the names Koji Igarashi (Castlevania, Bloodstained) and Masayoshi Kikuchi (Yakuza, Jet Set Radio, Panzer Dragoon)? For me, I think about my childhood. I adventure back to the early days of SEGA and Nintendo with premier titles like Castlevania and Jet Set Radio – games that harken back to some of the gaming industries most noteworthy titles.
In a never-before-imagined team-up, I recently had a chance to get my hands on SEGA’s latest mobile title from the duo – a free-to-play game by the name of Revolve8 that takes fairy tale characters such as Cinderella and tosses them into a competitive RTS title. But what I didn’t know would surprise. I wasn’t quite ready to sit down with Koji Igarashi and Masayoshi Kikuchi from their office at SEGA Japan and discuss their first project together.
Asking them a bit about their history in the industry, Kikuchi-san explains to us a bit about his past, “I’ve been developing titles way back since the SEGA Saturn time as a producer and director of console games such as Jet Set Radio and Yakuza series. For the past six or seven years, I’ve been working on a mobile title called Revolve8.”
With a lengthy resume such as his, Igarashi-san’s wasn’t much different, but also, none-the-less, just as equally nostalgic, “I’ve been doing a lot of Gothic action-themed franchise (Castlevania) and worked on a simulation game called Tokimeki Memorial – mostly a local title (in Japan). I’ve pretty much-done everything: Creating, producing, directing, and even localization. Four years ago I created a company called Artplay and I created Bloodstained. For Revolve8, I’m the original designer.”
Already having displayed my love for their works, Igarashi-san and Kikuchi-san were given a good idea behind my experience with their games, but it didn’t stop me from growing anymore interested about their unexpectedly co-developed title.
I couldn’t help but learn just how they came up with Revolve8, “I originally met with Igarashi-san three years ago at a creator party and at that party, I was eating a curry where Igarashi-san showed me about an idea about a game image, which is a predecessor to Revolve8 with assets and all the motion. I saw that concept and all the image with all the work he’s been doing. I liked the idea and that’s how the project happened. After that, we officially began the project,” explains Kikuchi-san.
But now I was curious. With the Nintendo Switch already easily catching up to its competitor hardware, I had to know, why the mobile platform versus say the Nintendo Switch or the PlayStation Vita? Kikuchi-san enlightened me on why they went with mobile, “The reason why we chose mobile devices for this title was because that the mobile smartphone market itself and mobile smartphone devices is because almost everyone has it and we could reach as many users as possible so we chose the mobile platform.”
There’s no denying his words. The mobile platform is absolutely massive. There are approximately 4.9 billion mobile devices currently in use around the world and it’s expected that will grow even more across the global market in 2019. But, Kikuchi-san had another surprise for us, “Also, if we have a chance – if we have a chance, we might consider bringing the game to the other platform (the Nintendo Switch) – if we have a chance.”
There’s no denying the staying power of the Nintendo Switch. It’s captivated Nintendo and non-Nintendo fans around the world and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. We’ve already seen plenty of mobile games get a release on the Nintendo Switch. But with that being said, I couldn’t deny a simple fact. Revolve8 feels like a high-quality mobile game, one pushing the Triple-A spectrum on mobile devices.
Fortunately enough, mobile games come in all shapes and forms. The game is of high quality and there’s no denying that their experience as developers, directors, artists, and even producers shows. I couldn’t help but ask if they had cut any content from the game with it being a mobile title versus what it would have been on say a PlayStation 4 or PC.
“As of the start, we wanted to create the game for a mobile device. To safely put it, there is nothing we cut since we created the game as a mobile title. As of right now, as of the market smartphone specs are very high. So there’s anything to be cut since the devices are so high spec,” explains Kikuchi-san.
With mobile devices already being capable of playing PC-quality and hand-held quality games (here’s looking at you Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita), we can’t help but acknowledge that the technological leaps don’t exist. But with this being a mobile game, I had to know why they chose a touch and drag system over the ability to use an on-screen Joystick.
“The reason behind why we chose touch and drag game control is that it was natural – because it was smartphones – it was natural for us to choose touch and drag control system. Not like in action game, it’s more like RTS putting in the units one by one. So touch and drag would feel better and more natural. That’s why we chose touch and drag,” states Kikuchi-san.
With my experience playing the game, I’ll admit that the touch and drag – something we experience with PC RTS’ and MOBA titles quite often – works rather well on a mobile device. With how much time I’ve put into the game as a pick-up-and-go title, I was able to see that let alone did their approach work, it works rather well. Well enough, actually, I found myself keeping up against more seasoned players in a matter of a few days of playing.
But, there was something I had to know. I’m familiar with deck-based games such as CCGs and RPGs, but not a tower-defense turned RTS. Next up, I had to know what inspired their approach to the deck system versus just letting players use any unit in their library that they have unlocked, “the reason behind this is that since the match itself are three minutes – a short period of time – not like a card game where you can use 40 cards to put in a deck. In three minutes, a short time, and we wanted to put more of a strategic aspect in it. That’s why we limited it to an 8 card deck,” both Kikuchi-san and Igarashi-san explain.
Having to learn a bit of the development side, I had to ask Kikuchi-san what it was like to develop a game like Revolve8 since it’s quite different from past games he’s developed such as Jet Set Radio and Yakuza, “One of the major differences about console versus mobile – is that mobile titles you have to think about in the long term with that the game continuously moving on right after release, so we constantly have to look at data – balance of the game itself. That’s the most different part about moving from console to mobile.”
But I wasn’t done. I had to know if this was going to be the only mobile game that Igarashi-san planned on working on post-Revolve8 or if he plans on working on more in the future once his current project Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night releases.
“Both. However, looking at the market size of each console or mobile, we can decide which way we want to go,” explains Igarashi-san.
However, I needed to know more about Revolve8 as this is what I was interviewing them about. With the game being one that could seem like it could have a competitive circuit, I had to know if they would be adding to the game, such as lanes, mechanics, or if they have the game in a state they are comfortable with for the time being.
“If the game itself becomes a challenging enjoyment of the user, we could consider adding in those kinds of lane or game design aspects to it. By the way, for the prototype of Revolve8, we had a three-lane, but after designing it, considering this, we changed it to a two-lane. To answer your question, if there’s an enjoyment of the user or fan, we could consider. But at this moment – no,” explains Kakuchi-san.
With their game consistently growing, I had to know if they plan on adding to the game, beefing up its roster of fairy-tale inspired heroes, “as of now, yes, we’re considering adding in new characters,” explains Kikuchi-san.
The duo explained that they will not be adding in short-cuts or starter packs to their game that features hero-based units or random-based units in the game. They state that they wish to keep their game the way it is and do not plan on moving forward with changing how monetization of their game works.
But most importantly, I had to learn about seasonal characters and or unlocks if they plan on doing anything in regards to holidays such as Valentine’s Day. Excitedly, Kikuchi-san explains their plans for the holiday events, “right now, it’s still in consideration.”
Closing out the interview, I couldn’t help but thank both Kikuchi-san and Igarashi-san for their time. But I had to ask them about cross-over characters from titles such as Jet Set Radio, Yakuza, or even Bloodstained.
“We could consider it. If there’s enough people asking for it,” explains Kikuchi-san. With a smile and a soft laugh, Igarashi-san not helping but laugh while explaining his thoughts on the matter, “since Revolve8 is about a fairytale type of character – if Bloodstained became a fairy tale type of game, then yes we could consider it.”
With time having run out, I could slowly feel my excitement for the game building as our interview came to a conclusion. It’s hard not to respect a game or the men behind it with how much love, passion, and excitement they have for their project.
We want to give a special thanks to SEGA, Koji Igarashi, and Masayoshi Kakuchi for allowing us to interview them in regards of their newly released mobile game.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.