XSEED Games talks Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, Corpse Party: Blood Drive, and what's ahead for 2014

'A lot of surprises' in store for fans

XSEED Games talks Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, Corpse Party: Blood Drive, and what's ahead for 2014

2013 was an impressive year by any standard for XSEED Games.

With handheld releases like Unchained Blades, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, Senran Kagura Burst, Ys: Memories of Celceta, and Rune Factory 4 launching alongside highly anticipated console titles like Pandora's Tower and Killer is Dead, you'd imagine that the publisher's ready for a long winter's nap.

Thankfully, we caught up with executive vice president Ken Berry before the holiday break to take a retrospective look back at 2013 and get a glimpse at what XSEED fans can expect in 2014.

Pocket Gamer: 2013 was a busy year for XSEED - what were some of the high points over the past 12 months? Ken Berry: Finally being able to announce a couple titles that fans had been asking of us for what felt like an eternity, the sequel to Trails in the Sky and Senran Kagura, was definitely a highlight.

The sequel to Trails won't be done until around mid-2014, but both of those titles had been in the works for a long time already even before the official announcement, so it's always very rewarding when we can finally announce something that we know the fans want.

Are there any games that you wanted to localise (for handhelds or mobile) that you didn't or couldn't?

There are always a lot of titles that we can't localise for one reason or another.

I can't list specific titles by name, but beyond the obvious reason of the IP holder not intending for their title to get localised - at least not by us - other roadblocks tend to be the development team being unavailable for localisation programming, or a project being so massive in scope to localize that it's just too hard for us to estimate what kind of market may be left for an aging platform by the time the game will be ready for release in 1.5 - 2 years.

Senran Kagura Burst

Initially, it was reported that you were hesitant to bring Senran Kagura Burst to the west due to its pronounced "humour", yet it shot to the top of the eShop downloads on release in the US. Did this reception surprise you?

We were confident the title would sell well based on the feedback from the fans, so that was never an issue. The problem was drumming up retail support for a physical release as well as how the media would react to the game.

Though some of the reviews focused on the positive and entertaining aspects of the game, others couldn't get past the "humour" that the series is known for, which was also something we had anticipated when first deciding to localize the game - we just didn't know to what degree we should expect those sorts of reactions.

Following on the success of Senran Kagura Burst, do you have any plans to localise Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus for the Vita in the west - and if so, is there any chance of a physical release in the US?

If Burst can keep its early sales momentum and continue to sell well, it would definitely help our cause when talking to retailers about potentially stocking a physical release for future titles from that series.

Shinovi Versus ratchets up the "humour" aspect quite a bit, making Burst seem tame by comparison, so if we work on the title and plan for a physical release then there's always the risk of some mainstream news outlet catching wind of it and deciding to run a crusade against it.

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus

Worst case scenario, the news segment gets wide distribution and people that normally have nothing to do with gaming start petitioning retailers to pull it off store shelves, leaving us with tons of unsellable inventory.

We will need to be sure this can't happen before committing to a physical release.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive's been pushed back to 2014 in Japan, but are there any plans on bringing it to the west? Do you feel Corpse Party commands enough of a market here to justify the cost?

It's not our decision alone to make, but we would be honoured to work on another Corpse Party title with 5pb/Mages if given the opportunity.

Without knowing many details about Blood Drive in particular, that series has a loyal following so we are hopeful that we can make the numbers work as there is definitely a market for it in the West.

Valhalla Knights 3 stirred up a fair amount of critical controversy due to the clerks in the Light District and the 'Sexy Time' touchscreen mechanic - do you worry that this sort of adult-focused content is limiting the potential audience for your games?

Sure, we always worry when some of the games we bring from Japan have sexual content due to the difference in attitudes between the cultures in Japan and the US, where Japanese culture is very accepting of sexual situations but graphic violence is severely restricted, which is almost the polar opposite of US attitudes.

Valhalla Knights 3

But we love Japanese games for all the good, bad, and downright bizarre content that only they can create, so we'd rather not be forced into a position where we have to start modifying their content to make it "more palatable" for a Western audience.

Whether it be the 'Sexy Time' in Valhalla Knights 3 or the 'Gigolo Mode' in Killer is Dead, the Japanese view them as fun and silly little distractions, but unfortunately some Western reviewers focused almost solely on them, sometimes dedicating most of their review to bash on what are mostly optional modes that are not representative of the core gameplay.

Do you have any closing words or thoughts for your players - or any message you'd like to share with them for what they can expect in the year ahead?

We'd like to thank our fans for supporting us as we're having a banner year in 2013, and we have a lot of surprises in store for 2014.

Though we like to communicate with everyone as much as possible via our social media channels and various forums, there will be times when we can't comment on something until it's officially announced, so please don't get discouraged and continue to give us your feedback as your voice is definitely being heard.

Matthew Diener
Matthew Diener
Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.