In our continuing coverage of E3 2002, RPGFan had the opportunity to sit down with Justin Lucas, product manager of Enix America. This interview mostly covers the US release of Grandia Xtreme, Heartbeat's departure from the industry, and Star Ocean 3's delays.
RPGFan: Why did GameArts decide to do a dungeon crawler instead of another traditional RPG?
Justin Lucas: That was a decision made by Game Arts, to take the series in another direction, make it more accessible to people who have never played a RPG. I think it works very well, many of the things that made Grandia so wonderful are still in place or have been enhanced, such as the Combat System and Magic System, and the story still has that familiar Grandia enchantment about it. The response not only from the media side, but also the fans here at E3 has been overwhelmingly positive.
RPGFan: How long was development time?
Justin: In Japan the development time was roughly 18 months.
RPGFan: Does Enix have localization plans similar to the approach Ubi Soft took?
Justin: I think once Grandia Xtreme comes out and you get a chance to see how well crafted the story is, how amazing the voice acting is, I think the game will stand head and shoulders above previously localized Grandia games.
RPGFan: Has a studio been picked for voice acting?
Justin: We picked a local studio here in Seattle, WorldLink Technologies, Inc. with a lot of experience in the entertainment industry. They did such an amazing job executing our direction, that we couldn't be happier. We were very involved in the process with them.
RPGFan: Marketing plans, considering Grandia has become a well-known brand in Japan and the US?
Justin: We will have an aggressive Marketing campaign, along with PR to really push this as a brand for the future, not a one shot deal, or because it's "popular" to do RPGs...as some do.
RPGFan: GameCube or Xbox ports planned?
Justin: At this time we have no plans to release this title for GameCube or Xbox. Grandia Xtreme is PS2 only and will release in September.
RPGFan: How did Enix enter into a publishing agreement with GameArts? Did Enix have any impact on the development of Grandia Xtreme? Funded development costs? How many games is the publishing agreement for?
Justin: Details of the agreement weren't made public. We don't kiss and tell :) sorry :)
RPGFan: Was it Enix who decided on character deisgner Kamui Fujiwara (who did the character design for several Enix games, like Terranigma)?
Justin: I believe that it was a collaborative decision between Game Arts and Enix.
RPGFan: Why make a game so focused on fighting?
Justin: Grandia Xtreme isn't JUST about fighting. There is still a great story line, an impressive combat system, deep characters, and some of the coolest spells. All the things that made Grandia such a fan favorite are still there.
RPGFan: Will Grandia Xtreme mark a change in the Grandia series' focus of storytelling to hack and slash dungeon exploring or is it mainly a side game?
Justin: That is completely up to Game Arts.
RPGFan: Any plans for a sequel to Valkyrie Profile?
Justin: Not at this time. The Developers are very hard at work on Star Ocean 3. Speaking as a gamer and a fan, it would be cool though.
RPGFan: Is Enix aware of the existence of a Korean fighting game, featuring sprites, voices, backgrounds, etc. from Valkyrie Profile, called Valkyrie Fight?
Justin: Not until you just mentioned it, but we will be looking into it.
RPGFan: How do you feel about homebrew games with features from their games?
Justin: Homebrew games, I think, are great and I follow the scene very closely. People who made their own games built this industry. However, when you take someone else's intellectual property and use it as your own, that's where we have to draw the line. I am glad people like the features we add to our games, the attention to detail in the sprites, the fluid animations, etc. but if we do not protect those rights than there are ramifications.
RPGFan: Any plans to publish on the European market as none of the big Enix games, such as Dragon Quest, have made it there?
Justin: Not at this time, but it's an area of opportunity we will be looking at closely over the coming months.
RPGFan: What were the results of Dragon Warrior 7's sales and feedback? Was it worth the release?
Justin: We do not publish sales numbers, but the title did very well, and the response from fans has been great.
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