We chat with the director of the upcoming Vita game about its sales state in Japan and Asia, the game's universe, and his future commitments.
PS Vita-exclusive adventure game Gravity Rush may not be out in Western markets until June, but the game has already been available in Japan and parts of Asia for several months now. The title has sold well so far, sailing past the 100,000-copies mark after its debut. We recently spoke to game director Keiichiro Toyama about his thoughts postrelease, his influences, and why Gravity Rush was switched from being a PS3 title to a Vita one.
GameSpot Asia: Among all the French comic artists and illustrators out there, you picked the late Jean Giraud's (aka Moebius) work as the main influence for Gravity Daze/Rush. What was it about his style that drew you to it for inspiration's sake?
Keiichiro Toyama: I was attracted by the man's extraordinary colour sense, the expansion of the space, and the feeling of floating in his artwork. The themes of realism, mysticism, futurism, and fantasy coexisting with each other also inspired me. These feelings are the things I kept in mind when I was young, so I was glad I could turn it into video game form. God rest his soul.
GSA: How did you recruit Kohei Tanaka for music duties? What was it about Tanaka's work that made him a fit for the project?
KT: While doing the project, I borrowed all sorts of animation styles back from the '70s when I was a kid. Kohei Tanaka was the only one who understood the concept of gorgeous-sounding orchestras that had easy-to-remember melodies, and he brought it back to our time. I'm thoroughly delighted with the end result; he didn't just meet my expectations, but also exceeded them.
GSA: With the game out already since February, how is the response both critically and financially?
KT: The title is highly praised by the local media for its novelty and challenges. I was worried about the lack of puzzle, but many users mentioned that it's still fun. The main character Kat is also very popular. We received a lot of feedback saying that players were sad to finish the game.
We have sold over 100,000 copies in Japan, and it's still going strong. We also have very good sales in Asia and great fanfare from the US and EU market. Since Vita sales are expected to continue to increase, I felt that we scored a hit.
GSA: What was the initial reason for the switch from the PS3 to PS Vita for Gravity Rush?
KT: I received the information of the Next Gen Portable (the Vita's codename at the time) during the process of producing the PS3 version, so that I could check out its capability. The compatibility between the gyro sensor and how the gravity action worked on the NGP made me decide to change the platform. It was hard to judge if the things that we were trying to do could be done on the NGP, because not all hardware specifications were confirmed at that moment.
The development environment was also under maintenance, so it was not an easy thing to bring about for all our staff, especially for our programmers. We made a version that could also run on Windows to overcome this issue. The best part was that we managed to create an innovative approach to realise a different dimension in the screen, utilising the Vita's portability.
GSA: The made-up language of Gravity Daze/Rush's world sounds very French. Was that your intention?
KT: That was indeed my intention. The language was inspired by Moebius and the concept of "bande dessinee" [term for drawn strips from France], and the fact that many Japanese dubbing on French movies felt, well, natural. We found it easy to forge that similar kind of atmosphere because of this.
GSA: After playing through the game, the common theme we're getting is "rebirth" and "rebuilding," as Kat is helping to rebuild the broken-down city piece by piece. Is that correct, or was there something else we're supposed to feel from the Gravity Rush experience?
KT: The major theme of this story is the growth of Kat. Her growth as a character and in the game represented the economic disparities and environmental issues in the real world. In the world of hierarchical structure, people from the lower class suffered from hardships and poverty. In contrast, people from the upper class were given first priority to their possessions and safety.
The story was centred on Kat, who had no place to call her own. She remained an honest and innocent face as she fought off the egos of the society. In reality, the world was on the brink of collapse, and the concept of "rebirth" would never happen. Hence, this is why Kat stands out.
GSA: Personally, the game can give players a bit of a headache, what with the gravity shifting and all. Early on during development, wasn't your team worried about how camera controls and camera angles would be handled on a game like this?
KT: It was a big concern, but it wasn't a major issue when it came to the display. I think this was due to the size of the screen and the overall hardware.
GSA: From a cost and production standpoint, was Gravity Rush expensive?
KT: It was a bit expensive, since we had to conduct Vita's basic research and environmental improvement at the same time. However, it was not that expensive compared to current AAA titles.
GSA: What are your thoughts and comments on the recent Silent Hill HD rerelease? There was word going around that it was ported poorly.
KT: I'm not going to make any comments about Silent Hill HD. I will say this: horror games use limitations of a console as an underhanded way to generate fear. This means that we need to think carefully on how to handle each element of the hardware that has rich power of expression. For example, having a clear view of the facial expressions in Siren will only turn users off. We took all these into account, and changed some expressions in Siren: Blood Curse.
GSA: Now with Gravity Rush done with in Japan and Asia, would you be planning on revisiting the Siren series, or doing something along the horror genre?
KT: Personally, I'm very interested in horror games, but it's getting hard to balance cost with effectiveness in this HD generation. Making the sequel to Siren might be difficult, but there is a possibility of just creating something new from scratch. At this point in time, however, there is nothing that I can promise at the moment, since we are now entirely devoted to Gravity Rush.
GSA: You were responsible for creating the lyrics to the in-game song "Jeuchalais Evule Plelat / You Will Die (So Don't Worry)." Since the words are based on a made-up language in the game, what is the song about?
KT: In the story, Kat lapsed into her own internal life and had to face her past. I handled the scenario for that scene by myself, so the lyrics are based after the scripts. I wrote the scenario and lyrics after we had a big earthquake last year; as a result, I felt that I was reacquainted myself with death. At the time, the project was not going well, and I became very frustrated.
However, I realized that one day we will die, and all worries will be gone. So why not enjoy the moment without thinking too much? Thus, I implemented that message into the song's lyrics.
The song is created by Kohei Tanaka with the image of my favourite song of Jane Birkin. I was worried about the lyrics, because it was something imaginary, but the recording actually went very well. Tanaka advised listeners to sing this song just like you are humming something in a bar. Honestly, I loved it.
GSA: Finally, what would you like to say to people who have played Gravity Rush in Japan and Asia?
KT: I would like to show my sincere gratitude to anyone who bought this game. Your cheers and praises provide further incentives for our team to keep on making these sort of games. We appreciate your continued support!
@Leir_Bag well they're not complete bs. I've seen it myself in some games. Those complaints are petty tho, for the most part if you don't look for it, you wont see it. but you're preaching to the choir about the exclusives, its much better to have the games made in the system's native resolution. you can really tell the difference
@bakagami : Personaly, I think those complains are just a lot of bs. People b*tch when they see the images on the net, but on the system's screen, every game looks stunning. Of course, you're right, it really isn't exactly the same as the PS3, and the fact that it isn't only makes my point stronger, that Vita needs more exclusive, original titles.
@Leir_Bag: "HD remakes are popular and being well accepted... On PS3. Sony's console already has a solid library of games to please gamers, from exclusives to third party games, there's no shortage. Then, HD remakes really get to be accepted. On the Vita, perhaps, the remakes get seen as... remakes. I don't have to tell you that whenever a new system gets launched, people mock it for only having remakes. More of them is no good. Ports of recent titles help, but not much." plus there is the added problem of system resources. the Vita is powerful, true, but its not in the same league as the PS3. Ports of PS3 games need to be pared down to a lower resolution and since the Vita has no anti-aliasing those games instantly look like crap. I personally have no issue with that but there have already been lots of complaints in the forums about it
@naryanrobinson : If I were Sony, and don't laugh, I would do just like Nintendo did. The Wii suffered, but Nintendo was able to bring the 3DS from a failure to a hit by focusing solely on original first party titles for it, and trying hard to bring third party support for it. The Wii got one whole year of pure crap, only to then be saved by Skyward Sword and Kirby, and now back to mediocrity. But that's because the Wii has almost zero third party support and a region lock. The PS3 can live a long time without first party titles, With the likes of Assassins Creed III, Bioshock Infinite, Hitman Absolution and so much more. God of War: Ascension, Little Big Planet Karting, Playstation All Stars Battle Arena (or something) Shoud have been on the Vita and only on the Vita to help the system rise. Plus bringing third party support.
@naryanrobinson : You are right in one way, but terribly wrong in the other. I respect your opinion about the Vita, it makes sence and is valid, but I disagree. HD remakes are popular and being well accepted... On PS3. Sony's console already has a solid library of games to please gamers, from exclusives to third party games, there's no shortage. Then, HD remakes really get to be accepted. On the Vita, perharps, the remakes get seen as... remakes. I don't have to tell you that whenever a new system gets launched, people mock it for only having remakes. More of them is no good. Ports of recent titles help, but not much. A casual approach would make sence... some 10 years ago. I'm not calling you old or outdated, I'm just saying that, in a world where pretty much everyone has a smartphone, or can pay cheaper for a DS (or 3DS for that matter), the casual market is not the way to go, specially with a system like the Vita. Nope, the Vita is able to support the casual gaming with it's gadgets, and Sony must support it, but the real focus must be "Hardcore" (hate that word) gaming. The Vita is pretty much the one portable device capable of doing it, not only because of it's power, but because of the fisical controls is also has.
@Leir_Bag I did mention that the game looks boring... once. If I feel like coming back and saying something else, I'll do that too. I disagree with you on the consumer satisfaction of the Kinect, but since there's nothing solid to base either argument on, we'll leave that one to rest. I don't buy games for "50 dollars". Apart from the fact most of my bank accounts are based in the UK, I make a point of never paying more than the equivalent of $25 for a single game. Steam sales are the only places I really buy any more. As for the Vita, it's another argument that has too many missing variables. All we know now is that it's not selling well, and I'm looking at the situation and *assuming* it's because the Vita doesn't know what it's trying to be yet and neither do consumers. If *I* was in charge of the operation at Sony, I would change the dynamic. Just from looking at the *massive* popularity of jail-breaking emulation software on PSPs and the *huge* popularity of HD remakes, I would take the most popular games on PS3 and PS2, scale slightly, adjusting for optimal FPS, and simply re-release them on the Vita. I am confident it would sell at *least* two times more units, and that overall more customers would be happier with their device. Sony would even be able to drop the price of the device itself. The Vita is portable, so for it to succeed, it needs its customers to have the right frame of mind, and pre-existing, more casual gaming, I think, is the answer.
@bakagami Yes that is how you spell my name and I have two other Indian friends with the same name spelled the same way, but this is reflecting well on your argument and profile. Keep it up. Yes your statement was grammatically incorrect, and even now after pointing it out you can't tell the difference between "its" and "it's"... *sigh* I would save your breath on the stuff about your "limited intellect". Yes if you really didn't care about my opinion you wouldn't have replied once, never mind eight times. Yet another argument of yours that makes totally no sense. On the topic of no sense, how does me not having a stake in this mean I don't know anything about it? I have *used* all these products before, and been using them since long before they came out in the west. So that's keeping up the trend of arguments that couldn't even be considered rational thoughts. Good job. I'm always "in my place", but the fact that you're still verbally stamping your feet and crying about it makes it obvious to anyone reading exactly what you're like. So as with most children, your arguments fail, your insults bounce off, so you throw one last weak shot my way and act like you're ending your tragic series of trolling on a win. I'll save my arguments for the mature gamers, not for the angry little children.
If you sincerely think the game is boring, then put you opinion and leave. When people discuss with you here, reafirm your opinion and leave. Please don't discuss consumism and pretend you have a higher intelect then everyone else in the world.
@naryanrobinson @bakagami : It's so funny when you come back to an article you like on GS and there's a war on the comments. First thing, if you hate the fact that people buy crap they don't need, I don't really see the point of this whole website, the whole gaming industry, the whole artistic world in fact. It's hard to believe you actually care about people buying stuff they don't need when you like to pay 50 dollars for a game that ends in less then a week. Second, you can bet your life that the kinect is not hated. For every stupid hater on a gaming forum, b*tching about what a bad Idea Kinect was, there's some good 5 or 6 casual gamers or comum people getting sold on the idea of playing without controlers. It's not because it's "crap they don't need". They don't f*cking need videogames to start with. Playing without controlers is an idea that sells itself for being diferent and actually working. Third, the Vita isn't about just putting the PS3 on your hands, although it does start like this. People do want an original adventure to play in it, which is exactly why the Vita is seeling so poorly right now, is has a lot of stuff people already have on their PS3s and don't want to pay 40 bucks again to have on their portables. That alone proves that some people actually think before throwing their money on cheap garbage the companies sell.
I'm sooo looking forward for this game, this and little big planet are the reasons i bought a psvita! \^.^/
i really hope the Vita picks up there were really only 4 good games at launch (wipeout,uncharted,rayman,marvel vs capcom 3) the rest were mediocre
naryanrobinson: talk about my incorrect grammar (I meant it to be BTW) when you can't even spell correctly. Calling yourself a naryan, lol. not pretentious at all, are you? "I don't think anyone has ever cared about my opinion on GameSpot more than you have. So that's one statement of yours we can invalidate right off the bat." Why? because I took the time to reply? I could just as easily say that validating your own intellect seem way too important to you. "In the past 15 years I've purchased a PC. So that point is irrelevant." so in other words you don't really even belong here. you have no stake in this whatsoever, you're just yapping. "One of us knows the truth, and then there's you, desperately bitter and angry and bringing up comment ratings because the real argument isn't holding up. The way you write drips with it." really? you don't know anything about me. I'm merely making fun of you. BTW I should point out that I'm just of average intelligence, yet putting you in your place was child play. What do you think that says? "Again, you can relate what I actually say to phrases you're more familiar with if you want, but the statement stands, stronger than ever." Only to you. to the rest of us its just sad ramblings of a pathetic child. but I'm done with you, kinda bored now. making a fool of you wasn't much of a challenge, even with my limited intellect :) see ya around
I don't think anyone has ever cared about my opinion on GameSpot more than you have. So that's one statement of yours we can invalidate right off the bat. It doesn't matter whether you believe me or not, it's clearly relevant to this discussion considering that was the point at hand. If you can't realise that you'll be here a while. Of course the Kinect was a good idea, from a business perspective. Anything is when people buy it, as for what it contributed to gaming... nothing. In fact it hurt it. More than half the people I know who have one admit it. It's the same thing as the pricey annoying add-ons stuck on the Vita. In the past 15 years I've purchased a PC. So that point is irrelevant. The games being ported over... like Rayman? That's a fairly weak example of a typical PlayStation 3 game and you're well aware of that. That counts for nothing. The Vita is isn't selling, and the gaming experience is why. The "games that are doing best" are the ones with the biggest budget obviously, but they're not doing well relatively at all. One of us knows the truth, and then there's you, desperately bitter and angry and bringing up comment ratings because the real argument isn't holding up. The way you write drips with it. Yes I do think I'm clever, if that's what you meant by that grammatically incorrect statement of yours. Again, you can relate what I actually say to phrases you're more familiar with if you want, but the statement stands, stronger than ever.
@naryanrobinson said: "It's the same stupid logic that says that people want, people NEED a camera and touchpad on the front and back and all that other 5h!t that not only *measurably damages* gameplay of the games themselves, but also *drives* the price waaay up, something which is a *major* drawback in this market. Something Sony *still* seems unable to grasp." the only thing you said that sort of agree with. they were trying to steal some of Nintendo's thunder. and just like with the DS, eventually the devs will just ignore the stupid touch controls and program for a very powerful handheld with dual sticks and an awesome screen...which is what most of us bought it for @naryanrobinson said: "Regardless of how clever you think you are in having caught me out, I haven't done anything to the comments, nor do I ever" say what you like, we both know the truth don't we? @naryanrobinson said: "I'm just going to wonder how long it takes you to pick up on the irony of you saying that." the pseudo-intellectual equivalent of saying: "I know you are but what am I?" :) does it think its clever?
@naryanrobinson said: "If they really want to make money with the Vita, they'd be far better off spending their time re-releasing the most popular PlayStation 3 games for it." I might be wrong but I'll assume you don't own a Vita so I'll just chalk that one up to ignorance rather than outright stupidity. I do own one and am part of a large community of other PSVita enthusiasts. I can tell you that very few of us are happy with the Vita line up right now & that is because it has TOO MANY PORTS: Rayman Origins, UMvC3, Modnation Racers, Disgaea 3 to name just a few. The games that are doing best are the original titles. Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Unit 13 and the ones most anticipated are Gravity Rush, Resistance: Burning Skies, LBP. See a pattern here?
@naryanrobinson said: "I teach in a university in China and my dad teaches in one in the UK and if we had our way we'd both fail almost our entire course of students this year, and not for the first time either." not that I believe you, but that is hardly relevant to this discussion. This is a discussion about a game. but lets revisit one of your earlier irrelevancies: "After ALL the junk we'd waded through in the past, Microsoft releases Kinect and it sells by the *millions*. Few years later and everybody hates it." I'm no Microsoft fan but the Kinect was a good idea, people were attracted to the possibilities that it represented. They paid for that potential and a few year later were disappointed that it didn't live up to it. It wasn't the hardware & it wasn't that the people who bought it were stupid. It was Microsoft for once again failing to properly develop the tech & it was the 3rd party devs for not programming to its strengths. Its been happening like that in the industry for years, and if you have purchased anything in the last 15 years then chances are, you're "stupid" too.
@bakagami Regardless of how clever you think you are in having caught me out, I haven't done anything to the comments, nor do I ever, but if it makes you feel like a detective please feel free to assume what you like. Same goes for the self-esteem. I'm just going to wonder how long it takes you to pick up on the irony of you saying that. By all means keep trying to insult me. For it to work I have to care at least half as much as you do. The majority of people are stupid. I teach in a university in China and my dad teaches in one in the UK and if we had our way we'd both fail almost our entire course of students this year, and not for the first time either. Far from it. Not that you even have to look that far to see it. Millions of people have believed the world was going to end three times in the past two years and now, millions of people believe it's going to end before the end of this one. Maybe you think that's the case, which would explain a lot. You must think we're all geniuses. How quaint.
@naryanrobinson I always find it amusing when someone obviously gives themselves a thumb. if you really were as smart as you'd like us to believe you'd have at least waited a few hrs :) don't pretend you know anything about my motives, you're only making yourself look foolish
@bakagami Yes it does say a whole lot more than you do. Your attempts at cheap insults only testify to it's legitimacy. My statement still stands, strong as ever. It is not my fault if you can't understand it. And it's obvious to me now that you care a *whole* lot.
@naryanrobinson said: "So I think that says a lot more than you do." Thinking isn't really your strong suit, is it?
@bakagami Well you sure cared enough to come back and reply two days later. So I think that says a lot more than you do. Have a nice day. ps. Remember to not care.
@naryanrobinson said: "I couldn't care less how many people disagree" Good for you! The rest of us couldn't care less about your mock intellectual opinion
@niklev83 watch this vid the open world is very big nuff said or play at leats the demo to judge this game http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKjRaYkszCM&feature=g-user-u if you like games like the legend of zelda or okami this game will be perfect for you
@niklev83 : Ohh, I'm sorry if I insulted you, I was just curious to know what exactly you didn't like in the game. The thing is, a lot of open world games have "closed" missions, like this tunnel one. inFAMOUS had several, and ironically, lots of them were on tunnels and sewers. I't doesn't mean the game isn't an open world adventure. And your reaction to the enemies behavior seems a little exaggerated... I mean, I realised that the cratures didn't react too much to the action, but we don't know about the dificulty modes of the game, and the dificulty curve the game will have, and if this is realy a defective AI or something expected from an "easy" dificulty mode. There's only so much we can learn from a hands off demo or trailer. But don't get the idea I want to insult you. I just wanna comment :) It's nice to have conversations.
@trollhunter2 and @Leir_Bag Guys, I love the Vita and I love adventure games! ...In my opinion, I never liked "Bioshock" or played "Psychonauts". The visuals do look beautiful for the cell-shaded girl and the really colorful background. I have nothing against the art in the slide-show comic style cut scene that I saw, as a matter of fact I like the art style. But the monsters are dumb and the action in the "never ending tunnel" seemed way to repetitive to the point it started getting on my nerves. There are different meanings for the word "content" and it seems you have misunderstood me there. How is the game "open-world" if the level, even-though it's only one level is set in a tunnel? And you guys consider jumping through the air killing "monsters that have no sense of skillful design" collecting glowing "things" content? ....I never said I disagree with the people that did like the game, but I did say that I didn't like it. It's fine if you don't agree with me. But I want games like "Dynasty Warriors Next" and "Metal Gear Peace Walker" and "NFS Hot Pursuit" and "Titan Quest" ...these are great examples of games full of content.
@niklev83 : The only thing I got from your comment is that you didn't like the game from what you saw on the trailer, but you just failed to give me an actual reason for that. The action on the game seems really nice, and I haven't seen anyone complaining about the gameplay anywhere (the game is already out in Japan). The soundtracks sound really good, from the trailer, and the visuals are gourgeous. If by "setting" you mean where the game takes place, then saying that the game has a bad setting because it's uncommon is just... wrong. It's just as common as a city under the sea (Bioshock), or entering the twisted mind of crazy people to solve their problems (Psychonauts). Plus, you really can't say it's content lacking or dull if you haven't played the game yet. All we know is a little about it's gameplay, a bit about the plot and a good lot about it's visuals.
@niklev83 are judging this game only based on the trailer this is a action adventure open world game whats wrong with that
...I might be wrong to pre-judge here but seeing what his game has to offer in this trailer has me upset. The girl and the cat is nice, the mix of cell shaded and regular graphics are also nice, but what the heck is wrong with the setting. Seeing this made me think you have to be high to enjoy this game-play! Why release such dull and content lacking games on such a high potential device. I want new games, I also understand we need new and creative games other than the usual FPS and such genres, but this?! ...As much as I am in desperate need of new games on the Vita, I will not be getting this after seeing this trailer. :( ...As much as I can't take the lack of availability of new games on the system whether its Retail of Digital Download. I think I purchased 75% of the games compatible with the Vita so far, the rest 25% are worthless to me. That's a good ratio (a good start) but it simply NOT enough.
My wallpaper is the exact image for this article on the Vita homepage. I will buy this day one, the art style made me fall in love.
@KBfloyed. If the team is happy with how Gravity Rush sold, then that is all that matters. Not every game needs to sell a million copies to be successful.
@naryanrobinson yup, I can't help it though. I want new and interesting games. If that makes me dumb well.. i guess we can't all be as smart as naryanrobinson
100,000 in japan? pathetic... but vita is more western system it seems so it might sell very good here.
@naryanrobinson WUT? No, your right people don't want good games that work on a specific platform. Were all just too dumb to even know what we want. I didn't buy a vita for this game at all, i just bought a vita because sony told me to.
@CassadyH It's just not true at all, and it's been proven to be the case time and time again, and yet people keep buying the crap these companies tell them they need. Just not capable of rational thought. After ALL the junk we'd waded through in the past, Microsoft releases Kinect and it sells by the *millions*. Few years later and everybody hates it. They outright refuse to learn. It's the same stupid logic that says that people want, people NEED a camera and touchpad on the front and back and all that other 5h!t that not only *measurably damages* gameplay of the games themselves, but also *drives* the price waaay up, something which is a *major* drawback in this market. Something Sony *still* seems unable to grasp. If all people want is original content then why are there *twice* as many PSPs in the world running emulators than Sony's stock OS? And the PSP didn't even have all the game-ruining extra crap that comes on a Vita, never mind the *awful* interface which "plays to the strength of the platform". What a god damn mess. I couldn't care less how many people disagree, the majority of people are stupid and aren't even capable of deciding what it is they want for themselves, never mind for a global tech company. The Vita as a product is *dying* because Sony have stuffed their fingers in their ears, and ignored the market at large, and in doing so have landed themselves squarely, firmly, in the absolute no-mans-land between Angry Birds and Metal Gear Soild 4.
It looks like a pretty dang good game! The Vita software lineup still doesn't quite appeal enough to me to spend console worthy $$$ on but it is definitely on my radar for a later purchase (probably).