Yesterday, Marvelous Entertainment officially announced announced Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash,that will be released in Japan on March 16th, 2017.
Back at Tokyo Game Show, I had a lovely chat with Producer Kenichiro Takaki about the new game and the series in general. Of course, I was sworn to absolute secrecy until today, and I wasn’t able to tell you anything about Peach Beach Splash until the official reveal. It was pure torture.
That’s why a few of the questions below might sound slightly odd. When you have to conduct an interview mainly on a game that hasn’t been announced, with the article coming out after the reveal weeks later, you have to improvise a bit.
That said, Takaki-san talked about a broad variety of topics, including the fanservice we all know and love, the inspiration for the leap of faith to the third person shooter genre, platforms, virtual reality features, his view on the current situation of the Japanese gaming industry, and more.
Interpretation during the interview was provided by XSEED Games, but you shouldn’t take that as a hint for the localization of the new game. Nothing has been announced yet on that front.
Giuseppe: What can you tell us about the future of the Senran Kagura series?
Kenichiro Takaki: This year September 22nd marks the anniversary of the Senran Kagura series…
G: Happy Birthday!
KT: (Laughs) So I’d like to release a new and exciting Senran Kagura game hopefully every year, after this.
G: Can you tell us more about this new announcement that has just been revealed?
KT: Senran Kagura has been an action game series so far, but this new game [the newly announced Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash] is going to be the beginning of a new story, and it’ll be a third person shooter.
G: What prompted you to choose third person shooter as the genre for your new game?
KT: As a gamer, I have been playing FPS and TPS games, and I like them a lot. I always wanted to do something within those genres, but this time it’s going to be about water guns.
G: That’s quite appropriate. Since you like shooters, which one is your favorite?
KT: Probably Battlefield...
G: So you’re waiting for Battlefield 1?
G: Me too!
KT: I can’t wait!
G: Can we expect the elements of the series that we’re used to? Lots of fanservice, ripped clothes, big bouncy breasts and the like?
KT: You can imagine that when you get soaked in water, clothing becomes see-through and you know what’s gonna happen. There’s going to be a lot of fanservice as well.
G: What platform will it be on?
KT: PlayStation 4.
G: PlayStation 4 only?
G: Since for the first time it’s going to be exclusively for PlayStation 4, are you going to use the power of the console to achieve better graphics?
KT: The graphics are going to be better, and I’m planning to support VR.
G: Will it be a title fully supporting Virtual Reality?
KT: It’s not a VR game. It’ll have some VR features.
G: Since we’re talking about the latest consoles, are you interested in working on Nintendo NX?
KT: I’m very interested in the NX too, and I’d like to eventually work on the console.
G: Shooters are divided pretty much in two main categories. Some are really technical and require skill and teamwork like Battlefield, while others are more accessible like Call of Duty. Which side is your shooter going to lean towards?
KT: It’s not going to be an hardcore shooter, but more of an easy to play and to chill out with game. Novices will still be able to play and enjoy the game.
G: Are you going to try to get it released in the west as soon as possible, or we’ll have to wait long for this one?
KT: I remember that when we released Shinovi Versus in Japan, it took a while to launch in the west. With Estival Versus that time span got shorter. I’m trying to make the Japanese and North American releases closer and closer.
G: What is your favorite platform to work on?
KT: Indeed, it’s the PS4. Not only I like it, but It allows me to show the details on the girls. The visual level is so high that I can showcase the girls’ cuteness in greater detail.
G: Past Senran Kagura games are starting to appear on Steam. Do you think you’d like to port this game to Steam as well in the future?
KT: I’d like to do that, yes.
G: You worked with Nintendo before. Your games seem the kind of titles that Nintendo would feel awkward about. After all, they even censor their own games. Did they ever give you problems about the content of Senran Kagura?
KT: There weren’t actual restrictions, or anything that they actually told me not to do, but I did feel the pressure from Nintendo. But, you know, after we discussed so many times, we managed to make it happen.
With the first game there was a lot of confusion on Nintendo’s part, because they didn’t really know the gameplay, and they only saw the sexy side. Yet, after they saw what the actual gameplay was like, they didn’t have any problem because they knew what the game was all about. For Senran Kagura 2 it wasn’t that hard.
G: You games do have quite a lot of fanservice, but the gameplay is definitely good. There are quite a lot of developers that make games that are just fanservice, and they sell because of that. Is it difficult to balance your games in a way that helps gamers easily understand that beyond the fanservice there is actually solid gameplay, and that they can have fun even if they don’t particularly care for the fanservice?
KT: It’s really hard, especially for people playing Senran Kagura for the first time, they will see the fanservice side. Yet I try to make my games not just adult in nature, but also fun. There are the boobs and all that, but I try to make them not too serious in their sexual style. That way people can still enjoy the gameplay side.
G: It’s more comedic than something actually sexual…
KT: Exactly. I’m not sure how people feel in the west about the mix between sexuality and comedy, but as a Japanese, I try to make my games as sexy comedies and fun.
G: Don’t get me wrong, I love the fanservice side of your games, but how do you feel about making games without any fanservice?
KT: I’ve been involved with Vocaloid rhythm games that don’t have fanservice, and I also made a solid RPG series Half-Minute Hero that doesn’t have fanservice as well.
G: Did you miss it?
KT: I like to do both sides, fanservice games and solid RPGs and similar games.
G: Games featuring fanservice keep being very popular in Japan, and they seem to be thriving even lately. For instance Tamsoft just announced a couple. Why do you think they are so popular here?
KT: It’s actually hard to describe, but I think that typical gamers are getting fewer in Japan, and some people just purchase one game for the whole year and then play it for a long time. On the other hand there are core gamers. So if people make many fanservice games, they stand out, and that’s why some might feel that they’re getting popular.
Nowadays gamers are leaning towards mobile games in Japan, and that’s why not as many people buy console games. That said, PS4 is getting more popular lately, so I hope that gamers will come back to the console side, so people won’t just feel that it’s a rare type of game just popping up and getting attention. Once people embrace the PS4, more and more genres of games might come back.
G: Two or three years ago, more and more Japanese developers moved to smartphones. Do you think that with PS4 not just consumers, but also developers are coming back to the console space?
KT: I think that maybe some are coming back, but it’s really difficult, because they have been gone for a while. Technically they might not be capable. It’s gonna be tough.
G: Let’s go back to Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash. What made you decide on a third person shooter as opposed to a first person shooter?
KT: Because I wanted to see the girls’ butts and boobs, and it’s easier to see them in third person.
G: I kind of imagined that could have been the case, but I didn’t want to assume.
G: Are the veteran characters from the Senran Kagura series going to return?
KT: Yes, It’s going to be about the characters of the Senran Kagura series.
G: Are we going to see any new characters?
KT: There are going to be new characters.
G: Is the game going to be single player only or multiplayer as well?
KT: It’s going to have both, and it’ll be 5 versus 5.
G: So it’s not gonna be 64 players like Battlefield.
KT: I’d like to do it, but no.
G: Team Ninja has its Soft Engine for body physics, are you preparing something similar for your game?
KT: I know the people from Team Ninja, but I’m trying to create an even more awesome boob engine.
G: Is there friendly competition on who makes the better boobs?
KT: I’m going to make the best boobs.
G: Personally, I feel that one of the best elements to portray charming girls in video games is hair. The PS4 certainly grants room for better hair animation. Are you also focusing on that aspect as well, and can we expect improvement from previous games?
KT: I understand what you’re talking about. If it’s just breasts moving around, it doesn’t make sense. The whole body needs to have a soft movement, including hair, scarves and so forth. That’s what I’m focusing on.
G: Do you have a favorite game of the Senran Kagura series, and why?
KT: Estival Versus is my favorite. I’ve been working on mobile and portable games for a little bit, and with Estival Versus I finally returned to consoles.
G: What made you decide to include VR features in your new game?
KT: The VR element is just for the dressing room, not for the shooting. Everybody likes the idea of getting a glimpse under the skirt, and look around the girls’ body, so I think it’ll make a dream come true for many.
G: So there won’t be virtual reality shooting… Have you tried Farpoint?
KT: I haven’t heard that title.
G: It’s pretty much like Starship Troopers, you shoot alien insects in VR.
KT: Now I want to play it.
G: Have you thougt about extending the VR support to the actual shooting as well?
KT: Eventually I might want to try, but I feel that the headset might be a bit heavy for long-term gameplay. You might not be able to play very long.
G: Is there any other genre besides shooters that you’d like to explore in the future? Anything that you really want to do, but you haven’t had the chance yet?
KT: I’d like to do a pinball game.
G: Why pinball?
KT: I’d like to have the ball move around on the girls’ bodies.
G: Why did I even need to ask?