Koei Tecmo and Team NINJA are showcasing more and more characters and gameplay of DEAD OR ALIVE 6, but there is still much that we don’t know.
In order to learn more about the game, DualShockers visited the team’s headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo, and talked with Director and Producer Yohei Shimbori, Art Director and Scenario Writer Yutaka Saito, and Technical Expert Taku Sugawara.
Since our interview was over two hours long, all the info will be split into three parts followed by additional coverage. While this first part focuses on the recent reveals and on things that have yet to be revealed (like the mysterious new female character teased by the Japanese collector’s edition), the second part will provide a deep dive into the new engine thanks to a lot of insight from Sugawara-san, and the third part will wrap up with information about characters and story.
Giuseppe: The trailer you showcased at Tokyo Game Show gave me the impression that you were sending a message saying “this is still the DEAD OR ALIVE you know.” There were many elements returning from previous games like the traditional costumes, more flashy moves, more female characters, and body physics. It looked a lot more like DEAD OR ALIVE 5 compared to previous reveals. Is that a correct impression?
Yohei Shimbori: Yes. I’m actually impressed that you picked up on that…
G: You weren’t exactly a ninja about it. I would say that it was very easy to notice.
Yohei Shimbori: (laughs) With E3 and Evo we showed probably the more serious trailers that we had. At that time we were still right in the middle of working on the new physics and on the engine, so we were very limited in what we were actually able to show. Due to that, we opted to showcase the newer elements of the game, and the first couple of trailers were really focused on that new engine that we have, and the new realistic aspects of it.
Yet, the DEAD OR ALIVE series itself is a lot more colorful and flashier. At Gamescom, we showcased the Kraken, and now we have the pterodactyl and T-rex in the stages. The stages themselves also look brighter, and we have a lot more female characters showing up. It’s a lot more DOA-like.
I think we have been able to bring the pieces together to show the more DEAD OR ALIVE–like elements, marking a middle point in our reveals.
G: If you were able to go back in time, do you think it’d have been better to start showing the game with this trailer instead? Do you have any regrets about showing the more serious side of the game first, since first impressions tend to be important?
Yohei Shimbori: I don’t regret it. There is always a bit of a shock element when people see something new. Some may have thought that it was a bit too much but that’s how it usually happens.
Yutaka Saito: If you remember the debut trailer of DEAD OR ALIVE 5, it was Hayate versus Hayabusa in the Shibuya stage. It showed two male characters in a very serious battle situation. We wanted to show the evolution of realism from DEAD OR ALIVE 4. After that, we started showing the female characters and the rest of the elements of the game.
This time at E3 we wanted to show what we had managed to achieve with the new physics-based engine and the visual evolution. After that, we started showing more of our female characters. It’s a similar way to present the game to what we did in 5. It’s not that surprising, and I think we showed it in the proper order.
[Editor’s Note: at this point, the team showed me the brand new trailer with the reveal of Bass, Tina, and Mila.]
G: this is great!
Yutaka Saito: Thank you!
G: This trailer appears to be the continuation of the same message that started with the one showcased at Tokyo Game Show. Is that correct?
Yohei Shimbori: We’re creating this game for the fans. It’s not just this game, but the series as a whole has been created for the fans. We want to include things that the fans will enjoy. We’d like the fans to believe in us, that we are creating something for them.
G: Can you tell me more about this reveal, why did you decide to bring back these characters, and this new organization The Muscle?
Yohei Shimbori: Now it’s simply the right timing within our development schedule, and we’re finally able to show this. Bass and Tina are father and daughter, so we definitely wanted to show them together. Since they’re American, we really wanted to reveal them at an event in the United States, but unfortunately, at E3 and Evo the timing wasn’t right. The characters and the stage weren’t quite ready. Right now everything came together, so it ended up being the best time to show them.
We can’t say too much about the story, but everyone enjoys wrestling, and one thing we were debating was whether to introduce a new organization or a new Wrestlemania-type of event. We went back and forth so many times on this… I can’t even remember how many. In the end, we decided to go with a new organization. How it fits into the story, I can’t tell you, but the world of wrestling is definitely different from that of our ninja. It has its own flow about how things will progress in the story. We’re showing wrestling in a way that will be enjoyable in DEAD OR ALIVE, so fans can look forward to that.
G: In the game, the fighting feels quite realistic, at least in the impacts of the blows and some of the styles, but then we have giant Kraken and dinosaurs, which are definitely fantasy elements. What kind of balance between fantasy and realism are you seeking, and what kind of world are you building?
Yutaka Saito: The main characters are ninja. That’s a bit of a fantasy element right there. On the other hand, we have characters like Jann Lee who are fighters in a more realistic sense. Yet, our ninja are more like superheroes.
G: Wait, are you telling me that ninja aren’t real?!
Yohei Shimbori: Don’t worry! they exist! (Laughs)
Yutaka Saito: We have fantasy elements like ninja, clones, and androids. While we have realistic elements in the fighting, we feel that the world itself is more fantasy-based.
Yohei Shimbori: In the game, we have moments in which you smash into walls, you fall from huge heights, and things are blowing up right behind you, and the characters can survive all that. At some point we actually tried to give them a more realistic level of power, but playing the game like that really didn’t feel as great. There needs to be an element of “falseness” to it with the stages. If you fall from two feet, it doesn’t look as exciting as falling from a huge cliff. We’re making sure that it’s fun. We want our players to feel excited about what they’re playing, and how fun and entertaining it is.
Despite these fantastical elements, we do make sure that the fighting moves are realistic and based on real fighting techniques, so we do keep that part more or less grounded.
G: Shimbori-san, as the Producer and Director, are there times in which your personal taste has to take a back seat to what you believe is better for the game?
Yohei Shimbori: I’m pretty lucky because I think that my personal taste and what the fans enjoy are pretty similar. My personal choices don’t diverge with what the fans want, and even with you, there are probably many things we both like about the game. There are some times in which some things I’d like to include are simply a result of my taste and wouldn’t match the world of the game, but I do recognize when that happens and where that line is. I don’t think there are too many difficult decisions because I’m personally pretty close to what the fanbase is into. There are certain things that I think should be included in the game, and I certainly push for them.
Yutaka Saito: There are certain things like elements, colors, and shapes used in the stages that come up. For instance, he really wanted dinosaurs, and they ended up being good for the game.
Yohei Shimbori: There aren’t many things that I suggested that we eventually didn’t do, and most of the things I like are included. It’s the same with other members of the development team. They put in things they enjoy as well. I think that’s part of what makes this an enjoyable and exciting game.
[Editor’s note: Shimbori-san actually showed me some sketches of the Pterodactyl attack in the Lost Paradise stage, mentioning that he drew those himself.]
G: Of course, the fanbase includes many different kinds of people, from casual players to competitive ones. Your games are seen in different ways by different people, so some want certain things, others want different things, and then there is the competitive scene that may want entirely different things because they have to be televised and they can’t show certain elements that are unsafe for work. Have you thought of providing options so that a tournament organizer may remove all the body physics or disallow certain costumes, while players who want to enjoy some eye-candy at home may use options like the OMG physics similar to DOA5?
Yohei Shimbori: Yes, we’re thinking about some options. As an example, the TGS build had the option to turn blood on or off, and whether or not you want to see close-ups of blows to the face. Especially some Japanese fans don’t want to see these kinds of depiction, so if you turn it off the camera pans out instead of closing into the face.
Elements like violence and sexiness are perceived differently by different people, so we plan to include some options they can select. In terms of the OMG mode, that was a little bit too exaggerated in DEAD OR ALIVE 5, so we don’t think it’s fitting and we don’t plan on including that in DEAD OR ALIVE 6.
G: The Collector’s Edition for Japan includes some 3D mouse pads, and one of those represents a completely new character. Can you give me a hint about her?
Yohei Shimbori: A hint? Let’s see… She is a woman.
G: Yes, we knew that. It’s written right there in the description.
Yohei Shimbori: (Laughs) Her voice actress for Japan is quite famous. What should I say… this is the most difficult question. The most I can say is that her technique is a martial art that we have not seen in the DEAD OR ALIVE series, and probably we haven’t seen it in any other major fighter game series as well, but that’s about it.
G: Can we say whether she is a more serious or funny character?
Yohei Shimbori: She is a little bit of both… Maybe a little bit towards the serious side, but she’s kind of in the middle. That’s two hints! You’re a good interviewer! (laughs)
G: Is there any message you’d like to say to your western fans?
Yutaka Saito: We’re going to continue releasing new information about the game. We already announced the release date, and there isn’t much time left before then, but I think that we’ll reveal things that fans will be quite excited to hear. We’re creating this game with the happy faces of our fans in mind, so we hope you look forward to it.
Yohei Shimbori: As you can see, we’re working very hard on this game. There are definitely are many characters that we still haven’t announced yet, and that people are looking forward to. For example, there is a female wearing Japanese traditional clothing, or someone who is kind of drunken in their movements. I hope people can look forward to the ongoing information releases, and I look forward to being able to play against everyone when the game launches.
As mentioned before, there is still a lot to be said about DEAD OR ALIVE 6, so stay tuned for a deep dive into the game’s new engine next week.
If you’re interested in learning more, an event dedicated to the game named DEAD OR ALIVE Festival 2018 has also been announced and will happen on November 18th. You should also not forget to read our previous interview with Shimbori-san.
DEAD OR ALIVE 6 will release worldwide on February 15th, 2019 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. You can already pre-order it on Amazon.
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