Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories – How the Disaster Game Was Revived and Brought Westward
Granzella discussed the work that went into reviving Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories and bringing it westward.
After teasing it earlier in the year, Granzella and NIS America confirmed last month that Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories would be coming westward to PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch in early 2020. The road to the game’s release in Japan last year was a long one as it was canceled and then revived, so it’s awesome to finally see Granzella team up with NIS America to bring Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories to the west.
DualShockers was recently able to talk with Granzella’s Kazuma Kujo about Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories and learned more about the game’s revival and what the developer planning to do with the series and their other titles in the west.
For the uninitiated, development on Disaster Report 4 was initially being handled by a studio called Irem, and it was supposed to release for PS3 all the way back in 2011, but things did not go according to plan. The game was canceled on March 11, 2011, following the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Even outside the context of that earthquake, Kazuma Kujo also said that Irem was taking a major risk with that game that ultimately did not pan out. “I think it came down to whether we could bring it to a sellable state at the time. Making a disaster survival game is a large risk,” we were told
Shortly after the earthquake, Irem decided to mostly exit the gaming industry; in turn, this spurred Kazuma Kujo and other Irem developers to leave and found Granzella. After working on PlayStation Home content for a while, Granzella’s first major console game, City Shrouded in Shadow, released in Japan in 2017. Rolling things back to 2014, Granzella was actually able to acquire the rights to the Disaster Report series from Irem. In November 2015, Granzella confirmed that they would be reviving the project as Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories.
Referencing the aforementioned risk of releasing a disaster-focused game, Kujo-san said that, “Granzella was created so that we, the developers, could take on that risk.” And take it on they did, releasing Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories in Japan come November 2018 and subsequently partnering with NIS America to bring the game over to the west.
Despite the fact that Granzella was working on a project that had been first conceived several years prior for last generation hardware, Kujo-san was not really worried about Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories feeling outdated in any significant way. “Due to rebuilding for the new platform, and handling both during and after the earthquake, feelings of being outdated were never voiced.” Even as development was restarted for a new platform, “there weren’t any reworks in particular” when it came to how Granzella went about designing the game.
Interestingly, Kazuma Kujo even says that “the game fits with the attention given to the recent major earthquake in Japan, so we didn’t feel a need to change anything,” likely referring to major Japanese earthquakes such as September 2018’s Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake. Settings like this “let players experience the sadness and futility felt in a disaster” according to Kujo-san, so he’s “glad that we could bring it to the world.” When it came to reviving the project, he made it clear that “more than anything, I was satisfied with just being able to work on a Disaster Report game again.” Enthusiasm like that is always good to hear from a developer.
When it comes to a western release for Disaster Report 4, one has always been in the back of the developer’s minds. Even back in the days of development at Irem, Kujo-san confirmed that “it was always planned to be released in the west.” Once the project’s development was revived, Granzella still “wanted to release the game overseas.” The biggest obstacle in doing so was finding the right partner to bring the game over.
Eventually, they found that partner in NIS America, who has had their hands in the western releases of series like Ys and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. “We weren’t sure we could find a partner who could assist in bringing such a Japanese game to the West. It is a dream come true to find such a strong partner as NIS America,” Kujo-san explained.
As for how Granzella thinks western audiences will react to the game and its distinctly Japanese setting, they actually seemed unsure. “We are half expectant and half hesitant. It might be a little too Japanese,” he told us. That being said, the success of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories in the west will be very important if fans want to ensure future Disaster Report titles, or new Granzella titles in general, make their way to the United States and Europe. “We will be surveying the Western fanbase, and plan to put out something to gather their opinions.” Releases like this and the recently crowdfunded R-Type Final 2 are “part of that plan.”
Kazuma Kujo also told DualShockers that Granzella and NIS America do not plan on removing, changing, or censoring any content in the western release as of now, but he did say that “as localization progresses, things that need to be changed may appear.” The western release seems to be the end of the road for the long development saga of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, and Kazuma Kujo and co. seem quite happy about being at that point. “It may have a slightly different feel for an adventure game, but we want you to experience the events of a major earthquake, the situation of the city, and the actions of the people in it. We hope you enjoy Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories.”
From PS3 to PS4 and then PC and Nintendo Switch as well, Granzella’s upcoming game definitely has had a development cycle unlike that of many other games. Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories releases in Early 2020 for PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. You can also pre-order the game on Amazon right now.
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