I met up with Touhou Genso Wanderer Director JYUNYA in a San Fransisco tea shop after we both spent the previous five days in Los Angeles attending Anime Expo 2016. His game will be coming West to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in 2017.
Surprisingly, JYUNYA is young and energetic, at one point we even talk about the popular Japanese forum 2channel. However, when it comes to game development, you can clearly see how invested he is in delivering, what he feels, is the best game of the genre to fans.
Additionally, he concludes our interview with his own question, which you might want to answer yourself in the comments.
NIS America assisted with the translation of questions and answers.
Azario Lopez: What made you want to get into game development?
JYUNYA: As a child, I loved video games. People would ask me what I’d want to do when I grew up, and I’d say that I wanted to make and work with games. I never felt I had talent in music or sports, but I was into graphics. I came upon this opportunity to create a game for PlayStation 4 and that’s where I am right now.
A: What was your initial reaction to being told your game will be brought to the West for PlayStation 4?
J: I made this game for fun in my spare time. Often, I feel like I’m still asleep and dreaming. I never thought that American fans would be able to play my game. When I was told the game would be released in America, I was just happy.
A: What is your past experience with rogue-like dungeon crawlers?
J: If you’re familiar with Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon, it’s a very popular rogue-like game that came out on the PlayStation when I was kid. Ever since I played that game and games like it, I wanted to create rogue-likes.
A: What makes your rogue-like different from others in the genre?
J: I wanted to keep the classic Japanese rogue-like feel, but I want the Touhou atmosphere added to it. I use my influence from games like Torneko no Daibōken, but in the end I want to make a better game than those classic games, and deliver it to fans.
A: How did you make the Touhou characters your own?
J: I’ve been a Touhou fan for about 15 years. ZUN-san’s characters were very influential and you can see the passion put into them. So when I applied that to my game, I created my own world with the characters. I actually did a lot of this thinking ZUN-san wouldn’t find out.
A: Did you encounter any issues during development of Genso Wanderer?
J: We didn’t really encounter challenges during development, but this was our first game for a console so we had trouble finding out who to talk to when figuring out how to get the game on PlayStation in general. However, it’s been my dream to have a game on PlayStation, very few people can say they have their game on a console, so I wanted to make that dream come true.
A: Fan demands can be pretty intense at times, how do you deal with balancing what you want to create and what fans want you to create?
J: Usually, I’m just like “Shut up, I’ll do what I want”. And I’m that way in Japan too.
A: Touhou Project games are generally very fast, since you’ve created a rogue-like, this slows down the pace quite a bit. Do you feel that your game also has fast paced battles even for a rogue-like?
J: Rogue-like games are generally slow, I never thought about looking at other Touhou games while I was creating Wanderer. I just wanted to make the game my way.
A: What would you like players new to Wanderer to pay attention to during the first few hours of the game?
J: I would like them to realize that this is the best rogue-like game in Japan. In fact, half of the sales last year came from players who never knew Touhou. From that, those players researched the Touhou world and became fans of the other titles.
A: Being a Japanese developer, do you see a difference between Western and Japanese gamers?
J: This was my first time at Anime Expo, seeing the people I noticed there’s nothing really different about American fans and Japanese fans. The one thing I was concerned about is that I wasn’t sure which characters were really popular in the West, since Touhou has so many. I had American fans asking me why I didn’t include certain characters and I wish I had that input during development.
A: Is there anything that you would like to tell gamers who are seeing Wanderer for the first time now?
J: Genso Wanderer is very easy to pick up, if you get into it you could easily spend 200 hours playing it. This game has a lot of rogue-like aspects and I value people’s response. I see that games coming out today focus on high-res, 3D, and all that. However, this could fall into being seen as relying on the same pattern, but what I’m trying to do is build upon something good and make it better.
To the Touhou fans out there, I’d like to say that almost every Touhou character will be in it, and all the respective equipment that those characters have will be in as well, along with familiar music.
JYUNYA: Do fans want the original Japanese voice audio for characters or do they want it dubbed?
A: This is a question that is of much debate. Personally, I enjoy Japanese voice audio, but I can understand why some gamers like dubbed works.