Continuing on our coverage of Jump Festa 2016, PlayStation LifeStyle was able to quiz Bandai Namco Producer Noriaki Niino on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven, the latest installment in the evergreen manga series.
Having already released in Japan only last week, Niino was full of confidence about Eyes of Heaven making its way over to western territories, all the while offering new details on the game’s intriguing two vs. two dynamic.
Like all of our interviews that will be rolling out from Jump Festa, our all-too-brief discussion with Niino was held in conjunction with the folks over at Geek Culture.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is the second entry into the franchise developed by CyberConnect 2 since All Star Battle, how has the studio evolved in those two years, and what new features can we expect?
Noriaki Niino: For one, the biggest difference between All Star Battle and Eyes of Heaven is the battle style. All Star Battle was a one vs. one fighting game, whereas Eyes of Heaven will be a two vs. two tag fighting game where players will be able to run around freely in a three-dimensional space.
Eyes of Heaven just released in Japan, and with All Star already released in the West in 2013, do you feel more confident bringing the game to the western audience now based on that release?
Niino: First of all, we’re really positive about this game releasing in the western territories. Since previous titles we’ve done a lot experience on Eyes of Heaven; for example, ever since we were creating All Star Battle, we always wanted to focus on putting our thought into how to express the different and unique abilities of each character. Now that it’s a two-on-two battle, players will be able to use their mind to build up a strategy and take advantage the extra character. [This is to] feel a better sense of immersion with using your mind rather than just brute strength.
Nowadays, eSports for fighting games is getting quite popular — especially with the Tekken series. Even in Singapore with the previous All Stars, there were communities who were running small tournaments around it. Are there any plans to support any kind of eSports activity for Eyes of Heaven?
Like tournaments or competitions…
Niino: We’re not really clear about the promotion in Singapore at this point right now. But we’d definitely like to support tournaments, especially because the game changes to two-on-two allowing for up to four players to play together. So we definitely think it’s worth looking into and we’re very excited.
Because two vs. two is quite unusual — most of the genre is one vs. one…
Niino: Since we changed the battle system to two-on-two, we’re really emphasising the unique abilities of each fighter, since they’re so different from one another. And we’ve created each character from scratch — there’s no base character. So we hope that all players will be able to enjoy [Eyes of Heaven] not just as JoJo game, but as a game in general. There’s also an original story mode.
The anime is really quite popular, so I guess you’re trying to reach out to people who perhaps don’t play this kind of game? Is it easy for someone who is unfamiliar with this genre to get into it?
Niino: As we mentioned, there’s really not an awful lot of people who play these types of video games, especially because they’re new fans of the anime. But we’ve really put in battled features; for example, if you press the same button a number of times you get to do fancy moves and combos really easy. So even for people who don’t play many video games, who don’t play this specific genre, I’m sure they’ll be able to enjoy it.
Lastly, even for the people who aren’t used to the controls, in the story mode, there’s an original RPG feature where players will be able to acquire ability points to upgrade their skill tree. It’s here that players will be able to go through all the controls, and they’ll get used to it by the time they really start to fight.
A special thanks to Bandai Namco and in particular Noriaki Niino for answering some of our questions. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven hit Japan on December 17, 2015, and it’s expected to make its way West in the summer of 2016.