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Translations of Kou Shibusawa's column at Gamecity are being written here. His column's full name is Shibusawa Kou Special Column Game Focus.

#1 Parents and Children PlayingEdit

April 12, 2012

Hello, everyone. I'm Kou Shibusawa. I decided to make a column to convey my thoughts and impressions directly to you. I hope you enjoy what I write.

Now, on to business. Today, I want to talk about Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon Plus Nobunaga's Ambition).

Nobunaga's Ambition is a historical simulation series which was first made in 1983. Next year will be the series' 30th anniversary. Nobunaga no Yabou: Tendou is the latest main installment and the thirteenth entry in the series, but there have been other genres and platforms incorporated with other titles as well. Nobunaga no Yabou Internet, Nobunaga no Yabou Online, and the ongoing social game Hyakuman-nin no Nobunaga no Yabou to name a few. But the series has never before been tied to another franchise, so Pokémon Conquest is its first ever collaboration title.

The goal while developing this game was to make it a "simulation title that parents and kids can play together". There was a fear that simulation games might be too high a hurdle for children to handle. So the first approach we devised was to make it a "children's first simulation game" and make it as easy as possible. Things were going well until we thought to have it simultaneously appeal to the adults who played Nobunaga's Ambition. These two contrasting ideas caused several hardships in the creative process, but I think we managed to find a good balance to satisfy both sides of the coin.

As you may well know, Pokémon is a tremendously popular game with children. Adults may overhear their children playing and they might recognize one of the historical figures' names. With this title, children can share their knowledge of Pokémon to their unknowing parents, and parents can enjoy teaching what they know about historical figures to their uninformed children. Both parent and child can mutually bounce back and share information with one another, which I think is a fun experience that this game can offer. Please, by all means, play this game as a family. It would be truly fortunate if everyone has a great time playing it.

I still have a lot of things I want to talk about. Next time I want to write my thoughts as a developer down, so please look forward to it.

#2 Thought Process While Creating a Game for 6 YearsEdit

April 24, 2012

Hello, everyone. Nice to see you all again, it's Kou Shibusawa. It has warmed up for the first time in awhile, so I'm feeling pretty good today. I wonder if all of our new recruits and employees feel comfortable yet. I'm always looking forward to facing problems everyday, so let's do out best together.

Last time I introduced Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon Plus Nobunaga's Ambition) and a bit of the historical simulation series, Nobunaga's Ambition. Next up for me is Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which first saw the light of publication in 1985. I wanted to make this series to depict the dramatic stories of the heroes, great men, and honorable individuals in the Three Kingdoms era.

I'm sure you all know where I'm going with this. I want to feature Sangokushi 12. It's been six years since the last installment Sangokushi XI. I hope fans who have been counting the days for this new installment thoroughly enjoy their experiences.

First topic that I should cover is the simplicity of availability. PC games nowadays give the impression that they need high-specs in order to play, as though they can only be played and installed into one specific machine and model. With this title, I wanted to make sure that it could be played comfortably for a larger, happier user base. Laptop users and even those using Ultrabooks –which doesn't even have a disk tray– can access the game.

Like the Battle of Guandu and the Battle of Chibi, the story of Romance of the Kingdoms is riddled with disastrous obstacles which are overturned through a series of complex circumstances. The game seeks to recreate these events in the form of "Strategies". Aspects of a character's personality act as the combined inspiration for assigned "Tactics" and "Specialties", which allows their traits to be reenacted numerous times.

The change to real-time combat already has the potential to cause stress, even if it may pull people in and be entertaining. I think there are people who consider real-time combat to be too difficult or too overwhelming for them to handle. To help ease these players into the new system, the handy "Delegation Command" was prepared. With this system, people can choose to watch over the situation and only order their characters when they think it is absolutely necessary. I believe the system can be adjusted to fit for everyone's needs.

Another series' first is the "Online Versus" addition. Players throughout Japan can form rivalries and fight against one another. The offline content was designed to appeal to players of varying levels of proficiency, so I believe a variety of players can easily adjust to the online mode. Everyone can create their own deck of "Character Cards" for battles and plot who to send in their decks individually. Since every character has a new portrait, I hope people feel thrilled as they earn and collect their cards. Each card can offer a new strategy to look forward to, and players can study and learn from their opponent's tactics. The online experience offers unique ways of enjoying this installment.

I really like Zhuge Liang in the Three Kingdoms era. I really admire how he stayed true to his honor for Liu Bei. Even after his lord died, he tried his hardest to support his heir, Liu Shan. And then he wrote the Chu Shi Biao to convey his deep loyalties for the Liu family; I really feel for the honorable life he led. I'm sure everyone has their favorite figures as well. Please use them in Sangokushi 12.

It may be easy to play, but I will never forget all of the ordeals and hardships that went into this game during those six years. I have a lot of confidence in the end product, so please enjoy it. Whether it be alone or with a friend, I'm hoping you enjoy Sangokushi 12's world.

Please keep watching for the next time I write.

#3 To Create Enduring EntertainmentEdit

May 18, 2012

Long time no see everyone. It's Kou Shibusawa. The cherry blossoms have already come and gone, but I think the vivid green leaves of the trees is refreshing to look at.

This time I'm going to revisit Pokémon Plus Nobunaga's Ambition.

First off, I want to talk about how the game's title was made. Actually, I have always had a deep love for the Pocket Monster series. Ishihara (The Pokémon Company Representative President, Tsunekazu Ishihara) and I have met and talked to one another countless times in past video game meetings and conferences. Just as how I have loved the Pocket Monster series, Ishihara said to me his love for the Nobunaga's Ambition series. One time during our meetings, we chatted and agreed on something: "We should make a game together someday". While the game itself took about three years to develop, both me and Mr. Pokémon were thinking about this game long before its actual conception.

Once we finally started to visualize the game, the obvious genres were either action or simulation. As everyone well knows, the Warriors series is the company franchise known for performing collaborations. But Ishihara strongly requested, "If it's a Kou Shibusawa production, then it has to be a Nobunaga's Ambition one!" In that moment, the miraculous collaboration between the well-loved Pokémon and Nobunaga's Ambition series was born.

In a moment of serendipity, we realized the first Nobunaga's Ambition title had 17 provinces just as there are 17 Pokémon types. The theme of unifying 17 countries under one rule originated from this concept.

The "collection element" is a given with any Pokémon title. One of the thrills of a Pokémon title is completing the entries for its Pokédex. Since Pokémon Plus Nobunaga's Ambition is a collaboration we thought to place not only the Pokémon, but the characters themselves as a part of the dictionary. To reflect the change, Pokédex was renamed Collection in the title menu.

Since the characters themselves have their quirks and charms, episodes dedicated to each character can be unlocked after clearing the game's main story once. Actually, when the game was first sold, there was a rising cry from consumers who said, "There's still this much to do?" As a developer, I respond, "Yes, you betcha!"

In these extra episodes, I think it's a challenging change to fight against the other AI controlled characters and forming links with Pokémon. Even after the game is finished, people can still freely aim to complete their collection. I'm happy if everyone enjoys replaying whatever scenario they choose for countless hours.

Finally, I would like to chat about the secrets to winning battles in this game.

To cut to the chase, it's to target a Pokémon's respective type weaknesses for that "It's super effective!" message. Before characters take to the field, it's possible to check the opponent's Pokémon types and particular type affinities can be appropriately compensated. Type affinities can cover the differences of strength between Pokémon.

Another tip I have is timing a character's special ability, or their "Bushou Power", and using each stage's gimmicks wisely. Use them in every way possible to win battles.

I think creating one's own method of achieving victory is one of the appealing traits of simulation titles. I hope everyone personalizes their niche and tactics as they play Pokémon Plus Nobunaga's Ambition.

I'll be seeing you again in my next update.

#4 We Need Warmheartedness in This AgeEdit

July 20, 2012

It's been awhile, everyone. It's Kou Shibusawa. Before I knew it, our summer productions are underway and the hot season is bearing down on us. This time I would like to say my thoughts about the events this past month ago.

In early June, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2012 took place in Los Angeles, America. Like I had done previously the year before, I attended the event to see the latest titles in the game market while simultaneously appearing for the company presentation. I love video games very much, so I hope everyone shared the same excitement I had with our company's big announcements. For anyone who needs a refresher, the trailers can be seen here but there are many other titles which were presented.

Now, about the same time I came back from America, our joint-stock company Gust had finished their newest title Atelier Ayesha ~Alchemist of the Ground of Dusk~. We held a completion meeting with the media to celebrate on June 21st.

As you may have heard, the first title Gust has done with the company after the merger is Ciel nosurge ~Ushiwareta Hoshi he Sasugu Uta~. It's a brand new title never seen before on the PS Vita and it was a very challenging project for the Gust developers. On the other hand, Atelier Ayesha is a continuation of the Atelier series and is the fourteenth installment. When I helped the preparations for the completion meeting, I couldn't help but remember my playthrough with the previous title, Atelier Meruru ~Alchemist of Arland 3~.

To start off, the integration of two different companies is often comparable to marriage. What I mean is that, while it's important to keep track of several financial records, I think it's especially essential that we share the same desire to offer satisfying products consumers would want. Let's call it the "basic philosophy for making games".

Atelier Meruru has an iconic scene which springs to my mind when I think of this statement. It happens near the beginning of the game with the main character Meruru. She would later inherit the house of her fond mentor Totori, but we first see her stirring a large cauldron only to have her concoction explode in front of her. Of course, it was an accident and not intentional in any way by Meruru. Totori didn't reprimand her pupil, rather she responded to the explosion positively.

Meruru asks her if it was okay, and Totori kindly replies, "It's fine. Everyone experiences failure when they're first starting out." I believe this simple moment of encouragement goes beyond games from Koei or Tecmo, speaking volumes on a world view which has touched and warmed my heart more than anything else as a producer.

Atelier Ayesha moves beyond the aforementioned three part Arland series and takes place in an entirely new world and story. I can relate with including new changes to a game's system and atmosphere with the long running Nobunaga's Ambition series. The topic may be different, but I share the same anxieties of whether or not consumers enjoy the introduction of a new feature or tone in a franchise.

However, I realized the apprehensions I had were completely groundless. On July 1st, Gust held their first official event Gust Gala at Oomiya Sonic City. There were fans lining up around the entire venue for the event, patiently waiting for their seats in the rain. The voice actors weren't the only ones who received an enthusiastic applause during stage introductions. The directors for the two titles, Okamura and Tsuchiya, had the same warm cheerful greetings from fans.

Earlier I had talked about E3. It was an event overflowing with first-person shooters and realism, and a hardcore theme was emphasized in many of the productions. Even our company is hoping to appeal to this side of the market with Team NINJA's projects.

But I personally think we need a tender product to nurse these troubled times.

Atelier Ayesha is the fourteenth part of a series which exceeds the number of entries seen in Nobunaga's Ambition. It is crafted by the love of its developers, and it continues to attract fans from any entry of its franchise. The answer can be found in the joy within the Atelier series.

Please look forward to my next update.

#5 Secrets Behind 2ndEdit

September 10, 2012

Hey, everyone. Is everyone doing well in this hot weather? This summer has been pretty busy for us at Koei-Tecmo with all of the new titles that are being developed. Today, I want to cover Sengoku Musou Chronicle 2nd, a game which will be available for purchase this month. Before we touch on the game, I think it wouldn't hurt to talk about the producer himself, our good friend Koinuma.

The first time I worked with Koinuma was during the development for the PlayStation 2 title, Kessen (released March 4, 2000). Back then he was the lead programmer, meaning he was my right hand programmer who had to fulfill my many requests for the game. We spent scores of all-nighters together in order to make it in time for the PlayStation 2 launch. Of course we celebrated with a drink after the game had finished, but I will always remember that one barbecue beef restaurant we went to so many times during the game's development. Good times, good times. (laughs)

After that, he was promoted to be producer, which I believe most people would know of by now. He went on to produce many titles. He first started with the Sengoku Musou series and went on to work on the Gundam Musou series, Pokémon Plus Nobunaga no Yabou, One Piece: Kaizoku Musou and so on. I think it's safe to say he accepted his new position full swing.

He and his team are the minds behind Sengoku Musou Chronicle 2nd. Not 2, but 2nd. The name reflects consumers' requests for improvement of the original title being treated with utmost relevance. Producer Koinuma wanted to relaunch Sengoku Musou Chronicle with ideas they couldn't put in before and requested for the 2nd as the title.

First off, we should talk about Multi Scenarios. These branching perspectives adds depth to the historical facts presented within the game. This is especially important for establishing the player's choices since the Chronicles series has the protagonist = the player.

There is also the new "Extreme Trials" (Moushou Enbu) mode filled with short special missions fitting for the 3DS. Its "Combat Record" saves each player's completion results for entertaining comparisons with other players. There is strong emphasis on making this mode the one which "everyone can have fun playing". Family and friends can compete against one another for the highest score in their neighborhood or the entire country. Chance Encounters has also been improved, now allowing players to name their weapons to their liking.

But that isn't all that Team Omega Force and Producer Koinuma has in store. For the first time in approximately two years and nine months, new characters are being introduced into the series. They are Takatora Tōdō, Munenori Yagyū, and Naotora Ii. Each character has their own charms, but Takatora Tōdō dressed in his blue outfit is rather poignant.

Takatora Tōdō is well known for his numerous masters. With the game's Multi Scenarios and the instant Character Switch in battles, I think it's possible for players to feel a link with him and the many figures he interacted with during his lifetime. Of course, Producer Koinuma took great care to have Naotora Ii gracefully enter the battlefield and made sure to have Munenori Yagyū's actions reflect a new type of swordsman in the series.

Last but not least, I want to thank you and all other fans for their generous support. The series has vastly exceeded beyond our expectations into something spectacular. For instance, there is the Kumamoto Taxi collaboration which started this year in June. The Sengoku Musou versions of Kiyomasa Katō and Gracia decorate the taxis, but they have been in circuit for quite a surprising time in Kumamoto.

And there's the event I was talked about just the other day: one of the Sengoku Musou series spin-off events, Sengoku Musou Seiyuu Ougi 2012 Aki. It took place the first day of this month at Nakano Sunplaza. Several voice actor fans attended, but many of them were also fans of the franchise.

This is how a single game series has been exposed and loved by many people. I earnestly hope the series's newest title will continue to spread the joy which can be found in this franchise.

I hope I have the pleasure of your attendance in my next entry.

#6 Shine in the Winter Sky, Shin Hokuto Musou!Edit

December 14, 2012

It's been awhile, everyone. It's Kou Shibusawa again. Cities everywhere are lighting up with Christmas cheer, and the winter weather is setting in. This time I'd like to blow away the chill with the fiery passion found in our newest title, Shin Hokuto Musou. Before I do, I should really talk about the first entry, Hokuto Musou.

Hokuto Musou is a collaboration between Hokuto no Ken –one of the greatest action-packed comics of all time– and the Musou series –a franchise which boasts the exhilaration of controlling a one man army– released in Japan on March 25, 2010. The title sold over 60,0000 copies in Japan alone thanks to support of many consumers.

I was the Senior Advisor for the project. At first, I thought to simply oversee the development team's progress as a quiet observer. But I couldn't hold back. When someone thinks of Hokuto no Ken, they're going to think of men with a meaty weight in their punches. I tried to express this to the team, and they would experiment with the concept. Development was a long period of trial and errors. I still remember all the brush ups they did like it was yesterday.

When Hokuto Musou was completed, it sold well and became popular. However, there were many complications trying to present the full potential of the original work, and many fans wanted more. I think the producer, Koinuma, shared these sentiments. That's why he strove to present a strong game that captures the essence and appeal of Hokuto no Ken with Shin Hokuto Musou.

The highest priority for this goal, of course, is reworking the action. For instance, the protagonist Kenshiro was reworked from the ground up. Each punch and kick he had in the previous title was judged by its speed, intensity, and strength. Developers revised these actions and more for a quicker, stronger impact. The process was the birth of a new and sensational one man army by itself.

Kenshiro wasn't the only one to be given a revamp. Every character from the previous title was as well. There was effort to clarify the intricate differences between the Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken practitioners. Non-playable characters from previous title, such as Fudo the Mountain of awesome might and Juza the Cloud of unpredictable spontaneity, also received the same action revamps for their playable debut.

The New in the title also extends to the story, which received the same thorough examination. It includes the Celestial Emperor, Shura Country, and Bat and Rin arcs with episodes missing from the Raoh arc in the previous title. Illusionary Mode has its own story with approximately eight hours of enjoyment. The Bat and Rin arc is also the first time the final Hokuto no Ken story from the original creators has been adapted for a video format.

I'm a big Hokuto no Ken fan too. I relate with Bat and Rin's transitions to adulthood. I feel their many sorrows in the second half of the original canon and the first half has a different flavor in retrospect. It's nice to say, "Kou Shibusawa plays scenes from Hokuto no Ken", on this blog.

On November 29th, the meeting for Shin Hokuto Musou's completion took place. My thanks to everyone who attended, both in person and to those who watched the online stream. Everyone who is curious can attend the store front meetings to try the game early, but those who can't can try the PlayStation 3 only trial version in the PlayStation Store. I hope everyone enjoys the revised action experience. The schedule for the meetings can be found here. If time permits, please enjoy the differences between these trial versions.

"I have not a single regret for Shin Hokuto Musou". I hope you can join me again for my next entry.

#7 Famous Scenes in Shin Hokuto MusouEdit

December 28, 2012

Shin Hokuto Musou is finally here. Every fan of Hokuto no Ken has many scenes that they enjoy from the comic. Today, I wanted to share mine with all of you using screenshots from Shin Hokuto Musou.

(Scene description / in-game arc and episode for the screenshot)

1. Kenshiro's Obsession / Raoh Arc; Fires of Tenacity
"Shin, I have crawled back from the depths of hell to face you!"

I think this scene embodies Kenshiro's anger for Shin, the man who chiseled the seven star scar onto his chest. I believe Shin Hokuto Musou portrayed the original comic pretty faithfully here.

2. Boss Fang's Plot and Seikyokurin (Holy Final Wheel) Stance / Raoh Arc; Fist Splitting Through Stone
"Man of the seven star scars, kill him!"

This is when Boss Fang holds Rei's precious sister, Airi, hostage and Rei reluctantly fights Kenshiro. It's a thrilling, heart pounding action scene, and Rei's dedication to keep his sister from danger is really heartwarming. The connection between the Hokuto and Nanto is also established with this event.

3. Toki, The Beholder of Hokuto Shinken's Most Brilliant Techniques / Raoh Arc; The Quiet Giant
"Toki... We finally meet again."

The man who encouraged Kenshiro to break through the Prison Island Cassandra and fight past Raiga and Fuga and Uighur the Warden. And then it's such a surprise when the brothers are reunited. Who doesn't wish they could use Hokuto Shinken to heal diseases like Toki?

4. Rin Takes a Stand Against the Fist King / Raoh Arc; Blue Light of Shichosei (the Death Omen Star)!
"No matter what happens, anyone one who succumbs to the devil is no longer human."

When Kenshiro and Rei are away, Mamiya's village is attacked by the Fist King's lackeys. Rin says to the frightened Airi, "I will not be a slave to the devil." Even if she isn't physically strong, Rin's courageousness touched the hearts of many.

5. Shew's End / Raoh Arc; With Love
"M-My son! I can see Shiba's face!"

Shew, the master of the Nanto Hakurouken and the man who saved Kenshiro during his childhood, sacrifices himself to save his fellow man from Thouzer and is fatally impaled by a thrown spear. Please experience the miracle which occurs during his last moments.

6. Battle at Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum / Raoh Arc; With Love
"I am the Holy Emperor Thouzer! Lord of the Six Nanto Stars!"

The fight at the just completed edifice between Thouzer and Kenshiro is one to decide the victor between the Hokuto and Nanto stars. Our palms were sweaty when Kenshiro's attack were rendered useless against Thouzer. I remember being impressed when Kenshiro discovered the secret and when Thouzer's past were finally revealed.

7. Duel of Rigid Fists, Toki and Raoh / Raoh Arc; Passionate Bonds and Cruelty!
"I shall not hesitate in the path I have chosen!"

Toki's body is riddled with disease yet he won't back down from his destined confrontation with his brother, Raoh. "Brother, should you try to interfere with my path, then I shall seal your fists!" When Toki fought, not even the gods could have predicted the outcome of the battle. Truly a famous scene in Hokuto no Ken.

8. Heaven Dances, Earth Advances; The Nanto Goshasei / Raoh Arc; Nanto Rises
"I'm not bound to anyone, and nobody orders me around."

The Goshasei, the five stars who protect the final Nanto General, have been risking their lives for their duty. Juza of the Cloud is called to his task, but he wants to keep his jaunty life and refuses. When he suddenly pledges his loyalty to the final general, I remember really wanting to see the general's face. I hope everyone enjoys playing his "Lawless Style" in the game.

9. Kenka Keppo Ein Carries Love and Friendship / Celestial Emperor Arc; Fearless Smile
"I do it for her."

Ein, who prides the power of his fists, is defeated by Kenshiro and joins Bat's Hokuto Army. He lives only for his daughter, Asuka, and became a bounty hunter for her. And oh, the tears which are shed for his final punch. You did good, Ein!

10. Han Knows the Secret of Kenshiro's Birth / Shura Country Arc; Destiny of A Legend
"You will never be Raoh. Rather..."

During the search for Rin, Kenshiro faces the third Shura General, Han. Raoh and his name slips from Han's during their death match. I can imagine we were as surprised as Kenshiro when we first learn the secret of his birth.

11. Shachi, The Man who Killed for His Lover / Shura Country Arc; Most Evil Fist on Earth
"Just tell me one thing. What is that tall man to you?"

Shachi, the man who learned Hokuto Ryuken to protect his lover, Leia, and was feared as The Rasetsu who Devours Demons, risks his own body to shield Kenshiro from Kaioh. It was a startling scene yet one which demonstrated the strong bonds between them.

12. Ties Between Kenshiro, Rin, and Bat / Shura Country Arc; Sorrowful Holy Tower
"The person who suffers this pressure point shall lose their love along with their sight!"

This scene is when Kaioh uses Shinkanhaku (White Death Ring) on Rin and releases her. Everyone must have felt excited turning the pages to see how her relationship with Kenshiro would fare.

13. To Protect Kenshiro and Rin / Bat and Rin Arc; Farewell, The Ones I Love
"This is for Ken! And for the one who taught me the light of love, Rin!"

Bat punctures his own chest in Rin's place and decides to become Kenshiro. This scene conveys his deep love for Rin and the trust and gratitude he feels for Kenshiro. It really hit us hard.

These were the scenes which created a great impact for me. I'm sure everyone has their own favorites which differ from mine. Hokuto no Ken has dozens of amazing scenes and it would be too hard to name a single one. Yet they all come from the same source. I hope everyone relives their love for the franchise when they play Shin Hokuto Musou.

I hope everyone will join me with my next entry.

#8 AKB48 no Yabou is Kou Shibusawa's Ambition!Edit

February 18, 2013

G'day, it's Kou Shibusawa. 2013 marks the thirtieth year anniversary for the Nobunaga's Ambition series. I hope everyone enjoys what we have planned to celebrate. I mentioned in my new year's message that there was a big title for the series in the works. Today, I want to talk about the other newest entry which, for me, is second-to-none for making me excited with its completion. It is AKB48 no Yabou, which started its service on January 30th.

Before I get into the main work itself, I want to touch on how this project came into being. It all started at the 16th AMD Awards ceremony in May 2011. There on stage was Yasushi Akimoto, the general producer for AKB48, who received an award for Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications that year. He said to me, "From now on, I want to be more involved with digital entertainment." When the ceremonies ended, Akimoto-san and I sat together and chatted during the after party.

Then it happened. The Goddess of Luck must have been watching over me then. Akimoto-san mentioned that he used to play Nobunaga's Ambition like crazy, and that really broke the ice between us. During our conversation, we thought our respective businesses were doing well and we wanted to do something neither party has done before. That's how AKB48 no Yabou started.

Development was handled by every department of the company. We had members who would normally work on the MMORPGs, consoles, and/or social games for this game. The secret codename for the title during its early phases was "Project FE", named so because of the "48" (Forty-Eight) in the idol group. Every person working on this title is very passionate about the group. Everyone has their favorite member and song they truly enjoyed, and I think it shows in the final product.

Now, let me ask you: what does everyone think when they first hear the title, AKB48 no Yabou? Feudal Japan divided into warring states with armor and swords. I'm sure everyone can imagine how each member would look like in this type of set up. Getting past this expectation proved to be the first road block for the team's producer, Hiroshige. The entire team tried experimenting with several different settings and different looks for the AKB48 members in the early conception process.

But they had a breakthrough when Hiroshige asked Akimoto-san for advice. Akimoto-san told them to not use the members' real names. Instead, they should try to create a world in which members can "perform" roles with the same ambition to conquer the land prevalent in the Nobunaga's Ambition series. With a newfound direction, the team got to work thinking up a specific world. They also conceived new names for the idols and created fictional relations between for their respective lands, which led to the making of Le Chant. It was a process of hard-work and love not normally found in our other social game projects.

On December 26, 2012, many gathered for AKB48 no Yabou completion press conference. Four members came on stage dressed in their Le Chant priestess outfits: Yuuko Ooshima, Minami Takahashi, Rina Kawaei, and Haruka Shimazaki. Seeing them in person exhibited a unique charm different from their other TV appearances; I was really moved.

I know at the end of the conference these four ladies cheerfully shouted, "Please unite the land with us in AKB48 no Yabou!", but I truly thank everyone who did once services started. It's free to play, easy for anyone to learn, and simple to enjoy. I hope everyone is entertained if they try it.

I, Kou Shibusawa, am currently playing and rooting for my personal favorite idol (my super favorite!), "Novi Liz Menachite" (or the representation of Tomomi Itano). I want to make her dream come true, and I fight for the Novi army everyday. Novi comrades, let us join forces and try our best to fulfill her ambition.

Please feel free to join me again for my next entry.

#9 Two Unparalleled GiantsEdit

April 2, 2013

Hi again, it’s Kou Shibusawa. Our development team Omega Force released two major entries in their Warriors series this spring. On February 28th there was Shin Sangoku Musou 7 and One Piece Kaizoku Musou 2, which was published by its respective collaborator, Bandai-Namco, was on March 20th. Both works were consecutively available for purchase within the same time frame, but each title has their distinguishing traits to set them apart.

Shin Sangoku Musou 7 is the seventh entry of the Shin Sangoku Musou series. The series began with Shin Sangoku Musou and started the "thrill of being one vs a thousand" within our company. It involves figures from the Three Kingdoms era, yet adapts events into its narrative in a way which can be easily absorbed by audiences with an action premise. Developers strongly wanted to present the "ultimate Warriors title" with 7. It has been dubbed the "ultimate one-man army experience".

First off, there's the action. Omega Force added "Storm Rush" with the intents to increase the thrill of combat and "Variable Counter" for an instant switch to defense. Each character has three Musous, including the new "Awakened Musou" and "True Awakened Musou" to their arsenal. It's even easier for any player to really let loose in the battlefield.

On the story front, the seventy-some-odd characters are at the forefront. For me, the main attraction is the "what-if" stories added to the historical setting. Like what if Wei's Guo Jia or Wu's Zhou Yu lived longer than they had or –for the Liu Bei fans– what if Xu Shu had returned to his service. Episodes such as these can be enjoyed by any fan of the Three Kingdoms era. This is how the action and the story aim to be worthy of "ultimate" content.

Moving on, we have One Piece Kaizoku Musou 2, the successor to a title which sold over 1,200,000 copies worldwide, One Piece Kaizoku Musou. It's a product which, in the wake of its predecessor's great financial success, aims to further satisfy consumers by simultaneously incorporating fan feedback into the final and presenting new challenges to be enjoyed.

For action, we have Luffy's "Haki" as well as Sanji and Zoro's "Style Actions", which are their beefed-up attacks revealed by their counterparts in the New World arc. The game engine has been brushed up as well to better reflect the concept of "The Straw Hats vs 10,000", which provides a bustling experience when compared to the previous title. As mentioned before, players' voices have been heard and their requests for more playable characters have been answered.

In battle, Warriors-like tactical combat can be enjoyed with a few unique tweaks. The story is completely original and devised solely for this game, something which I feel can entertain any One Piece fan. They can fight and compete against one another using their preferred character in these unlikely dream-matches. Now it's no longer limited to the PlayStation 3 as it can also be played on the PS Vita, a new challenge for developers to devise. Truly, One Piece Kaizoku Musou 2 has made leaps of progress over the first game.

Last but not least, I should mention the selling point these two titles have in common. Shin Sangoku Musou 7 has strengthened its "what-ifs" in the Three Kingdoms, and One Piece Kaizoku Musou 2 has a brand new story for itself. I think it's safe to say that they both explore the "strong potential of possibilities" within them.

Before I end this post, I want to mention March 30th, "Nobunaga Ambition's Day", and the launching of the series's thirtieth anniversary site. Nobunaga's Ambition is also a series filled with "what-ifs", and it brings me great joy to think that the concept continues to thrive in these two products. Please take the time to look and see what these titles have to offer.

Hope to see everyone again and please feel free to join me again for my next entry.

#10 "Creativity" in the New AgeEdit

June 10, 2013

Good day, it's Kou Shibusawa. I want to talk about the latest Nobunaga work today. Thanks to all of you, we were able to celebrate thirty years of Nobunaga's Ambition. It all began on March 30, 1983. The first title had its modest share of fans, but with time and word of mouth, I think it was able to become a popular hit. It's been thirty years since then and Nobunaga's Ambition still remains one of Koei-Tecmo's flagship titles with the customers' support. Let's look back on these past three decades together.

In 1980, I ran a computer shop called KOEY My Comsystem. It was a Western style store rather than typical office building seen in my home in Ashikaga city, Tochigi. It was there that I thought to develop basic computer games. At the time, there were two types of commercial games that were popular: the ones enjoyed in arcades and the one for PCs. Action games –particularly the ones which tested a person's attention and reflexes– were commonplace. As someone in my thirties, I wanted to create a game which had war games and strategies as its main entertainment value rather than busy, fast-paced action.

As for the setting, the decision to make it "historical" came naturally to me. I always enjoyed history, especially Ryotaro Shiba's historical novels, and I was especially attached to Oda Nobunaga. I admire Nobunaga's charisma of wanting usher in a new era in an age of constant warfare. Within this game, I wanted to recapture not only the power of his war tactics, but his organization of political affairs and government rulings. The basic game system of "Nobunaga's Ambition" was based on the hopes of displaying Nobunaga's sense of innovation for the era.

I mentioned earlier that the first Nobunaga's Ambition gained popularity through word of mouth. The first title was quite the adventure. Not only did I do all the programming and development, I had to also do the advertising and publicity by myself. I was in charge of overseeing any letters or phone calls received from fans. To my surprise, many responses wanted more from Nobunaga's Ambition.

"I want to control the other daimyou, not just the ones in the center and east."
"You should increase the number of generals in the game."
"I want the product to be able to run on my computer."

Wanting to fulfill the customers' expectations, the second and third titles of the Nobunaga's Ambition series were created. By the way, in response to plea for having the first Nobunaga's Ambition on an available platform, I strongly remember sending at least 38 computers for those consumers. As technology marched on, the quality of the game went up a grade.

It's been thirty years. The series has delved into the online and social game market and experienced slight development shifts in genre. It's for the sake of appealing to a wider audience. Nobunaga no Yabou Online was developed with the theme of letting a person "live within the Warring States", and Nobunyaga no Yabou offers a new twist to the age with its kitty generals. Various fans have been gained through these different outlets. The series continues to broaden its scope with its collaborations, Pokémon Plus Nobunaga no Yabou in 2012 and AKB48 no Yabou in 2013.

Then we have within this the latest title of the main stream series, which was revealed for the world to see on May 14th in the company's conference hall: Nobunaga no Yabou Souzou, the fourteenth title to celebrate its thirty years. When he considered uniting Japan's warring states, Oda Nobunaga repeatedly sought to "create" and "destroy" the times. That's one of the reasons behind the Souzou subtitle.

The concept is "the creation of a new age". The player can either aim to replicate "Tenka Fubu" which Nobunaga couldn't achieve or strive to make their own future for the land. "Reality", "dynamic", and "dramatic" are three buzzwords we're using for the title, but I strongly believe they correspond with this sole concept. Stay tuned for more details, fans, whether you're new to the series or have had some experience with past entries.

Finally, I should say a few words about my thoughts regarding simulations. I began making games in 1981. My first game was Kawanakajima no Tatakai, a war simulation pitting Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin against one another. Ever since then, I found that the fun in simulations is "providing a virtual experience". Not just in the Warring States simulations. It applies to horse raising sims, executive sims, and romance sims too. Simulations can broaden their entertainment value by expanding upon the experience it offers. I sincerely believe that is the charm of this genre, and I hope to continue being a part of it. Of course, I would like for Nobunaga's Ambition to remain a key player within it.

I've developed many games in my career and I'm often asked, "Did you experience any severe hardships during development?" I don't dare say that I ever had. I have fun playing games, but I have even more fun making them. I hope to keep making games for the fans for the future, starting with Nobunaga no Yabou Souzou for this year.

I look forward to seeing you in my next entry.

#11 Several "Mononofu" and the Creation of ToukidenEdit

July 19, 2013

Hello again, everyone. It's Kou Shibusawa. Is everyone enjoying the latest hunting action game released in June, Toukiden? Many consumers have responded to it after its launch and it's enjoying a good spurt of popularity. I've seen many people give me such notes like, "I play it too!", around the office. Of course, I've been playing it myself during these three weeks.

For starters, Toukiden's production began when Omega Force developers thought, "Let's make a new action series which continues from the Warriors series." There were lots of ideas thrown out there at first, but then someone said, "Let's try making it a hunting game filled with collectibles that have been so popular lately". Development began rolling from there.

Hunting games are a powerhouse within the gaming genre. Therefore, the team thought to approach it with a new perspective. In the grand scheme of the action genre, Koei-Tecmo is known mostly for its historical based titles. The Nobunaga's Ambition and Samurai Warriors series have already covered the Warring States, so the concept of going "traditional Japanese" became prominent. If that's the case, the big bads should be "demons"! This is how the game's basic conception went.

There was one other experiment that the team sought for this title: user input. The team wanted to provide a half-finished version of the game for players and make active changes based to their opinions. It was a process devised to "develop with the fans". Thanks to Sony Computer Entertainment's (SCE) help, developers were able to stage a user meeting on March 30th and offer the still-in-development version of the action segments. We received numerous applicants for the conference and allowed 80 fans to be the first to test the game. Afterwards, the "Action Trial" was made available on April 2nd in the PS Store for many other fans to try.

Thinking about it now, the feedback we received was very critical. There were cries for the game to be halted, but in the comments there were many opinions that sought change which caught the developers' attention. Developers were excited to have other people play it, even if it was stressful reading the players' honest feedback. "This is hard to play", "This should be done more like this", "It'll be funner if this is made like this" from the Playcommu and user support comments were flooding in the thousands. Imagine how the developers must have felt then reading those replies. They faced a rough path from then on.

Yet within two weeks' time, the team was able to scramble together "Action Trial Version 1.01", a patched version for the trial. It was a first time experiment for those at SCE. I was surprised by Omega Force's decision as well, but they assured me, "We want to provide a version which reflects players' views as soon as possible." Seeing their enthusiasm, I accepted their proposal. As a result, "1.01" was widely received. Adjustments were made on the speed and other details which players had raised. In that short time frame, players felt the game was "corrected" and was highly praised.

And improvements still continue to be made as I speak. Even now, the team seeks to fine tune the game with updates and patches to improve the experience for players. There have already been three updates since the game's release. Each time the team seeks to answer players' wishes to improve and innovate. They still seek to improve its entertainment value.

After launch, I've seen many comments from everyone and I really think a bond between developers and players has been established. I've heard this too, "At first, the trial version was sucking. But it improved over time to be a good game." It's a new title in a genre they've had no experience in; Omega Force has really tried its hardest to please. I'm happy to hear so many of you enjoying yourselves after all they have been through. I hope you continue to enjoy the game with their upcoming improvements and downloadable content they have planned. Toukiden wasn't raised just by the developers. It was truly created with the support of you, the fans. Please have a blast playing it together with us and your friends.

Lastly, to those already enjoying Toukiden, I wanted to provide a tiny hint for combat. The giant demons have powerful attacks. Even if you see them coming, you still might suffer damage. I think everyone's experienced that at least once in their playthrough. When the demon strikes, I have a tiny suggestion to prevent their attack. Use the long sword, spear, or gauntlets special moves or a fully charged Spirit beam to cancel its movements. Try using elemental ailments, enhancements, or the flight status to ease the process of wearing a demon down.

I hope to see you in my next entry.

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