Royal Anapoko Academy Director on Ancient Style and Potential Overseas Release Issues

Image: Ancient Corp.

Here at Nintendo Life we ​​are big fans of Ancient, a company founded by composer Yuzo Koshiro and his family that has worked on some absolutely brilliant games over the past three decades, including the classics Mega Drive Streets of Rage 2 and Beyond Oasis, as well as more recently great Gotta Protectors on 3DS.

The company’s latest installment, Royal Anapoko Academy, recently launched on the Switch eShop in Japan, and after spending time with this Japan-only release, we have so far come to the conclusion that this is an extremely enjoyable and excellent piece of silly strategy.

We recently contacted Royal Anapoko Academy Director Makoto Wada with questions about the game – the story and inspiration behind it, subverting genre expectations in terms of timing and tone, and whether we’ll see an English-language release in the future. …

What was the thought of taking a traditionally long genre and reinventing it as a series of short scripts?

This game takes place in a school and graduates three years later. To express this process as a game, a long storyline was not good enough. Using short missions like [small tasks] and short script [large tasks], we were able to express separation for a year or a month. Also, playing with a long scenario will delay the player for a long time.

However, today’s gaming fans have varying amounts of free time due to the proliferation of smartphones. They have less time to devote to one game and enjoy a variety of experiences, going back and forth on social media. It is not easy for these players to get a long time.

We thought that a style of play with a series of short game moments would be more appropriate for the present time.

When making retro games like Ouritsu Anapoko Gakuen, how strict are you about the technical constraints of your imaginary hardware? How can you find a balance between solid and truly “old” without limiting your own style?

This game was originally created for the Nintendo 3DS. It was transferred to the Nintendo Switch in 2017, but until then it was very difficult to process a lot of information in low resolution. The screen also had a much more retro look than it is now, and the fonts were typed in pixels.

We thought that a style of play with a series of short game moments would be more appropriate for the present time.

The Nintendo Switch has more than enough power for this game, so I never had any complaints about its performance. To create a sense of unity on the screen, the pixels were neither increased nor decreased. The background is in full color and uses a lot of transparency, but enemies and players are drawn in pixels. During combat scenes, the background increases slightly, but characters with pixel art do not. This ensures that the pixel pitch of the characters does not become uneven. It also makes it easier to see the action by slightly increasing the distance between characters.

Please tell us a little about how the soundtrack was created?

The music for this game was composed by Tsuyoshi Yanagawa. He worked with Koshiro on music for [turn-based strategy game] Culdcept on PlayStation 1 and has since been one of Koshiro’s partners on many projects. Most recently, he has worked on arrangements for Etrian Odyssey.

One of the most distinctive features of the music in this game is that the battle scenes and the scenes are arranged differently. The most distinctive feature of the music in this game is that the battle scenes and field scenes are arranged differently, and the battle and movement scenes are shaded. Yanagawa was initially delighted with the idea, but when he really started working on it, he found it very difficult. After all, he looked completely unhappy with the idea!

Royal Academy Anapoko Screen 3

Ancient’s celebrates 30 years as a game developer. How much has it changed since you started playing Game Gear and when you started using the Switch?

When I joined Ancient, it was the Sega Saturn and PlayStation era. Around that time, the number of people working on game production increased and it became difficult to create a lot of data without systematic action. From 2000 to 2010, I was busy responding to these time changes.

Let the big companies flood their players with big games, and let’s do what only we can do! This became the style of Ancient.

In 2010, I released a game called Mamotta Knight (also known as Gotta Protectors) on XBOX 360. It was a small sale, but it was very well received and the streak continued with three more games. Until the first and second games, I did almost everything myself, except for the music. It’s like the Game Gear days. Planning, programming, graphics and music. It was like the way things were done in the days when one person was responsible for each.

It depends on the person, but for us such a small system allows us to focus on our passion. Both Koshiro and I liked this style. Let the big companies flood their players with big games, and let’s do what only we can do! This became the style of Ancient.

Players have a lot of freedom in terms of both the types of classes, skills and weapons you can choose for your group, and how you approach enemies on the battlefield – how difficult was it to balance the game around that flexibility?

This kind of rich data and flexible character development elements can be found in many RPGs. At Ancient, we’ve never done an RPG like this before. In addition to the difficulty of creating a regular RPG, this game took a lot of trial and error to make it a game in which it is important to read the opponent’s actions and their positions. In this game, it is important to understand the behavior of the opponent and take appropriate action. We call this “Mikiri”.

At the beginning of development, we had a slightly different direction, but we decided to focus on it, because it seemed the most interesting. The amount of AP reduction when using the skill, the fact that AP is the order of action, and the amount of AP recovery on defense have all been adjusted to make Mikiri feel the most interesting. It has a balance that is very different from other RPGs.

Anapoko feels lighthearted, starting with the yonkoma manga that you can read and the little character comments that appear in classes like Smile – which made you want to take this approach to a genre that aims to be “epic” stories on “serious” topics?

If you play this game to the end, you will notice that there are more serious scenes than the humorous parts. You will laugh, you will be sad … you will be angry! I think that’s the whole point of school life. Since the game consists of short scenarios, I was able to reverse the trend for each scenario. I’m sure the players will love this.

With this in mind: was there ever anything too much stupid to include? Who had the final say on whether anything was permitted?

I created an event called a school play, but it was so stupid that people around me were terrified … I secretly hid it so that the likelihood of it being very low.

Speaking of elements that I couldn’t include because they were too stupid … I created an activity called a school game, but it was so stupid that people around me were shocked. But I didn’t want to throw it away, so I secretly hid it so that it has a very low chance of occurring. If you’re lucky, you’ll see it …

The final decision in this game was left to me.

Do you have plans for an international release?

There are parts in this game that express sexual characters and discrimination. In Japan and North America, the level of tolerance for such things is different. Releasing a game with the same content in North America can be difficult.

If we are going to release it overseas, we will have to study these issues carefully before translating. First, we will measure how popular the game is in Japan, and then we will look at the strategy for the overseas version.

Many thanks to Makoto Wada for taking the time to answer our questions. Anapoko Royal Academy in Japanese is now available in the Japanese Switch Store. You can read more about our first impressions of the game below:

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