I guess I’m just a 90s kid, or at least that’s what it says in my Tumblr bio, on my ill-fitting branded t-shirt, and also on my CV (my CV does legitimately have my date of birth on it). Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love Dragon Ball. I watched it while at school along with a lot of my friends. I also played the fighting games a lot. They were my jam, and I pumped it up.
At London MCM Comic-Con this year I was very lucky to be offered a chance by Bandai Namco to interview Masahiro Kashino (Development Producer) and Hiroshi Waki (Technical Director) from Dimps about the upcoming Dragon Ball Xenoverse. I’ll be honest, I sort of dropped the (dragon) ball with Dragon Ball games around the time of the final entry in the Budokai Tenkaichi series. But when Dragon Ball Xenoverse came onto my radar I was reminded a lot of why I loved Dragon Ball Budokai, even though this one obviously looks a lot better. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to quiz them on the specifics. I was then asked to jump less, and was led into a tucked away room at the ExCeL London, where the two developers awaited. By channeling my ki I floated the dictaphone out of my jacket and placed it strategically on the desk, ready to begin…
I wanted to start off by saying that for some people when you ask them what the definitive fighting game of their childhood was they’ll often say something like Street Fighter, Tekken, or Virtua Fighter, but for me it’s definitely the Dragon Ball Budokai series on the PlayStation 2. So, of course, I’m very pleased to see Dimps taking on another Dragon Ball game again. Are you excited to be back doing this fighting game series?
Masahiro Kashino: Thank you very much for your comments that you like the Budokai series as a fighting game I’m very glad to hear that. For Dragon Ball Xenoverse I and the rest of the development team are very much excited to work on this new Dragon Ball franchise. I have been working on many of the Dragon Ball games in previous years but for this game there are many, many new things that we that we challenged ourselves with. I was surprised with many of these things, thinking, “Ooh I didn’t know that I could change this element, or I could make implement this innovative new feature.”
So, we are startled at the amount of changes that we have managed to implement for Dragon Ball Xenoverse, which were because we were very much excited to work on this new Dragon Ball Xenoverse franchise. Also, the development team has many members who had worked on Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi already, and I can’t say out loud but there are some people who came back to this project from the famous fighting game giant that comes from Dimps. (laughs) You know what franchise we are talking about, right?
That’s great to hear! I was watching some people play Dragon Ball Xenoverse on the show floor and it looks like a lot of fun. I was pleasantly surprised to see how fluid the fighting was. In previous titles there had been a lot of cutaway transformation sequences or cutaways to use the big special moves. But in this one it seems a lot faster paced. What was the thinking behind making it like that?
MK: (laughs) I’m very glad that you caught that point – very glad! I know that one of the biggest improvements that we wanted to put in this game was graphical improvement, with the concept being “seamless”. I know that it’s not being implemented in the demo, but even with the transition from the cutscene to the real time fighting our focus was for them to not be completely separate. Also, when you performed special attacks in the previous games there was an obvious cut from the special attack to the real time fighting. Our concept for this game was to move away from that, so in Dragon Ball Xenoverse when you transform into a Super Saiyan or perform special attacks you’ll see the transition is taking place very smoothly and seamlessly.
Do you think that will help bring the game into tournament play and make it more appealing to hardcore fighting game fans?
MK: Definitely, I really believe that aspect will appeal to those fans! But, at the same time, since this is a Dragon Ball game and Dragon Ball appeals to an audience from little kids to my generation or even older, we wanted to have the entry point of this game as open and as broad as possible. I know that those hardcore fans will be enjoying this game as well, but at the same time we wanted to open the gateway as big as possible to everyone. Of course, in terms of the control, it’s easy for the beginners to get used to, but if you’re a super duper hardcore fighting gamer there is space left to pursue the techniques that will satisfy you.
When there’s so many Dragon Ball fighting games coming out all the time the story modes have to retell the same story over and over again. But in this one you’ve got the player created character time travelling into the original story to change it up. Was the idea behind this to make it a similar experience for the fans but different enough to feel new?
MK: When we first discussed the storyline for Dragon Ball Xenoverse internally there were some ideas about creating a brand new storyline for the game. But we were a little bit concerned about fan feedback if we did that, especially from the hardcore Dragon Ball fans. Needless to say we love Dragon Ball too so we really wanted to use the original storyline in some way, so that’s how we ended up with this storyline. The evil side is trying to twist the beloved storyline from the fans, and you, on the side of justice, go into the original Dragon Ball universe to fix it back to the one that fans all love. I think this scenario hasn’t disappointed fans at all and I think the feedback we have been receiving has been pretty much very positive.
Quick final question: what are your favourite Dragon Ball characters?
MK: I like Vegeta the most. Of course, he looks really cool when he blasts multiple energy bombs at his opponents. At the same time he’s very strict in the beginning, but as the story goes on he becomes pretty much soft and he’s nice and straightforward. That makes me like Vegeta the most.
Hiroshi Waki: My favourite character is Krillin. One reason would be because he’s the strongest human in the Dragon Ball. I also like his personality, and the way he is able to be warm and enthusiastic.