Digimon is on the rise.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Digimon World: Next Order’s producer, Kazumasa Habu, and talk about the game’s upcoming Western release. Kazumasa Habu has worked on titles such as Tekken and Soul Calibur, along with several Digimon games including Re:Digitize Decode. We decided to pick his brain on the Western resurgence of Digimon, the development of Next Order, and what’s the future may hold for the franchise.
Twinfinite: If I’m correct, Digimon World: Next Order been available on PS Vita in Japan, right?
Kazumasa Habu: Yes
So I see it’s coming to the PS4 now and that it’s coming to the West. Aside from graphical updates and balancing, which I see that you’re bringing to Digimon World: Next Order, are there any other improvements that players can expect to see on the PS4 release?
More Digimon and more events in the game, so that’s one of the biggest improvements. But there’s like 10 more Digimon and 10 more events. Oh, about 30, sorry.
Oh, so 30 Digimon or 30 events, or both?
10 Digimon, 30 events.
Okay, nice. So the events are like missions that take place throughout the world?
Was it always a plan to bring the game to the PS4? Because I know it released on the Vita, and I see it did pretty successfully there. Was the next move, “yes, we have to bring it to PS4, we have to make it bigger.”
When we decided to sell the game in North America and Europe, we just had to do it on PS4 because of the market. The graphics and the quality for Vita is very low compared to the PS4, so we had to make it much better to put that on the PS4.
Yeah, I got to check out Next Order yesterday when I was on the show floor and I did notice that. It looks much better than it does on the Vita. Were there any challenges to bringing the game from the PS Vita to the PS4?
It’s the same graphics engine as on Vita but on PS4 we’re able to use all the shaders. We remade the textures and the polygons, the models.
So a lot of work went into moving it over?
Yes. Because we did that we couldn’t put this new version back into the Vita. So yeah, everybody’s gonna ask us, but that’s the reason why we couldn’t have a Vita version in the West.
I was just about to ask that question, too.
Well you actually mentioned this before, before we got started. Digimon Worlds is a very different game from Digimon Stories. With Cyber Sleuth being the most recent game in fans’, especially new fans, memory, was there any hesitation or worry about bringing Digimon World to the West?
Actually, I wasn’t working with the Japanese Vita Version, somebody else was doing that and I was working on Cyber Sleuth. Redigitize and Decode – the previous Digimon World games – I was working on that, and those were the same game systems as this. In this system, the Digimon have a lifetime, so they die once they come to a certain age. So for the light fans it was pretty hard to raise them but have them die.
For Digimon Story, we wanted to make it completely different, to make it more easier. Just collect the Digimon. So the guys who were working on Decode just decided on, ‘we wanted to make it a much more lighter game, and not something so serious’. And that was about the Japanese Vita version, so we made it too simple and the Japanese core fans were really, not like upset, but disappointed. They [the Digimon] hardly die in the Japanese version, and it was too easy.
So when bringing it to North America, you upped the challenge so those Digimon fans who found previous games were good but too simple could find a little more challenge and some strategy?
Yes. The people playing this game are core fans so we wanted to make it harder to clear, harder to raise Digimon, harder to train, harder to beat the boss.
Just like the classics.
(Laughs) The Japanese difficulty is like the easy mode in the US version. So you’re gonna have three different difficulties. Easy is going to be the Japanese one, and you’re gonna have two more so you can choose.
Will they all be accessible from the beginning? Will I be able to choose hard mode as soon as I turn the game on?
You start off with easy and normal mode, but when you’re done clearing the game you can choose hard.
Is there a new game plus to jump into hard mode or do you start the game over completely when you switch to hard mode after completion?
Yeah, it doesn’t get erased.
So I can keep my same Digimon and all of that?
One thing I’ve noticed, especially in like the last two years, is Digimon seems to be in a large resurgence. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth came out earlier this year in North America, and people loved it, they loved the different take on it. Digimon Tri has been really popular and the next part of that has recently released here. Has that influenced any of the decisions with the franchise, such as bringing Next Order to the west, which is more of a more original/classic Digimon game?
I think the biggest thing would be the success of Cyber Sleuth, but fans had signed a petition to bring the game over, so those two were the biggest.
Oh, so the North American fans were really vocal about wanting Next Order?
Yes, yes. They did the petition and those two are what really pushed us.