Azur Lane: Crosswave is a slightly unusual operation: over the past few years, fans of Japanese games have seen many console franchises switching to mobile, but Compile Heart just did the opposite.
On top of that, they launched a game based on an IP from a Chinese developer, Manjuu, which is also rather unique within the Japanese gaming industry.
As a result, Azur Lane: Crosswave ended up being one of the most successful releases ever for Compile Heart and Idea Factory in Japan, and soon it’ll come to North America and Europe with a bonus PC port on top of the original PS4 version.
Twinfinite talked to Compile Heart president Norihisa Kochiwa to learn more about the game and how it all happened.
Giuseppe: I believe Azur Lane: Crosswave is the most successful game released by Compile Heart in a long time in terms of sales in Japan. Why do you think it is? Is there anything you learned from it that can be applied to your future games?
Norihisa Kochiwa: Well, I was a fan of the original game, playing it quite a bit, so even during the earliest stages of this project, I could already visualize the final product.
After development, I have a better understanding of what we need out of our stories to make characters even more appealing and memorable.
Giuseppe: How did the idea of bringing Azur Lane to a console platform come about? Did Compile Heart contact Yostar about it, or it was the other day around?
Norihisa Kochiwa: This all actually started because we happened to already know the Azur Lane team, and since we both have similar approaches in how we create our characters, we were able to collaborate on the console version quite well.
Giuseppe: What are the challenges of translating a free-to-play mobile game like Azur Lane into a packaged console game like Crosswave?
Norihisa Kochiwa: We wanted to remain faithful to the world of Azur Lane, balancing its story with the fun and volume of an RPG Shooter. After the release, we were relieved to receive positive feedback from the fans about both the story and the 3D renditions of the characters.
Giuseppe: Could you describe the process and challenges of converting the original 2D designs of the shipgirls into 3D models?
Norihisa Kochiwa: Considering the characters were 2D illustrations, there weren’t any design templates in place for what their entire character models might look like.
We created the 3D versions using our own imaginations, but made sure the original creators carefully looked over the new designs before approving them.
Giuseppe: How did you go about designing the new protagonists of the story mode? Were they created by your team or by the original developers of Azur Lane?
Norihisa Kochiwa: For the design of the new characters, we collaborated heavily with the creators. We also both deliberated on the story and which illustrators to utilize.
Giuseppe: The idea of mixing girls with military vehicles is extremely popular in Japan. Why do you think it’s such a beloved trope?
Norihisa Kochiwa: It’s a place where the love people have for robots is very real. When you combine that robotic element with cute character designs and personalities then set it in an environment loaded with Kansen [Warships], the final product ends up being something that fans can get excited about.
Giuseppe: Since I’m Italian, I have to ask. Do you have any plans of adding the brand new Italian shipgirls via DLC?
Norihisa Kochiwa: I can’t answer at the moment, but I would love for them to make an appearance in one way or another.
Giuseppe: Is there anything else you’d like to tell to western gamers about Azur Lane: Crosswave?
Kochiwa: There will be a lot of adorable characters making an appearance in this game! The fun, speedy banter between a cast of over 30 characters is something both old and new fans of the series can enjoy. To top it off, it’s fully voiced in Japanese! I hope you look forward to it!
Azur Lane: Crosswave has already been released for for PS4 in Japan, and it’s coming to the west next year with a PC version on top.
It’s also getting a bunch of DLC, and for now we have seen Taihou and Formidable. You can also watch plenty of gameplay showcased yesterday by Idea Factory International.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Azur Lane franchise, the original game is a free-to-play mobile horizontal scrolling shooter/RPG hybrid currently available for iOS and Android.
If you’d like to learn more about it, you can read our recent interview with Yostar’s director of operations.
If you’re curious about the franchise’s popularity in Japan, you can check out my report about the recent anniversary event that pretty much literally invaded Akihabara.