Onee Chanbara Origin has finally been released in the west, bringing back one of D3 Publisher’s classic series.
Yet, for a long time, many western fans doubted to be ever able to play the game in English.
Now that D3 Publisher has delivered, Twinfinite talked to producer Nobuyuki Okajima about the game, the future of the series, the publisher’s plans for the west, and more.
Giuseppe: What led to the decision to revisit the first chapters of the series with Onee Chanbara Origin?
Nobuyuki Okajima: There are two reasons for this. The first is that we felt it was necessary to present the origin episodes made for PS2 on modern technology and hardware. This idea was primarily aimed at old fans, but we came to believe that new fans needed it too.
And secondly, a reason for those new fans to play. When you’ve been playing a series for a long time, things that are obvious to the original players may not be obvious to newcomers.
We felt it was important to recreate the beginning of the story for new users who were interested in the “Onee Chanbara” series but didn’t know where to start, and to give them a chance to get started.
Giuseppe: What were the biggest challenges in bringing a 15-year-old game and a 14-year-old one back to modern platforms?
Nobuyuki Okajima: It was to bring the characters back to life in a current, up-to-date representation of them. Of course, they had to look more appealing than they did in the past. And to do that, we had to add depth and details to the story without changing the main plot.
Giuseppe: Why did you decide to rework the original games so extensively instead of simply releasing a remake or remaster like many other developers are doing?
Nobuyuki Okajima: From the beginning, we felt it was essential to remake the graphics. We thought that by re-creating the game as a new game without changing the essence of the gameplay, we could make it more appealing to old and new fans alike.
Giuseppe: What determined the decision to involve Enami Katsumi for the character design?
Nobuyuki Okajima: The decision to appoint a new character designer was a natural progression for the redesign of the new Onee Chambara.
There were many potential illustrators, but it was decided to go with Enami Katsumi with a strong push by Mr. Tezuka, the art director who’s been in charge of the series from the beginning. As you know, it turned out to be fantastic.
Giuseppe: How did Onee Channbara Origin do in Japan? How is it doing now that it has launched in the west?
Nobuyuki Okajima: In Japan, we were able to attract new users as well as old fans. We’re proud to say that the game has been re-evaluated as both old and new, and that even though it’s a simple, clear game with a lot of fighting, the battles themselves are pleasant. It seems that users in the West feel the same way.
Giuseppe: Have you considered porting the game to the next-generation of consoles since they’re almost out? What about the Nintendo Switch?
Nobuyuki Okajima: I suppose you mean PS5 and Xbox Series X/S as next-generation of consoles. No, because when we started this project, the market environment was such that we could only envision PS4.
And we also didn’t envision the Nintendo Switch because an Onee Chanbara game and the Nintendo Switch hardware are very different.
Giuseppe: What are your thoughts and plans on the possible future for the series?
Nobuyuki Okajima: I can’t say anything specific about the next series, but I can say that I don’t have the idea of continuing to remake after the third one because most of them are already made in HD.
I think it’s going to be a different direction, but I’m not able to say any more about that at this time.
Giuseppe: D3 Publisher has released many games in the western market over the past few years. How do you feel about the results, and what are your thoughts on the future of your games in the west?
Nobuyuki Okajima: We believe that D3P is a rookie in the Western market.
That’s why we think that the only way to gain Western fans is to carefully localize games initially aimed at the Japanese market, including not only with subtitles but also audio, and to continue releasing them to Western markets. We will continue to do so.
Giuseppe: Is there any message you’d like to convey to the western fans of the Onee Chanbara series?
Nobuyuki Okajima: What do you think about a sexy Japanese sword girl?