One thing that's worked really well is the new style of the cinemas. They're very much more stylish and exciting this time. It goes even further from the traditional look of the original games, so we were wondering how it was chosen and where it came from.
Matsuyama: Do you know Naruto: Ultimate Ninja?
Matsuyama: So, essentially, between the previous series of .hack and .hack//G.U. we've been working on the Ultimate Ninja franchise in Japan. While we're working on that we've learned a lot about character presentation, character art and stuff like that.
While we worked on that, since we'd learned a lot about how to present it, and since this is a new series of .hack, what we wanted to do is create an art style, both presentation-wise and visually, that would make an impact and that people would remember. Since it's not pure computer graphics - it's anime/CG/manga, a mixture of many things - that way it may be able to be accepted more by a broad range of audiences since it's not just cel-shaded. It's not just CG. It's comic books and everything else. With that in mind, we've attempted to create an art style and presentation style that will be accepted by a broad user base.
Are you surprised at how well Naruto: Ultimate Ninja is selling in the US?
Matsuyama: Well, I mean, having this huge response two months after the release of the game. We knew we had a good game on our hands, but we're still surprised how well it's doing.
Something that was interesting in the cinema we just watched is that all of the characters were spectating on an arena battle. People do watch online games - probably more in Korea than in the U.S. Do you think that's another thing that's kind of going to happen - people spectating from within an online game?
Matsuyama: We had a mode in the game where you just spectated, but we got really bored so we just cut it out. So instead of that, that's why we put in a system where you actually fight in the arena battles, and go up in rank which is a lot more fun and entertaining for players.
We feel that in the future, definitely, [it's possible in the real world] and it's something we're keeping in mind as well. But if it's just watching it, it's getting really boring - so you should be doing something else, like betting. So we get into this whole gambling underground... but that will prove to be more popular than just watching. Just watching is boring, especially in MMOs where you'd rather be doing stuff. There's more of the whole excitement factor in that.
This is a fun one... since Uchiyama-san won't let Matsuyama-san make sequels to Tail Concerto or Silent Bomber [two flopped PSone games by CyberConnect 2] maybe CC2 should make Tail Bomber.
Uchiyama: You've been saying that for a long time!
GamesRadar: Oh yeah. Well, the CyberConnect 2 website has those little Tail Concerto illustrations...
Uchiyama: We've been getting a lot of information and we've been looking at what functionality would be cool in games in general. Things are currently in discussion about various things. That's probably about as much as I can go into it without saying anything that makes... in other words, if it makes sense, it makes sense. But nothing has been finalized.