RPGamer Feature - Growlanser: Heritage of War Interview

Growlanser: Heritage of War
Developer: Career Soft
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: September 2007

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RPGamer recently had a chance to sit down with Growlanser: Heritage of War's project lead, Mason Hyodo, from Atlus. He takes the time to tell us about what changes you might expect in this title and also explains why treating party members right might eventually turn around to help players in the long-run. He will also explain to everyone why his favorite character didn't quite turn out the way he had hoped during his customization.

Can you give a summary of what Growlanser: Heritage of War is about?
Mason: In Growlanser: Heritage of War, you'll alternately try to stamp out a brewing conflict and fan its flames as you play from multiple viewpoints. Each chapter of the game is filled with political intrigue, relationship drama, and lots of real-time strategy-RPG combat. The race is on to stop both the grotesque monsters known as Screapers and the warmongers of various nations who seek to exploit their power to gain control of the continent. In the fires of war, the personal bonds you form with your teammates will be strengthened-which one will you choose to pledge your eternal friendship to?

Why was Growlanser V chosen as the first game in the long-running series that Atlus releases themselves in North America?
Mason: Heritage of War (the fifth game in the series) is the first 3D Growlanser, and it features an original story that has no connection to the previous Growlansers, so it's a fresh start. We thought this title would be a good entry point for both new players and existing Growlanser fans.

Does this title have any ties to past Growlanser titles? Will there be character cameos, or does it take place in the same world?
Mason: As we said before, Growlanser: Heritage of War is an entirely new story with new characters. You don't have to know anything about the previous games to enjoy this one.

Was the name changed to Growlanser: Heritage of War due to the earlier Working Designs release of Growlanser II and III, or was that just to distance itself from its status as a sequel?
Mason: Actually, the answer is a little of both. The original title was Growlanser V: Generations, but since Working Designs used the subtitle "Generations" for their compilation of II and III, we had to change it to avoid confusion. We decided on "Heritage of War," which we think is more significant to the storyline than "Generations." We also removed the number, to avoid giving people the impression that they would need to play the first four games.

It was announced at Anime Expo that the game's difficulty and game engine had been tweaked. What changes have been made to Heritage of War from the Japanese version?
Mason: Heritage of War has a new game engine that runs much smoother than the original Japanese release. Thanks to the faster gameplay, the North American version will require quicker thinking and more decisive action than the Japanese original.

Could you please explain how the Friendship and Personality Rating System affects the gameplay in Heritage of War?
Mason: If you treat your teammates harshly, it will affect your relationships with them in the story sequences, and it will eventually determine which ending you get. I can't go into too many details here, but if you don't treat your friends well, you'll pay the price later!

Does this game have a lot of voice-work?
Mason: It does feature a significant amount of voiced dialogue, and we put a lot of care into the voice acting sessions.

How many characters can players handle directly, and how many party members can they choose from?
Mason: The game allows for some situations where characters will join your party specifically for the task at hand. Because of this, it's difficult to pinpoint an exact number, and we wouldn't want to spoil the story for players. We'll just say that players will come across all sorts of unique scenarios as far as the party composition goes.

The player will also have a fairy companion during the game. Is this fairy available from the beginning of the game, and what exactly can it do? Does the fairy fight in battle or search out treasure in dungeons?
Mason: The fairy's introduction ties into the storyline, so I can't go into the details now.

However, I can say that once you get yourself a fairy companion, she won't be much help to you from the start. She has her own stats and you must help her to become a "powerful fairy." She's not just a companion, she's an important member of your party. And of course, you must treat your fairy the way you'd treat any other party member, or else...

Since the battle system is more action-based, will the action continue if players go into menus? Or will this cause the action to pause?
Mason: The game will pause once you go into menus. The action sequences are quite fast-paced—if the game didn't pause, there'd no way you can win! *laughs*

With the game only five chapters long, how long will players expect to be on their journey? Will there be many sidequests for them to embark on if they wanted to?
Mason: Not all of the chapters are the same length—the fifth chapter, especially, is quite long. There are also 3 side chapters that reveal some hidden information.

Does the game include a larger world map where players can travel from town to town, or will players just be choosing locations from maps with preset locations?
Mason: The game has a huge overworld, which players must navigate to get from town to town. Traveling around the continent is a big part of Heritage of War.

All skills are gained through the Plate System. Could you explain this to us?
Mason: Since Heritage of War features a quick battle system, you have the Ability Tree System to help get through it. With this, you can change your characters' abilities in the blink of an eye. A powerful fighter can turn into a skilled sorcerer, or vice versa, in an instant.

The system gives you a lot of freedom to customize your characters. For instance, I customized Fanille, my favorite character, to focus on attack magic. Originally, she was more of a healer than the aggresive sorcerer I created. *laughs* But as you can see, there's lot of freedom you can enjoy with this system.

You mentioned to us in a past interview that this title would be receiving a special edition package. Could you explain what this would entail, and when players might expect to see this on store shelves?
Mason: Heritage of War will receive a true "limited edition" treatment. Which means this special package will receive only a single print run. Once it's gone, it's gone! As for the contents of the package, we've selected lots of goodies to make Growlanser fans happy.
  • 100pg artbook featuring art not just from Growlanser: HoW but all the previous Growlanser titles as well.
  • Multimedia disc with desktop wallpapers, desktop icons, videos and songs.
  • 3 Growlanser: HoW pins
  • 2 lenticular cards
  • Keychain

The game is due to be released this September. If you want to avoid a big hassle trying to get your copy, I advise you to reserve your copy now!

RPGamer would like to thank Mason Hyodo for taking time out of his busy day to answer a number of questions for us as well as Atlus and Assistant Manager of Public Relations and Sales Aram Jabbari for setting up the interview. Atlus has also open the official site for Growlanser: Heritage of War featuring: special features, systems information, a story synopsis, character details, and even a few downloads. This title has been rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB and will be available at some point in September 2007.

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