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RttS 2008 - Atlus Interview



Aram Jabbari of Atlus fame met with RPGamer on Wednesday to tackle all of our tough questions. The reader questions were the toughest and asking them almost caused the end of the world as we know it. Here's the results of Michael Cunningham's one-on-one with Aram as we discuss the future of Atlus as we know it.

Does Atlus have any plans to expand out to the PS3?
Aram Jabbari: We are open and eager to publish for the PLAYSTATION 3, and look forward to an opportunity in the near future to do so.

Will there be any reprints of older Atlus titles?
AJ: We recognize that with the passing of time, the availability of some of our games becomes something of a challenge for a lot of our fans, and we would like anyone who wants to pick up one of our games to be able to do so with little to no searching required. To that end, reprints are certainly a possibility, but often circumstances play a role, such as whether the title's platform remains viable, the actual level of demand, the terms of the original contract, etc.

Any idea if Atlus Japan has discussed the possibility of portable remakes of older console titles? We saw the rumor of a Persona for the PSP and got excited.
AJ: The prospect of revisiting classic Atlus titles for new platforms is enough to make any fan giddy, but sadly such notions are nothing more than rumors at this time.

Any plans to release any older games on the Virtual Console, XBLA, or PSN?
AJ: This is something we have looked into and will continue to explore.

Is there any chance for Growlanser IV and VI? Some people actually did enough Growlanser: Heritage of War.
AJ: To my knowledge, there are specific reasons that Growlanser IV never came to the states. As for Growlanser VI, there are no plans at this time. However, we are certainly glad for all those who enjoyed Growlanser: Heritage of War.

Also is there any chance for the Sakura Taisen series?
AJ: We do not have any plans for that title at this time.

Are there any plans for a localization of Yggdra Union for PSP?
AJ: We do not have any plans to release that title right now.

People want more of the Super Robot Taisen series, what do you have to say about that?
AJ: We are very aware of the strong fan support for this franchise, and while we hope we are able to bring more titles from the series to North America, there are no plans at this time. Three more consecutive "no plans at this time" answers and I'll be responsible for tearing a hole in the fabric of the universe into which the Earth will be swallowed up. Ask wisely.

What ever happened to the Shin Megami Tensei PS3 title, any rumblings from Atlus Japan at all or did they get eaten by demons?
AJ: Sadly, this too is just a rumor, but it would certainly be an exciting development. And it would certainly make me feel better about the answer to the first question in this interview.

What's going to happen to the main series now that the Persona series is so popular?
AJ: That is a good question. The Persona series has achieved a level of popularity that (at the very least) rivals that of the series proper (the most recent release for which being SMT: Nocturne). With the upcoming release of Persona 4 in Japan (and let me just preempt the inevitable - no plans at this time), it is a subseries that (for the time being) will continue to run in parallel with the primary SMT games. As for what the future brings, no plans a—err... sorry, force of habit—we're just as excited to find out.

How does the Persona series compare to the actual Shin Megami Tensei series (SMT: Nocturne, for example)?
AJ: The nature of the gameplay between the two series, or at least between the two most recent entries (Persona 3 and Nocturne), is radically different. Nocturne offers some of the more traditional SMT gameplay elements, such as the negotiations with demons in order to recruit them into your service. Persona 3 presents a calendar system that offers a consistent passage of time and the day/night (social sim/dungeon-crawling) dichotomy that made it such a hit in its own right. Also, you played as high school students, and summoned personas as opposed to dealing with demons.

You are going to publish Luminous Arc 2: Will, right? RIGHT?!? This is a reader question, but I fully support asking it, by force if necessary.
AJ: Atlus policy forbids the answering of any forcefully asked questions. This could have been a shining moment of success for RPGamer, triumphantly squeezing a difficult answer out of a tight-lipped video game publisher, but you squandered it with your forceful forcing. The force was too strong with you.

Given the sales expectations of the first Etrian Odyssey DS game, was it a success?
AJ: The first Etrian Odyssey was a success for Atlus. It fully met our performance expectations, and we are excited to be able to bring the sequel to the fans on June 17.

Because people apparently enjoy dying to venomflies, what are the chances of continuing the Etrian Odyssey series beyond 2 installments?
AJ: We're focused on getting Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard out the door at the moment. We hope the series continues to be successful among North American gamers.

We know that the PlayStation 2 is slowing down, but is there any information you can give us on Persona 4 even if you can't talk about localization?
AJ: Well, it's coming out soon in Japan, and there certainly seems to be an abundance of the color yellow in the materials I have seen online. Oh, were you looking for more substantial information?

Will dual language options be an option in future titles assuming the media used has sufficient disc-space?
AJ: Being able to offer both the original Japanese voice work in addition to a new fully localized English track is something we always explore for all of the projects in which it might be possible. Obviously, certain platforms have the capacity restrictions you allude to in your question, but there are often releases that allow for the bonus.

There are however other circumstances that are often less overt that can prohibit the inclusion of the original Japanese voice track, and we hope that in situations where fans perceive the bonus as having been possible that they understand that other factors may have been at work.

Also, with Atlus having released five games already this year and another seven coming in the next few months, is it safe to say that the company is doing very well these days? If so, does this growth allow Atlus to become more flexible with the number and scope of games we can expect in the future?
AJ: Atlus has, in recent years, grown very steadily. We have tried to apply that growth, wherever possible, into our flexibility and the diversity of the titles we publish for the North American market.

Does Atlus have any plans for future contests to get their fans involved in a game such as a character naming or enemy designing contest? Any chance I could be an NPC in a game?
AJ: In recent months, we've tried to create a much more rewarding, much more tangible exclusive Atlus fan community, which we've affectionately named the "Atlus Faithful." Some of our product announcements, such as the recent one for Zoids Assault, have actually been sent to our fans hours prior to the official press release's distribution. Moreover, we are trying to run more contests, give out rarer prizes, and overall increase our communication with our loyal fans. We can attribute our longevity and success to the loyalty and dedication of our supporters. Frankly, it's time we made sure each and every one of them feels as appreciated as possible.

As for an NPC...well, gosh, we put you in Zoids Assault. I mean, the player's "Mace" team has a bunch of soldiers with the "Mace" moniker...where do you think that's derived from? "Mac," that's where. Mac, Mace...see the connection? What, you don't? Hey, what's that over there? *runs away*

Well, I have no idea where Aram went off to, but I would still like to thank him for taking the time to talk with us. He was very instrumental in organizing our visit and showing off all thousand, er, half dozen upcoming Atlus titles. RPGamer's thanks go out to both him and his crew. Keep an eye out for Operation Darkness, Spectral Force 3, Zoids Assault, Summon Night: Twin Age, Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard, Drone Tactics, Izuna 2, and by all means check out recently released Rondo of Swords.

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