RPGamer Feature - XSEED Games Interview Featuring Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga
Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga
Developer: K2
Publisher: XSEED Games/
Marvelous Entertainment
ESRB: Teen
Release Date: 09.29.2009

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Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga is the third release in the hardcore action RPG Valhalla Knights series. This release on the Nintendo Wii marks the first time the series has hit a console, and with that much has changed. But what exactly is different and what has stayed the same? We have the info here, so read on to find out more. But don't stop there, after the Eldar Saga questions, we go one-on-one with XSEED's Ken Berry to find out a little more about some of their other upcoming titles.

Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga

Greetings XSEED. It looks like we're getting ready to tackle another Valhalla Knights game, so what aspects of Eldar Saga are going to make it stand above the PSP titles?
James D. Whang, Associate Localization Producer at XSEED Games: The first thing fans of the first two Valhalla Knights may notice is that the world of Eldar Saga is much more expansive, not to mention the wide open view. Unlike in the PSP versions where the maps were designed in a linear fashion due to the limitations of the system, the processing power of the Wii allows the player to roam about freely and seamlessly in the planar field. Also, unlike the previous Valhalla Knights titles, the battles take place real time right there on the field map, which we believe allows a more immersive experience for the players.

Many of those that really enjoyed Valhalla Knights 1 & 2 did so because of the extensive character development. How does Eldar Saga follow that trend?
J. D. Whang: Fans would be happy to know that the ability to completely customize their characters remains untouched in Eldar Saga. This time, however, the approach is slightly different in that the player can directly control only the main character, with various mercenaries that the player meets as the story progresses controlled by the game's AI. This lets the player focus on the main character, and we promise, the amount of items available for customization won't disappoint.

One complaint about the character development system from the PSP titles was that it was very complex and offered little in the way of in-game assistance. How do you plan to alleviate the fears of those who couldn't figure out the first two?
J. D. Whang: I think question #2 above touched on this a bit, but we think that one of the reasons why some of our fans felt lost with the system was that there was just an overwhelming amount of items and equipment available to the player, as well as numerous characters that they could build from scratch. There definitely was no process in the game that walked the player through the customization system, and Eldar Saga alleviates the confusion by making it so that rather than creating mercenary characters freely, new mercenary characters become available to the player as the story progresses, giving the player a chance to focus on one character then ease into customizing more characters.

What are some recommended character builds or recommendations for those that might want to jump into this game as their first title?
J. D. Whang: While the player is free to create a character that best fits their own playing style, for someone that is just starting out, we would recommend starting with the fighter class, and distributing as many status points to STR, VIT, and SPD in that order. There aren't many magic-using enemies in the beginning, so beefing up the main character would allow for a slightly less punishing experience. Also, we recommend the user start with Episode I as what you do there affects what's available to you in Episode II, but not vice versa.

Could you share some examples of what players can expect from the multi-player aspects?
J. D. Whang: Multiplayer for Eldar Saga allows players to take on special co-op quests with friends. The host player creates a room, and when the guest player joins, they agree on what quest they will go on, which will transfer them both to the quest field. One important aspect of the feature is that it is not completely separate from the single player mode. The players will be using their characters from the single player game in these multiplayer quests skills, levels, and all so it is important for the player to train in the world of Eldar Saga alone first for the more difficult Wi-Fi quests.

General XSEED Questions

The question we hear most often is about Lunar's translation. We know that you're doing your own, so how are you handling it? Is it more of a direct Japanese translation or did you get to add some Working Design's style tongue-in-cheek humor to it?
Ken Berry, Director of Publishing at XSEED Games: That was definitely a difficult decision for us since we knew there was a fanbase that was passionate about Working Design's great localization work, while others wanted to see something that didn't take as many liberties from the original Japanese text. In the end I think we found the right compromise in having the English text be a combination of Working Design's text and some areas that we retranslated to be more consistent with the Japanese source material.

Why did you decide to do your own instead of taking the Working Design's translation? Victor Ireland stated online that he had been in talks with XSEED about it.
K. Berry: We did initiate contact with Vic being big fans of his previous work and knowing how passionate he was about the Lunar series. We had some discussions about possibly working together on this project, but unfortunately those talks didn't come to fruition so we decided to go it alone with our internal team on this one. Hopefully the fans will have an open mind as I think our team did a great job of keeping the essence of the original while mixing in new elements to keep this version feeling fresh. Our in-house localization team has really been stepping up their game recently with fantastic localizations on such titles as Retro Game Challenge, Little King's Story, and Half-Minute Hero, so rest assured the job is in good hands.

Also, we're all loving on Half-Minute Hero around here and lots of people are glad it will receive a UMD release. Any chances of a dual release on PSN, too?
K. Berry: Yes, Half-Minute Hero will also release on PSN on 10/22, a short time after the release of the UMD on 10/13. Both versions have the same suggested retail price of $29.99.

How is Arc Rise Fantasia holding up? We've been curious about this one for a while now and it just doesn't seem to be getting the love it deserves.
K. Berry: We have no new updates on Arc Rise Fantasia at this time, but you'll see something announced about the latest status on that project sometime soon.

Does it look like Fragile will be able to hold both Japanese and English voice acting?
K. Berry: We still haven't seen our first English build so can never say for certain until we confirm it within a working build, but all signs from the development team point to yes, it will include both Japanese and English voice acting, as well as possibly some US-exclusive bonus content.

We know you're a smaller company with only eleven people working for you, but have you considered following the current social media hype trend to help throw your games out into the public's face? Facebook and Twitter both are flooded daily by lots of other publishers, even small ones, so what about it? Don't you think it would be great to bring all of your cult followers together in some way? The XSEED Oniis?
K. Berry: Don't remind me - that's something that we've been talking about here for a little while now but just haven't had the manpower to execute on yet. With four new releases out the door in two weeks (The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road and Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga on 9/29, Half-Minute Hero and JU-ON: The Grudge on 10/13) it's been an especially busy time for us, but now that we have a little breathing room we'll get right on starting some of the community outreach that people keep asking us about. We will probably start with our own blog first so the fans can see exactly how twisted the minds in localization are that result in such great final creative work. They will be unleashed and able to talk freely for the first time. Be very afraid.

Also, do you prefer XSEED, Xseed, or XSeed? And what does the name XSEED mean if anything? If not, how did the name come to pass?
K. Berry: We actually prefer XSEED in written form simply because it just looks better visually being all caps than having the large "X" against the lower-case letters, though if you look closely at our logo you'll see that it's spelled as "XseeD", once again for visual reasons. When we started the company our president liked the idea of planting a seed and growing our business and relationships from there, but there were already too many companies named "Seed" across various industries so we added the "X" in front of it to stay within our original concept while adding the secondary meaning to exceed expectations. Our trademark lawyer told that even trademarking "XSEED" alone as a company name would be difficult, so we had to add something else to the end. We went the Dreamworks SKG route of adding the founder's initials to the end, hence the final company name of XSEED JKS, Inc., though we do business as XSEED Games.

RPGamer would like to thank James D. Whang & Ken Berry as well as the rest of the crew at XSEED Games for taking the time to enlighten us about Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga and more. Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga for the Nintendo Wii is in stores now.

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