SAN FRANCISCO, July 11 — Producer Kohei Iwamoto, once of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, talked to us about making a mobile game that could surprise Fist of the North Star fans and newcomers alike, and the potential for some unlikely cameos from other comic book icons — even modern one-hit master One Punch Man.
As a designer on Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, Kohei Iwamoto helped players discover more of a world they already knew.
Now he’s bringing a legendary Japanese comic, cartoon series, and animated movie franchise to mobile gaming, with something to discover for newcomers and fans alike, he told Relaxnews during a closed-doors demo at Japan Expo in Paris.
Adapting an iconic manga
Just as Fist of the North Star hero Kenshiro can dispatch enemies with a single, powerful hit — he’s just as known for obliterating them in a spectacular flurry of bloody strikes — players use a one-touch system to execute combination moves.
They can assemble a party of up to six characters, controlling each brawler’s attack with a well-timed tap, or trade power for convenience through an Auto-Battle mode. With “Fist of the North Star” creator Buronson on board, Sega is using motion comic scenes adapted from the original manga, in combination with some of its own, to illustrate key story moments.
Some 30 characters are being included at launch, with new stories and characters planned every two months over the following year, swelling the game’s roster to around 100 fighters.
Payments and post-release
As has become standard with free-to-play games, FotNS: LR will offer microtransactions to speed up character collection and fighter recovery; a loot box system will also play a role.
Sega’s team anticipates that around 10% of players will pay for such items, particularly those that are big on franchise passion but low on time.
The game’s post-release plan, combined with Iwamoto and Buronson’s motifs of discovery and surprise, could extend to some surprise cameo appearances in FotNS: LR, should discussions pan out.
Potential for surprise cameos
Planning is still at a very early stage, Iwamoto said — his team is busy with the base game — but having agreed a deal with comic publisher Shueisha for FotNS, they will be looking at the publisher’s catalog for possible candidates, particularly from the same era as FotNS.
Iwamoto emphasises the open-ended nature of discussions, a tantalizing prospect given that Fist of the North Star mingled with classics like Dragon Ball, City Hunter, Saint Seiya, and Rokudenashi Blues in Japanese manga anthology magazine Weekly Shonen Jump.
How about a match-up between Kenshiro and a more recent Shueisha character — a caped, bald guy extremely well known for his one-punch ability and two-season animated show?
It’s an obliquely-worded, speculative question: Direct references to rival companies’ games can make for awkward interview moments, and One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows was just announced by fellow Japanese giant Bandai Namco.
But the carefully-spoken Iwamoto remains true to his theme, replying with a surprise direct hit.
“Yes, even One Punch Man is possible,” he laughs. “You can write One Punch Man in your article!”
Fist of the North Star celebrates its 36th anniversary on September 13, 2019, at which time Iwamoto and his team will be showing Fist of the North Star: Legends Revive at the Tokyo Game Show. — AFP-Relaxnews