Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy Interview - Talking Growth and Reflection with Junzo Hosoi
The original Atelier Ryza has been the most successful title for the development team at Gust within the long-standing Atelier series of RPGs, and we were also quite fond of it in RPG Site's review. No doubt due in part to the game's popularity, a rare direct sequel is set to release in January with Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy.
Ahead of the release of the game's release, we had a chance to ask Gust Brand Manager and Atelier Ryza Producer Junzo Hosoi some questions about his career, the Atelier series, and the upcoming entry.
Find out chat below. I also had a chance to check out a preview build of Atelier Ryza 2, so feel free to check out initial impressions of the game.
RPG Site: For those who might not know, what exactly goes being the producer of an Atelier game? Do you have any creative input with the rest of the developers?
Junzo Hosoi: As the producer of the Atelier series, I am involved in many tasks including the initial proposals, the specifications, as well as confirming and deciding on the scenarios. For character designs, I meet and discuss with the illustrators, as well as think and worry along with them.
RPG Site: Back in February of this year you were promoted to head of the Gust brand. Since this promotion, has there been any significant changes in your role with the company?
Hosoi: Since I am now in a position of leading the Gust Brand, I really feel the weight of the various things I am responsible for. But I also feel that it is rewarding, and so I am making every effort around the clock to be able to meet everyone's expectations of Gust!
RPG Site: What was the first Gust title you were given the chance to work on? Do you have any fond memories with it, or remember any specific challenges?
Hosoi: I am a producer who began in promotion, so as a PR person, Mana Khemia was the first title I worked on. I entered the company as a new graduate, and on the last day of the new graduates training, my boss told me to create a trailer for Mana Khemia, so the first day I was assigned to a team, I worked all night which is a fond(?) memory... I thought that the game industry was harsh.
As a producer, my first title was Blue Reflection, and every single day a problem occurred, and I thought that a life where a problem occurred everyday would be rough.
RPG Site: The Atelier series has seen a rise in popularity in the west because of titles like Atelier Ryza. This seems to contribute to the fact that the release gap for the Japanese and Western localized versions continues to shrink with every game. Do you think it’s possible one day for Atelier games to release simultaneously worldwide?
Hosoi: We always think about actively trying to aim for a worldwide simultaneous release. And I understand that there are many of these requests, so while we will continue to try our best to aim for a simultaneous release, the fact is that we face many challenges including localization. We are working hard so that players overseas are satisfied, so please remain hopeful.
RPG Site: With the release of Atelier Lydie and Suelle, the series has no longer received English voice acting for new games releasing in the west. Do you think that will be on the table to return at some point?
Hosoi: We understand that there are requests for English voices. However, there is a very high chance that if we record English voices, the launch of the game will be pushed back further, so we made this decision so that the gap between the Japanese and English version release dates remain as short as possible. However, moving forward, I'd like to carefully consider how we can reach overseas players while securing quality with a simultaneous release.
RPG Site: Atelier Ryza 2 was confirmed to be coming to Playstation 5 recently. Has there been any challenges that? Are there any parts of the Sony’s DualSense controller that this port will be taking advantage of?
Hosoi: Since it's new hardware, everything was a challenge. This time there aren't any features that use the new controller, but there is native 4K support and the reduction of loading times, which are part of the PS5 experience.
RPG Site: Every Atelier title attempts to innovate on the past titles, and Ryza 2 seems to be taking the biggest step forward for the series yet. With all the new mechanics like swinging from ropes and exploring underwater, it seems like the biggest game yet. Were there challenges in development that came from increasing the sequel’s scale to this degree?
Hosoi: Implementing new mechanics isn't all that difficult. It was more about making the most of them, such as how we should build the map and how the characters should appear, and so there were many more things we had to consider, which ended up taking up a lot more time than usual.
RPG Site: Ryza 2’s battle and synthesis systems seem to encourage more player input than the previous games. When approaching this title, what changes did you feel were necessary to make to Ryza’s gameplay without alienating fans? Are we in for a different experience, or do you think fans will feel right at home?
Hosoi: The battle system in the previous game incorporated a real-time system that kept elements of a command-driven RPG. In this game, there is more focus on the real-time system, so we have made adjustments on making it feel even better to play. Also, we received a lot of feedback from players wanting to be able to use a lot of the items they created, so we have adjusted the system in a way that I think they will be satisfied with.
RPG Site: This new game takes place three years after the events of the original Atelier Ryza, and it’s been a very long time since the Atelier series has seen a direct sequel. Can you say anything on how the returning characters have grown and changed in that time? Do you think people could play this title without having played the original game?
Hosoi: Visually, the biggest change are the outfits, but after the experience they had three years ago, they have matured and have different ways of thinking and behaviors. For example, Klaudia has become an outstanding merchant in the Royal Capital, while Tao has matured immensely. In this game, we have included things in various spots that will help anyone who hasn't played the previous game understand the game, so I think that people new to the series will have no problem playing it.
RPG Site: Personally, I’ve been an avid fan of the Atelier games for a little over half a decade at this point. I appreciate Gust’s devotion to continue to localize them for western audiences. Do you have anything you’d like to say to Gust’s western fans?
Hosoi: Thank you for always supporting us! We see all of the comments and feedback from the western fans and always reference it. We will do our best to create games that everyone will be satisfied with, so we hope for your continued support!
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy is set to release for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (digitally), Nintendo Switch, and PC on January 26, 2021 in North America and January 29, 2021 in Europe.