Interview

Daemon X Machina and the Evolution of Mecha: An Interview with Kenichiro Tsukuda

Mecha on the Go

By Brendan Frye
Published August 1, 2018
Daemon X Machina and the Evolution of Mecha: An Interview with Kenichiro Tsukuda

Announced at the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct, Daemon X Machina is poised to be an exciting release for anyone interested in the mecha genre.

Produced by Kenichiro Tsukuda, known for his work on the Armored Core series, and featuring a unique style that differentiates it from the competition, Daemon X Machina has the pedigree and style to be something special for Nintendo Switch owners.

Having just watched the trailer, and excited to hear more, I walked through the Nintendo E3 booth to meet Tsukuda. Ushered into a small room, I got to sit down with both him and Colin Wahlert from localization. From the get-go, it was obvious how excited he was for the project, and how his passion and drive for the mecha genre was helping him shape a game that he loved to build. Touching on art, design, and the game’s concept, Tsukuda outlined his vision for Daemon X Machina, what makes it so unique, and why fans of mecha will want to jump in when it is released.

Daemon X Machina and the Evolution of Mecha: An Interview with Kenichiro Tsukuda 1
Daemon X Machina – Gameplay Images Provided by Nintendo

CGMagazine: Tell us how this project got started. Who approached who, and how did it come to be?

Tsukuda: I was the one who started this project. When the Switch was announced, I thought it looked really interesting and I thought it would be great to make this game for it.

CGMagazine: I want to touch on the art style. How did that style come to be and how did the entire visual language of the game get to where it is right now?

Tsukuda: I thought it was a little weird that games these days have really similar lighting and visual aesthetics. It’s a little strange when you look at comics and movies and manga. They all have very unique visual styles to them, but it was only games that were starting to have the same sort of visual language, so I thought I would challenge myself to [create] something new.

Many games, in particular, tend to have a photorealistic art style. But it’s not as if that’s some rule we have to follow, so we ended up going in this direction.

Daemon X Machina and the Evolution of Mecha: An Interview with Kenichiro Tsukuda 2
Daemon X Machina – Gameplay Images Provided by Nintendo

CGMagazine: The Nintendo Switch offers it’s own unique advantages and challenges. How did this direct your design for Daemon X Machina?

Tsukuda: These days, I think it is becoming more common for people to play in their living room or the bedroom, and you can take [the Switch] between those rooms so you can play however you want. I thought that was pretty interesting.

We’re still considering how we wanted to implement our multiplayer — whether it’s getting together, playing on a network — but we’re going to continue considering it as we to continue making the game.

CGMagazine: You’ve been known for some of the most iconic mecha games ever. What, if anything, are you taking from your work and games of the past and putting into Daemon X Machina, be it the story, style etc?

Tsukuda: I do have a lot of experience with those things, but there is a lot of new stuff, and one of the things that I’m a fan of is Western movies. The way we see things nowadays is different from how we used to see things in the past. In the game, you can see that in the mech, in the thighs and in the chest you can see muscular elements, and that’s one of the new things we are incorporating.

Daemon X Machina and the Evolution of Mecha: An Interview with Kenichiro Tsukuda 3
Daemon X Machina – Gameplay Images Provided by Nintendo

CGMagazine: How did the storyline come to be? What should players that love the genre look forward to when jumping into this game above all other mecha games that are in the market right now?

Tsukuda: I think people are — not just mecha games — but when people play these games, they want to look cool and feel strong. One of the reasons that it’s really fun is that you can do things you normally couldn’t do.

This story is one in which you will feel yourself getting stronger as you progress. I don’t think people like being told, ‘You can’t do this or that’ when you’re playing a game. So I want to combine the story with the game systems so players feel strong and that they feel like they look cool.

CGMagazine: How did the partnership Nintendo come to be?

Tsukuda: I told Nintendo that this is the kind of game I wanted to make, and I think Nintendo was pleased with the idea, so they asked me for it.

CGMagazine: How will it be localized? Will it be done in tandem with the Japanese version and the all other languages, or will it be developed in Japanese, and then localized?

Colin Wahlert: The game is originally made in Japanese, and then we have sort of a two-step transition process where you take the easy Japanese to English first, and then from English to other languages.

CGMagazine: Is there any concern with losing the core of the story when doing those translations?

Daemon X Machina and the Evolution of Mecha: An Interview with Kenichiro Tsukuda 4
Daemon X Machina – Gameplay Images Provided by Nintendo

Wahlert: It really depends on the translator. Some translators want to be really specific to the original Japanese and other translators want to put in a little more flavour. So it’s always kind of trying to find a balance. Being faithful to the original, but at the same time, you want to make sure that the English feels natural. When you do that, you’re going to have some changes to meaning sometimes, but you sort of balance it out. Finding the perfect in-between.

CGMagazine: For players who love the genre and love the mecha environment — the whole feeling of being a superpowered robot – what systems do you have in place in the game to bring that sense of excitement and action to the player, and where does that line between gameplay mechanics and story merge to allow you to feel as part of the universe?

Tsukuda: When you fire a weapon, the arm opens up as well, and [there are] all sorts of gimmicks. You can see and have the feeling of moving however you want. So the visuals and the controls kind of combine together to make the player feel that sense of coolness. There are other mercenaries you will meet through the course of the story who could be allies or enemies. The plan is to use those elements to make the players not only feel stronger, but also better at the game as they progress.


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