Bandai was a profusion of games that were strewn about rather haphazardly around a central booth. They had .hack//mutation that you could wait in line to play for a T-shirt; Ultimate Muscle, which is a unique cel-shaded wrestling title based on the Saturday morning cartoon on the FoxBox, and Lupin the 3rd, which is based on an old anime series and comic series of the same name.
The biggest thing at Bandai was a mini-interview with the creators of the .hack series. I’d like to say that the following interview is a Game Chronicles "exclusive" and you won’t find an interview with these two guys anywhere else. I showed up to the media check in kiosk (because I have to call it something other than a booth to differentiate) and was then escorted to a small office, given a seat, and a bottle of water (the first beverage I’d had since leaving my hotel room some eight hours previous, because really why pay $3.00 for a 20 ounce pop, even if it is Livewire).
Then in came Sam Wakabayashi and Daisuke Uchiyama who were responsible for the concept of “The World” in .hack, and also for the overall plot and idea for the series in the first place. They were soon followed by their translator and Bandai’s Marketing Manager. After the usual meet and greet formalities we all settled down for a nice chat. As a disclaimer somewhat along the lines of Kevin Smith’s third definition, these questions went through about two different translators and also with my own sporadic Japanese skills. If I have mangled, misquoted, or just plain messed up I apologize to all offended parties and will promptly find a second and commit seppuku.
Bandai: About three and a half years ago, before the Playstation 2 was in the hands of the consumers, the major game out there was the Internet and at that time online games were getting more popular and we were concerned about all these kids having to pay an internet fee from the limited allowances that they had, so we wanted to make a game that was online but actually not online.
GCM: In the sequel to .hack//infection and the subsequent third and fourth titles you can import your saved characters from the original. How important was it for this feature to be included?
Bandai: It was a must factor because a major part of this game is to build your character as you wanted to and keep building that character to a higher point. Every single character is in the series for a reason, and we want to emphasize this factor.
GCM: Both incarnations of the series ship with an anime DVD included; which came first the game or the series, and how interrelated are they? How much involvement did you have with the development of the series as opposed to the development of the game?
Bandai: The game came about first and when we first made the game we made up a broad scenario. We made the anime based on the game but it is the real world that is portrayed in the anime. Everything was done by us. The timeline of the story is that the anime is the past (of these characters) and then the game occurs. Everything is involved with the game so we had to be there.
The two gentlemen who I interviewed had apparently not been let out of their rooms all day so they hadn’t seen anything of the show. They wanted to know what I recommended they see. The thing you have to know about E3 is that by this time in the day my senses are fried and I can’t remember anything so instead of saying to go see something impressive like the Sony or Konami booths or the EA big screen I tell them to go check out the Crave booth and see Ejay Clubworld. This isn’t a bad game, but about ten minutes later I think of all the other things I could have said too. The funny thing is that one of the guys does a passable pantomime of scratching when he gets the idea for the game.
The second question was more interesting because they said that the plot for .hack//sign, the anime based on the game, had a complicated plot and they were afraid people wouldn’t like it over here because Americans tend to prefer simple stories. What did I think? Well I’ve seen about two episodes of .hack//sign and while it is more than a little bit of noodle baking that’s why I like it. It is complicated, but that’s what makes it unique and enjoyable.
Hack: Mutation (PS2)