Interview: Disastercake (Soul Saga)

Maybe you haven't played a J-RPG, but you've certainly heard of them. Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Suikoden; these are just a few that fall under this cherished, but sometimes misunderstood genre. Simply, J-RPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Game) tend to be focused more on character development, and the world they're set in is as much of a character as the cast living in it. Turned based battles are a staple, and their difficulty over party management and priority are what turn some people away.

But given the fact that the games listed above, along with several others, are substantial entries to the history of video games, they are still held in high regard, and we continue to see new takes that keep to the cherished mechanics, and live up to the spirit of its original inception. There's one thing that can definitely be said about J-RPG's: The fans for this genre are far from scarce for the passion and dedication it requires to make an engrossing experience.

One such fine example of this is Disastercake. Mike Gale, who solely is Disastercake, seeks to remind fans, and educate those unfamiliar, why the J-RPG is a prominent part of video games. His message takes the form of Soul Saga, what he likes to say is "a love letter to J-RPG classics from the Playsation era". Soul Saga aims to bring the same traditional turn-based combat fans expect, with hidden depth by introducing puzzle elements to the battles. Enemies will require fast thinking by exploiting their weaknesses using elements and teamwork. All of this is wrapped neatly inside an engaging world crafted in the style only a J-RPG can deliver. I strongly urge you to check out what Soul Saga is planning to bring on its Kickstarter campaign page. Mike is just one man, but his dream is backed by his strong desire made clear by this project, which is currently nearing its funding goal of $60,000.

Just shortly before this interview, Mike shared exciting news that the stretch goal for Wii U had been reduced to $80,000; making note of his desire to release a version for Nintendo fans, too. With only a $15 pledge, you can help make this game a reality, and bring a fan-driven tribute to J-RPGs to the Wii U.

Nintendo Feed had the chance to speak with Mike Gale about his interest in J-RPG's, the world of Soul Saga, and why you should be interested.

Nintendo Feed: JRPG's are usually seen as a niche market, appealing to a certain crowd, and can appear complex to those unfamiliar with the genre. Was this something that you considered when designing Soul Saga? What have you done to “open the door” for those who haven't experienced this genre?

Mike Gale: This was something I considered. I want to make sure Soul Saga can appeal to a broad audience, but I don't want to ruin what made me love the classics. One thing that may help those who haven't played before is the turn based combat system. This system allows someone to take their time to think if they need to. There is also a "Casual" mode and a "Hardcore" mode. The casual mode should allow newer players to enjoy the game ,and hardcore should allow people who like punishing games to be happy!

Nintendo Feed: You've crafted the world of Oterra and Medonia in a way that anime fans will really appreciate. What was your inspiration that led you to this design choice?

Mike Gale: I pulled a lot of inspiration from Full Metal Alchemist and Skies of Arcadia. If you liked Full Metal Alchemists contrast of humor and very dark twists, then you'll love how Soul Saga ends up. The story I have on the Kickstarter doesn't even touch the surface of what you'll experience in the game.

Nintendo Feed: Every JRPG needs a memorable cast that defines their game from previous and future titles. What was your motivation behind Mithos and Elise? How did you come about the Inkheart as Soul Saga's main threat?

Mike Gale: I love awkward love romances between 2 main characters. You never really know if it'll work out or not. I also wanted Mithos to have a sort of rivalry, and something I haven't seen in a while is a rivalry between father and son. Especially when the father isn't actually such a bad guy at all. Mithos has a lot of room for personal growth during this adventure, and I think people will grow to love him. The Inkheart's origin is a bit deeper than they appear so far. It's hard for me to describe in too much detail how they weave into the story and past of Oterra, but I really think people will say "OH! I get it!" once they see the twist.

Nintendo Feed: We've previously heard praise from many independent developers of Nintendo's eShop platform being very welcoming. What specifically drew you to adopting Soul Saga for Wii U?

Mike Gale: The innovative GamePad for one thing. I have so many ideas for it! It's really exciting. Secondly, I am getting that vibe that they are very welcoming as well. I'm currently in negotiations with Sony as well, and am hoping I can get on the Playstation, since that's where the root inspiration of Soul Saga has come from.

Nintendo Feed: Aivi Tran is working with you to develop Soul Saga's soundtrack. What was it about her work that felt right for you? How has it been to work with her?

Mike Gale: I think her style really hits a nostalgic tone, but then also feels fresh and original. It's very rare to see this style of music. So far it's been great working with her, I basically just accept what she shows me because I love it so much. She's going to make a song or two during the Kickstarter campaign so we can give backers a better idea of what the soundtrack will be like.

Nintendo Feed: You've pulled in some very well-known voice talent, Todd Haberkorn and Kira Buckland. How was it that you gained their support for Soul Saga? Could you see them being attached to any future Disastercake games in the future?

Mike Gale: They will definitely be in every Soul Saga game starring Mithos or Elise, that's for sure. I have plans for other games I'd like to do as well, but for now I'm jsut keeping my sights focused on the present so I can prove to everyone that it's possible for an indie to make an engaging 3D JRPG experience.

Nintendo Feed: What would you say to someone who has never experienced a JRPG before, and is interested in Soul Saga? What makes Soul Saga the best choice to be their first JRPG?

Mike Gale: I would say the turn based combat so they have time to think strategically. The fun logical puzzles when fighting enemies like using fire on an enemy with a wooden shield so you can destroy the shield. The pretty graphics. The deep and interesting story. The lovable characters. And the different modes for Casual and Hardcore gamers!

If anything is to be said, it should be commendation for Mike's risky attempt at taking on development himself, driven purely by his love of J-RPG classics, and the devotion to sharing his own vision. We here at Nintendo Feed would like to thank Mike for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us, and we wish him much success in Soul Saga and Disastercake's future.

Please be sure to check out Mike's Kickstarter campaign right here, and make your donations soon. There are great rewards being offered, and the funding goal is nearly achieved. If you're a fan of J-RPG's, or would like to experience one for yourself, help fund Soul Saga, and get the chance to experience one.

Let us know in the comments below what your favorite J-RPG is and what you think of Soul Saga. And while you're here on Nintendo Feed, come by our new forum to continue the discussion on Soul Saga, and more, with us!

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