Last week, after a spectacular Dead or Alive 6 Press play session, I was lucky enough to sit down and get an interview with Yohei Shimbori the upcoming fighting game’s Producer and Director. Get Ready… Interview!
One of the first things we wanted to discuss was how much critical feedback and fan response from previous games played a part in developing another entry into the long-running series. Does it change things dramatically, or are changes considered based on how it’ll affect the overall game?
“I calmly listen to all of the critics, trying not to get emotional”, Shimbori-san laughed. “Then I categorize it, and then I start to envision the intensive battle experience that I want to create. Within my vision I look at all the separate categories, this might make it better and only apply what I consider useful. It’s not that I ignore it all, I just selectively categorize, and then I decide what to pick up on or not.”
That being said, the Dead or Alive series has always had a split audience, fans who enjoy the game and others who call the game out for being mostly fan service. We wondered, is the game just for teenage boys to oggle at, or is there more to Dead or Alive?
“I am a little sad that people think that there are just some sexy chicks in it and it’s not really a cool game.”
“Please don’t forget we have many male characters,” said Shimbori-san whilst pointing at his rather amazing Bayman outfit. “It’s not only sexy girls. I am a little sad that people think that there are just some sexy chicks in it and it’s not really a cool game. These kinds of people should actually try it, explore it and find out for themselves that there is more to it like all these guys (gestures to the character select screen) and an exciting fighting system.
“The DOA franchise has many opportunities to make many different experiences. So you can meet your favorite female character, you can also meet your favorite male character. You can experience hard fights, all of the cool stages, a cool story, so there’s a lot of things to explore on DOA6 (gestures to the main menu). Then there are the people that have only seen posters or heard from a friend ‘that there are only sexy chicks in DOA and that’s it.’ These people are missing out. I would suggest that these people try the game and find out for themselves and then afterwards if they think it wasn’t that cool of a game and there where only some sexy chicks in it and it sucks or whatever, it’s their opinion, and it’s OK.
“But it’s unfortunate that people will miss out on this cool experience, the cool stages and a complex fighting system, just because they have heard somebody else say that it’s only sexy chicks and nothing else.”
We spoke briefly about our favorite characters, mine, of course, is Zack. As for Shimbori-san, his favorite character is Nyotengu which was the perfect lead into a burning question I’ve always had about the series, are Nyotengu and Bankotsubo related? The answer is pretty interesting.
“Within all the Tengus, Nyotengu is of a different species. In DOA2 Bankotsubo was defeated by Hayabusa and he doesn’t exist anymore in the DOA world. As Hayabusa was the one to defeat Bankotsubo, she is very interested in him. If Hayabusa could defeat Bankotsubo what else is he capable of?”
On the topic of characters, we wondered whether the team had plans to bring any guest characters into the game, such as Mai, Akira, or Momiji. Unfortunately, at launch, there will be no guest characters, however, the door is always open, Shimbori-san reveals. We also wondered what weird and wonderful guest characters he’d like to see in the game similar to Negan in Tekken or Geralt in Soulcalibur 6 – though he seems to be keeping some cards close to his chest.
“For the launch, there won’t be any guest characters. It really depends on the other parties too. There’s always two companies involved. If I have a chance, yes there will be guest characters.”
“If I were to state [dream guest characters] now and it actually happens everybody would be like ‘oh yeah, he’s already talked about it’ and it would take away any surprise, I would rather choose not to answer this question… so, no comment,” he laughs.
“DLCs have become necessary because you just can’t put everything in one box at launch.”
Outside of Dead or Alive 6, we touched upon the growing trend of DLC, Microtransactions, and future content roadmaps. Back in the day, games released as is and still managed to gain large audiences and retain players. So how vital is this new way of keeping players glued to the game is to the business?
“There will definitely be DLC. For fighting games it has become necessary, there’s so much that you can do between two releases to put in as a package; creating characters, thinking about a story, all the textures and movements, the fighting system and balancing takes a lot of time and thus a lot of manpower. Of course, as this is business and you have certain pricing, you can’t sell a boxed game for £500. You have first to see what you want to put in, and then you have to cut down to what you can put in for the cost that will have a return on investment after X amount of sales that you presume.
DLCs, give you the option of realizing; more visions, more content, more fun for the users, after knowing how big the fan base and you can have a better chance of deciding how much effort to put in and how much DLC to produce to make it economically reasonable. So at this moment how the gaming business has changed DLCs have become necessary because you just can’t put everything in one box at launch.”
Dead or Alive 6 has, of course, had its fair share of rumors floating around, one of which is how this was a more toned-down or even censored compared to previous games. But of course, that’s not necessarily the case, in fact, you could say the game, in terms of outfits, has matured a little.
“There were some interviews recently conducted in Taiwan, and some press stated that Sony had censored part of the female characters and there was a statement released that I had agreed and said: ‘Yes Sony censored us.’ That is totally not true. There is no censorship. We have had the same content on all platforms from the beginning. That is the thing I would most like to clarify.
“As you can see on the fighter’s default costumes, we just picked the coolest looking ones. For example, Kasumi had this as her default costume (showing me the classic blue Kasumi outfit from previous DOAs), and this is her current default costume which is a little more uptight but its still looking good.
“What we want to stress is the default costumes that we created that are perhaps a little more uptight than before where designed with keeping in mind that we want to keep the character looking cool primarily. Of course, we added the old character, and we added costumes that old school DOA fans will be happy about. It’s all in there! So it’s kinda hard for me to get this misunderstanding that there is censorship on DOA because there isn’t. It’s just that we approached it like we want to make the people look cool, but you can also make the look sexy by unlocking the original costumes. It’s all in there.”
As for default costumes, we noticed that Zack no longer had an alien costume. Though this again echo’s the game’s more mature approach as Zack is back to his tough guy persona in Dead or Alive 6.
“In DOA6 we are trying to reestablish him as a cool, tough guy.”
“When Zack started out in the DOA world he was a really tough character and somewhere along the line he turned in a funny, weird character, people have been doing funny stuff with him. In DOA6 we are trying to reestablish him as a cool, tough guy. So we started out with his suit and Maui Thai outfit to get him a little bit away from the funny, weirdo image. Within the classic costumes, I like the alien’s head antenna.”
When I expressed my disappointment that we won’t be seeing an alien Zack, Shimbori-san did joke that he’d try and sneak the alien costume back in – though I really hope he wasn’t joking, I really really hope.
Nearing the end of the interview, Shimbori-san took the time to address the game’s recent delay and reminds players why they should pick up the game. It definitely seems like this could be one of the best entries into the series, so watch this space.
“Dead or Alive 6 has a lot of experiences ready for users. You got the stories, and you got cool characters, you got an intense fighting system, you get stages with stage interaction. We are aware that there are fans that like specific parts of the game and there was, of course, some delays to bringing out this game.
We have used the time well to manage all of those experiences and improve where we can. I would ask the users to users to try to experience all of it and it all a try and have fun with the game. We have put a lot of effort in, so please pre-order if you want as you can trust that it will be good and also if you preorder you’ll get Nyotengu on top, and she’s worth it!”
I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to interview a person that has had such a massive influence in the creation and production some of my favorite games. Dead or Alive 6 is out on March 1, 2019 for PS4/Xbox One & PC Steam.