NIS Summer Showcase Interview with Nick Odmark!
Our Video Team sat down with Nick Odmark, Media Relations Coordinator at NIS America, to discuss the exciting NIS titles releasing this year, including the hotly anticipated Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless!
See the full interview above, and keep scrolling to read the entire transcript!
Kaitlyn: Good morning, evening, afternoon, wherever you are in this great, wide world. I’m Kaitlyn, this is ReefGamesLive, and this is a special report from the NIS America Summer Showcase Event. We are joined by Nick Odmark, the Media Relations Coordinator at NIS America, hi!
Nick: Hi, thanks for having me!
Kaitlyn: Hope you’re having a wonderful time here in Britain. You’ve come over from California, haven’t you?
Nick: Yeah, we’re doing our press tour, Summer Showcase event. We did a couple of things over in the US and now we’re here in the UK. It’s been a really good time so far!
Kaitlyn: Awesome! We’re showing off a load of wonderful stuff. We’re showing off Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless, CRYMACHINA, Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles, The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails, Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten. So we’ve got quite a lot of big hits coming out, haven’t we?
Nick: Yeah, five this year, with Disgaea 7 being the flagship one obviously.
Kaitlyn: Speaking of Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless, it being a return to form for the series, with an expansive class system, 45 classes if I remember correctly, and exciting gameplay mechanics, can you tell us more about some of the new elements, including the larger-than-life mechanic of Jumbification?
Nick: Disgaea 7 is definitely a return to form or a return to our roots, as we’re calling it. There are some new features to this game, along with some returning features that have changed a little bit, that are all meant to capture that feeling. Speaking of the new features, Jumbification is the big one, no pun intended! Essentially, this is the ability to increase the size of your characters to Kaiju-level size. They stand on the edge of the stage and essentially, because of their large height, they can deal damage anywhere on the stage. So, this feature also affects movement in combat. Not only can they damage units on the stage by dealing these big AOE attacks, they can also damage other Jumbified enemy units. These are called gigasaster attacks, so essentially, it’s like these two giant Kaijus fighting each other. It’s been a really, really fun mechanic. Also, when a character is Jumbified, they have different abilities called Jumbilities. These not only affect the Jumbified character, but they also affect all units on the stage as well. So, there’s an additional layer of strategy to choosing which unit to Jumbify outside of the fact that you’ve made them big and they’re more powerful now.
Another new feature to Disgaea 7 is Hell Mode. Essentially, there are a handful of characters in the game that have the ability to use Hell Mode and there’s a Hell Gauge that they have under their character portrait in combat. Each character’s Hell Gauge charges up faster in different ways. For example, Fuji, if you attack enemies from behind, his Hell Gauge will charge up faster. Once this happens, you can activate Hell Mode. For Fuji specifically, it opens up a special move called Divine Kanzan, which is very, very powerful. It’s just kind of a fun, very over-the-top additional method of combat in the game.
As far as some returning features, Auto Battle is back, but it is quite different in order to appeal to both new fans and veteran players, and to give players freedom of choice and to try and balance the difficulty a little bit. We’ve made it so that you have to manually clear a stage first before you can use Auto Battle on that stage, and then we’ve also associated a cost with it as well called Poltergas, so you have to accumulate enough of that in order to use Auto Battle. Also, the more turns that you spend in a combat scenario in Auto Battle, the more Poltergas it uses. So, there’s more balance to that feature now.
The last new feature I’d like to touch on is Item Reincarnation. You can now reincarnate items, similar to how you can reincarnate characters in the Disgaea series. Essentially, you can take an item and change it into something completely different, although it still retains all of its stats and its upgrade path from the item it used to be, while also unlocking a whole new upgrade path. So, essentially, you can change a piece of armour to a weapon and that weapon now has armour stats tacked onto it as well.
Kaitlyn: Or like a lightning rod to a pair of slippers? That kind of thing.
Nick: Yeah, exactly! In typical Disgaea fashion, we try to get goofy and fun with it while also making sure it’s a crucial mechanic in the game. We’re really excited about the changes that have been made, the new features, the changes to existing features, all in order to make this title feel like a return to our roots.
Kaitlyn: It definitely feels like that, especially leaning into Disgaea’s nature of being light-hearted, humourous, over-the-top, larger than life, to use the Jumbification pun that you used there! Of course, with the colourful cast of characters that Disgaea is known for, what can you tell us about Pirilika and Fuji? And also the Prinnies, are they still up to their mischief? Are they still doing their thing?
Nick: So, Fuji and Pirilika, this is the first Disgaea game where we have two true protagonists instead of two main characters consisting of a protagonist and a partner. Fuji and Pirilika are treated as narrative equals, and the entire story revolves around them. At the start of the story, Fuji is your classic demon’s demon. He is massively in debt because he’s that kind of guy. He comes across Pirilika, and she ends up hiring him in order to pay off his debts. She also gives him one of the Seven Founding Weapons, this demonic sword which ends up choosing Fuji and bonding with him. That’s what Pirilika’s whole goal is, to track down the Seven Founding Weapons, and she hires Fuji to help her do so. Pirilika is a big fan of bushido, which is the code that all of the demons in the Netherworlds of Hinomoto used to follow. It’s a very honourable code that has since been thrown out the window for the Hinomoto Code of Destruction, which Fuji is much more aligned with. So, there’s a great balance between these two characters. They’re very different from one another, so they’re good foils for one another and it’s going to be a matter of seeing how they affect one another, how they help each other grow…or not (laughs). And of course, Prinnies are absolutely still around! I was playing the demo that we were showing people today, and yeah, there’s a Prinny in the party that you can pick up and chuck into the fray, just like usual.
Kaitlyn: (laughs) Poor Prinny! They go through so much in the Disgaea series. It really is a lot for the little guys.
But for some of the other titles that we are showcasing today as well, CRYMACHINA is among them. So, CRYMACHINA, of course having “CRY” in the name and being by Furyu, is bringing a lot of attention via CRYSTAR. How does it differ in terms of style and theming and what throughline is there to CRYMACHINA from CRYSTAR?
Nick: So CRYMACHINA, it’s not a direct sequel or in the same kind of story as CRYSTAR. It’s more of a spiritual successor if you will. There’s a lot of similarities in terms of the tone, the atmosphere, the aesthetic, you know, very dark, very stylistic, deep colours. Additionally, there was a different illustrator from CRYSTAR, with CRYMACHINA emphasising more of a sci-fi aesthetic. So, it’s mostly on the surface level as far as comparisons go, but what it does do differently, it’s a post-apocalyptic story. Essentially, the Cliffnotes version is your character, Leben, she awakens many years after the fall of humanity and she is now a machine. And this character who revives you, Enoa, is a machine as well, and she essentially tells you that humanity shot a rocket off into space called Eden and now the machines on board of Eden are taking it upon themselves to revive humanity. What’s interesting is that your character, Leben, does not particularly care for humans, for mankind. She does not have a positive opinion about them, so it’s this interesting balance of playing as a character who’s helping with this mission, but doesn’t particularly agree with it, and how she might change over the course of the story. Action is a heavy emphasis in this game too. Leben is one of 3 different playable characters along with Ami and Mikoto, and each of them have different combat styles and weapons. It’s really flashy, really twitchy, responsive. A lot of fun, and from the get-go, there’s a lot of different moves and stuff available to you. So, it’s one that we’re very, very excited about. It just seeps with this very unique atmosphere that the aesthetics and the music and the voice acting all help play into. It meshes all very well.
Kaitlyn: All of the trailers and art that we’ve seen; it is gorgeous. It is unlike really anything else that I’ve seen before from NIS, so it is something that I myself am really excited for.
Nick: Me too. I’m very, very excited to be able to actually play through the full game when it releases this Fall.
Kaitlyn: Speaking of some other titles that are coming out very soon, Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is a collection of two titles never before seen in the West. What has it been like being able to bring these experiences to audiences both new and maybe those that are familiar with them, the older audiences as well?
Nick: It’s been an absolute joy. We released Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure as part of a two-game pack a little while back and people responded very positively to it. There’s been a lot of long-time fans of the series because Rhapsody II and III, these are older games. Rhapsody II originally released in 1999 on the PlayStation and then Rhapsody III was 2000 on the PlayStation 2. The first one’s obviously even older and there are fans of this game in the West that have been waiting to complete the story for some time and so we’re very excited to be able to allow fans to do that, especially with both games together. It’s great going from Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure to Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess because it is a direct follow-up, a direct sequel. You play as Princess Kururu, who is the daughter of Cornet, the protagonist from the first game. She’s kind of setting off in a very similar vein to her mother in the first game, looking for her Prince, her true love. But her story is a little bit different, she’s a different character. She’s accompanied by Crea, who’s the daughter of Etoile from the first game. So, it’s interesting, the character dynamics are definitely different than Cornet’s was with Crea’s mother in the first game. So, it’s fun to have a story that’s familiar and yet plays out very differently. And it has the same exact kind of classic charm and songs and storybook visuals and stuff that the first game had.
And then, Rhapsody III is a really unique one, Memories of Marl Kingdom. It is more of a storybook kind of game. It plays out over a series of chapters that all take place in the past, present and future of Marl Kingdom. So, you have a chapter with Cornet with a never before seen story, a chapter with Princess Kururu and then, later on in the game, a chapter with Cherie, who’s actually Cornet’s mother. There’s been a lot of mystery wrapped around this character for some time, so we’re excited to not only give fans the opportunity to complete the story and complete the collection, but also to get answers to some of these questions that they’ve had since the first game. There’s been a lot of positive reception to that, which we’re very happy to see. It makes us feel very good. I’m excited for it as well! I was only just introduced to the series a little while ago. Just me, personally as a fan, I’m excited to be able to get it and actually complete the story.
Kaitlyn: It is a very good time for fans. They’re eating well with those two titles coming soon for the PS5™ and Nintendo Switch™.
The Legend of Nayuta, another title, it’s a departure from the turn-based combat of The Legend of Heroes series, from which it takes a lot of inspiration. What style of combat is featured and how does it tie to The Legend of Heroes series in a manner in which fans can expect? So what can fans directly see and experience from The Legend of Heroes into The Legend of Nauyta?
Nick: The Legend of Nayuta is interesting. It’s a story ARPG. It takes some narrative cues from The Legend of Heroes series. It is not related to it directly. It’s a spiritual successor, but it takes a lot of the gameplay and combat mechanics from another long-running Falcom series, Ys. So, it’s a mixture of things that you know from both of Falcom’s long-running and successful franchises. That being said, it is still unique in its own way.
The story is wrapped up in discovery, adventure and wonder. Nayuta, the titular character, lives on Remnant Isle and he’s one of the only people there that wonders aloud: what’s beyond the horizon? Does the sea really end? Is the earth flat? Ruins keep falling from the sky that have Star Fragments in them and those offer glimpses into what looks like another world. What are these? And so, all of that’s kicked off when he and his friend Cygna are exploring one of those large ruins one day and they find a small, fairy-like girl at the top named Noi and she has this item. Someone comes through a portal, steals it, and it kicks off the whole journey from there, and she whisks Nayuta away to this magical world that he’s always been curious about. There’s a bit more of a fantastical element to it that might not be as present in The Legend of Heroes or Ys. That being said, these character-driven stories are something that it definitely takes from The Legend of Heroes series.
Combat is very free-flowing, action RPG-based. There are definitely nods to Ys in there. A good mix of physical attacks with Nayuta and magical attacks with Noi and then larger attacks called Gearcrafts that you unlock as you progress through the game that actually can be used outside of combat as well.
That’s one we’re excited about just because it is a Falcom title that a lot of fans in the West have not experienced before, and we’re excited to be able to bring it to them. So far, the reception has been very positive. Falcom fans are very passionate about both of the long-running series, as they should be, they’re very good! It’s been fun to see the fans of those two long-running series rally around Nayuta so far. We’re excited to show off more of it in the coming months.
Kaitlyn: Speaking of the combat being very free-flowing, from what I have experienced as well, you do very much get that feeling of freedom because you can move so fluidly with the combat, so that is something that I found to be very welcoming, since as you’ve mentioned, it’s got a lot of similarities with Ys and that sort of thing. Nick: Yeah, and it mixes in a little bit of platforming, a little bit of puzzle-solving as well and so it keeps things moving forward really well. It has a good pace to it. This game also features English voice acting!
Kaitlyn: And last, but of course not least, we’ve got Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten. That’s bringing the classic JRPG experience to the modern day, but what can you tell us about the Action Ring and how it impacts the flow of combat? So for those of you that might not be familiar, the Action Ring is something that I’ve never really seen before in a title and it is kind of like an initiative order, but something that’s a little bit more special than that.
Nick: Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is part of the Utawarerumono series, but it strays away from the grid-based tactical-style combat that the series is known for to more traditional turn-based. It’s very much a classic RPG in a lot of ways, but the Action Ring does mix combat up just enough to where it really spices things up. Essentially, when you begin combat, you’ll see in the top-left, there’s these series of rings; there’s a large one and then smaller and smaller as they go inside. Your character icons of all the different characters engaged in combat are placed on the ring at different points. Essentially, when your character is in the right-most corner of the ring, that means it’s that character’s turn. And then when their turn’s over, they rotate clockwise and another character icon rotates up. Where you start out on that ring is dependent on your character’s Speed stat; however, there’s a way to get around the ring faster, and that’s by moving into an inner ring that’s smaller. And the way you can do that, the easiest way, at least at the beginning of the game, is by staggering enemies and then collapsing them. Essentially, that means getting off a couple of attacks in a row on the same enemy. If you get an attack off on an enemy and you see stars and they start getting woozy, they’ve been stunned and then if you attack them again, they collapse. That character who executed that attack, they’ll move into one of the inner-most rings and then the enemy that you attacked may actually move further out if they moved in. So, it gives you an opportunity to move yourself in the ring and then out of the ring, and what that does is it creates a situation in which you can attack again sooner. So, there’s a nice layer of strategy involved in getting attacks off quick in Monochrome Mobius. Like you said, it just adds a layer of something different to the more traditional turn-based combat.
Additionally, there’s combat skills that you can use. There are more magic-based attacks; Oshtor, the main character, has some, and Shunya has several, but at some point in the game, she unlocks what’s called the Soul Stone. If you charge your Soul Stone in combat, it unlocks a whole range of additional combat skills for her, as well as higher-level versions of existing combat skills that you can use without charging the Soul Stone. So that additionally adds a unique fold or layer to the traditional combat as well. Using both of those in tandem, because there’s a lot of ways that the Action Ring and Soul Stone can play off of each other, has been really fun to play around with so far, and it’s been fun to see people doing the same. Kaitlyn: As you mentioned, it’s a progression of the Utawarerumono series and it’s essentially a 20th anniversary celebration of that, so again, it’s another great time for fans of the series. All of the titles that are being seen today here are at the NISA Summer Showcase, it is very much a celebration of all of these titles that NIS is helping bring to the Western audience.
Nick: Yeah, and a lot of titles are from established developers that have released games that are similar to it or sequels and stuff like that. So it’s a lot of games that people have been really anticipating, Rhapsody, Nayuta, some of these titles are coming to the West for the first time and so it just adds another level of excitement to this and so far, it’s been very, very nice to be able to engage with press again. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do that to this level. It’s been an absolute treat, and so, we’re excited to hopefully have more events like this moving forward!
Kaitlyn: Well, thank you for coming out, thank you for having us. I’ve been Kaitlyn, this has been ReefGamesLive, and thank you Nick, thanks so much!
Nick: Thank you guys, appreciate it!