Digimon World: Next Order's Kazumasa Habu

by Todd Ciolek, Feb 10th 2017
Digimon World: Next Order came out a little earlier this year, placing it close behind 2016's Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. Yet there's more to Next Order than just another Digimon release. It's part of the Digimon World sub-series, which takes a slightly different approach to raising and guiding digitized creatures, and a Digimon World game hasn't appeared in North America since 2008.

We spoke with producer Kazumasa Habu about Cyber Sleuth last year, and we recently sat down with him again to find out how Next Order is important, how to raise Digimon, and why he'd really like to hear from Western fans.

Last year, you described Cyber Sleuth as a comeback opportunity for Digimon in North America. How did that turn out?

I'm really happy that the American fans loved it more than we expected! As a result of the success of Cyber Sleuth, we're thinking of bringing more of the Digimon series titles to the U.S. and other countries.

But I want to know more about what the American fans want in the game: what they liked about it, and what they didn't like about it. It'd be nice if we had more opportunities to hear from the American fans directly.

How would you compare Digimon World: Next Order to Cyber Sleuth? Next Order seems a little brighter in tone than the virtual-reality underground of Cyber Sleuth?

Actually, I wasn't on the production staff for the Vita version of Next Order. It had a different producer, because I was on Cyber Sleuth. So Next Order has a lot of his influence.

Of course, we had a lot of discussions with the other producer to develop Next Order for the PlayStation 4.

We're following in the steps of the first Digimon World game. The main thing we focus on is the heroes jumping into the digital world and having an adventure with the Digimons, and I wanted to keep that atmosphere. Visually, we took a lot from the 3DS and PSP versions that were never released in America, but as for the game itself, we looked more toward the first game.

And how do you think Next Order improves on those older games?

We wanted to satisfy the fans who played the first one, and the new challenge for this game is bringing along two Digimons with you. In the previous Digimon World games, you had only one Digimon following you around.

When you mention the original, you're talking about the first Digimon World on the PlayStation?

Yes.

Why did you go all the back to that game? What did you think that one did well?

If you count Decode, there are about five titles in the Digimon World series, but until Re:Digitize came out, there weren't any titles based on the first PlayStation One game. The fans like the raising concept in the first game, how you raise your Digimon and look after them, so that's what we wanted to put in this game.

In other games, you collect monsters and characters, but in this one you focus on one monster and make it stronger through training, so you have a lot more of an emotional connection to this specific character.

Re:Digitize was based on the original Digimon World. It had a good reputation in Japan, and North American fans had a petition to localize the 3DS version. Because of the schedule, we couldn't really localize it. It wasn't exactly in response, but that's partly why we localized Cyber Sleuth.

Finally, we got to localized a game with the basic Digimon World battling system, so I'm looking forward to the fans playing this, especially if they haven't played one in a long time.

In terms of raising the Digimon creatures, how is Next Order more complicated than prior games? What's the most interesting part of that?

You're raising your Digimon like a pet, so it really goes into detail. You have to feed them, look after their toilet time, and put them to bed. Cyber Sleuth focused on collecting a lot of Digimon, but this series, because you have two Digimon along, the events differ with the way you raise your Digimon and the sort of Digimon they evolve into. If you don't raise them right, they'll disobey you and have bad relationships with you, and some special moves won't be available.

So you can't choose how the Digimon evolves. It depends on how you raise it. If you raise it to be good, it becomes one species, and if you raise it to be bad, it turns out another way. But even if it evolves into a bad Digimon that doesn't obey you, you're still looking after it, and it's still cute to you!

How intelligent are the Digimon in this game? In a lot of Digimon media, the creatures actually talk, unlike most Pokémon or other creatures.

Well, they're not THAT smart. But if you raise them well, they get smarter and they'll expand the orders you can give them. And when they're happy, they'll say things. But it's not that specific.

So you don't really have conversations with them…

There's not a lot of talking between the Digimons, but during the story you'll have to talk to the Digimon and make certain decisions.

Are Takuto and Shiki, the two player characters, very similar in their storylines? It seems as though Takuto is a kid who's outgrown Digimon.

There's no big different in personality. The story doesn't really change, but some conversations might be different. The basic experience is the same.

Is the overall number of monsters in Digimon World: Next Order lower than the number in Cyber Sleuth, since the raising process is more complicated?

In the PlayStation 4 version we have about 230 Digimon. That's a little bit less than Cyber Sleuth, but as you know the game system is different and so is the battling system. So we couldn't put them all in. We'd like to increase the volume throughout the whole series.

Unlike Cyber Sleuth, making the Digimon evolve to the Ultimate level in Next Order is very, very tough.

Are there some cases where you'll have to be deliberately neglectful or mean to make a Digimon reach its full potential?

There's a little difference. Sometimes if you don't raise them right, they'll die faster. But sometimes they'll just get mean. If they get sick, obviously they die younger, but if you don't let them go to the toilet, they'll start doing it in the middle of the road, and they'll have no manners. And if you want the Devil type, you can deliberately raise them that way, making them eat and drink a lot. But all of those decisions change the way they evolve.

What changes did you make to the Vita version when making the PlayStation 4 version? Is there anything new for North America?

The basic game engine is the same as the Vita version, but we remade the graphics for the PlayStation 4. And since the game was already out for the Vita, we heard the fans' voices and adjusted the balance of the gameplay. Since the series has gone on for so long, the fans really know the game and how it works, and we wanted to make it a really rewarding game for the core fans.

Of course, for the fans who play it for the first time, we have easy, normal, and hard modes. And we added some new Digimon and events.

I would like you to consider the PlayStation 4 version for North America.

So why isn't the Vita version coming here?

We really wanted to focus on the PlayStation 4 version to improve the graphics and game balance, and once we did that we couldn't put it back into the Vita version because the quality. That was the main reason, to be honest.

The Vita version was very well-made, but the graphics weren't really great, so we had to focus on the PlayStation 4.

Is Omegamon still the favorite for fans?

Yes, when we have a vote in Japan, that one gets double the votes of the second place. Is it like that in America?

Hmm. I don't know. You'd like to hear from American fans, then?

Yes, please take a vote! We'd love to know!


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