Kill la Kill the Game: IF Director Hideaki Mizota

by Kim Morrissy,

Kill la Kill the Game: IF has been picking up more steam lately, introducing more playable characters and features ahead of its 2019 release. The game is being published by Arc System Works, and although the developer is Aplus, who previously worked on the Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, it still has plenty of Guilty Gear influences. I sat down with game director Hideaki Mizota at Tokyo Game Show to discuss the features of the Kill la Kill anime and game, what lessons the team learned from Chamber of Time, and the most important question of all: how much nudity will be in the game?

When you first watched the Kill la Kill anime, what were your impressions?

This may sound unflattering, but the animation style looks like an older kind of anime. But it has a lot of energy. I watched 12 episodes in one sitting, and I got so into it that I couldn't stop watching.

Why does this game focus on Satsuki as a point-of-view character?

The lead screenwriter from Trigger, Kazuki Nakashima, wanted to have Satsuki be the main character for the story mode. So, naturally, it makes sense for her to be the focal point of the game.

At Tokyo Game Show, you introduced two new playable characters in the demos. What can you tell me about their fighting styles and what should players look out for?

One of them is called Sanageyama. He wields a bamboo sword and is the head of the athletic team. He is very different to play compared to Ryuko and Satsuki. He's very heavy and big, so his movement is not that fast. He's not good with long distance attacks because he wields a bamboo sword, but he's good at close range and has a lot of rush attacks.

And what about Gamagori?

Gamagori is even bigger than Sanageyama. His game counterpart is the same as the anime: the more damage he gets, the stronger he becomes. He has a special gauge that goes the more damage he takes.

How do you make that kind of character balanced in a fighting game?

There's a character called Raven in Guilty Gear, and he's a similar character to this in that he also gets stronger as he takes more damage. That kind of character runs the risk of becoming too powerful, so in order to level it out we have to ensure that they can't power up all the time. When you play as this character you have to be prepared to take risks in order to make use of the power-ups. Just keeping this balance was the challenge.

Infamously, Kill la Kill has very inconsistent animation. How did you decide which kind of consistent style to go for with the game?

Actually, I think the game right now is too consistent, and we're trying to think of how to make it look more inconsistent, like the original anime. We got too serious, so we kind of want to venture out and try some different things.

How would you do that?

Well, right now when you get one win, it just fades to black. In the original anime, often there's a split screen and there are three images showing at once, and we want to do something like that to make it more fun and different.

The original anime had a lot of 3D scenes thanks to Sanzigen. I know that you've consulted a lot with Sushio, the original character designer. Did you consult with Sanzigen as well?

People who belong to Sanzigen are among the supervisors on this game.

Was it like a collaboration designing the 3D models or did you make all the assets yourselves?

It was all on our side.

A lot of fighting games have high, consistent frame rates, but Kill la Kill has a limited animation style with frame modulation. How exactly does the frame rate work in this game?

Japanese animation is normally 24 frames per second, and there are like 10-12 illustrations. Kill la Kill the Game: IF plays at 60 frames per second, but on average there 15 drawings per second.

And this was inspired by Guilty Gear?

Yes, it's similar.

How much of this game is influenced by Guilty Gear overall?

I would say 80-90%. That's a big influence. Other members of Guilty Gear’s team are working on this game as well.

Although in terms of how it looks and plays, it's like the Naruto 3D fighter games. Was there any influence from that as well?

We did look at those games when we were starting out.

You were previously involved in Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, although that game had some quality concerns. How do you plan to address those criticisms this time?

Chamber of Time was also a Trigger game, and my company Aplus worked on that too, but that game was published by Bandai Namco. Arc System Works was not involved in that at all. It was completely separate.

It was mostly the promotion that was done by Bandai Namco, right?

Yeah. For the promotion, Bandai Namco wanted the game to have a lot of different elements that would be true to the original anime. They wanted treasure hunting, adventures, building the school… There was a lot being crammed in. It was very time-consuming and we eventually ran out of time. It eventually led to the game having, like you say, some concerns. As far as the fans were concerned, you could see the love for the original anime, but the game itself wasn't so great.

We learned from that experience, so this time we've been very selective about what to put in the game and what to leave out. I think that things came out pretty well this time.

Do you think that Kill la Kill itself has a simpler concept that's easier to adapt into a game?

The original anime has its own story. To make it simpler or more complex is up to the developer. At the moment, Kill la Kill the Game: IF has the ideal level of complexity and simplicity. That's what we were going for.

Was it a smooth process turning the moves from the anime into a game?

It was definitely easier than creating everything from scratch. But making those moves in 3D, that's a separate story. We still had to put a lot of work and effort into it to make it work as a game.

What inspired the “verbal battle” system in the game?

That idea came from Yamanaka. In the original anime, there's a part where they battle as they argue. We wanted to have that in the game in a different way. We had three different versions that we were experimenting with, and we eventually settled with what we have now.

What made you decide to make that a luck rather than skill-based system?

There's a number that's based on how much skill affects the outcome of a battle. If I played against the EVO champion of Guilty Gear, I could challenge him a thousand times never win. But with Kill la Kill the Game: IF, every ten battles against a skilled player I may have the chance to win. It's a good game for beginner and party game players. It will ease you into the whole fighting game scene.

Last question: Kill la Kill has a lot of nudity. Is that element going to be in the game as well?

We want to do as much as we can to make it faithful to the original, but it really depends on how much we can get away with. We are making a lot of naked character models, but we have to wait and see.

Thank you.

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