Scarlet Nexus Interview: Bandai Namco’s Keita Iizuka And Kenji Anabuki On The Ambitious ‘Brain-Funk’ Adventure

Scarlet Nexus Interview: Bandai Namco’s Keita Iizuka And Kenji Anabuki On The Ambitious ‘Brain-Funk’ Adventure

Bandai Namco’s Scarlet Nexus is set to launch across consoles and PC on June 25 and I recently went hands-on with the game for a few hours. It’s surprisingly fun, presenting a selection of inventive new ideas that go beyond what we’ve seen in the likes of Code Vein and God Eater. I also had a chance to catch up with game producer Keita Iizuka and game director Kenji Anabuki about the creation of the project, and how it aims to introduce a fascinating new world that players will be eager to explore.

Read on for our full interview where we talk about Scarlet Nexus, Xbox in Japan, and exactly what went into creating this ambitious brain-funk experience.

For a new Japanese IP, Scarlet Nexus has received a lot of support from Microsoft and Xbox. Do you see the attitude towards Xbox changing in Japan and the fact that it now hosts a number of huge properties from the country?

KI: “Xbox is providing various services, including Xbox Game Pass, that support various ways of playing for gamers, and I believe that Xbox players in Japan really enjoy these services and the conveniences brought by them. With this, I also believe that fans who own an Xbox here will be able to expand their play styles to include PC as well, so I hope that the Xbox brand will become more known in Japan.”

Some of the development teams lead staff have worked on the Tales series, do you see some aspects of that franchise bleeding into the gameplay and storytelling of Scarlet Nexus?

KA: “Yes, we have used knowledge and know-hows that we used when developing for Tales Of. Battle systems and story-driven game designs are some of the examples. For the “Brain Crush” mechanic, we took references from TOV’s “Fatal Strike” and for the bond episodes with party characters we took some inspiration from TOX2’s character episodes.”

Scarlet Nexus has been described by Bandai Namco as a brain punk game and I was wondering if you could expand upon exactly what this means?

KI: “The world of Scarlet Nexus is indeed built around the keyword “brain”.

The story is set in a future world where various devices can be operated and interacted with thanks to the brain through direct connection, and information is directly reflected in the individuals’ brain. In addition, the existence of the “Others”, hungry for developed human brains, and the “powers” that maximize the power of the brain and enable the user to cause supernatural events to happen, are also elements centered around this notion of “brain” in Scarlet Nexus.”

The visual style of Scarlet Nexus is certainly unique, filled with sharp, vibrant colours and plenty of unique enemy designs, what was the inspiration behind this sort of direction?

KA: “For the expression of the world setting, we are influenced by the Japanese animation and games from the 90s. In the design of buildings and vehicles, the Japanese taste of the 90’s is incorporated and mixed with modern design. On top of that, we have introduced a sense of “otherness” or “foreignness” in many areas to decorate the world. The abnormally tall towers, complex and unstable buildings, and the red neon lights in various locations are intended to express it.”

A television series by Sunrise has also been announced, will this tie into the games events or simply tell its own narrative with new characters? Anime such as this are often a more digestible retelling of the original narrative.

KI: “The game and anime follow the same timeline, with the story centering on both Yuito and Kasane. The original story is based on a fascinating scenario by Takumi Miyajima, and the story is then presented in a way that best utilizes the appeal of both the game and the anime. In the game, the action and scenario unfold seamlessly as an action RPG experience, while in the anime, you can enjoy conversations and character details that are not depicted in the game.”

 

The world of Scarlet Nexus seems to follow human characters who have learned to co-exist with strange machine lifeforms, will this conflict be explored further in the wider narrative?

KA: The Others don’t have their own free will and are predators of human brains. Although Scarlet Nexus doesn’t mainly revolve around a war-like story against the Others, the story depicts the battles between these Others that fall from the sky and the army that fights against them. Also, in the midst of these battle, the hidden secrets and truth of this world will be revealed.

With the closure of Japan Studio by Sony, some western fans are worried that original experiences from Japanese developers may become less commonplace in the years to come – I was wondering what the Scarlet Nexus team thinks about this train of thought.

KA: For myself I would like to keep the character expressions and story-driven game experiences and important things that we are good at. Also, as trends in the game industry changes quickly and continuously, we need to use our own creativity to the max, be aware and create games that gamers are looking for nowadays.

Scarlet Nexus is said to take inspiration from both Japanese and Western science-fiction, how was it combining such different ideas into a new IP such as this?

KA: We were not too conscious of incorporating both Japanese and Western science fiction elements. However, we aimed at creating a near-futuristic world while maintaining the atmosphere of Japan in the 1990s. So in that sense we are aware of the fusion of different eras and cultures. In addition to this, we also put effort into the game to make it more memorable, such as placing a lot of red threads in appropriate locations.

Scarlet Nexus is launching for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC on June 25. 

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