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PSP Fanboy interview: Monster Kingdom

Sammy Matsushima, Project Lead from Atlus USA, and Clayton Chan from Atlus, both took some time to talk about the upcoming PSP-exclusive RPG, Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner, which comes out next week. Don't forget to check out our previous coverage of the game, including an early hands-on preview.

PSP Fanboy: Monster Kingdom took more than a year to bring stateside. Why did Sony skip publishing the game for the US market? What has Atlus done that Sony may have been unable to?
Sammy Matsushima: Without going into too much detail, when the title was released in Japan, we contacted SCEI about the rights for a US release. The game was created by GAIA, which is headed by Mr. Cozy Okada, a former lead game designer at Atlus Co. Ltd., so we thought it would be natural for us at Atlus U.S.A. to bring the game over. The reason it took us some time to bring it over is due to development schedules and that we took a lot of care in doing the localization right.

The PSP library is filled with cookie-cutter RPGs. How does Monster Kingdom stand out from the crowd?
SM: For one, Jewel Summoner is a truly original PSP RPG that was designed from the ground up for the PSP. The battles are streamed to be quick and intense so you can pick up the game and play it anywhere, yet have the
tactical depth you'd expect from a great RPG. Even the loading times were optimized for the PSP hardware to let users get the most fun out of the time they spend playing the game. To further enhance the user's immersion into the game world, nearly the entire game is voiced. It really makes a difference when you hear the character voices bringing a scene to life.

There is an impressive amount of voice acting in the game. What were the challenges of bringing these characters to life? Are there any noteworthy voice actors our audience should know about?
SM: We took a lot of time and effort to find voice actors we thought fit the character. Our staff went through tons of audition clips to choose the right voices for our characters. The most difficult part was in the sheer number
of lines that they spoke and trying to prepare a really detailed script to give to the actors. (The voice actors don't play the game, so the only thing they have to judge the character's emotion is the script we give them.) At
the time of recording, our staff attended the sessions to make sure that the scenes were done right. We are very fortunate that the recording engineer/director we chose was a very talented guy, so technically all we had to do was to sit back and enjoy the show! (laugh) As for the names of the voice actors we used, they are very shy people so they requested not to have their names announced. We are sorry about that.

Are there any plans to continue the Monster Kingdom franchise?
Clayton Chan: Since this really isn't a franchise Atlus has control over, we don't have a whole lot of input on where it's going to go from here. I'm pretty sure that there are other games in the Monster Kingdom universe that are being developed at this point. However, whether or not they get finished and whether or not they come to the United States, Canada, etc. isn't entirely up to Atlus at this point. Though, I can say that if Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner sells well here, the odds of you seeing further installments here increases dramatically.

I really hope you guys enjoy the game, and if you're on the fence, please check out the website at (I spent a lot of time putting that thing into English!)

Thanks to everyone at Atlus for taking the time to talk to us. Expect a full review of Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner in a few days.

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