With the finale of Gust’s Atelier Ryza trilogy releasing this month, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key, we had the opportunity to interview the head of the studio, Junzo Hosoi. He reflected on his time with the company, his thoughts on developing the Ryza trilogy, and what the future holds for the series.
- In case you missed it, check out our recent interview with the trilogy’s character designer and the protagonist’s voice actress.
Azario Lopez: Looking back on the development of the Atelier Ryza trilogy, do you have any fond memories you’d like to share while developing this trilogy?
Junzo Hosoi: I think it might be the reaction when we revealed Ryza as the protagonist for the new series. Each time we announce a new protagonist, I am nervous, but I remember being especially nervous this time. It became a popular topic around the world, so I was really happy about that.
AL: In terms of the future of the series, are there plans to introduce a new Alchemist, or do you plan to revisit one of the older stories?
JH: Who knows! (laughs) One thing I can definitely say is that the games in the Atelier series are created together with all the players, so I hope to be able to respond to everyone’s requests and expectations.
AL: Considering the advancements made in hardware, how do you plan to utilize more powerful platforms for future Atelier titles? When can we expect an entry that takes full advantage of the PS5?
JH: This isn’t just for the Atelier series, but we, as developers, are always conscious to create something that is a step above previous works. With the PS5, there are various functions that make the game experience better, such as the adaptive triggers, so I hope we can develop games that make use of those functions.
AL: How do you retain your sense of imagination for the scope of the Atelier series? As I get older, it’s harder for me to remember what it’s like to have an imagination, but the Atelier series has consistently provided fantasy escapism. Do you also find connecting with your imagination challenging as you age?
JH: I feel that it is difficult. But because it is difficult, I make sure to be aware and take in information, as well as talk to many people to exchange ideas and opinions. Also, going out to many places and watching movies. It’s important to have various types of “input.” Besides that, I think that playing various different games is also good stimulation. I think that they make us aware of ideas that we haven’t thought of and remind us of the potential that games themselves can have.
AL: You’ve worked with Gust for many years. What initially brought you to the company, and what has kept you there all this time?
JH: The Gust office was located close to where I lived, so it was this connection that led to me joining the company. I hadn’t played any Gust games until then… After joining, I played Gust games, worked with many different co-workers to carry out my tasks, and after learning many different things at Gust, it resulted in me understanding the type of games that Gust ceaselessly created.
I want to take these Gust games, which my predecessors have passed on to me, make them better, and greatly expand them in order to have Gust games reach an even bigger audience. That is my motivation.
AL: Do you find it harder to see the conclusion of Atelier Ryza’s story compared to other protagonists? Or is it just as difficult as the other titles you’ve worked on?
JH: When we started planning the Secret series, we had in mind to create a story about the growth of a single protagonist, so having Ryza continue throughout the series was part of our concept from the start. And the story for any game is difficult and a struggle to come up with. This time was no different and was difficult to produce, but this time we had the assistance of Yashichiro Takahashi, who was in charge of the scenario, so I think we have a story that is fitting for the finale of Ryza’s adventure.
AL: Do you see Gust sticking to their traditional approach to JRPGs, or are there any modern JRPGs that you see as potential inspiration for future titles?
JH: Right now, our goal and what we’re aiming towards is a wide recognition of “JRPG games = Gust games” and having people play them. Obviously, games that have a similar look are ones we have also played and reference, but I think we’re more likely to take inspiration from completely different genres of games.
AL: What are your thoughts on fans shipping Ryza and Klaudia? Is there any truth to this?
JH: I think the fans have various feelings toward Ryza, Klaudia, and the other characters. The image we, as the developers, have of these characters is based completely on what we have delivered in the game, so it is very interesting to hear what kind of impression players have of the characters based on information about the game or after playing the game.
AL: I want to know, am I going to cry at the end of Atelier Ryza 3?
JH: I think you will probably cry!
AL: Is there anything you’d like to share with fans awaiting Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key?
JH: We apologize for the wait until the game’s release. With the additional time we had to further brush up on the game, I think that as the second commemorative game of the Atelier Series 25th Anniversary and as the final story for Ryza, we can proudly deliver this game to everyone. From exploring the open fields, using keys in various ways, such as in battle or in synthesis, and the fate of Ryza and her friends, I hope everyone will enjoy all of it while witnessing the story to the end.
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