Touken Ranbu Warriors Development Team Interview – A Musou Game Anyone Can Enjoy

With only less than a week for the upcoming release of Touken Ranbu Warriors on the western territories, this game marks the first time that Omega Force and Ruby Party, two completely different studios from Koei Tecmo come together to develop a new musou experience with a franchise that has been popular for a long time in Japan, especially among the female audience.

We had the chance to interview the General Producer of Touken Ranbu Warriors, Mei Erikawa (Ruby Party), and the Producer of the game, Tomohiko Sho (Omega Force), to get a bit more information about this big collaboration project.

Noisy Pixel: In the original TOUKEN RANBU -Online- browser game, all of the swords appeared as 2D character illustrations. How was the transition to 3D carried out for Touken Ranbu Warriors?

Since there are many different illustrators working on the original IP Touken Ranbu -ONLINE-, the visual tastes and head-to-body ratios of the various Touken Danshi are quite varied, so we created them in 3D to create a uniform feel while retaining the taste of each of the illustrators. When looking at an individual 3D model there were no problems, but when placed next to other characters there were a lot of times where they didn’t look right, so we repeatedly adjusted the head-to-body ratios while having all the characters lined up together.

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NP: In Touken Ranbu, there are a lot of traditional sword types (Tachi, naginata, wakizashi, tantou, etc.) that players can fight as. How did you represent the differences between those weapon formats in gameplay?

It is mainly by showing their individual characteristics through the differences in how they fight, which is reflective of the character’s (weapon’s) personality. Also, their attitude and body language is shown through the most minute details such as their gaze, finger tips and all the way to the tips of their toes, to really reflect their personalities and traits.

NP: Touken Ranbu Warriors is in a unique situation when it comes to Musou titles. After all, this is a josei-muke series turned into an action genre that is usually associated with male-oriented content such as shounen adaptations. Would you say this affected your approach to gameplay?

Yes, it did have an effect. We recognized that there is the possibility of many Touken Ranbu -ONLINE- fans who, regardless of gender, don’t normally play action games, so we took the approach of adding features such as an Easy Mode to the control scheme.

NP: According to the various trailers we’ve seen for the game, we will only be seeing 15 characters from the hundreds of different swords from the series. Are there plans to bring more characters (possibly via DLC)? What were your main criteria to choose those 15 specific characters?

For the 15 characters, we began by selecting real and significant historical figures who played a key role in the Sengoku era, which is when the story is set, and then selected the Touken Danshi connected to them. From there we further refined the selection and made many adjustments so that a variety of sword types would appear. There are no plans to add more characters through DLC.

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NP: The Musou genre is saturated with good competitors, including those from Koei Tecmo themselves, such as the upcoming Fire Emblem Three Houses game or even the Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires. How do you think Touken Ranbu Warriors will stand out among its competitors?

Touken Ranbu Warriors is the first Warriors (Musou) game collaborate with content that is geared towards females. In order to not disappoint the fans of Touken Ranbu, we have taken great care in the details that went into creating the direction, story and visuals. It is also a title that was made with all players in mind including those new to action games, and it is a game that can be enjoyed by people who don’t know about Touken Ranbu, or may not have tried a Warriors game before.

NP: Touken Ranbu Warriors marks a collaboration between Omega Force and Ruby Party. Was this the first time the teams worked together? How did you organize the development? Did you divide different portions (such as the dialogue and combat mechanics) between the teams according to expertise, or did you develop the game design together as a team?

This was the first time the two teams worked together. We used the strengths of each of the brands, where Ruby Party mainly worked on the game world and scenarios and Omega Force members were the core of the action and game system work, but there wasn’t a distinct split between the two brands. We worked together as a single team that is unique to this game.

NP: Collaboration Warriors titles make an effort to have unique traits of the original series that significantly impact the gameplay. What were the ideas behind the system design and other elements that came from your inspiration on the original material?

The characters which are tsukumogami (items that house thoughts and spirits), are based on Japanese swords, and the depiction of the relationship with their original masters who were officers in the Sengoku era of Japan are what I think are important elements of Touken Ranbu, so it has a big influence on the story. Also, in order to feel the world where they go back in time and sortie, we paid close attention to how we portrayed the system.

In terms of action, we incorporated some of the Shinken Hissatsu poses from Touken Ranbu -ONLINE- into the moves of the special Hissatsu attacks, so we made sure to include the experience from the original game into this action game.

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NP: Unlike other Warriors games, Touken Ranbu Warriors is coming only to Switch in the west. Is this based on the market analysis of the josei muke audience being there? Do you believe there’s any chance of bringing it to other systems as well? (Note: These questions were asked before the announcement of the PC release.)

We are happy to announce that it will be released on Steam, so those who would like to play it on a PC can with the Steam version. It will be available on May 24, simultaneously as the Switch version.

NP: Touken Ranbu Warriors is the first game with Ruby Party involvement to come west. Otome fans have been eager to get one of their titles, including classics such as the Harukanaru, Angelique, and Kin’iro no Corda series. Some of those were even released as a manga in English but never did the games themselves come over. Would it be possible to see at least one of the Ruby Party games in English in the near future?

With Ruby Party titles, in recent years we have expanded into Asia and we felt a good response. We are aiming for an even broader global expansion, so if there is the demand we would definitely like to consider releasing English versions of our games.

NP: Could this game be used as an entry point for players who did not have any contact with the series or the Musou genre in general previously? What sort of accessibility features can we expect, if so?

When developing Touken Ranbu Warriors, our main concern was how to make it so that people who haven’t played any Warriors (Musou) games before can really enjoy it, so we made sure that an Easy Mode can be selected, and created an easy to understand tutorial.

And then of course, we made the game so that those how have never been exposed to Touken Ranbu could really experience the world of Touken Ranbu. It is a completely original story so those who don’t know the original IP’s story can enjoy and understand it without a problem, and those who aren’t well-versed in the Sengoku-era officers from history can refer to the terminology or battle perdition features since it is a system that will help explain the real history and understand the situation taking place in-game.

NP: Touken Ranbu Warriors has already been released in Japan and had really strong launch sales. Do you have any plans to work with other josei-muke Musou adaptations? For instance, we’d love to see a Harukanaru Musou, as it would be an interesting combination.

Thank you for the suggestion. With Touken Ranbu Warriors, I think we were able to show the potential of a new Warriors collaboration title, so I’d like to explore many different possibilities that aren’t limited just to certain titles.

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