#Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP reveal interview with Dragami Games CEO Yoshimi Yasuda

Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP will officially launch for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC via Steam on September 26, and to commemorate the announcement, Gematsu interviewed Dragami Games CEO Yoshimi Yasuda to discuss the company’s motivations behind bringing back the 2012 action adventure game, soundtrack changes and gameplay adjustments, the original staff’s involvement, and more.

Get the full interview below.

Gematsu: What was the motivation behind bringing back Lollipop Chainsaw for modern consoles and PC, and how did you approach preserving its charm while updating it for modern audiences?

Yasuda: “The licensing contracts for the music in Lollipop Chainsaw were not renewed five years after its released, meaning that sales of it had to be discontinued. Players were no longer able to purchase the game, and we started getting requests from fans to bring it back. We also received several proposals from companies overseas saying they would like to develop a remake, and these are what led me to start considering developing RePOP. Eventually, we decided that we wanted to answer fans’ expectations ourselves. At the time, though, we were in discussions with Kadokawa about going independent, and so we had to wait to confirm that all rights to Lollipop Chainsaw had been transferred to the new company, Dragami Games, before starting on development.”

Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP

The original Lollipop Chainsaw sold over a million copies worldwide and has something of a cult following. How did you balance meeting the expectations of existing fans while also attracting first-time players?

Yasuda: “I had always felt that the original game could have been more user-friendly, and overall a more fun experience for the player, and there were also some balance issues, and in RePOP, we acted on these. To elaborate, we improved the controls of the camera and controller in order to have the player feel that they are in control of Juliet’s actions more.

“Furthermore, considering the sensibilities of modern action gamers, we felt that it was necessary to adjust the severe difficulty spikes found in things such as the bomb cake mission and Zombie Baseball.

“Finally, we also revised the level design of the original, where despite being the descendant of legendary zombie hunters, Juliet started with no combo skills at all. Having to progress to some degree in the game before moves were unlocked gave players a bad first impression, making the game feel less interesting than it should have. Based on this, we made it so that Juliet can use Combo Actions from the start in RePOP.”

Juliet’s movement and attack speeds have also been adjusted. How do these changes affect the feel / flow of combat?

Yasuda: “Given the nature of the chainsaw as a heavy weapon, it would only make sense for it to have slow attacks with strong hit-stop. However, Lollipop Chainsaw is a game where you fight large numbers of zombies, and we had received feedback from players that constantly using the slow chainsaw felt tedious. As such, we introduced a new attack system called Chain Hit Hunting, where chaining consecutive hits increases the chainsaw’s attack speed, in order to alleviate monotony and sluggishness that might be found in the chainsaw combat.”

What adjustments were made to combo command acceptance times, and how does this affect the player’s ability to execute combos?

Yasuda: “In the original Lollipop Chainsaw, the input window for combo commands was relatively small, and we received reports of it frustrating players when they intended on performing a move but it did not activate. As such, one of the first things we worked on when starting on RePOP‘s development was fixing this by extending the input window as much as feasibly possible.”

Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP

The chainsaw blaster now has improved operability with options like auto lock-on and continuous fire. How do these enhancements change the dynamics of ranged combat?

Yasuda: “How the Chainsaw Blaster worked was one of my biggest regrets in the original game. This is entirely my responsibility, but at the time, we considered the Chainsaw Blaster to be a weapon used solely for long-range combat. As a result, the main weapon of the game was primarily the chainsaw, with the player just swinging it around even in stages with large numbers of zombies like the O’Bannon Farm and San Romero High, which turned combat into a chore.

“We thus decided to give the player more choices in how to play the game by turning the Blaster into a viable option, through the addition of options like auto lock-on and auto-fire modes, increasing the maximum ammo capacity to 99, and making it possible to move while firing, making taking out huge crowds of zombies just more fun to do.”

The game now features a chainsaw replacement function. What kind of unique performance variations can players expect?

Yasuda: “The new chainsaws all have special abilities made to fit the humorous world of Lollipop Chainsaw. For example, the Extreme Chainsaw’s bloody color scheme means that equipping it draws zombies towards it, and so they will prioritize attacking Juliet instead of survivors. This can also make survivor rescue missions easier. There are four such new chainsaws with unique abilities that can be obtained from the in-game shop, so please try them out.”

The soundtrack now features primarily original tracks as opposed to the original game’s copyrighted tracks. I imagine licensing costs are the reasoning behind this. Since the copyrighted tracks played a large role in setting the stage, can you talk about the process of creating the replacement tracks?

Yasuda: “”Licensing costs were indeed a serious issue, and we also wanted to avoid the problem of no longer being able to distribute the game once licenses expire like with the original version of the game.

“As such, RePOP primarily uses new, original music. We enlisted artists active in Japanese film, drama, anime, and game music to make tracks such as a new original theme song for Juliet and background music for Star Mode and Nick Attacks.

“While the licensed songs were certainly great, I think our attempt to have talented contemporary musicians create music to fit the game’s world is equally great. Please look forward to the new music in RePOP.”

Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP

Yasuda-san, can you speak to your involvement in the original game? Are any of the other original development staff involved in RePOP?

Yasuda: “As head of development, I lead the entire process from planning to release on the original Lollipop Chainsaw. Considering how Lollipop Chainsaw was born, I thus see this as an inevitable trial, and a role I need to fulfill.

“15 years ago, I came up with the plan for Lollipop Chainsaw and brought it to Warner Bros.’ green light committee, and it successfully passed. After that, however, Warner Bros. told me that since Lollipop Chainsaw is a completely new IP with many unknown factors, they would only commit to the project if I, the person who proposed it, took responsibility for its development. This was a development scheme where Kadokawa Games would bear all financial risks, and if it failed, Kadokawa Games would face the risk of going under, and I discussed it heavily with the senior staff. We ultimately decided to accept these conditions with a do-or-die samurai spirit.

“The development of Lollipop began as a joint effort between Kadokawa Games and Grasshopper, and I was fortunate to have a great group of staff members, all of whom were very motivated. But the development team was filled with many younger members, and as a result of procrastinating things that should have been decided sooner, we found ourselves in a very tight schedule one year into development.

“I thus consulted with Peter Wise and Scott Johnson of Warner Bros., who were handling project management, and personally stepped in, providing direct guidance on even the smallest of details, and we managed to catch up with a one-year delay and completed the master build.

“Sales were good, but Warner Bros. concluded that a sequel would not be made, leading to a bitter end for the Lollipop Chainsaw Project. However, Warner Bros. did recognize me as the creator of Lollipop Chainsaw, and acknowledged that Kadokawa Games held the copyright. And executives from the departments responsible for the original version’s sales and the legal department provided us with generous support on the RePOP Project.”

Did you have any contact with Tom Ikeda, who was the director of the original Lollipop Chainsaw, or Masahiro Yuki, who wrote the screenplay, and were any of these creators involved in the production process of RePOP? Were any of these creators involved in or contacted in the process of creating RePOP?

Yasuda: “Tom Ikeda was one of the directors in the development team I led, and about three years ago, I did in fact approach him and ask for his help with RePOP, but he turned me down saying that while it was an honor to be asked, he was leading development on a project and so it would be difficult. It is understandable when you think about it; the development team members who worked on Lollipop Chainsaw 15 years ago have now been promoted to project leaders, playing active roles on bigger stages, and as someone who once worked alongside them, I feel very proud of them.

“As for Masahiro Yuki, we still maintain a good relationship: He is currently serving as a producer at the famous mobile online game company. I believe it was last year when we spoke several times about RePOP and the future of Lollipop Chainsaw. He was always something like a repository of wisdom within the team, and as usual, he gave me many proactive and stimulating opinions, and as a matter of fact, opinions he gave me are reflected in RePOP.

“That being said, as mentioned before, the agenda for RePOP was to improve on the user-friendliness and giving the player a more fun experience, that were left lacking in the original version of the game. This meant that we needed detailed development information from the original version, such as how data was handled and special processing related to Unreal Engine 3, which directors and producers would not be able to provide. As such, the help from the engineers who also supported me in the development of the original version was especially indispensable.”

Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP

Were there any story changes or additions in RePOP, or can fans expect the same story from the original game? these creators involved in the production process of RePOP? Were any of these creators involved in or contacted in the process of creating RePOP?

Yasuda: “The script and story are completely unchanged.”

Is Dragami Games looking at RePOP to be a revival of the Lollipop Chainsaw IP—as in, could we see more games in the series going forward?

Yasuda: “The reason I talked about things from 15 years ago is because I have personally started thinking about the future of Lollipop Chainsaw.

“There is nothing that I can share as of yet, but I hope the time will come when I can.”

Before we sign off, is there anything else Yasuda-san would like to say to players looking forward to RePOP?

Yasuda: “I am really happy that we have created an environment where players can play Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP whenever they want. I have created a Lollipop Chainsaw development team within Dragami Games and we will continue to update the game after release. If you have any requests, such as porting the game to other platforms, please let us know. We will do what we can to be proactive!”

If you liked the article, do not forget to share it with your friends. Follow us on Google News too, click on the star and choose us from your favorites.

If you want to read more News articles, you can visit our Game category.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Please allow ads on our site

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker!