PlatniumGames has shared a brand new blog post about their upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive ASTRAL CHAIN. The blog post is from Hajime Kimura, ASTRAL CHAIN‘s art director and concept artist. You can take a look below.
Art directors keep watch over a wide range of game elements and get really deeply involved with the development process! ASTRAL CHAIN represents a lot of firsts for me; it’s my first game as an art director, and also my first time working on a completely original title. It’s a huge milestone for me, and I’m excited that it’ll be in stores soon!
When you play ASTRAL CHAIN, you’ll work together with your partner-slash-weapon, the Legion, and pull off all sorts of dual combos to dispatch your enemies!
Each of the five Legions you’ll work with has its own special characteristics that you’ll come to rely on, both in combat and out, as they help you make your way through the world. Legions come in handy during routine police investigations, too! Today I’d like to share a bit of their design process with you.
Oh, but first, I can’t talk about Legion designs without mentioning Masakazu Katsura! You’ve probably read this elsewhere already, but he’s the artist behind beloved manga like Tiger & Bunny and Zetman, and he designed the main characters of ASTRAL CHAIN! I’ve got to admit that when I heard he would be involved with the project, I could hardly believe it! I’ve been a huge fan of Katsura’s heroic designs for a long time, and now I’d get to work with them hands-on!
The first of the Legions I’ll be introducing today – the Sword Legion, the first one you’ll control at the start of ASTRAL CHAIN – was also designed by Katsura. Here’s his original design:
Sword Legion (SV-05)
The Sword Legion has a unique silhouette, a little different from some of the characters that Masakazu Katsura has dreamed up in the past. Look at those flowing lines! It’s a suitably heroic design for an elite living weapon. Someone, please, make this into an action figure, pronto!
This was the first Legion design we had, and it became the base for the designs of the remaining four. Now I’d like to turn back the clock a bit and reflect on those early design stages…
Let’s go back to the beginning. In fact, in the earliest stages of development, there wasn’t anything called a “Legion” at all. Your “partners” were simply enemy chimeras that you captured throughout the game. They might look something like you see here. But then we decided that the main characters needed actual, established partners to seem like part of a heroic police team. Thus the Legions were born.
Here are a few ideas we prepared in-house before we had Katsura design the Legion for us:
These early drawings are pretty rough, but as you can see, we started with a humanoid Legion. This would reinforce the idea that it was the main character’s partner, rather than just a tamed monster or weapon. We had long, hard talks over how far to take it. Should the Legion have eyes? Should you be able to actually talk with it? This was about when we started experimenting with tokusatsu aesthetics, like you might see in Japanese costumed hero TV shows like Ultraman or Kamen Rider.
At this point, the main characters themselves were still in the brainstorming stage. We tried Legion designs that changed based on the player character’s gender. Then we thought of having the Legion take on different “classes” as they leveled up: a stoic paladin if you prioritized defense, a ninja if you focused on speed, and so on.
After that, we received that first Sword Legion design that I showed you from Katsura. We thought the details and parts he’d put on the head and shoulders were particularly cool, so we used those as a reference as we continued to brainstorm non-humanoid Legions as well. You can see some of those ideas in the art above.
If you read animator Marumi Nakajo’s devblog, you can see even more! Some of our ideas included a snakelike Legion that would change shape along with the player’s weapon and a birdlike flying Legion. Personally, I was fond of this tiny, defense-focused Legion idea.
Next, we narrowed down Legion types and refined their designs, taking care not to repeat in-game roles or design elements too much. At last, we had the five Legions that appear in ASTRAL CHAIN!
You can read more in PlatinumGames’ blog, which you can find right here. ASTRAL CHAIN launches on August 30th.