This is an interview with the main staff responsible for Dodonpachi Saidaioujou, including both the arcade and X360 teams. It was published in the artbook that accompanied the limited and “super” limited editions of SDOJ.

Although game developers often must adhere to crazy schedules, this one sounds particularly bad. For those who don’t like SDOJ it will be evidence that the game was “rushed,” while others may see in it one of the last devoted STG developer’s heroic efforts, as Kimura and Koizumi profess.

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Dodonpachi Saidaioujou X360 Developer Interviews

Featured in the artbook that accompanied the Limited
and Special Limited edition of the X360 port.

Nagi Ryou

Illustrator

—The console version was released about a year after the SDOJ hit the arcade. The two versions combined feature six characters–which is your favorite?

Ryou: I like them all, but the three characters from the arcade version, Shuri, Hikari, and Maria, are special to me.

—For the X360 release you’ve added the character Saya. What was your design concept for her?

Ryou: I wanted to do a Gothic Lolita design like in Deathsmiles, so she ended up being a kind of futuristic gothic lolita that would fit into Saidaioujou’s world.

—Please tell us your concept for Saya’s different outfits.

Ryou: Her fighter outfit is cybergoth, her civilian outfit is in the style of an Akihabara idol, and her swimsuit is in the kabocha pants style, which the lead scenario writer urged me to do.

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Saya as “cybergoth”, “Akihabara Idol”, and “Kabocha Pants” swimsuit model.

—The new character Saya’s mode is very story-based. Did you collaborate with the scenario writer for her design? Did the two of you have any disagreements?

Ryou: I did consult with the scenario writer while I worked on Saya. We fielded many draft ideas… should she have knee socks, or boots? Should her clothes be militaristic? We had other crazy ideas too, like making her stuffed animal a plushie of the colonel…

—The limited edition cover art is reminiscent of the Daioujou cover. Was that done on purpose?

Ryou: I was directed to draw something with Saya and Hibachi. I personally feel the main visual image of the series is the pilot dying (oujou), and this was the design that I ended up with.

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Hirano Aya

Saya Voice Actor

—You performed the voice for the new X360 character Saya. Now that the recording is over, please share any thoughts on the experience.

Hirano: I’ve performed characters with two sides to their personality before, but Saya’s true self is very dark and heavy. So it took a lot of power to divorce myself from that and perform her cheerful lines. It was an exhausting recording, in a good way.

—What impression were you left with of Saya?

Hirano: At first glance, she seemed to me to be just a cute girl. But while I performed her lines, I caught a glimpse of her past experiences and found myself wanting to know more about her. I was moved by how after Hibachi dies, Saya had to become stronger in order to protect herself and the people around her.

—If you were the Master, which Element Doll would you want to support you?

Hirano: I’d want someone to help me with my daily duties. You know, cooking, laundry, housework. Though that really doesn’t seem to be what they were created for. (laughs)

—You also did the image song for Saidaioujou. What image did you have in mind when you sang it?

Hirano: My image was of a doll with feelings, something that thought had somehow arisen in despite being inorganic matter. I wanted to depict that moment where she confronts that reality and the feelings of betrayal.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Hirano: It was an honor to do the voice for Saya and the image song. I hope you enjoy the intense world of Dodonpachi!

Shimoda Asami

Operator Voice Actor

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—You performed the voice for the Operator character. Now that the recording is over, please share any thoughts on the experience.

Shimoda: I had performed the Operator’s part for the arcade mode, but this time the number of lines had hugely increase for the console port, so I focused and did my best. She has an important role to play in the story.

—What impression were you left with of the Operator?

Shimoda: She’s an integral part of the story, but I ended up I feeling her personal qualities as a character in her own right. She’s frightful when she’s angry, but she cares about others deeply, and is actually a very nice girl. Throughout the story she grows as a person too, and isn’t limited to simply being the Operator.

—If you were the Master, which Element Doll would you want to support you?

Shimoda: I’d like an easy-going, older, beautiful element doll. One that wouldn’t just take orders, but would occasionally surprise me with its own ideas and have the autonomy to carry those ideas out.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Shimoda: Please enjoy the dynamic and exciting world of Dodonpachi to its fullest in the comfort of your own home! Your Operator will be there to support you!

Aoi Yuuki

Hibachi (Hina) Voice Actor

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—You performed the voice for Hibachi character. Now that the recording is over, please share any thoughts on the experience.

Aoi: With the two modes, it felt like I got to perform two roles! Playing the villain is so fun!

—What impression were you left with of the Hibachi?

Aoi: That she was an adult pretending to be a cruel child!

—If you were the Master, which Element Doll would you want to support you?

Aoi: All the characters are so adorable, I don’t know which to choose.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Aoi: I hope you can make it to the very end, and get to see Hina’s true heart! Thank you everyone!

Zwei

Recorded X360 Mode Ending Song “Heading for Tomorrow”

Megu (Bass)

Hello all Dodonpachi Fans! This is is Zwei. We did the ending song for the game. Dodonpachi is a game I’ve known about since before we took this project… though I have to say it probably falls into the category of games I can’t clear. (laughs) I would always admire its world while I watched someone else play. So when the chance came to write a song for it, we were thrilled! It was our first time working with Yoffy of Psychic Lover, who composed and arranged the song, and I think it came out very cool. Please enjoy it!

Ayumu (Vocals)

They make games like this? This is a game? What the hell is this?!?!

It’s impossible, for me… so I’ll leave it to you all to clear!

When that bright dawn comes and you finally clear the game, please close your eyes and let our song wash over and rejuvenate you! We’ll be waiting for you.

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Zwei poses with Asada and Ikeda at a recent Cave event.

Tsuneki Ikeda

Director

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Ikeda: I was the project leader for the arcade version. As this game is part of the Donpachi series, I was involved in all aspects of the game from the initial planning. My primary work was enemy placement and attacks, and the majority of the midboss attacks. For this game Ichimura handled almost all of the main bosses, so I didn’t do much there, but I was asked to at least do Inbachi, which I also did.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the X360 port of Saidaioujou?

Ikeda: The planning portion for the 360 mode, and the subsequent adjustments we had to make. Designing a game that is both simple yet deep is really quite difficult.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Ikeda: Well, I apologize for talking about internal development matters instead of the game itself, but due to circumstances with our development schedule, this project was plagued with difficulties until the very end. However, with the help of many others at Cave fulfulling a variety of roles, we were able to overcome. In that sense, this is the first Donpachi title that has really “left the nest” and I had to relinquish my control of, so seeing that happen was very moving.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Ikeda: The new ship. Please enjoy its super strength… though it might feel like you’re cheating a bit.

—I assume the X360 hardware offers greatly increased memory over the PCB, but was it easy to port over from a hardware perspective?

Ikeda: It’s been the same with every port we’ve done, but as usual there’s so much more you can do with the X360 than the arcade. It’s a great system.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Ikeda: It was a difficult road to the arcade version, and I want to express my gratitude to those players who are still playing that today. Thank you.

To all those who played or are still playing the arcade version of SDOJ, we’ve added many things to the X360 port which our previous console ports didn’t have, so definitely check it out.

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A Shuri control panel, from a cab at CLUB SEGA in Akihabara.

Takashi Ichimura

Programmer

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Ichimura: I mainly worked on the bosses for the arcade version. I did the st 1, 4, and 5 bosses. For the X360 port, I worked on the system and the menus.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the X360 port of Saidaioujou?

Ichimura: This is the largest of all the games we’ve done at Cave, so fitting all that into memory was difficult.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Ichimura: I felt the pressure of having to make this entry of the Dodonpachi series surpass the previous ones. Even after making the boss attacks they just weren’t matching the image I had in my head… I think they give a strong impression that I was running out of ideas.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Ichimura: The honeycomb attack that from the stage 5 boss. After I saw the designers’ draft sketches, the idea for that attack came to me very quickly. Because of limits with the PCB hardware, I was worried it couldn’t be done, so I’m happy we were able to do it just as I had imagined.

—I assume the X360 hardware offers greatly increased memory over the PCB, but was it easy to port over from a hardware perspective?

Ichimura: If you’re talking about just porting the bare arcade version, then memory is no problem, but converting all the graphics to HD takes roughly 4 times as much space, and it was very difficult to add all that.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Ichimura: For this port we’ve added coins you can get in-game and spend at a shop to buy various things, a team ranking mode where you can team up and compete with people all around the country, and other new ways to play Saidaioujou. Please enjoy trying them all out!

Shinobu Yagawa

Programmer

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Yagawa: For the arcade version, I worked on the overall game flow and constructed the basic file system for the game. For the X360 port I also handled the replay and restart functionalities, as well as the challenges, novice mode, and option screen.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the X360 port of Saidaioujou?

Yagawa: Fixing bugs with the replays.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Yagawa: It’s way too hard.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Yagawa: The high speed and skip functions during replays. Also, the auto-pilot 2P feature.

—I assume the X360 hardware offers greatly increased memory over the PCB, but was it easy to port over from a hardware perspective?

Yagawa: I wouldn’t say it was easy, but nothing was too difficult.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Yagawa: …are you kidding me? This is insane!

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Element Doll Maria brought to life.

Hiroyuki Tanaka

Designer

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Tanaka: For the arcade, I did backgrounds, the player ship, and some of the enmies. For the port I worked on character illustrations, and all the graphics other than Hibachi’s new movements.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the X360 port of Saidaioujou?

Tanaka: Deciding what new modes or features we would add.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Tanaka: Heresy.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Tanaka: The wallpapers (I kind of went overboard).

—The design for Saidaioujou has a different flavor from the previous games in the series, but what were some of the concepts and ideas that led you to this design?

Tanaka: Cyber, COOL, stylish, something different than before.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Tanaka: I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

NARICO

Designer

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

NARICO: I worked on the world of the new X360 mode, including its story and character backgrounds.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the X360 port of Saidaioujou?

NARICO: Everything! … but in particular, adding story to stage 5 was difficult work. I wrote the dialogue while playing through the stage, to get a feel for how much there should be, but it didn’t fit at all and I agonized over how to fix it. I felt like adding dialogue to a shmup was going to be a gruesome battle, but thanks to the work of everyone in the development we made it. I’m very grateful for their strength.

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NARICO’s monumental
contribution to Saidaioujou.

—How did you come up with the idea for the new character and her outfits?

NARICO: For the new character, I was first directed to be mindful to create a character that wouldn’t clash with the existing 3 characters, in terms of color or personality. Nagi Ryo did a great job with the backstories of the 3 characters from the arcade version, so I was careful not to trample on that. After I came up with the basic idea, I consulted with Nagi Ryo and we exchanged our ideas about what we thought was cool or cute, and worked it all into its final form. Nagi Ryo is a very understanding person and he really saved me.

We wanted to show her youth and innocence, so we talked about adding a stuffed animal, and came up with the teddy bear and bunny. I was asked to give Saya a gothic lolita image, but looking at the first drafts I thought “This is a little dark…” I’m sure Nagi Ryo wants to hit me after seeing what I’ve done.

By the way, the plaid suit for her civilian outfit… that was one of the producer’s fetishes. (laughs) As for the kabocha pants swimsuit… sorry, I’m a kabocha pants lover!

—Of all the things you worked on in SDOJ, what is your favorite?

NARICO: The result and ending screens. In these screens there is no background that needs to be narrated. So for that reasons the art Nagi Ryo drew for those screens is very meaningful. All those interstage scenes are memorable to me, but the ones that really fulfilled my expectations are the three images that come after the ending theme song. I really want people to see these… what will everyone think of them, I wonder?

I really want people to enjoy the world of the new X360 mode that Nagi Ryo and I created together.

—What were the some of the themes of the new X360 mode?

NARICO: The element dolls were created to assist humanity. But while Saya recognizes humanity as a friend, Hina recognizes humanity as the enemy. Each have their reasons for that, and perhaps both are correct.

Both humanity and the artificial, mechanical beings are motivated by that idea in their own way. And to each there is something right, and also something evil.

Saya and Hina may simply be caught in between these forces, but each of them believes in themselves and wants to protect those important to them. That was the main theme: two pure hearts that come into conflict with each other.

—What kind of character is Saya to you?

NARICO: Her terribly clumsy body is somehow a point of comfort for her. She had someone she loved, and she lost that person, and now she must take up arms against them. I feel like she’s kind of nervous and jittery when it comes to expressing her personal feelings and relating to others. Since she’s a doll, she was of course a blank slate at the time of her creation, and yet I noticed one day she resembles someone… (laughs) Could it be the Colonel?

—What do you think the main attraction of this story is?

NARICO: The evolving relationships between Saya, Hina, and the Operator. It doesn’t become very clear until stage 5, so it takes awhile, but I hope players do their best and reach the ending.

—Please share any final words with the players.

NARICO: Our premise when making the X360 mode was to make something that could be enjoyed by both STG lovers and those who might be interested but have never played a game like this before. I know everyone will have a different opinion about it, but I hope people will enjoy the world of the new X360 mode.

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Some of Ryou’s sketches for SDOJ.

Takumi Yamamoto

Playtester

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Yamamoto: I did a lot of playtesting for the arcade version, and helped out (and interfered) with various aspects of the development. My main work was adjusting the slowdown, tuning the challenge mode, and adjusting the difficulty balance of the two new X360 modes.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the X360 port of Saidaioujou?

Yamamoto: Balancing the two new X360 modes. It wasn’t diffcult work per se, but I really felt the pressure. We had so many pre-orders for Saidaioujou, I just knew I couldn’t do a sloppy job with it.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Yamamoto: I think we reproduced the arcade version’s slowdown very well. The gameplay in Saidaioujou is simple, so compared with other titles it was easy to hone in on the sections with slowdown and fine-tune them.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Yamamoto: Dedicated players told us that scoring in the arcade mode was completely imbalanced. Is it ok for me to say this? (sweat) Like me, many were unsatisfied with the scoring in the arcade version, and they certainly let us know. For those who were disappointed with the original, I’d like them to try the 1.5 version on this port.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Yamamoto: This port features new ideas we’ve never done before in a Cave STG title, so for those who played the arcade version and those who never did, I hope you enjoy it.

Makoto Asada

Producer

—You said that Mushihimesama HD would be the last Cave release for X360. Please tell us what led up to the decision to port Saidaioujou.

Asada: When Mushihimesama HD was released for X360, it marked the 4 year anniversary of my joining Cave. We had planned for Mushihimesama to be our last release. But after we released it and were thinking of what to do next, we were approached by Microsoft and they asked us to port Saidaioujou to the 360 as well.

I was settled on having Mushihimesama be our last X360 release, so I struggled on how to respond to their request. But it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and if we were going to have a true final release, I thought it might be more satisfying to challenge ourself in this way. (laughs) So after that I retracted our statement about Mushihimesame being the last and announced the Saidaioujou release in August. I think that about sums up the timeline? As for the initial suggestion… it probably came from my weekly drinking sessions with the representative from Microsoft. (bitter laugh)

—The new X360 mode is different from your previous modes in that it progresses according to a story. What made you decide to add a story like this?

Asada: We had never made a STG at Cave which focused on story. As we talked it over we thought it would be fun to try, so we decided to give it a shot.

—Please share your thoughts on the story.

Asada: The core of the dialogue takes place in-game, and we focused on making it easy to understand. For this first experiment in storytelling the writers had many limitations… I think it was very difficult for them.

—Which characters in the new X360 mode left an impression on you?

Asada: Personally, I found the Operator very memorable. I was moved by the way her attitude evolves through the story.

—What were some of the difficulties with the Saidaioujou development?

Asada: The schedule, for sure. The development wasn’t started until August 2012, and the release was planned for May of the following year, so we had roughly half a year to complete it. As this was going to be the last Cave shooting title I was involved with, I wanted to add all kinds of different features, and working that into the limitations of the schedule was very taxing.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Asada: We were able to realize many new features for this title. I’m hoping everyone will be able to enjoy the new gameplay!

—Finally, looking back on all you’ve done at Cave, please share your thoughts.

Asada: Starting 4 years ago, Cave began to release many of our titles on X360. That we were able to release over 10 titles for the X360 is all thanks to the attention of our fans. I’m very happy that Saidaioujou is going to be our final release.

The truth is, I’ve known this time was coming for awhile. After the X360 release of Mushihimesame, I had decided to leave Cave. But when it was suddenly decided to port Saidaioujou, my time at Cave was extended. With the succesful release of Saidaioujou, I think my duty at Cave has been fulfilled.

In the not-too-distant future… that is to say, probably rather soon (laughs), in a different form we’ll probably meet again. It has been quite a journey–thank you very much.

Koizumi Daisuke

Programmer

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—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Koizumi: I handled the programming for Saidaioujou. I worked on the balance for the entire game system. I’m very grateful to Ikeda, Saito, and Kimura for the opportunity to work on this game.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the arcade version of Saidaioujou?

Koizumi: Saidaioujou was going to be a “Daioujou for 2012”, and I wanted to find the best way to do that and please Cave’s fans. I also wanted to release a game which would be properly balanced in terms of difficulty, which players were really asking for. To achieve these goals took a lot of cooperation from many people, a budget, and much assistance… without which the game could not have been created. Yamane who helped playtest and adjust the difficulty, Fujioka who did the Akai Katana Shin port… this game’s development was kept aloft by so many people.

When we were told the project was going to be cancelled, there were many unhappy people who just couldn’t accept that and stayed late every day to continue working on it in whatever capacity they could, and it’s thanks to their passion that Saidaioujou has been released today. Cave is a STG company–so many people here felt strongly about that and we owe the game to their struggle. I want people to know that.

The thing I labored over personally was the game balance, but I want to say again that it was only because of the help of everyone here that I was able to do it. I’m sincerely grateful to Ikeda, Saito, Kimura, Yagawa, Wakabayashi, Tanaka, Ishigai, Nomura, and everyone involved in Saidaoujou.

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A comic that jokes about Shotia.

—Of the three ships, which character do you personally play as and why?

Koizumi: I used Maria as my base when adjusting the difficulty, so she’s the one I’ve spent the most time with. For Shuri we *actually* strengthened the power of her shot, so no more “koshoutia”! 1 And Hikari’s quickness is great too, right? We read over all the questionnaires we recieved from the location tests, and made detailed adjustments based on what players wrote, like making the laser come out more quickly when you go from holding C to pressing A.

I think each of the three ships have there advantages and drawbacks, and you can experience the simple STG pleasure of dodging attacks and destroying enemies with each of them. I hope players can enjoy the various difficulties, including expert, and aim for the highest rank with every ship. As for me… I can’t pick just one. I love them all.

—Have you played Saidaioujou at the game center?

Koizumi: When I saw people playing it, not only was I very happy, but when I heard the first stage song I actually shed some tears. Much like Daioujou, I hope that people can enjoy Saidaioujou will be a game people can enjoy for many years to come.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Koizumi: I added to it all I knew and loved from my experiences playing Cave STGs. I’m really grateful to have been given the opportunity to do so.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Koizumi: Probably the hidden boss. Her voice is an homage to the series and is meant to show fans we haven’t forgotten the past. “Heiki da mo~n! Guha~!” I really like those lines. I listened to that voice all day before selecting it, and I think it came off perfect.

—Wasn’t it hard designing Saidaioujou within the memory limitations of the PCB?

Koizumi: Actually, for stage 5 I had wanted to make one really long enemy character that would take up the whole stage, but there was a size limit on images and it turned out to be too difficult. The stage 4 boss was supposed to be an homage to the Nensou weapons summoned by the bosses in Akai Katana, but here too we had size limitations and had to use an effect to “cheat.” That was very hard to do. We had to do other tricks too. When we designed the first stage it was too short, so that the stage one boss didn’t have enough time to load into memory, so we had to lengthen the stage, making for a more relaxed gameplay experience overall.

I had to do such tricks with Dodonpachi Maximum as well, so check that out too if you have the chance.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Koizumi: It truly took the cooperation of many to bring Saidaioujou into the world. Dodonpach is a legendary STG. We did our utmost to add everything interesting from it to this game. As we offer it up to all STG fans, I’d like to share these words: “shinu ga yoi.” Enjoy!

Akira Wakabayashi

Designer

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Wakabayashi: I’m a graphic designer, and I worked on the enemy character designs, the setting, and the title font/lettering.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the arcade version of Saidaioujou?

Wakabayashi: Figuring out the world.

—Have you played Saidaioujou at the game center?

Wakabayashi: I haven’t, it’s too intense for me.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Wakabayashi: It gave me saidai-difficulties.2

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Wakabayashi: I like how little Hachi-ko3 turned out. I also think Nagi Ryo’s character designs are awesome.

—The design for Saidaioujou has a different flavor from the previous games in the series, but what were some of the concepts and ideas that led you to this design?

Wakabayashi: Despite being Donpachi, we wanted it to have a novel, stylish and cooooool image.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Wakabayashi: Thank you for being here and enjoying my work at Cave. It’s been 7 years!

Hiroyuki Kimura

Project Manager

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Hiroyuki Kimura broods
beside a calendar.

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Kimura: I work as a director at Cave, and for Saidaioujou I was project manager along with Saito. We acted as support for Ikeda and performed general quality control.

Just saying “quality control” doesn’t explain much though… to be specific, whenever a error or problem would come up, I’d help fix it. So I did all sorts of things. Scheduling, deciding the direction of the graphics work, coming up with ideas, character dialogue… a variety. I also helped with the timing for the dialogue and where to place it in-stage, the how-to-play section of the game manual, the actual packaging of the game, the structure of the promotional video, and I snuck into the location tests and events to report on player’s reactions…

—What was the hardest part of the development for the arcade version of Saidaioujou?

Kimura: Difficulties? There’s too many to list…

But the hardest would definitely be the scheduling and release date. I joined the development in the latter half of the project, and at that time we were still trying find a way to recover from management’s order to halt development. Everyday we’d ask Ikeda and Saito what was up, and day after day they could only give non-commital answers. When finally it was announced we’d resume development, it turned out we didn’t have enough time, and the team members were put upon with ridiculously unreasonable requests…

With literally less than a week before the location test, all the coloring for the bosses needed to be updated and we had to make the take-off scene after you select your character. The color balance and the imagery was complete trial and error.

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This was posted by Kimura on Cave’s
blog. It depicts the reactions of Kimura,
Saito, and another when Ikeda tells them,
“how shall we break the news to the
others that development is suspended?”

We titled the game “Saidaioujou”, but the crown of Daioujou is a difficult one to live up to. So adding new ideas while also retaining that Daioujou-ness was tough. The resolution of the screen itself hadn’t changed, so we couldn’t add the high level of detail we wanted. Under such conditions it’s difficult to make something high quality. Honestly, I think it’s only because we’re blessed with such talented team members that it came out well.

By the way, the hyper option was something we revised at the very last minute. Originally it wasn’t a number that trailed your ship–it was the same system from Daioujou where the hypers individually form a tail at the end of your ship. The problem was that if you were at the bottom of the screen, you couldn’t tell how many hypers you had stocked. So we decided to change it to the number display you see today, but Ikeda and I were kind of iffy about doing that, and it only got added at the very last minute.

—Of the three ships, which character do you personally play as and why?

Kimura: I use Shuri, shot-style. I’m not very good at STGs, and so I tend to make big movements to dodge the bullets. Type A has high speed so she’s good for those situations.

—Have you played Saidaioujou at the game center?

Kimura: Yeah, naturally I have. But I didn’t want to disturb everyone playing it during prime-time, so I would come late at night and find a little corner where no one was and play that way. It sure was empty, but to be honest those were some of my happiest times with the game. When I sat down to play it, I remember having a very strange sensation. I had played it before many times while debugging and testing, but only then did it really sink in: “Man, I worked on the Dodonpachi series.” The development itself was so busy that I had no time for such feelings then, but once things had calmed down my perception of the game changed, and I felt astonished that I had been involved in this. It was something I never would have dreamed of as a student. Of course, even being at Cave is something I couldn’t have fathomed..

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Kimura: At the very beginning of the development, the team members all had their own ideas about what should be in the game. But by the time I joined, the development was restarted under the concept “Daioujou for 2012.” I felt like I wanted to make a game that would call out to those who played Daioujou 10 years ago at the game center: come back! It’s time to experience those thrills once again! So I think making a game with that idea was something of an experiment and a first for Cave.

Despite that, when we presented the “Daioujou for 2012” idea to Ikeda, he argued with us about it… more than once. He’s a person who always wants to be challenging himself with something new and creative so I definitely understood how he felt. Daioujou is a beloved game in its own right, and so I worked hard to convince Ikeda that Saidaioujou would have its own distinct appeal.

In the end the project took shape and was well received, but until it finally went into arcades we were secretly afraid and anxious. For everyone who supported us and Saidaioujou, I really can’t say enough how grateful I am.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Kimura: When the stage 1 boss Suzaku appears.4 Also, the scene when Kouryuu, the stage 5 boss, gets unmoored and starts to fly.

As everyone knows by now, we wanted the beginning and ending scenes to recall Daioujou. When players at the location test first saw the scene with Suzaku flying in they cheered, and I was really glad we had done that. And I think that for those who know Daioujou, the scene where Kouryuu starts flying is an intense moment. I know it is when I play. It’s quite a hurdle to reach that point, but it’s something I definitely want players to see.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Kimura: If you’re reading this, it means the X360 version of Saidaioujou made it safely to release. So I’d first like to thank everyone who bought it.

When we were developing the arcade version, I had no idea we’d be porting it to the X360 so soon. I was surprised, but it did mean that anyone can now play Saidaioujou in the comfort of their own home, after all. You can get solid practice in at home and then come to the game center and show off your skills! That would make me happy to see. Whether at home or in public, please enjoy Saidaoujou. Thank you!

Hideki Nomura

Designer

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—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Nomura: I’ve been a designer Cave STG development team for quite awhile. But this is only the second Dodonpachi title I’ve worked on after Daifukkatsu. My main work was on the interface and fine-tuning the player shot. I also helped on the ending. I did the modeling for the st5 boss Kouryuu and some of the zako enemies, as well as animation and effects.

—What was the hardest part of the development for the arcade version of Saidaioujou?

Nomura: We had too little time and too much we wanted to add. We had to get everything right the first time, with no room for retakes.

—Of the three ships, which character do you personally play as and why?

Nomura: A-type. I like characters with glasses and the A-type ship design is very stylish, so it’s my favorite.

—Have you played Saidaioujou at the game center?

Nomura: Now that you mention it… no.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Nomura: It’s pretty and has a glossy sheen for a Dodonpachi game… it has some quality that’s different from the “blood, sweat and tears” feel of the previous games, I think.

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Nomura: Regarding the interface, just before I worked on this project I had been involved with the iOS Dodonpachi Maximum development. So I felt like I had a good handle on how to convey that cyber look. I think we succeeded in conveying a different kind of “cyber” style in Saidaioujou.

Also, for the st5 boss Kouryuu, I used one of Wakabayashi’s design sketches for inspiration, and I had fun adding in my own parts and gimmicks that are in a style we haven’t been seen in Dodonpachi before.

Since our time was so limited there was only so much I could do, but I designed many parts for the bosses which players will never see. I’d like see them converted into a model kit (my dream) someday. I also remember being asked to do some coloring for Kouryuu in silver color that gave me a lot of trouble…

And the attack where Kouryuu’s tail extends… that was requested by 1MR (Ichimura) as an homage to Dodonpachi.

—The design for Saidaioujou has a different flavor from the previous games in the series, but what were some of the concepts and ideas that led you to this design?

Nomura: We were simply asked to make it “cyber,” but I got the sense that they didn’t want a normal futuristic cyber style, but more like a “future magical shoujou world!” kind of thing. When I said this to Ikeda he replied “That’s it!”

Regarding the interface, I used recent sci-fi robot anime for inspiration–clear reflective surfaces, LCD panels, things like that. With Wakabayshi’s help we added the “kanji”-esque characters to the character select scene, which added a nice accent.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Nomura: I think it’s a game that’s both visually appealing and fun to play. Please enjoy this new take on the Dodonpachi world.

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Ikeda, Kimura, and another employee celebrate New Year’s at Cave.

Masahiro Saito

Project Manager

—What was your main role in Saidaioujou?

Saito: Scheduling and documentation, debugging, website management, and other miscellaneous duties. I also handled the preparation and procurement of the PCB hardware.

—What was the hardest part of the development for arcade version of Saidaioujou?

Saito: There’s too much to write, so I won’t. (laughs)

—Of the three ships, which character do you personally play as and why?

Saito: Shuri, shot-style. She’s the ship I used the most during debugging.

—Have you played Saidaioujou at the game center?

Saito: I have slipped in to play it. If I focus, I can make it to right before the st2 midboss before getting shut down.

—Compared with the other games in the Dodonpachi series, how do you feel about Saidaioujou?

Saito: It does a good job balancing the old and the new, and is worthy to be called “Daioujou for 2012.”

—Are there any parts of the game you worked on that came off really well, just as you had expected or better?

Saito: I’m proud of the way we were able to build excitement for the game by meting out information about it one bit at a time.

—Please share any final words with the players.

Saito: Everyone who’s worked on this project has really poured their heart and soul into it. I hope as many people as possible get a chance to play it.