Bloody Roar 3 – 2001 Developer Interview
This interview with Hudson director Kenji Fukuya covers the making of the 2000 arcade & PlayStation 2 game Bloody Roar 3, the critical and commercial apex of Hudson & Raizing’s flashy and outlandish series of 3D fighting games centered around the unique gimmick of “beastorization”, with a particular focus on the developers’ efforts to refine the series’ unique traits while straddling the lines of depth and accessibility.
Kenji Fukuya – Design Director
The Idea behind the third Bloody Roar game
From the first game, the Bloody Roar series has always placed an emphasis on tactics, where every moment gets your heart racing, and that remained our goal for Bloody Roar 3. Our focus for this game was on making the accessible elements even more accessible and streamlining the more complex systems so that they’re easier to understand. As strange as it may seem, we even went so far as to consider getting rid of the guard button. (laughs)
This time around, because we’ve switched to the PlayStation 2 hardware, we’re able to add a lot more to the game, but if we keep piling on idea after idea then the game becomes a mess and something super-niche that only experienced players can enjoy.
Fighting games tend to become more core-focused with every entry, but I don’t think that’s the best way to reach a broad audience, and so I’ve worked to avoid falling into that same trap. The goal with this game was to create something that was easy to play, but not simple.
The previous games featured the Block Evade (Guard Escape) system, but having both the timed escape command and the axis shift as part of the same action was detrimental to the game balance, so for this game, we examined the evasive maneuver and the z-axis movement separately: the last-minute evasion was helpful for avoiding certain moves, and the side-step was useful for avoiding getting cornered against a wall, and alternately, for advancing upon the opponent.
We broke down and reconstructed all the game’s systems and techniques in this manner, not just Block Evade, with the idea of clarifying the purpose of each specific action and allowing players to immediately identify which action to take in any given circumstance.
For example, the Fast Evade (Girigiri Escape) lets you avoid everything except throws and immediately counterattack—the input window is very tight, but it’s the sort of move that’ll spring to mind when the player’s in a tough spot, and if they’re confident they can pull it off, they’ll immediately try it out. I wanted to make a game where the player’s able to quickly and deliberately make a tactical decision, and that type of thinking also extends to guard attacks, ukemi and all other aspects of Bloody Roar.
Our aim from the first game has been to create something where the player can freely make decisions as they play, and with this game I feel like we’re getting close to that ideal fighting game we envisioned from the beginning. To put it another way, we want players to feel as if they’re projecting their alter-ego onto the screen. (laughs)
Broadening the utility of Beastorization
We’ve also added more decision-making to the act of beastorizing. In the last game, the only benefit to the Beast Drives (super attacks) was raw damage, and then you’d reset to human form, but in this game, reverting to human form after landing a Beast Drive will restore some of your red life, so it has a very different utility. Additionally, when you’re low on health in your human form, your Beast Gauge fills much quicker—in this state, Stun can build a full meter off his 3-throw combo. Being near-death is dangerous, but it also offers a chance to turn the tables, and I think we came up with a great system that makes beastorizing more of a tactical tool.
Speaking of tactics, there’s also Hyper Beast1 mode: when’s the correct time to go into hyper? Should you stick it out with the regular beast form? Making those reads is part of the fun, I think. Truthfully, one of my goals was to offer an ultimate power-up, one that’d let even novice players clutch out a win against more skilled players every now and again—if they’re not able to enjoy themselves, they won’t stick around.
Upgrading the returning characters
For the returning characters, we wanted to expand upon the play styles we’d established with the last game. Yugo was made into more of a boxer, and the version you see now is the result of us trying to make him a little cooler design-wise. Alice fills the all-rounder role, and Bakuryu utilizes more ninjutsu—Bloody Roar lacked a projectile character, right? Not that Bakuryu has projectiles, but he fits that archetype.
Busuzima’s beast form was buffed, and we reinforced Gado’s image as a brute-force character. Thanks to the air combo system, Jenny’s gone from strength to strength. (laughs) She had a reputation for being a little chintzy in the last game so she was completely overhauled this time… we might have made her a bit too strong.
Long has the new Tiger Six-Level Combo Ring (Rokugo Korin Shiki), which was inspired by the keyword “New Rokugo”.2 Shenlong has an edgier image and a significant number of new moves that would be completely out of character for Long. Stun’s been properly established as a grappler, and Uriko’s what you might call a character for advanced players. (laughs)
New and Hidden Characters
The new character Xion was included due to our desire to give Yugo a rival, someone with an anti-hero image. He has a powerful beast form with a long reach and a lot of tricky movement options, and so his human form is a little restrained in response.
As for the hidden characters: Kohryu’s here, just as I promised. His true identity is that one character from the first game, and having him reappear in a mecha-style form seemed to me like a natural direction to take.3 He has attacks like his missile barrage that are very impactful, especially if you’re not aware of them beforehand.
Uranus is a character for those who want to work out their frustrations (laughs). For people who aren’t especially familiar with fighting games, I think this type of visceral, immediately fun character is crucial. Some players have said that playing as Uranus gave them a new window into the appeal of Bloody Roar.
Expectations for the future
I don’t know what the future holds, but there’s a lot I’d still like to do. I’d like to add a lot of new characters, of course, like my much-requested elephant beastorizer, and a buffalo beastorizer (laughs). I’d also like to further pursue the Hyper Beast system—in BR3, the enhancements it brings are universal across the roster, but I’d like to offer a more dramatic change with specialized abilities for each character; ideally, the character model itself could change as well. Anyway, please hold on tight… I’ll make it happen, I swear. (laughs)
In our last interview, I said I wanted to make at least three Bloody Roar games, but now I want to go on making Bloody Roar games forever. There’s no end to the evolution of Bloody Roar!!
Bloody Roar 3 – 2000 Developer Interview
originally featured on the Japanese Bloody Roar website
This interview was conducted in response to the results of a fan survey asking for new beastorizer ideas, the results of which were as follows:
Top 10 most-suggested beastorizers, in order of popularity: Dragon (western/eastern), Bird (hawk/eagle/falcon), Four Symbols (dragon+phoenix+tiger+tortoise), Penguin, Kitsune, Bear/Polar Bear/Grizzly Bear, Elephant/Mammoth, Kangaroo, Dinosaur/T-Rex, Snake (python, anaconda, cobra)
Other suggestions: shark, turtle, moa, crocodile, rhinoceros, pig, mouse, lizard, stoat, carnivorous plant, eel, panda, scorpion, Asura, chicken/gamefowl, hamster, hedgehog, goat, frog, Inugami, hercules/stag beetle fusion (“Crimson Insect”), octopus/giant squid/kraken, gorilla, mongoose, bee, coyote, sea lion, hyena, Kirin, Angel, mantis, wild boar, mosquito, crab, flies, dugong, cheetah, Oni, iguana, shrimp/crayfish, black panther, orangutan, Kappa, sheep, Garuda / Tengu, armadillo, flying squirrel, finch, bison/buffalo, mantis shrimp, golden lion tamarin, dog, Cerberus, Japanese wolf, monkey, lemur, Griffin, skunk, koala, Zombie, archerfish, cat, Human, powered suit/exoskeleton, antelope, centipede, Tanuki, butterfly/moth, grasshopper, devil stinger, jellyfish, basilisk, spider, Fairy, Fenrir, dolphin/whale, weasel, Medusa, Minotaur, “were-chimera (based on Uriko’s boss form from the original Bloody Roar), frill-necked lizard, centaur, artificial beast, sunfish, crow, Deep One, axolotl, owl, wolverine, peacock, silkworm, Lamia, vampire squid, ant, Anubis, clione, Tsuchinoko, Chupacabra, horse/zebra, cockroach, unicord, sabre-toothed tiger, ryukyu kingfisher, ostrich, anomalocaris, jackal, Phoenix, Devil, gecko, Sphinx, sloth, Mermaid, sea otter, Nightmare (Muma/Incubus)
—First of all, could you say a few words about the results of the beastorizer survey?
Fukuya: Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised by how many submissions we received. It’s nice to know there are so many passionate Bloody Roar fans out there, but with that comes a certain kind of pressure.
—Would you like to address the feasibility of the submissions that were tallied to be most popular?
Fukuya: No problem. Should we start from the top and go down?
—Sure. First off is “dragon”.
Fukuya: A dragon beastorizer is a no-brainer, and honestly, I’ve had dragons in mind since the very first game… in fact, Caramel Mama,4 who collaborates with us on the game concepts, even produced some illustrations to explore the idea. That said—and you can perhaps attribute this in part to our own lack of skill as developers—there’s a concern that a dragon might inevitably overwhelm the game, both in terms of strength as well as overall presence, so we haven’t yet been able to make it happen. The dragon is the one beastorizer the team has their eye on.
—Next up, “birds”.
Fukuya: There’s a lot of talk among the developers about the potential of another character that specializes in aerial combat, building on the foundation laid with Jenny, and I think expanding the game more in that direction would help further set us apart from other 3D fighting games.
—There was a lot of buzz around the idea of a “Four Symbols” character.
Fukuya: Of the Four Symbols, we just covered the Suzaku (phoenix) and Seiryuu (dragon), and the game already has two Byakko (tigers)… which just leaves Genbu (tortoise), which would take a bit of thought, but is something I’m personally very interested in pursuing. There might be some debate about whether the end result would qualify as a genuine Four Symbols representative, but if we can find a way to make it happen without too much overlap with the existing roster, I’d like to give it a shot.
—How about a “penguin”?
Fukuya: It’s certainly a novel idea. (laughs) The other beastorizers grow larger when they transform, so I’d be curious to see how making one smaller might work out. Naturally, it’d also excel at underwater combat, but then the conversation has to shift to the nature of the stage designs, and that’s when I start to sweat…
—Do you see any potential in any of the remaining front-runners?
Fukuya: “Bear” and “kangaroo” sound fun, but there might be some overlap with a certain other fighting game… (laughs)
There were many suggestions for “kitsune”, including plenty of requests to bring back Fox,5 and on the topic of resurrecting old characters, while I can’t be sure it’ll happen with the very next game, some sort of special one-off with all the previous characters is something else we’ve thought about.
Some of the devs have really been pushing for “sharks” and “snakes”, and everyone knows I’ve been pushing for “elephant”, so the situation’s quite chaotic as it is. (laughs)
—In that case, fans shouldn’t necessarily expect the roster of the next game to reflect the results of this tally?
Fukuya: I want to honor peoples’ suggestions wherever possible, and the results of this survey will be one factor that affects the character selection process for the next game. That said, our selections will be made with overall game balance as a priority, in accordance with the game system and existing worldview.
—How far along is the next game?
Fukuya: We don’t know when it’ll be out or for which platform, but we’re currently in the process of reviewing the last game and solidifying our ideas for the new one.
—In what ways do you intend to advance the new game over BR3?
Fukuya: I’d like to keep expanding on the Hyper Beast system and build it into a fully-fledged third-form transformation, where going hyper would add more pronounced visual and system-side changes to the character. I’d also like to offer more elaborate stage production—to give one example, we modeled a whole lower stage section for 3’s skyscraper stage that, for various reasons, couldn’t be implemented. In that sense, there might be plenty left to salvage from BR3. (laughs) In any case, we want to power up the game in all aspects while keeping the core “pushing the limits of 1v1” concept intact.
—Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Fukuya: Thanks to everyone for offering such constructive feedback to this poll; as a developer, it’s touching to read so many heartfelt opinions. We intend to keep improving the characters, game system and other elements in lockstep with the needs of our players, so we appreciate your continued support.
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A powered-up state that can be activated once per match by pressing the beastorize button with a full beast gauge; this state last for twelve seconds and confers unlimited Beast Drives, increased damage and faster recovery time.↩
The Combo Ring, possessed by Long and derivative characters Shenlong and Uriko, is a specific sequence of six moves that can be chained together either forwards or backwards starting from any move, with unique enders that can only be performed as part of the combo ring. From BR3 onwards, Long exclusively possesses two combo rings, with the Tiger ring mentioned here only being available while beastorized.↩
Kohryu is a mechanized interpretation of the first-generation Bakuryu from the original Bloody Roar; Fukuya offhandedly mentioned wanting to resurrect the original Bakuryu in mechanized form in the V-Jump strategy guide for Bloody Roar 2.↩
An editorial production company that collaborated with Raizing and Hudson on the first three Bloody Roar games, with Naochika Morishita contributing key illustrations and Osamu Kagoshima contributing to the games’ plot.↩
A character that appeared only in the first game, whose moveset was largely subsumed by newcomer Jenny in Bloody Roar 2. Curiously, Bloody Roar’s characters are typically titled with both their name and their beast form, but Fox is typically referred to as simply Fox, despite having the plainly stated canonical name of Hans.↩