Inti Creates Interview: Producer Matt Papa Talks Blaster Master, Gunvolt, & 25th Anniversary - ArticleEvan Norris , posted on 17 March 2021 / 2,080 Views
Inti Creates has been busy over the last 25 years. Formed by 10 developers in Chiba Prefecture in 1996, the Japanese studio spent the majority of its first 15 years helping shepherd the legendary Mega Man franchise. In 2014, it hit a major milestone by releasing its first two self-published games, Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty Gunvolt. Since then the company hasn't looked back, turning out a dozen titles, with at least two more due out in the next two years.
Ahead of the studio's 25th anniversary, Matt Papa, Inti Creates Producer & Localization Director, shared his thoughts about the past, present, and future of the company.
Q: May 8, 2021, will mark the 25th anniversary of Inti Creates. What is the greatest source of pride for the studio over the past 25 years?
Matt Papa (MP): While I'm sure you may get a bunch of different answers depending on who you ask here, for me it absolutely has to be our breakthrough as both an independent developer and publisher. Since the beginning, we have always developed amazing games that would go on to be published by other companies (think the Mega Man Zero games, for example). We still do that in some capacity today, and up until 2014 that was all we did, until we broke the mold by not just developing but self-publishing our flagship Azure Striker Gunvolt series with the release of Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 on Nintendo 3DS.
Game dev at Inti Creates has been a mix of developing our own self-published titles using our own original IPs (Gunvolt, Gal*Gun, Dragon Marked for Death, etc.) and IPs we licensed from other companies (Blaster Master Zero, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon), alongside a mix of contract work we get to create games for other studios ever since.
Q: Inti Creates made a name for itself developing titles for existing franchises, specifically Mega Man. Since 2014 the studio has been publishing more and more homegrown IPs. How is this important to the long term success of the company?
MP: Considering I think the greatest source of pride for the studio is what you just described here, I think it's hugely important to the long term success of the company. While I don't think we will ever stop being a mix of self-publisher and dev-for-hire, being able to create our own games with our own IPs is not just incredibly satisfying; as a studio, it gives you the chance to succeed above and beyond in ways that being a dev-for-hire never could.
Q: I think it's safe to say Azure Striker Gunvolt is your flagship franchise, with two mainline games, several spin-offs, and a sequel on the way in 2022. Can you share sales numbers for the series so far?
MP: While don't have an exact number to give you, I can definitively say that the Azure Striker Gunvolt series has sold close to 1 million units.
Q: Another property that receives a lot of attention from Inti Creates is Blaster Master Zero. The third part of the trilogy arrives this July, promising dimension-hopping gameplay. What can you tell us about the game?
Blaster Master Zero 3 is the final piece of the Jason saga trilogy, which sees Jason, Eve, and Fred returning to where the events of the Blaster Master/Metafight (original Japanese version that had a COMPLETELY different story from the original Blaster Master) all began: the planet Sophia! As you alluded to in the question, inter-dimensional travel and all of the craziness that comes with it will play a big part in the gameplay! It comes out on July 29, 2021, and we're just getting everything off the ground, so stay tuned for more on Blaster Master Zero 3!
Q: Gal*Gun Returns recently launched on PC and Switch, after the Xbox One version was cancelled. A PS4 version was never announced. Can Gal*Gun as a series continue outside of the Sony and Microsoft ecosystems?
MP: I certainly hope so! The Gal*Gun fanbase has been incredibly supportive of the series over the years, and even if the game is available on fewer platforms compared to the previous titles, I believe that as long as we continue to provide fun experiences for the Gal*Gunners of the world, the series will be just fine.
Q: When I think of Inti Creates, I often think of its art direction. So many of the studio's games feature spectacular sprite work, in the style of NES, SNES, or PS1. Just look at this dragon! Tell me more about the art department and how it brings these games to life.
MP: Oh, I will never pass up an opportunity to gush about the crew of talented artists that work here! Since it's not my department, I can gloat as much as I want, hehe. In all seriousness though, I think we have some of the most talented sprite artists and character designers in the entire industry, and there are some of them who have been here since the Mega Man Zero days doing what they do best. We have a really nice balance of young talent and seasoned veterans, so you get this team of people who have a never ending supply of great experiences and new ideas. It's always exciting just working around the office and seeing them put their wizardry to work.
Q: Let's talk about localization, which I believe is near and dear to your heart. What are some of the challenges translating Inti Creates games from Japanese into English? What are some of the opportunities?
MP: As far as localization goes, I think any challenges that could be found in translating our games could be found in localizing other Japanese games, so I'll just speak to that. Overall, my goal with localization is to deliver the same kind of emotions, reactions, and experiences to the English speaking audience that could be found by playing the game in its native Japanese.
If a line is supposed to make you laugh in Japanese, I do everything I can to make you laugh in English. If you're crying in Japanese, I want you crying in English. But, as you may know, Japanese and English share very little similarities as far as languages go, so localization does not mean "translating the exact Japanese word for word" and calling it a day. Sometimes you can do that, but many times, when you have cultural references, expressions, slang, etc., things that really give characters personality in Japanese, they oftentimes just don't have a 1 for 1 translation, so that's your chance to be creative!
I always stay as close to the source material as possible and will never just change things about a character willy-nilly, but for those things that just don't work as-is, it's both the most challenging and most satisfying thing as a localizer when you find a way to make the scene hit in English just right!
Q: For a long time, Inti Creates was one of the stewards of the Mega Man series. The studio has also led the revival of Blaster Master. Is there another established franchise you'd love to work on?
MP: This is definitely another one of those "10 different people here will give you 10 different answers" questions, but if I could be completely selfish and do whatever I wanted, I would love nothing more than to work on a Final Fantasy Tactics game!
Q: Can you tease any upcoming, unannounced projects?
MP: I can't give away too much in the way of specifics, but I will say this much! As we talked about in the beginning, May 8, 2021 marks our company's 25th anniversary, and we have every intention on making our 25th anniversary year something really special! :)
Big thanks go to Matt Papa for taking time to share his thoughts about all things Inti Creates. You can learn more about the studio here.