Big Questions Answered In Our Granblue Fantasy Versus Interview With Yuito Kimura & Tetsuya Fukuhara

Yuito Kimura (left) and Tetsuya Fukuhara (right)

Granblue Fantasy is a fantasy themed RPG developed by Cygames for iOS, Android, and web browsers. Released in 2014, the game has been an enduring success in the crowded Japanese mobile game market because of its excellent art design, quality story telling, and similarities to earlier Final Fantasy titles. Cygames has partnered with Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, Blazblue) to create Granblue Fantasy Versus, a 2D fighting game featuring striking 3D visuals and gameplay that caters to both hardcore and casual fighting game fans.

Granblue Fantasy Versus will be the first Granblue Fantasy game released in North America. Other Granblue Fantasy properties include Granblue Fantasy The Animation and Granblue Fantasy: Relink, an upcoming action RPG set for release on the PlayStation 4. 

CFG had the opportunity to speak with Cygames executive director Yuito Kimura and Granblue Fantasy creative director Tetsuya Fukuhara during Anime Expo 2019. 


Interviewed by William Hong
Assisted by Michael Spadafore, Max Ringgenberg, and Davies Green
Translated Dai Omori
Transcribed by Davies Green


Why did you decide to work with ArcSys to create a 2D fighting game?

Kimura: When we started kicking off Granblue Fantasy Versus, we wanted to have it 2D and with stunning visuals. Everybody knows that Arc really does a great job in both fields. That was the main reason we wanted to team up with Arc.


Is there a specific ArcSys game that you’ve played that inspired you to create this fighting game?

Kimura: There wasn’t really one specific title, but apparently we had played Guilty Gear, BlazBlue. Those kinds of feel that was implemented in those games would probably work really good with Granblue Fantasy.


Besides a fighting games and RPGs, are there are any other genre you’d like to see Granblue Fantasy being in?

Kimura: Aside from the mobile RPG and the fighting game, we also have Relink, which is an action RPG. We have further plans, but at this point our focus is not into expanding, but focusing on putting the best effort into the games that are already on the plate.


What are the chances for an English app store release of Granblue Fantasy?

Kimura: Granblue Fantasy Versus is going to be the first official title to be released overseas. That will build up the reputation of the IP. We’ll be in the second season of the animation which is planned to be broadcast overseas as well. The animation and Granblue Fantasy Versus will contribute to building up the reputation of the IP overseas. Aligned with that, the chances to have an official release of Granblue Fantasy in the app store…we will see what will happens with the other two first.


So it depends on the success of the fighting game and anime?

Fukuhara : We just want establish the foundation of the IP first.


So will the game’s story be within its own realm or will it share the continuity of the Granblue Fantasy app?

Fukuhara : Since it’s sharing the same lore and the same characters, the story starts from some point in the main story of Granblue Fantasy. Zero knowledge is required to actually enjoy the story. It’s going to be more like an “if” story, that starts from some point in the main storyline of Granblue Fantasy.


So each character will have their own different endings?

Fukuhara : It’s not that each of the characters are going to have their own ending, but it’s going to be one main story. All of the playable characters will appear in the story and each will play a role in it. That was one thing that we considered. The lore of Granblue Fantasy makes it kind of hard to make individual endings that make sense and doesn’t conflict with anything that was mentioned in the main story of Versus.


Are there any plans for DLC?

Kimura: Yes, we are planning for DLC.


Will there be a season pass?

Kimura: We are considering about season passes as well.


Fukuhara san said in an interview that this game will provide “action and strategic depth.” What kind of features in the game you would say that would demonstrate that best?

Fukuhara : For Versus as a fighting game there are the simple commands. You could activate your character skills with one button. As a trade off for that, all of the skills will have a cooldown time, so players cannot consecutively activate the same skills in a row. I feel that those two aspects brings out the kind of strategy and interactions between players that no other fighting game has demonstrated at this point. It’s like a hybrid of one button skill activation and also the old fashioned command activation. The skills activated by the fighting game commands have shorter cool downs. The system doesn’t allow you to have a wide gap between the one button activations and command activations. This small difference in terms of cool down time can actually make a big difference in terms of results especially for high level players.  



Was it a challenge trying to balance the game for high level players and more casual Granblue Fantasy fans?

Fukuhara : The first thing we wanted the game to be was very understandable for the people that are seeing the game. Like what is happening in the game. When a game gets too complicated in e-sports, a limited number of people spectating it understand what is happening. We just wanted to make everybody spectating understand what’s going on in the stream. This means having a not so fast game speed and short combos instead of massive combos that takes half or even more of the bars; we did not implement those two aspects into the game. This is for the sake of having it be very understandable for people to watch. That is something benefits the beginners as players as well, especially since the game speed is not that fast and the combos are not super intensive and complicated. When people first start off, they can get a good idea of what to do for each character quite easily. Technique does actually mean a lot in the game as well. So the high level players will have their own experience while the beginners can enjoy the actions in the game. Still, it will probably not be easy to defeat high level players without hard practice.


Nowadays fighting games are broadcast on streaming platforms like Twitch. Is there anything Granblue Fantasy Versus does to provide a good spectator experience?

Fukuhara : When making game streaming enjoyable, the graphics quality means a lot. That is something that Granblue Fantasy itself is highly praised for. We wanted to have the same touch in the game as well. We put much details in the background, character art, and also the music. We brought the same composer to do all of the songs in Versus as well. Having the music on and watching the beautiful characters moving in the beautiful scenery is part of the experience. At that point, it should be a very good experience for people that are just watching. Arc System Works have their own way of really seeing the gameplay screens. We are currently thinking of implementing that into Versus as well.


Since combos are fairly limited, will there be one button combos for beginners?

Fukuhara : Having a vast variety of combos was something that we weren’t aiming too much for this game. Basically, all of the characters are going to have three hit combos, combined with a normal attack, and then finish it off with a skill. That is going to be the basic pattern for the combos for all of the characters. It may sound a little too simple for people that have intense fighting game experience. The thing is that there are very unique actions each character. Playing with each character is like a totally different experience. There are also strategies that are not based on combos. So it should be enjoyable for everybody.


Who are your favorite characters to play in the game?

Kimura: Charlotta.

Fukuhara: Catalina. To tell the truth, my favorite is a character that still has not been revealed at this point.


Regarding the original Granblue Fantasy, what was your favorite event?

Kimura: It would be Table for Six.


Fukuhara: It would be What Makes the Sky Blue.


Any dream collaborations for Granblue Fantasy? 

Kimura: All of the collaboration have been a dream come true. We are planning to have more. 


Any messages to American Granblue Fantasy fans?

Kimura: Granblue Fantasy Versus will be localized and published in North America. So will the second season of the anime broadcast.  We are planning to have it aired in North America as well next year. We will have tons of Granblue English releases coming here officially. We want everybody to enjoy it as much as possible.


What do you like to do for fun?

Kimura: I like playing games. 


Fukuhara:  I enjoy making Gunpla (Gundam Models).


Granblue Fantasy Versus will be released later this year on PlayStation 4 in North America courtesy of XSEED Games. Visit the official Granblue Fantasy Versus website for additional information.