InterviewInterview with Carl Chen, Project Lead for Rule of Rose

  • September 26, 2006
  • by: Soapy

Rule of Rose

Developer: Punchline
Publisher: Atlus USA, Inc

Release Date: 09/12/2006


Genre: action
Setting: horror
Rule of Rose has been out for a few weeks now in North America and receiving a fantastic response from fans. Carl Chen, the Project Lead at Atlus USA, Inc. was kind enough to meet with to give us some tips and information regarding this new survival horror game. Rule of Rose managed to capture the attention of a lot of gamers at E3, including myself. How was the response at E3 and afterwards regarding the game?

Carl Chen: The response at E3 was great. We had several widescreen monitors set up at our booth so that trailers for Rule of Rose would play every 30 minutes. Out of all the games shown in our lineup, Rule of Rose easily had the most people wandering by who would stop and watch. Even after the show, the positive response continued. We started getting media requests from publications that normally never cover our games. It felt like we attracted an entirely new audience. Mainstream magazines like Fangoria and Playboy began to show interest. In fact, Rule of Rose will be one of the featured video games in the November issue of Playboy. …It’s great exposure for us, since I can’t even recall a time when PB covered one of our games. The game was just released September 12, 2006 and those who were smart enough received the soundtrack with their pre-order. How has the response been so far regarding the game and the soundtrack?

Carl Chen: Overall, the response to the soundtrack has been very positive and we're extremely grateful to Sony Japan for letting us use it as a pre-order bonus. Ideally, we would've liked to include all the music from the game, but due to licensing issues we were only able to use 6 tracks. I hand picked those 6 tracks, so I hope every one out there likes them. ^_^; Overall, the fan response to the game seems to be a lot more positive than the critics’ response. Initially, we thought this would be the type of game that only a certain type of person "got." But, here at the office, we've been getting a lot of positive feedback from fans, in the form of e-mails and phone calls. Some people have even asked when our next survival horror game is coming out! Do you feel that this game would appeal to a wider audience than the other horror games out there?

Carl Chen: Well, yes and no. Rule of Rose offers an incredibly engaging story coupled with some unique gameplay, and there's -always- people who'll prefer this type of game. On the other hand, there are also a lot of people who would rather play as the "tough guy", and have a more action-oriented game. You can't appeal to everyone with any type of game, so I think there's definitely room for the Resident Evils, Silent Hills, and Rule of Roses to coexist and appeal to different types of gamers.

Advertisement There have been some complaints regarding the fighting system. Considering the lead character is a scared 19 year old girl, do you feel that it’s more realistic to have the fighting a little clumsy or was there room for improvement?

Carl Chen: Oh, there's always room for improvement. In fact, I believe one of the producers said that he would've liked to polish the combat system a bit more, but budget and time restraints prevented them from doing that. If anything, I would've liked the collision and hit detection to be a bit more fine-tuned. I do believe it's more realistic to have Jennifer be a bit frail and weak, so in terms of player strength and game balance I think the game has it right on the money. Brown was a great companion to have throughout the game. Was he just there to help you find items or was he meant to be a part of the story in some way?

Carl Chen: Actually, Brown wasn't involved in the game at all in the original planning stages. It was only after the game started taking shape that the creators realized that the game wasn't interesting enough with Jennifer alone. Brown added another element to the gameplay, but he also helped counterbalance the helpless and gloomy personality of Jennifer. People who've played through the entire game will also understand the importance of having him in the storyline. He's not the main character, but he's definitely the central character, and much of game's twisted plot is set into motion because of him. My biggest issue with the fighting was that the slower weapons with the longer range were next to impossible to fight with. I usually switch out to a faster weapon and do a few cheap shots instead. Any tips on how I can make the boss battles easier?

Carl Chen: Here’s a protip: Patience is key. Most of the longer ranged weapons do less damage than the short ranged ones, so if you’re skilled at getting around enemies and anticipating movement, I’d recommend sticking with the fast weapons. If not, just play it safe with the long range weapons and be prepared for boss battles taking upwards of 30 minutes. The story wrapped up nicely in the end, even though it left me with a lot of questions. Are there alternate endings? After viewing the ending, what do you feel was the main theme and point of the story?

Carl Chen: Rule of Rose has 2 endings that you could categorize as "good" and "bad". The "good" ending is an extension of the "bad" one and explains most of the remaining questions at the end of the game. There are several themes in Rule of Rose, but the one that's most apparent in my mind is how the game tackles the subject of "attachment" and how being too attached to one thing can bring out the worst in people. What replay value is there after completing the game?

Carl Chen: Secret costumes and weapons will become available after beating the game once, and others will unlock after completing certain tasks. The secret weapons (one of which is a giant frozen tuna…) are extremely strong, so bull-dozing through the game a second time is absolutely no problem. It’s my opinion that the story is also more rewarding the second time through, so you’ll pick up on a lot of small details that you wouldn’t catch the first time. How difficult was it to get everything localized and ready for the North American release?

Carl Chen: It wasn't that difficult at all, surprisingly. The Japanese version of the game already had English voice acting, so all we had to do was translate the text and run the game through QA. The entire process took about 5 months total. Rule of Rose has been one of the most intriguing games I’ve laid my hands on in awhile. Are there similar games on the horizon?

Carl Chen: Yes! Atlus USA has 2 DS games coming out in October that you could categorize as "quirky.” Touch Detective, which has a similar gameplay mechanic to Rule of Rose is a detective game with heavy influences from the LucasArts adventure games of the 90s. The art style is pretty rad too.

And "Contact" is another RPG from us that attempts to break the fourth wall. The game is Wi-Fi compatible and it has a combat system very similar to modern MMORPGs. Both games are worthy purchases for any DS owner. What would you like to tell the gamers out there who haven’t tried this game yet?

Carl Chen: We feel that Rule of Rose has something unique to offer to the survival-horror genre. If you're on the fence on whether or not to get it, I'd just like to remind you that it's an ATLUS game--meaning it may be hard to come by in a few months. And c'mon... Soapy liked it, so you should too!

Simply put, if you like atmospheric games with unique gameplay, then Rule of Rose is the game for you. Survival horror games can have an infinite amount of jump-out-scare-you moments, but when it’s all said and done, people will remember a game for its lasting appeal and how much the story affects you in the end. Rule of Rose accomplishes this by keeping the player on his/her toes the whole time and leaving you with a thought-provoking ending. Thank you Carl for meeting with us! He’s right, Rule of Rose was a great game, with a fascinating storyline that’s very unique. It’s definitely worth a try.

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About the Author, Sophia (A.K.A Soapy)

I am a Canadian living in California with my husband and my precious baby Bailey (95lbs of labrador fun). I work full time and go to school, so finding the time to play video games is tough. I still manage to sneak some time in, whether it's playing on my GBA while I wait in line or sitting in the back seat of my car so I can use our dvd player to play the Gamecube on long trips. I've always been fairly decent at playing games to give my younger brother some competition. I started at the early age of 6 when I inherited an Atari 2600. I played any computer game I could get my hands on during those Commodore 64 days. Now I'll play anything from RPGs to first person shooters, racing games or basically anything that's fun and allows me to play with at least 3 other people.