CyberConnect2 (makers of .hack, Solatorobo and the good Naruto games) has been one of the last big-name Japanese developers to still not make any inroads into the smartphone and tablet market. Whether true or not, the conception in the Japan industry is that this is entirely due to Hiroshi Matsuyama (above), CC2's outspoken founder and president, who has stated in several interviews that he has no interest whatsoever in social games.
That's why it was a tad surprising when Matsuyama announced today that he's teaming up with social-game platform giant GREE to enter the market next year with Night Runner, an original social title being directed by Seiji Shimoda, the main guy behind the large-scale console title Asura's Wrath (released by Capcom earlier this year).
Why the change of heart? "Generally there are two things that changed," Matsuyama told Famitsu magazine. "One was the world, and the other was my way of thinking. I honestly didn't like social games where all you were doing was pressing the game button, but times have changed and now we can make social games that are actually worth the time to play. Smartphones have better specs now, and I realized that now we have the ability to break out all the dev power that CC2 has on them."
Night Runner stars Lily, a "denizen of the night" who has to run from a divine army during the day, then gets to turn the tables and attack them during the night. Famitsu published a screenshot of a daytime sequence, one that made the game look a lot like an "endless runner" title.
"It's a straight-down-the-middle action game," Matsuyama explained. "In terms of feel, it's close to some of CC2's early works, like Tail Concerto or Silent Bomber. You've got simple controls that let you bust out all kinds of flashy actions, so in that way it's very CC2-like. It's a fun game, one that makes you want to connect and show off with other players; that's the sort of setup we're going for here."
The game will launch early next year, starting in smaller markets like Canada and Australia before moving on to the US and Japan. "The fact we're releasing this under the CC2 name should indicate that we aren't going to make this a half-assed product," Matsuyama said.