Toukiden, unveiled at last year's Tokyo Game Show and described in detail last week, is admittedly not the most original portable title in history. It's heavily inspired by Monster Hunter and its ilk (nowadays lumped into a genre called "hunting action" in Japan), and development producer Kenichi Ogasawara isn't hiding it.
"The concept behind this project is for Tecmo Koei Games to make a title that's just a straight-on hunting action game," he told Famitsu magazine in an interview published this week. "This is a genre that has a lot of fans, and Tecmo Koei wanted to take on the challenge of tackling it."
In fact, Ogasawara originally designed the game to stand out from the white noise of the genre. "There are many types of action games out there," he said, "and one of my aims at first as we worked on the project document was to see how unique and extraordinary we could make this one; however, as I discussed this with [general producer Hisashi] Koinuma, he said 'just make it a straight-on fastball.'"
"If we're going to do this, we need to climb up to the peak of the action genre," Koinuma added. "If that's the case, I thought going with something too wild and fantastic wouldn't be the right fit. We want to compete in terms of fun action."
Set in a fantasy version of old Japan, Toukiden features the Mononofu, a team of warriors fighting against an all-out invasion of oni, demons and goblins from Japanese folklore. "The Mononofu were gathered around a home base called Utakata Village as they fought off the oni," Ogasawara explained. "However, after a disaster known as the Omagadoki, oni from all eras crossed over time and started appearing in the human world. When these oni show up, the field around them starts to get influenced by the world that they came from. So you're going to see fields modeled after all sorts of eras in this game."
Defeating these oni, which range from puny little guys to enormous, alien-like beasts, naturally earns the player a few benefits. "Basically, the oni gain access to incredible powers by absorbing the souls of ancient Japanese heroes," Ogasawara said. "Defeating these monsters releases these souls and makes them your own. That, in turn, connects to your player character's abilities."
Toukiden (due out for the PSP and PS Vita) has no firm release date yet, although Ogasawara hinted at an early summer timeframe. A demo will be released before then, and Ogasawara told Famitsu that both it and the full game will be completely playable both as a solo and multiplayer experience. "In singleplayer," he said, "you'll get to enjoy a really deep story, the sort of thing you could only do in Toukiden. I've found that even with multiplayer games, a lot of people still play them solo, so one core mission here was to basically have the game be full-on playable by yourself."