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Spike Chunsoft head talks about seriously tackling the Western market

If you know who Spike Chunsoft are, you're more of a hardcore gamer than most. The merger of two rather different Japanese firms one that focused on localizing Western games for Japan and releasing goofy titles like Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble, the other a veteran developer behind acclaimed adventures like 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors caused more than a few observers to scratch their heads when it was announced in 2012. A year later, they still are, in fact.

That doesn't faze Mitsutoshi Sakurai, Spike Chunsoft's president. "It's been a year since the merger," he said in an interview with Famitsu magazine, "but the two companies moved into the current office location earlier than that, so we've been together for a year and a half. The way I feel is that it's very natural for Spike and Chunsoft to be together; there isn't much that doesn't seem right. There are a few reasons for that, but I think the biggest one is that we aren't forcing ourselves to produce tangible effects as a result of the merger. You always hear about extremely big companies merging and then running into difficulty afterwards, after all."

Sakurai told Famitsu that, as shown with Square and Enix's merger back in 2003, it's hard to produce real results from a merger at the snap of one's fingers. "As a result," he explained, "even now, the work that the old Spike did is handled by people from the old Spike, and likewise with Chunsoft. Large companies may have several development lines in place for games, and the idea is similar here; there's no reason they all have to be on the same line. It's fine for developers to come up with ways to work together in a natural basis, and even if they don't, as long as the company functions properly, I don't see that as a problem either."

The president's laissez-faire attitude is perhaps the best he can do, given how different both outfits were before the merger. "The old Spike focused on speed," he said, "as seen in their efforts getting overseas software into the Japanese marketplace, while the old Chunsoft focused on quality and taking their time. You had these two completely opposite belief systems, and it's not that one is right and the other wrong; they were just both different and interesting in their own way. I'd like to see those two systems get put into use more in the future."

So where does the new Spike Chunsoft's fortunes lie? Interestingly, Sakurai brought up Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, the sort-of sequel to 999 released on the 3DS by Aksys Games in America. "Zero Escape was made by Kotaro Uchikoshi, from the old Chunsoft, and it was nominated in the GDC Awards," he said. "His work gets high praise overseas, and now he's coming together with people from the old Spike with experience in overseas projects to start thinking about a new project to try and make a hit overseas. That may wind up being the first big effect to stem from the merger."

Outside of that, however, Sakurai seems content to see where his company's developers steer the ship. "To put it simply, if it's fun, then that's what matters," he commented. "I don't want this company to do something like put out only adventures because that's what we're good at. I think gamers are starting to get the impression that we're kind of a weird company, and I think that reflects on us well, too."

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