Interview: Under Defeat HD’s Hiroyuki Maruyama and Yen Hau

We recently had the chance to sit down with Hiroyuki Maruyama, CEO at G.rev, and Rising Star Games Marketing Manager, Yen Hau, to talk all things Under Defeat HD. An HD remake of the fan-favorite Dreamcast/Arcade shmup, Under Defeat HD is coming this fall exclusively to the PS3. The renowned gameplay has been preserved, along with improved artwork, textures, shadowing and dual stick compatibility. Topics of the interview included the decision to release a physical edition in an ever-digital environment, differences in the versions and the possible resurgence of arcade shooters in the U.S.

[Hardcore Gamer] It’s been over six years since the Dreamcast version of Under Defeat, and while it’s excellent to see it get a new lease on life, that’s still a hefty gap between versions. How did Under Defeat manage to earn its new lease on life?

[Hiroyuki Maruyama] Before starting, we would like to thank you for your kind words and for this opportunity to discuss Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition.

Since we had already ported the game once (from the SEGA NAOMI arcade system to the Dreamcast), I personally did not feel any urgency to bring the game to current generation consoles when the Xbox 360 and PS3 came to the market. However, we gradually came to understand that the number of people that are able to play Under Defeat on the Dreamcast is limited. At the same time, we also received a significant number of requests from fans for a port. Making the project a reality proved to be complicated in terms of timing, and that resulted in a six-year gap between the versions.

[HG] If Under Defeat can return, could this mean that a shiny new revision of Border Down might also be a possibility?

[HM] I believe that there is a possibility. However, if the project involves a rearranged or completely new mode rather than a straight up port of the original, then it would be a very difficult task – one that I feel cannot be undertaken lightheartedly. I also believe that gamers would not be pleased with just a straight up port, so it is a bit of a predicament. Eventually, something could happen and we hope that fans will be patient until then.

[HG] A lot of quirky Japanese retail games have been coming over as PSN-only lately, such as One Piece Pirate Warriors, Legasista, and Tokyo Jungle. Under Defeat is both PSN and full retail. Could you explain why you decided to give Under Defeat a lovely boxed version to spruce up our gaming shelves rather than leaving it as download-only?

[Yen Hau] We felt that it would be nice to reward the patience of fans with a “more than just the game” offer that a PSN-only release would bring. Fans have been waiting years for this to make the transition and we feel that offering a Deluxe Edition would be a welcomed “Thanks” from both G.rev and RSG. Also, people still buy boxed products and prefer physical copies to “spruce up their gaming shelves,” so it was an easy choice.

[HG] There were some differences noted between the original Dreamcast version of Under Defeat and the HD remake, such as the target tracking for ground enemies being a bit quirky, or certain enemies firing before they show up on screen. The US version says it’s got all DLC and patches. Do the patches address these behaviors?

[HM] Creating an exact port of an original is not possible, so there are small differences between the HD remake and the Dreamcast iterations. In building the international versions, we did try to make it a replication of the Japanese version. Aside from a few corrections, they should be the same as the local build.

[HG] And what other content is included with the DLC that wasn’t in the original release?

[HM] The international versions included a new helicopter created specifically for the Rising Star Games releases.

[HG] Between Under Defeat and Akai Katana earlier this year, that’s a fair amount of arcade shooters. Do you see the genre as having resurgence in the US, or was the fan-base always just being under-served before?

[YH] Shmups have always had a niche appeal, but the community has been vocal enough that we couldn’t ignore them. I can’t say whether there is a resurgence or not, but there is still a demand for these games that I can’t see diminishing. As long as people still want games of this genre then we will try our best to answer.

[HG] Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Under Defeat HD before its release this fall?

[YH] The Western release of Under Defeat HD includes an exclusive chopper that is only available in this version. You cannot download this chopper, and it comes with a unique style of play requiring a whole new strategy from those already familiar with the game. This Deluxe Edition also includes the soundtrack from New Order mode and also a digital art book with foreword by Maruyama-san himself.

[HG] Thanks for your time.  We’re really looking forward to giving Under Defeat a second shot, and maybe even completing a 1CC run this time.

(Interview conducted by James)