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Soukaigi[a] is an action role-playing game developed by Yuke's and published by Square for the PlayStation in 1998. It was later re-released digitally for the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. No version of the game was localized. Set in modern-day Japan, Sōkaigi follows a group of friends led by high school student Mizuho Mikanagi as they are chosen to save Japan from a supernatural catastrophe. Gameplay has each character navigating levels, fighting monsters and completing required tasks to advance the story.

Soukaigi
Soukaigi cover.jpg
Developer(s)Yuke's
Publisher(s)Square
Director(s)Nobuhiko Amakawa
Producer(s)Yusuke Hirata
Artist(s)Natsuki Sumeragi
Writer(s)Nobuhiko Amakawa
Composer(s)Hiroki Kikuta
Platform(s)PlayStation
Release
  • JP: 28 May 1998
Genre(s)Action role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

The game was developed as part of Square's initiative of forming small teams of young developers to create experimental titles for the PlayStation. Director and writer Nobuhiko Amakawa wanted to create a modern Japanese fantasy. Yuke's was allowed total creative freedom by Square, who financed the project with a generous budget which allowed for live music composed by Hiroki Kikuta and full voice acting. Character designs were created by Natsuki Sumeragi. The game met with low sales and mixed reviews in both Japan and the West.

Contents

GameplayEdit

Soukaigi is an action role-playing game set in a fantastical version of Japan in 1998.[2] The game is divided between gameplay segments and cutscenes used to communicate the narrative.[3] Players take on the role of five different characters as they fight against powerful monsters controlling regions of the land; the main objective in each level is to destroy crystals of concentrated Suiki (negative energy) and gather Ouki (positive energy), the latter acting as experience points to raise a character's statistics (stats).[2][4]

Players control each character in third-person, starting with a pre-determined character and later expanding the available roster.[3] The camera locked behind the player, but can be rotated with the character to explore the environment. Each character has a different innate ability in addition to basic attacks, a jump, a mid-air dash and items which can briefly increase attack power or perform special magical attacks.[2][3] Enemies in levels are monsters, which manifesting around crystallised Suiki and attack the player after appearing.[3] Stages range from countryside locations to towns, which allows for platforming areas where players jump between rooftops.[5] Some stages feature areas of water, which kill a character on contact.[6]

Areas end with a boss encounter.[2] Before boss encounters and outside levels, players can use gathered Ouki to raise any character's stats; these include health, strength, attack power, and special abilities and upgrades to abilities such as jumping.[2] These are gathered from destroyed crystals in each area. There are three crystal types to find; red, blue and yellow, which are progressively more difficult to destroy.[6] Dying at any point ends the game, forcing players to restart the level.[2]

StoryEdit

Soukaigi takes place in December 1998. An explosion on Mount Fuji, as well as in other areas of Japan, has killed 14 percent of the nation's population. The explosions have caused several fireballs to unite into a gigantic pillar of fire 150 kilometers in height and 10 kilometers in width. Stone pillars known as "Gallan" have also appeared throughout Japan, and ghostly demigods known as "Yorigami" have taken claim to the now ruined country.

The day of the explosions, a high school student in Noborito named Mizuho Mikanagi, along with four of her friends, takes on the task of saving Japan.

DevelopmentEdit

During the late 1990s, Square launched an initiative to foster talent within the company; small teams of younger developers would work with a smaller budget to create experimental titles for the PlayStation; one of these titles was Soukaigi.[7] Sōkaigi was developed by Yuke's, a company best known for their sports titles.[8][9] According to different sources, Yuke's was approached by Square, who were impressed at the technical prowess demonstrated by their wrestling game Power Move Pro Wrestling;[9] or Yuke's approached Square with an ambitious gaming project which required funding and a publisher.[10] The game was produced by Square's Yusuke Hirata, and directed and written by Nobuhiko Amakawa of Yuke's.[9][11] The story concept of a modern Japanese fantasy came to Amakawa after Square approached Yuke's. While games based on Japanese folklore had seen little success at the time, Square allowed Yuke's total creative freedom and Amaga decided to go ahead with the concept.[12] The characters were designed by artist Natsuki Sumeragi.[13] Enemy designs were handled by Takeshi Tanaka.[14] The various level areas were based on the Japanese regions in which they were set, although they were made more fantastic due to the game's premise.[13] Soukaigi included full voice acting, with several prominent Japanese actors portraying the main cast; when they saw the casting budget, Square told Yuke's that they need not be concerned with it.[9] The game featured two and a half hours of real-time cutscenes integrated into gameplay.[13]

MusicEdit

 
Soundtrack composer, arranger and producer Hiroki Kikuta pictured in 2011.

The music of Soukaigi was composed by Hiroki Kikuta, who had previously scored Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3.[15] Kikuta acted as composer, arranger and producer for the soundtrack.[16] The musical production was handled entirely by Square.[9] The expanded storage capacity of the PlayStation allowed Kikuta to include live orchestral music. Due to it not being developed by Square, the game's influences were very different, encouraging Kikuta to experiment.[10] As with his work on the Mana games, Kikuta wanted to push the hardware capacities of the PlayStation's sound card when creating his score.[17]

The music budget was ¥30 million.[10] Kikuta composed the music with "different complex styles"; his cited examples were the fusion of in-house music with live orchestra, and combining fusion and folk music. His main inspiration when composing were East European bands such as Värttinä.[15] The track "Quake" used Buddhist chant-inspired lyrics written in Malayan and Thai. The singers performed the lyrics phonetically, creating an exotic feeling to magnify the world and story.[10] Recording the music took around a month. Kikuta was able to reserve multiple studios for recording because of the high budget, with his aim being to transform the live performances through computers when transferring them into the game.[18] Conversely, this high studio usage and its toll on the overall budget severely restricted the number of tracks he could create.[17]

Due to his unconventional scoring style, which involved difficult cord transitions, there were some conflicts with the performers. Once he explained his idea, they understood and were able to perform their parts.[18] Kikuta has said that he has different challenges for each of his compositions between Secret of Mana and Soukaigi; with Soukaigi, it was the challenge of recording live with Japanese stage musicians.[19] A remembered incident during recording that impressed Kikuta was when guitar soloist Tomohito Aoki arrived in the studio with a severe hangover on the day they were recording the track "Fire Wire". After sending his assistant for some bottled water which he drank, Aoki performed the piece without any mistakes.[18] Around 80% of the soundtrack was recorded live.[10] The ending theme "Lovely Strains" was performed by Kotomi Kyono, with lyrics by Yuki Kitayama.[16]

An official soundtrack album was released on June 11, 1998. It was published by DigiCube and distributed by the music division of Sony under the under the catalog number SSCX-10017. The album was around 50 minutes long, and included seventeen tracks.[20][21] Tracks from the game were later released on the Square Vocal Collection (2001), Square Enix Battle Tracks Vol.2 Square 1996~1998 (2010), and Final Fantasy Tribute ~Thanks~ (2012) arrange albums.[22][23][24] Dave Valentine of Video Game Music Online gave the album a rating of four out of five stars; Valentine was almost entirely positive about each track and the extensive use of live orchestra.[25] Chris Greening of RPGFan was similarly positive, ranking the album as a must-buy alongside the soundtracks of Xenogears and Parasite Eve due to its strong live elements and different tone from other Square games.[26]

ReleaseEdit

Soukaigi was first announced at the 1997 Tokyo Game Show.[8] At the time, it was described as Square's first third-person action title.[27] At its announcement, the game was roughly 50% complete.[28] The game's Japanese title translates into English as "Twin Dimensions".[1] Soukaigi released on 28 May 1998.[29] It has never seen an official Western release.[19] The game was later reissued on the PlayStation Network on August 13, 2008 as one of a series of vintage titles from the PlayStation era.[30] It was later released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.[29] During its year of release, Soukaigi sold over 132,000 units. It ranks as one of the 100 best-selling games for that year.[31]

Soukaigi received a manga adaptation, written by Ayuki Kirishima and released by Kadokawa Shoten in three tankōbon between May 1998 and January 1999 as part of the publisher's Asuka Comics line.[32][33][34] A novelization of the same name was published by Kadokawa Shoten through their Asuka Novel line on 2 June 1998. The novel was written by Hatano Taka, with a cover illustration by Sumeragi.[35][36] Hatano Taka collaborated closely with Amakawa to ensure the novelization did not stray too far from the original game's plot and themes. New story segments, such as an epilogue, were added to explain the more confusing aspects, but these ended up creating unwanted contradictions that had to be smoothed out between Hatano and Amakawa.[11]

ReceptionEdit

Reception
Review scores
PublicationScore
Famitsu34/40[37]
GameSpot5.6/10[3]
Gamer's RepublicC[38]

Japanese magazine Famitsu was generally positive about the story, characters and music. One reviewer felt that the graphics looked "rough" for the PlayStation title.[37] Western magazine Gamer's Republic was fairly negative about the game, with the reviewer finding that it was only the boss battles and music that kept him playing.[38] GameSpot reviewer James Mielke said the game " fails to live up to its expectations", praising the music and stable frame rate, but finding most other aspects either low-quality or poorly designed. He summarized that the game could not stand up against other similar 3D titles such as Panzer Dragoon Saga.[3]

In a separate feature titled "Games You'll Never Play", GameSpot called Soukaigi "A great idea but a cruddy game", citing a lack of polish and a greater scale than the PlayStation could handle.[39] IGN, in a preview of a nearly-finished version of the game, were scathing about the gameplay, though gave praise to the environment and enemy designs.[40] Japanese websites Inside Games and Dengeki Online both posted retrospectives for the game's 20th anniversary; they each praised the narrative, soundtrack and technical performance, but faulted the gameplay segments and overall graphical quality.[6][5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Soukaigi In Motion". IGN. 18 September 1997. Archived from the original on 3 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f 双界儀 マニュアル [Soukaigi Manual] (in Japanese). Square. 28 May 1998.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Mielke, James (17 June 1998). "Soukaigi Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 30 December 2001. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  4. ^ Ohbuchi, Yutaka (23 January 1998). "New Soukaigi Details". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 14 March 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b 『双界儀』本日5月28日で20周年! 現代日本を舞台とする3Dアクションの先駆け─操作性だけが惜しい! (in Japanese). Inside Games. 28 May 2018. Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b c 作り込まれた設定と素晴らしい音楽が心に残る『双界儀』を振り返る!【周年連載】 (in Japanese). Dengeki Online. 28 May 2018. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  7. ^ ゲームの巨人語録―岡本吉起と12人のゲームクリエイター" (in Japanese). MediaWorks. 2000. ISBN 4-8723-3907-X.
  8. ^ a b "Tokyo Game Show Report". GameFan. Metropolis Media (59): 157. November 1997. Scan
  9. ^ a b c d e Dengeki PlayStation (in Japanese). MediaWorks (56): 18−21. 9 October 1997.
  10. ^ a b c d e Jeriaska; Kikuta, Hiroki (16 June 2007). "Hiroki Kikuta: Lost Files Regained". Square Haven. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  11. ^ a b Hanato, Taka (2 June 1998). "Afterward". 双界儀 (in Japanese). Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 9-7840-4701-3391.
  12. ^ Jugem (in Japanese). MediaWorks (March 1993): 41. 1998.
  13. ^ a b c 双界儀のコーナー (in Japanese). Yuke's. Archived from the original on 12 October 1999. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  14. ^ Yuke's (28 May 1998). Soukaigi. PlayStation. Square. Scene: Credits.
  15. ^ a b "Interviews - Hiroki Kikuta". RocketBaby. 2001. Archived from the original on 12 October 2003. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b Square (11 June 1998). "Soukaigi Original Soundtrack booklet." (in Japanese) DigiCube. SSCX-10017. Retrieved on 2019-03-21.
  17. ^ a b Corrlea, Alexa Ray (24 February 2014). "Secret of Mana composer sought to push the limits of hardware". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  18. ^ a b c 天使の怖れ:菊田 裕樹インタビュー上 (in Japanese). Square Haven. 22 January 2007. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  19. ^ a b Greening, Chris (1 November 2009). "Hiroki Kikuta Interview: Deep Reflections and a Promising Outlook". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  20. ^ Kikuta, Hiroki. 双界儀 (1998) (in Japanese). Hiroki Kikuta Blog. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  21. ^ Greening, Chris (10 July 2011). "The DigiCube Revival". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  22. ^ "Final Fantasy CDs News". RPGFan. 2 June 2001. Archived from the original on 27 November 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  23. ^ Meyerink, Stephen (3 December 2012). "Music: Final Fantasy Tribute ~Thanks~ and Orchestral Album Samples". RPGFan. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  24. ^ SQUARE ENIX BATTLE TRACKS Vol.2 SQUARE 1996~1998 (in Japanese). Sony Music Entertainment Japan. Archived from the original on 2019-03-12. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  25. ^ Valentine, Dave (1 August 2012). "Soukaigi Original Soundtrack". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on 2019-03-12. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  26. ^ Winkler, Chris (9 February 2002). "Review - Soukaigi OST". RPGFan. Archived from the original on 2017-11-22. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  27. ^ "NG Alphas - Square Soft". Next Generation. Imagine Media (39): 100-101. March 1998.
  28. ^ "new Games - Soukaigi". Computer and Video Games. Future Publishing (192): 96. November 1997.
  29. ^ a b 双界儀 (in Japanese). Square Enix. Archived from the original on 15 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  30. ^ 『双界儀』などゲームアーカイブス5作品が本日より配信スタート (in Japanese). Dengeki Online. 13 August 2008. Archived from the original on 2019-02-05. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  31. ^ 1998年テレビゲームソフト売り上げTOP100 (in Japanese). Geimin.net. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  32. ^ 双界儀 第1巻 (in Japanese). Kadokawa Shoten. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  33. ^ 双界儀 第2巻 (in Japanese). Kadokawa Shoten. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  34. ^ 双界儀 第3巻 (in Japanese). Kadokawa Shoten. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  35. ^ 双界儀 (in Japanese). National Diet Library. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  36. ^ 双界儀 (in Japanese). Kadokawa Shoten. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  37. ^ a b 双界儀 (PS) (in Japanese). Famitsu. Archived from the original on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  38. ^ a b "Review - Soukaigi". Gamer's Republic. Millennium Publications (3): 92. August 1998.
  39. ^ "Games You'll Never Play - Soukaigi". GameSpot. 1999. Archived from the original on 10 August 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  40. ^ "TGS: Soukaigi Fails To Live Up To The Hype". IGN. 20 March 1998. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ (双界儀, Hiragana: そうかいぎ, Katakana: ソウカイギ, lit. Twin Dimensions[1])