2019 Too Kyo Games 4Gamer Interview Translations (Kodaka, Nakazawa, Uchikoshi)

As you may recall from last year, the Japanese gaming news website “4Gamer” interviews Japanese game creators from a wide variety of companies, major and minor. In these interviews, the creators are asked about things they considered influential from this year, and discuss their aspirations for the next year.

And much like last year, three members of Too Kyo Games: Kazutaka Kodaka, Takumi Nakazawa, and Kotaro Uchikoshi– were featured. I have translated their interviews and featured them in this post for those curious.

Kazutaka Kodaka

Representative/Director/Scenario Writer

Representative work(s): Danganronpa series

1. What was the most admirable (or shocking) game released in 2019?

AI: The Somnium Files
A game like the sum of the adventure game genre, I believe it’s a game adventure game fans can’t get enough of.
The graphics and effects have a lot of effort put into them, but the story is nigh-perfect.
It’s my personal favorite game story of 2019.。
(13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is also fun, but I’m not done with it yet, so…)

2. What media released in 2019 left the deepest impression on you?

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
This was a film that caught my attention from the announcement.
Though I was disappointed that Tarantino would be covering such an unpleasant incident…
I was glued to my seat in shock when it ended.
I believe this film is a once-in-a-decade movie for film fans.

3. Which person attracted the most attention from you in 2019?

Pierre Taki
This was the first time someone I’d liked for so long had been arrested, but I’ll keep cheering him on in the future.

4. Please give a message about your aspirations for 2020 and for 4Gamer readers.

I have the recently announced FMV game Death Come True and the already announced Death March Club coming up.
I also have several other works in-progress.
I’ve kept them under wraps since going independent, but it finally feels like they’re coming together.
2020 will be the year of Too Kyo Games!

Takumi Nakazawa

Director/Scenario Writer
Representative work(s): Root Double -Before Crime * After Days-Ever17 -the out of infinity-, Punch Line

1. What was the most admirable (or shocking) game released in 2019?

Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross of Light and Darkness
From the adventure to the rich effects, I was shocked just how far mobile games have come.

2. What media released in 2019 left the deepest impression on you?

The movie Avengers: Endgame.
No matter what anyone says, the culmination of a long series that has spanned eleven years is very impressive and moving. It was exciting how many characters/callbacks it had, and the emotional way it all came together was simply astounding. I know that’s boosted by eleven years worth of emotions all piled up, but even so, it was one excitement after another all the way until the end.
Incidentally, the most shocking individual media was the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The visual direction was amazing, and I kept watching it over and over for that visual style.

3. Which person attracted the most attention from you in 2019?

Greta Thunberg
The way her words and performance had an effect all over the world stunned me with the way she made her voice heard.

4. Please give a message about your aspirations for 2020 and for 4Gamer readers.

2020 will mark start of the releases of already announced titles such as Death March Club and Death Come True, along with other titles that have been kept under wraps so far.
Some may be confused by the announcement of a completely different title such as Death Come True, considering how little information has been released about Death March Club. Some may be wondering “Has Death March Club been cancelled?” After all, they’re both from the same developer, and both have “Death” in the title. But please rest assured, Death March Club is still being made. It’s very interesting. Death Come True will also be interesting in a completely different sense. Both of these super interesting titles will be released in 2020. Please look forward to them both. Death March Club! Death Come True! (When this becomes an article, these titles will both be in big letters, so I wonder if all this repetition will catch people’s eye…)
Oh, also, I’m continuing to write scripts for an original anime. I hope I will be able to announce that one eventually.

Kotaro Uchikoshi

Director/Scenario Writer/Toilet Cleaner
Reprensentative work(s): Ever17 -the out of infinity-, Zero Escape series, AI: The Somnium Files

1. What was the most admirable (or shocking) game released in 2019?

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
It shook my soul.

2. What media released in 2019 left the deepest impression on you?

Kodaka already said Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, so I’ll go with Joker. The conclusion aside, the way the cuts were so thoroughly refined struck home for me. The conclusion aside, Joaquin Phoenix’s eerie yet fascinating performance was beyond excellent. The conclusion aside, it was a strange movie I kept wanting to see over and over again. The conclusion aside…

3. Which person attracted the most attention from you in 2019?

Agnes Chow. She shook my soul.

4. Please give a message about your aspirations for 2020 and for 4Gamer readers.

AI: The Somnium Files was released to rave reviews, so go buy it! Also, Death March Club (TBD) is scheduled to be released in 2020. I believe more information will be coming out in the future, so please check it out. Thank you!

Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Final Part)

Today is April 7th, 2019- the end of Never7, and in turn, the infinite loop. In this final part of the Never7 retrospective, we will go over one last final overview of the game and the legacy it left behind.

Immediate Impact

Never7 ultimately failed the team’s personal goal of outselling Memories Off. Looking back on it years later, Nakazawa, who thinks of the game as his starting point, commented that the fact the most interesting elements of the story (the mystery/science-fiction elements) didn’t occur until at least halfway through the route was likely a factor, since that meant players wouldn’t be able to get those without investing some time into it. This left Nakazawa wondering how he could get rid of the parts that vaguely didn’t work well in future works. However, Never7 also received high critical acclaim for its routes and ventures into thought provoking science fiction, keeping players talking about it even after it had finished, just as the staff had hoped. Because of the success of these plot elements that could be left to interpretation that lead to fan theories, discussions, and even fanfiction, Nakazawa decided that he should continue to use these elements in future titles, too.The Append Story system also kept fans of the game interested in for quite some time after it had come out. Thanks to the critical acclaim of this game, Nakazawa and Uchikoshi were able to take their careers to newer heights, and KID allowed them to include more science fiction plot elements in their future games. This would culminate nearly two years later, when Never7 would see a follow-up in the form of Ever17- the out of infinity – a revolutionary title that would mark the true break in the staff’s careers.


Though ultimately overshadowed by its successors and nowadays considered mainly a “prototype” for them, it’s easy to forget that back when it came out, Never7 stood on its own two feet. Never7 is still remarkable for its unique premise, thought provoking themes, likable cast, and striking plot twists. While a game whose age clearly shows nowadays, the impact it had cannot be ignored. Without it and its proof that science fiction elements could have a place in KID’s visual novels, it’s possible that titles like Ever17, Remember11, I/O, Root Double, and the Zero Escape series may have never come to pass. Regardless of how modern players may feel about it, its legacy will remain a shining beacon to the influence the game had.

Personal Reflection

On a personal note, I still love Never7 myself to this date. While I acknowledge it’s far from a perfect work, playing the game was still a fun experience for me, and I find myself thinking of it from time to time even to this day. I love the cast, the atmosphere, the plot, the thought provoking themes and ideas towards the end, and the routes themselves. It’s the VN I think when I imagine something “light and fun.” And as mentioned before, I still remember my days translating it very fondly, and despite the overall roughness of the project in many different aspects, I don’t regret a single moment of it, particularly meeting so many great people who put their all into the project. With its relatively decent number of choices, number of routes, its average length, number of routes, and lighthearted atmosphere, Never7 is definitely a visual novel I would particularly recommend to newcomers to get a taste of what visual novels have to offer without overwhelming them. So in the end, Never7 is a game that always will have a special place in my heart. I don’t know if the day will ever come, but it’s a visual novel I would definitely love to see officially come out in English, and if it does, I would love the opportunity to give the translation another go to finally bring the quality up to standards.

The End of Infinity

And so ends the week of Never7. What was the ultimate outcome? What was the truth? Was the time travel real? Did the bells really have the power to send people back in time? Or was it all a delusion? Was Cure Syndrome real? If so, then did Makoto manage to break free of his delusion? Or does he yet remain in its clutches? Was anyone saved, or was history unable to be changed? What is the true answer? What is reality? To that, I have but one thing to say:

“What’s more important than whether it’s true or not is whether you can believe it or not.”

Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Part 6)

Never7 -the end of infinity- English patch retrospective

For today’s retrospective, I would like to turn back to my own experience working on the English fan-translation of this game and how it impacted me. Apologies in advance for the considerable length of this section, once I got started, it turned out I had a lot more to recall than I initially expected!

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The Never7 English fan-translation project began in August 2010. Having fallen in love with Ever17 the year before, I was eager to play the rest of the series. In Summer 2010, I made a trip to Japan, where I bought the remaining Infinity series games on PSP, and played Never7. When I did, I found myself really enjoying my experience and wanted to share it with other people (that, and to have the full Infinity series out in English and to reveal Curé Syndrome to the English speaking community). But there was no English translation or patch in progress, so there was almost no one I could talk about it. Thus, I declared my intention to translate the game in August 2010. I admitted that I didn’t have a way of translating it now, but declared I could start once I got my hands on the PC version, which I intended to get in December. However, it was then that the user Roger Pepitone, who was finishing up technical work on Remember11 at the time, offered to get the project ready, and just a few weeks later, the project was ready to begin.

Work began on August 16, 2010. Knowing I was new to translation (the only translation I’d done before then was the Ever17 Drama CDs) and still learning Japanese, I came in expecting to translate it twice- an initial translation, and a final translation. I figured that as I learned more Japanese, I would go back again after finishing the initial translation so I could correct my past mistakes (though 2019 John would have never hired 2010 John for the project nowadays). A part of me was also hoping that I would just be the kickstarter for the project and other translators would join in and help compensate, but that never came to pass (I do recall one user who tried to contribute as a translator, but he just used machine translation, and even a new translator like myself could see how bad it was, so I rejected his work and he never contributed anything else). Thus, I ended up translating the entire game by myself, save for one small bit (more on that later). Furthermore, while I did have a translation checker at one point, he only did a little work before disappearing, so I ended up doing the project without any translation checking (save for the details surrounding Curé Syndrome, which I had a Japanese acquaintance check for me to assure accuracy).

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Initial Translation

The translation process itself went by fairly smoothly. The idea of dropping the project never occurred to me at any point, and any delays during the project were caused primarily by my own real life obligations, such as school, taking priority for me at the time. Because I was taking Japanese classes during the translation, I was constantly learning new aspects of the grammar, and stuck to a very literal translation, still lacking the skills to write more freely. Still, I found it very fun work. To me, translation was like solving one huge puzzle of finding Japanese words and matching them with their English counterparts, and so I never got bored of it. Even in times where something felt like it was out of my league, I still didn’t despair, possibly because I knew I could go back to it in the final translation. For the words I didn’t know (and there were many), I ended up using some Japanese dictionary site whose name I can no longer remember that you could paste chunks of text into to have checked, which I ended up doing for nearly all of Never7. It took me about 3-4 months to translate the common route, and I spent about one month translating each heroine route after that. Towards the end of the initial translation, we discovered there were still some important scripts that we hadn’t even had in the initial project that we needed to translate, mostly related to the Append Story system.

I particularly had fun localizing any kinds of Japanese puns into English equivalents, which, considering I was new to translation, actually ended up better than I thought. I used the translation of Ever17 as a basis for several localization choices, particular the translation of certain terminology and references (including copying several segments from the Remember11 fan-translation that were originally based off Never7 into English to maintain consistency) and converting metric units into US standard units, like Ever17. However, after the release of the patch, I came to learn that there was a huge audience of English speaking players all around the world in many different countries, some who expressed confusion over these units. I learned from that, and so have ensured ever since then to always keep measurements in metric units from there on out.

While the recommended play order is Yuka->Haruka->Saki->Kurumi->IC->Izumi->YC, I ended up translating in the order of Haruka->Yuka->Saki->Kurumi->Izumi->IC->YC, admittedly because Haruka was my favorite character and her route was the one I really was looking forward to doing (as for Izumi, it just felt right to do it earlier than the big plot route that was IC). When the time came to do the final translation, however, I retranslated the routes in the proper order, save for still doing Izumi before IC. Also, while I only translated each character’s common route scenes when the time came to do their route in the initial translation, for the final translation I retranslated all the common route scenes first regardless of character before moving on to each route, which meant that while it took longer to do the common route, the character routes went by faster for the final translation.

Regarding the Append Story materials, as a former fanfiction writer myself, I was very intrigued by the system, and translated the materials hoping someone out there would also find the system intriguing and maybe write some stories, though deep down, I didn’t expect anyone to. Indeed, no English Append Stories were ever written. I myself dabbled in Append Story writing here and there, though I ended up never publishing any of the ones I wrote.

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Final Translation

Work on the final translation began in September 2011, right after finishing the initial translation, which I remember annoying quite a number of people who’d assumed the project was practically done. As I started retranslating the script for the final translation, I quickly realized that this was indeed quite necessary and was going to take quite a while, because the initial translation was littered with all sorts of mistranslations. Virtually all editing work that had been done up until that point had to have been thrown out because of this(nowadays, I wouldn’t have even allowed any editing on any sort of “initial translation,” though no sort of translation like that would even be allowed to begin with), and so I realized the final translation was indeed going to take quite a while. As can be expected of a situation like this, because I was learning more Japanese alongside the project, I felt the quality of my translation improved in later routes as I got a better hand on things.

I ended up spending another 10 months on the final translation (I’d initially planned to finish it in June 2012, but was delayed due to playing the recently released Root Double), yet during that whole time, I never got bored of the process. I loved the game, and so I wanted to give it the best possible treatment I could, so I saw the final translation as my way of doing that. Still, I set a deadline for myself to have the patch out by August 16, 2012, exactly two years after it began. I finished the final translation in July 2012, and the next month was spent on finishing the editing and the QC for the final translation, which I oversaw.

At one point in the final translation, we actually managed to get our hands on all the Append Stories found in the PSP version. While I wanted to translate them, with how many there were and all the rescripting they would require to work with the PC version, I figured it would take at least another year to do all that work before we could release the patch, and I didn’t want to drag the project out any longer, so I ultimately left them untranslated (plus, I wanted to move on to other projects afterwards).

Assembling a team

Being new to translation and being one of the two major driving forces on the project, this was also my first experience in localization direction. I didn’t come in expecting or exactly intending to do any direction work, but because of my knowledge of the game and thereby knowing what needed to be done for the project, I just ended up in that role by necessity. Our biggest problem was finding dedicated people to handle the other aspects of the project. I had a vague idea of the kind of work that needed to be done from studying other translation project pages (editing, image editing, QC, and video editing), but because my translation work was taking a long time, it ended up that we didn’t get most of the other big people for the project until much later on – for the longest time, Roger and I were the only project members. I would have balked at not having other dedicated team members ready nowadays, but back then I just went with the flow. We went through at least four different editors during the project, most who dropped out of the project fairly quickly, though the final translation’s editing was almost entirely done by a single user.

We also didn’t have a dedicated image editor, which, while not as terrible with Never7 given the low amount of images that required editing, still was problematic, to the point where I ended up image editing the Bad Ending credits myself in Microsoft Paint (though Roger did a cleaned up version of that himself later on). Speaking of which, because I wasn’t very good at recognizing name kanji at the time, I ended up asking a Japanese acquaintance to “translate” the names in the credits for me at the time. In the end, an image editor by the handle of Bu-Bu San would contact us with proposing to do the image editing (he ended up editing most of the original graphics for the English patch, mainly related to the Clear List), and he would go on to do work for us in future projects. The video editing was done by an acquaintance of Roger’s on another project, though ultimately all the subtitled videos (opening movie, credits) were made optional and not integrated into the patch.

The team actually didn’t really have a consistent way of talking to each other at first, mostly leaving notes on TL Wiki for each other. Eventually, we moved to AOL chat for any live conversations we needed to have, which lasted for most of the entire project (near the end we switched to Skype for a more modern method).

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English version tweaks

Having gotten introduced into Never7 through the PSP version, I wanted to share the benefits of that version in English from the start, mainly the TIPS. I thought that because this was the only English version people were going to get, they deserved to have as many of the benefits of the later versions as possible. Because the game was originally released in 2000, it had a lot of outdated system settings that I wanted to update to make more in line with future games in the series, and constantly asked Roger if he could put them in the game. In hindsight, I can’t believe any programmer would put up with all the selfish demands I made that stepped way outside the scope of what a programmer needs to do, but Roger not only answered to my call, he stepped up to the plate and went far beyond the call of his duty to make a wide variety of additions to the game. from adding several features to make the game more modern (such as adding a “skip read text only” command, adding a system to color in pre-selected choices, and even adding a Clear List showing the acquired endings, scenes, and scene read completions akin to later Infinity titles with original graphics by Bu-Bu San), to cosmetic changes like making the scene titles appear on-screen (ala Remember11) and changing the game clock from 0:00 to 12:00, and even adding the original epilogue from infinity, which we found in the game’s code, back into the game itself (as an “easter egg” that could only be found through careful hunting of the game’s menus after everything else had been done).

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While we couldn’t integrate the TIPS into the game like I had hoped, what we did was instead put a TIPS folder in the game folder, and added passwords at the end of each route that would unlock the corresponding TIPS as they showed up. I ended up choosing the passwords based on words I felt were key to the route itself (meanwhile, I chose “SEA ROACH” for the Common Route because the scene where Haruka and Kurumi try to grill sea roaches was one of the route’s final scenes, and I went with “IMMORTALITY CONTAGION” for the overall password as a bit of an Easter egg for the Infinity series). Because the TIPS system had many scientific explanations, I was worried I wouldn’t be capable of translating them all well, and so I asked Blick Winkel, who had already accepted an invitation from me to work on the fan-translation of I/O in the future, to translate half of them while I took the other half. One other addition we made to the game was integrating the “Infinity Series Chronology” from the PSP release of Remember11 into the game’s folder as well: since this was the final Infinity game getting an English translation, we felt this was the best time to add it. Blick ended up translating the Remember11 segments of the chronology, while I translated the Never7 and Ever17 segments.

One other system Roger did was the soundtrack system. The PC version originally required players to have a soundtrack CD in their computer drive in order to play the soundtrack. However, Roger managed to find a way to instead create a system that allowed players to play the soundtrack without the need to have a CD inside, by having a file containing the game’s music in .ogg format within the game folder. We offered two versions of the soundtrack to the player: the original PC version soundtrack, and the remixed PS2 soundtrack (taken from the PSP version soundtrack). Since the remixed soundtrack was louder, we offered lower volume versions of the soundtrack for players who found it too loud for them. To this date, I am still amazed at Roger’s skills, and am deeply grateful for all the extra work he put into the patch to make it a special experience for English-speaking players.

On March 31st, 2012, we released a preview patch for Never7, containing the finalized translation/edit of the Common and Yuka Routes. Because we had been working on the project for over a year and a half by that point, we wanted to give players something to enjoy themselves with while we finished the rest of the project, and thus released this version. We released it on exactly April 1st, 9:17 AM 2012, to match the time the game begins. Shortly after the patch released, a certain player scrutinized the preview patch and pointed out a lot of different flaws and errors in it. Impressed by his dedication, we invited him to join the project to handle QC, which we hadn’t really done much of. That player was Kilicool64, who would go on to be the QC for most of my future projects. Figuring out what needed to be fixed for QC beyond typos and the like was a bit of a learning experience, but definitely an interesting one. In the end, Kilicool did practically the entire QC work, though I made a few passes myself just to test the game and see if there were any bugs I noticed. The QC followed the final editing quickly (the final editing concluded roughly two weeks before the patch was released), and the final QC was actually finished just one day before the actual patch release.


The final patch was released on August 17, 2012, two years and one day after the project had initially begun (the patch was delayed a single day from its initial release date to give QC an additional day). Reception at the time of the patch’s release were rather mixed, the most consistent opinion seeming to be disappointment from Infinity or 999 fans who came in expecting something like those later games only to find the game was much more of a traditional romance visual novel. While it didn’t receive downright hate, it seemed there was a misconception by a number of people who’d come in expecting something else, and so the game released mostly a lukewarm reception, though it still had its fans. Being the last Infinity game to come out in English had not done it any favors. However, it does appear to have been more positively received by later fans who came in without having played the rest of the series and so could play it in original release order, though of course that was counterbalanced by the game’s age showing itself. I was a bit sad to see this, but ultimately still satisfied that we had finally released the game and people could now fully experience the Infinity series in English and seeing reactions and responses to the game.

As for the overall translation quality of the patch, while I do believe it’s comprehensible and most of the game’s important parts were translated clearly enough, I’m not very happy with it nowadays, as it is very crude and too literal in a lot of places, along with having certain localization choices I would not have made nowadays. It’s honestly kind of embarrassing to go back and look at it nowadays, most notably in how the lines are translated and how stiff the whole experience comes off. There are also some notable mistranslations here and there, particularly early on. Basically, this was a project made almost entirely by people completely new to localization, and it really shows (though you could joke that ironically mirrors KID’s situation at the time too, with infinity being their second original visual novel project). So basically, the translation doesn’t come anywhere close to matching my current standards, and if I were ever given the chance to retranslate this game once again for an official release, I would gladly do it.


Even during the project, I was looking towards the future of my own fan-translations, wanting to translate the remainder of the big “Infinity-esque” works that were not out in English yet, like I/O and 12Riven. I wanted to translate those games in order of release, so I decided during Never7 that I/O would be my next project, followed by 12Riven. However, having played the games myself, I was well aware that those games were far more complicated than Never7, and well-aware how crude my own language skills were, wanted to ensure I worked with another translator on that project much like I had originally wanted to for Never7. During the project, word about the Steins;Gate VN translation came out, and I noticed the translator was using the handle “Blick Winkel.” Recognizing the name from Infinity and figuring that he was a fan of science visual novels to work on Steins;Gate, I figured he was perfect for the job, and so I contacted Blick in early 2012, and he agreed to help me do I/O and 12Riven (though ironically, Blick ended up not doing any work on 12Riven).

Meanwhile, an incident occurred in late spring 2012 where TLWiki’s servers suffered an error that accidentally erased the previous three days worth of work. Because of this, I was forced to retranslate three scripts related to Izumi Curé for a third time, after having lost my translations done over those few days. By that point, we had essentially assembled a core localization team together (with the exception of an editor), and because of the general disorganization of Never7 before they had been assembled, made me want to pursue future projects in a much more organized and centralized fashion. This meant leaving TLWiki behind to pursue projects ourselves. So as the project was concluding, I contacted the core team members of the Never7 project and asked if they would like to work together on future projects as a team with a localization group I would be forming. They agreed, and on August 18, 2012, we publicly announced the formation of Lemnisca Translations, created under the idea of translation science fiction visual novels. Blick came up with the name “Lemnisca,” derived from the word “lemniscate,” or the shape of the infinity symbol. Seeing as how we were a group that had been brought together by Infinity, plus how the “Lem” part of the name evoked “LeMU” from Ever17 and “LEM” from I/O, I felt it was a very fitting name. And the rest after that, as they say, is history.

In the end, despite the final translation not meeting up to my current standards, I don’t regret the experience a single bit, and I still fondly remember the project to this day. I never once felt bored or like I wasn’t having fun on the project, met a lot of my core team members and friends through this project, learned how localization worked with a rather simple project that didn’t have much pressure on it, and developed my skills through it. I’m glad that I chose Never7 as my first project, since, being a rather lighthearted romance game, my crude translation skills didn’t affect the project as horribly as I would have on something like I/O instead. I’m glad that I was able to “break in” my localization skills on something so nondemanding like Never7 instead of making a total fool of myself on something far more complicated, and I’m especially glad I did Never7 first because it taught me the importance of having a well-structured team, leading to the formation of Lemnisca.

Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Part 5)

Today, we will be covering the remaining three characters of Never7: Kurumi Morino, Izumi Morino, and Okuhiko Iida.

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Kurumi Morino


Izumi’s younger sister who, despite looking and acting like she’s in middle school, is actually 17 years old. Kurumi is full of boundless energy and cheer, always indulging in eccentric antics due to her love for the bizarre, and can act seemingly childish at times. However, deep down lies a very lonely and insecure young woman who acts cheery to escape her anxieties. When she was a baby, she was kidnapped and vanished for three years, only to be found in the Shiki no Mori shrine still looking the same she did three years before, and developed a large scar on her back from the incident. With her being ostracized from her first crush due to her scar and her family hiding the reason for her scar, Kurumi feels left out, yet doesn’t want to doubt her family. Afraid of being ostracized again, she avoids any situations where people would see her bare back. Because of this, including her parents being busy with work most of the time, leaves Kurumi just wanting to have a normal life like anyone else; to fall in love, get married, have kids, and do normal family activities with them. When the truth behind her past comes out, Kurumi feels betrayed and runs off, but Makoto reaches out to her and convinces her of her place in the hearts of her family, and in other routes, rekindles strong bonds with her sisters, Izumi and Haruka.

Developer’s Comments

Kurumi is aware of the special treatment she gets from her family, wondering if they’re hiding something from her. Her love of the occult can be seen as a sign of rebellion against her scientific parents, but she doesn’t want to doubt them, feeling she’s not the kind of person they’d keep secrets from, and her innocent personality is an act, unconscious representation of her desire for people not to keep secrets from her. In Haruka’s Route, while she doesn’t end up learning the connection between her and Haruka, she may have suspected they had a connection due to her intuition. Kurumi is the type who is adaptable, and so is quick to accept anything that happens before her, such as the truth behind her and Makoto’s time travel.

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Izumi Morino


The kind and motherly temporary manager of Lunabeach, a restaurant situated on the local Moon Beach, Izumi is Kurumi’s older sister who rarely breaks her gentle aura. In truth, however, Izumi is in fact a teacher at Makoto’s college and the brains behind the Seminar Camp, having set it up as a counterproof experiment of the phenomenon known as Cure Syndrome. After learning from her parents the truth of Kurumi’s kidnapping and subsequent disappearance, Izumi strove to discover the truth behind the incident and investigated the island many times to no avail. Skipping several grades and graduating young, Izumi became familiar with Cure Syndrome around the time she became a teacher. Her logical side rejected the hypothesis as unscientific, but in her heart, wanted to believe it could be true so she could erase Kurumi’s kidnapping from history so the tragedy would never happen. Unfortunately, she also has a very bad habit of refusing to reveal secrets until the worst possible times, leading to tragedy in Kurumi’s Route and her own, because she is afraid of how Kurumi will react if she hears the truth. However, in the Cure A ending, Makoto convinces her that she’s being selfish and Haruka and Kurumi deserve to know the truth. Once she does, the sisters all reconcile and form newfound yet strong bonds with each other.

Developer’s Comments

Much like her sisters, Izumi expresses a love of water. Water was chosen to be a shared like between them because it has a pleasant image, and likened the image of beautiful sisterly love to how though water can change into all sorts of forms, such as ice and water vapor, its true nature stays the same no matter what form it’s in, much like how the Morino sisters developed differently yet share that point. Izumi unconsciously believes that if she doesn’t know the truth, it’s mentally healthier to come up with a solution for it so she doesn’t have to think of anything unpleasant, meaning she is impassive from an objective standpoint. Her statement of “Regulus is continuing to shine, even now,” is made because she believes what she sees in front of her is truly reality.

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Okuhiko Iida


The heir to the Iida Financial Group, Okuhiko is a ladies man who flaunts his wealth and status to attract women, and comes off as vain and shallow for it. He has a crush on Haruka and constantly hits on her to no avail, while constantly scorning Makoto and belittling him as a perceived rival in love. But karma is a constant companion there for Okuhiko, always showing up to dish out damage for every bad act he performs, some of the game’s most amusing scenes showing him getting his comeuppance. Izumi’s Route even revolves almost entirely on him getting such comeuppance. However, Okuhiko is actually quite intelligent and perceptive when he wants to be, showing a keen insight at times and having a good idea of how human relationships work. He is also in on the experiment as Izumi’s assistant (which may be linked to how his family are in fact patrons to Dr. Morino), playing the skeptic who always doubts Makoto’s premonitions to act as a voice of “reason” and reality, as well as setting up certain tricks to make Makoto believe his premonitions are actually the truth. And of course, he has a childish side too, as he often dreams of being a superhero at his own theme park show as “Artificial Human Okkuman.”

Developer’s Notes


Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Part 4)

In today’s retrospective, we look to analyze four of the seven characters of Never7 and learn some background stories about their development. These analyses will be broken up into two parts: an overview of the character themselves, followed by some developer comments about the character.


Makoto Ishihara


The protagonist of the game, Makoto is a college student who skips most of his classes, leaving him without enough credits to graduate and forcing him to attend the Seminar Camp. As he reveals to Izumi at one point, his truancy can possibly be attributed to how he has no idea what he wants to do with his life after he graduates college. However, this nature also makes him an easy mark for Izumi’s Curé Syndrome counterproof experiment, since he has never met Izumi, unlike the rest of the seminar students. However, Makoto is still a good-natured young man who is nice and courteous to others, and is very sincere about his feelings. though he has a habit of exploding with anger and taking rash actions when he’s convinced he’s been fooled. Regardless, he will go to any length to keep the people he cares about from dying, even to the point of going back in time over and over again until he gets it right.

Developer Comments

Makoto is a very notable case of being a “player avatar” – a visual novel protagonist who is deliberately given a very basic personality so the player can project themselves onto them easier and feel as though they’re directly interacting with the game. The motivation for making Makoto this way was directly influenced by Uchikoshi’s own experiences with Memories Off. There, he had made protagonist Tomoya Mikami more individualistic, with a penchant for telling outrageous lies rather than telling the truth, making reckless remarks, weird jokes, and having a rebellious personality. However, this attracted much criticism for players, who complained that they couldn’t connect with Tomoya very well over aspects like that, and that the developers apparently didn’t understand that for visual novels, the protagonist should be the player. Uchikoshi took these criticisms to heart and made Makoto much less individualistic in order to make him a player avatar. He also displays the view that “men exist to protect women” – a personal view of Uchikoshi’s that he was rather particular about (though Nakazawa considered it old-fashioned).

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Yuka Kawashima


Yuka is the outgoing leader of the Seminar Camp, very friendly with others and always tries to serve as the group’s moodmaker, and can be critical of others who fall out of line. She is also a stern lover of alcohol, frequently downing dozens of bottles of beer and going off on drunken tirades no one can hope to stop. She is also a good friend of Saki’s from middle school, though they have become slightly estranged after an incident then. However, behind all that cheer lies a fractured girl scarred by the death of her middle-school crush, who sacrificed his life to save her from a burning hotel before she ever had a chance to tell him her feelings. Afraid to fall in love again after this traumatic incident, Yuka is chained to the past, unable to move past it (a character trait that later became trademark of some of Nakazawa’s own protagonists in titles like I/O and Root Double). Furthermore, much like Makoto, she too has premonitions of the future, and is one of the only two heroines who retains their memories on the second loop. Unfortunately, her tendency to hide aspects of the truth leads to more tragedy until it finally puts a strain on her relationship with Makoto. But with the help of Saki, Yuka is finally able to gather the courage to confront her feelings and take that step forward, finally allowing her to break out of the infinite loop and be true to her feelings for Makoto as they greet the sunrise of April 7th together.

Developer Comments

Yuka was made to be a friendly girl who could get along with anyone in order to disguise the time travel twist. By giving her that personality, the player would not find it odd how easily she seemed to get along with Makoto, to the point of referring to him without honorifics. But that said, she was conscious of him from the very beginning because she reminded her of her long-lost crush, while Makoto merely considered her a friendly girl at first, not becoming conscious of her until their conversation at the cherry blossoms on April 4th, when he becomes jealous when she mentions her first crush. If it ever came down to Makoto and her crush, she would definitely pick Makoto, but due to her lingering regrets over her crush, feels she can’t move on to Makoto until she’s settled that matter. So when she learns about the time travel, she tries to use it to take care of that matter, only to fail.

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Haruka Higuchi


A stoic and taciturn member of the Seminar Camp, Haruka almost never speaks to others except when necessary to the point of ignoring others, leading to the misconception she is cold. The only thing she seems to show any sort of reaction or interest in is water, which she often finds herself lost in. However, the truth is far from the case, as Haruka merely feels her entire existence is pointless. Born as the clone of Kurumi Morino to replace her after the latter’s kidnapping, she was scarred by her sister Izumi for being a replacement and was ultimately removed from the Morino family after the original Kurumi was found. Having lost the original meaning of her existence, Haruka suffers from a massive inferiority complex over being a clone whose original is still around. She believes that she is literally “nothing,” despite her supreme academic skills that allowed her to skip a grade, and because of that, believes she has no “heart” or emotions, and often struggles to understand other people. But beneath it all lies a gentle girl who can show deep compassion for others and can express great passion for herself. But by spending time with the members of the Seminar Camp, her hearts opens little by little, showing especial growth in her own route and Izumi Cure, the latter of which has her reconnect with her long-lost sisters. In her own route, with the help of Makoto, she is able to find her own worth and realizes that she doesn’t need to define her entire existence around Kurumi, realizing it’s okay for her to be her own person, and sees them off with a smile, eager to meet them once again.

Developer Comments

As a clone, Haruka received special treatment throughout her entire life, also leading to her ending up the way she did. She was given a love of sea roaches by the staff to give her some strange to like to contrast her serious image, though the exact reason why they decided on sea roaches has been forgotten. Haruka notably shares the same voice actress as her original, Kurumi. This element was decided at the same time Haruka was made Kurumi’s clone in the planning stages as a form of foreshadowing, and so Yuki Matsuoka ended up voicing both Haruka and Kurumi. While Nakazawa was initially concerned if this could be pulled off convincingly, Matsuoka and her strikingly different performances for the two characters surprised him. What had initially seemed like a simple gimmick became far more interesting, and few players actually realized they had the same voice actress until seeing the credits.

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Saki Asakura

A rich girl staying on the island, Saki is an old friend of Yuka’s from middle school and currently a student at the prestigious K University. On the outside, Saki is usually sociable, but can also be very abrasive, stubborn, and argumentative. Saki sticks very closely to her principles, but this often results in her clashing with others due to her refusal to explain herself and expecting to be taken at her word, which serves to her disadvantage at the most inopportune at moments. She also expresses a prejudice against clones and has a grudge against Haruka, which is revealed to be due to an incident where her parents forced her to stone a clone girl Saki had become friends with, making Saki believe Haruka was that girl. But deep down is a fragile yet kind girl who shows her true self to animals, having a hatred of people after an incident in middle school where she was accused of ripping up a painting the class made called the “Magician’s Portrait,” and no one believed her otherwise, thus she considers all people liars. After an incident in her route where she is convinced no one believes in her own route, she commits suicide. But in the end, Makoto clears up the misunderstanding about Haruka, and convinces her that he still trusts her, leading her to finally be more honest with herself and making up with Yuka and Haruka before deciding to move in with Makoto. In the epilogue, she decides to quit K University and join the group’s college, having formed bonds that she’d never formed back in her old school.

Developer Comments

At their first meeting, Saki is very put off by how Makoto refers to her without honorifics despite arguing with her. Saki actually requires glasses because she is a very hard worker, having studied very hard to get into K Academy and ruining her eyesight as a result, not being a natural genius, but rather a prodigy who works until she gets results. However, Saki also holds a resentment of the naturally talented who can do amazing things without putting much effort into it, which is why she has grudges against Yuka (who was the one who designed the Magician’s Portrait) and Haruka (though to Haruka, who sees herself as different from humans due to being a clone, sees studying as something natural, and thus doesn’t understand why Saki is so aggressive). Because she’s weak deep down, she falls hard for people who are broadminded, which is why she initially fell for Okuhiko until he revealed his shallow nature.


To be continued tomorrow…

Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Part 3)

Never7 -The end of infinity

A month after the release of INFINITY cure., the Dreamcast remake of infinity was released. Instead of infinity, the Dreamcast version was titled Never7- the end of infinity. The title “Never7” was chosen for its meaning “never become 7,” referring to how due to the infinite loop, Makoto could never reach April 7th, as well as how all seven cast members could never all stay alive, while “the end of infinity” referred to “ending the infinite loop.” In addition to the original ending of Izumi Curé, Never7 included an additional ending known as the Curé B Ending (renamed to the “Izumi Curé Normal Ending” in the PSP release), made from a desire of the staff to include a shocking “twist ending” in the vein of the recently released The Sixth Sense. These two endings were created to juxtapose each other – while the Curé A ending leaned towards the supernatural solution being correct, the Curé B ending leaned towards the Curé Syndrome solution being correct.

A new vocal ending theme was added for Izumi Curé titled “Treasure Dream,” composed by future 5pb./MAGES CEO Chiyomaru Shikura and performed by Tomoko Kawakami. Izumi Curé was also recorded by the same voice cast as Never7, and due to the larger disc space of the Dreamcast’s GD-ROM, the voice acting was able to be included without notable voice compression (though voice acting for all pre-existing infinity content remained compressed). Oddly enough, however, Saki did not have any new voiced dialogue in the new content of Never7, with any new scenes featuring her using recycled audio and dialogue from infinity. The infamous Izumi Route was instead delegated as a bonus, non-canon route unlocked after viewing the epilogue for Izumi Curé. Also, if a player put the game’s GD-ROM into a CD player, a gag audio skit between Yuka and Kurumi played, as part of a well-known tradition for games at the time. Furthermore, Never7 made use of the Dreamcast’s VMU add-on to allow players to view how they were progressing in their relationships with the heroines. The game also added 23 additional CGs to events that previously did not feature any.

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Meanwhile, Yuka Cure was delegated not as part of the main game, but as a side-story used as a sample to sell KID’s new unique feature to fans: the Append Story system. Originating as a concept for a separate “Visual Novel Maker” game in the vein of titles like RPG Maker for KID, where players could create their own visual novels and freely distribute them via network (out of a personal desire from KID’s higher ups to do something unique with the Dreamcast’s network features), KID’s programmers quickly realized the concept would have required far too much time and money to accomplish. It was then thought it should be turned into a game where players sent their own scenarios to be turned into visual novels, but thought that system would have little appeal. So instead, it was added to Never7. With the Append Story system, players could write up their own fan-written scenarios (essentially fanfiction) and send them to KID. If approved, KID’s staff would take that scenario and put it through scripting and coding, and once a week, they would release one of these scenarios online. Players could download these scenarios through their Dreamcast and play them. The genres of the scenarios widely varied from serious to humorous, taking advantage of the story’s loop gimmick and deliberate ambiguity to justify them. Around this time, KID released several of their setting documentation for players in order to write scenarios with consistency towards the main story. The system was a huge success, and while the exact number has been lost, roughly 50 scenarios were written and released through this system. The system was a hit with players, and as a result, saw continued usage in KID’s future Dreamcast titles, most notably Memories Off 2nd and My Merry May until the system was eventually discontinued around the time of development of Ever17 -the out of infinity- due to the increasing complexity of the settings and stories of KID’s titles.

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The final result was a generally positive release. In addition to the pre-existing praise for the content retained from infinity, Never7 received high praise for the Izumi Curé route, as players were reportedly very surprised and thrilled by the game’s sudden venture into thought provoking science fiction territory, and for providing a much more satisfying ending. And while the game’s sales ultimately did not exceed Memories Off as its staff had been hoping, it ultimately was a greater commercial success than infinity, giving the game a reputation as a “hidden masterpiece.” However, there were still a few complaints, notably over several lingering mysteries that remained unanswered, and the heightened presence of typographical errors found in Izumi Curé compared to the other routes. However, Nakazawa and Uchikoshi remained unmoved in their stance towards the lingering mysteries, wanting to leave them up to interpretation to invoke fan discussion. The official Never7 site FAQ reflected this view, and years later, Nakazawa would say that each route had its own truth, and there was no singular overarching answer (a view that would be elaborated on in the PSP version).


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After its release, Never7 was ported to a variety of consoles. First, following the footsteps of Memories Off, it was given a PC release in 2001, containing most of the content of the Dreamcast version, though lacking some of its extra features and requiring to have the game’s soundtrack CD in the PC’s disc drive in order to play the game’s BGM (this version was also included with the 2008 Infinity Plus bundle made to commemorate the release of 12Riven -the psi-climinal of integral, and a separate reprint of the PC version was also released at the same time). Another PC version was released in China in 2002 under the title Shiguang zhi Yao, or “The Wheel of Time.” In 2003, the game was ported to the PlayStation 2, featuring a remixed soundtrack and polished interface. Though the Append Story system had already been discontinued by this time, the majority of the pre-existing Append Stories were also included with the PS2 version. While the PS2 version was planned for a release in South Korea and even had a finished localization, the publisher withdrew from the PS2 market just before it was set to release, leaving the project permanently shelved.

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In 2009, a PlayStation Portable version of the game was released, developed by Regista (comprised of several former KID staff members, including Nakazawa) and released by Cyberfront (who owned the rights to the Infinity series at the time). Using the PS2 version as a base, this version of the game contained a new opening movie, new opening and ending themes by the band ASRIEL (“Treasure Dream” remained the Izumi Curé ending theme), and the addition of the “TIPS” glossary system that was first introduced to the series in Remember11. These TIPS, written by Nakazawa, shed some further light on the game’s characters, setting, and pseudoscience, clarifying the game’s stance on its deliberate ambiguity. The game’s gallery also featured a collection of promotional art that had been produced for the game over the years.

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Years later, a digital version of the PC version would be released on Cyberfront’s online shop GameLiner, and even offered the game free in late 2011 to promote the release of Code_18. In August 2012, an iOS port of Never7 was released, included with a calendar, calculator, and several minigames. Both of these releases were eventually recalled when Cyberfront declared bankruptcy in 2014. Afterwards, MAGES acquired the rights to the Infinity series, and in 2015, a digital version of the PC release was released on their online shop Magino Drive, where it remains to this date.

To be continued tomorrow…

Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Part 2)

Road to the end of infinity – Infinity Cure

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After the release of infinity, the staff was left with a sense of dissatisfaction of the less than satisfactory release and reception of the game they had worked hard to make. As a result, the staff, with the guidance of producer Kazuhiro Ichikawa, planned an extended version of infinity as a sort of reconciliation to the players and to take another go at seeing if they could make the game a hit, some declaring it as their “revenge.” Unlike infinity, this game would be released on Sega’s Dreamcast system. At the time, the Dreamcast was an ideal system for visual novel developers, possessing higher specs than the traditional Sega Saturn or PlayStation, yet also being cheaper and easier to develop for than the upcoming PlayStation 2. It also had a higher number of visual novel fans as owners, being the followup to the Saturn, Japan’s biggest home console for visual novels at the time. The majority of infinity’s staff would return to work on this extended version of the game, which was set for release at the end of the year.

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While this version of the game would be come to be known as Never7, as work on the game was being prepared, two more scenarios were produced: Izumi Curé, a brand-new route centered around the heroine Izumi that featured a brand-new resolution to the story and its mysteries with the introduction of a new plot element known as “Curé Syndrome,” and Yuka Cure, a retelling of Yuka’s Route from infinity from the perspective of Yuka herself, featuring additional subplots not found in the original route and a new, additional ending. Uchikoshi and Nakazawa were in charge of these scenarios, though the only confirmed writing credit is Nakazawa on Yuka Cure.

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Having learned their lesson from the sales and criticisms of the PR department on infinity, KID decided to put their advice into practice and include the time travel aspect of the game in the foreground of the advertising for this new version of infinity. However, this now left the game without a central surprise “plot twist,” to defy player expectations. As a result, there was a need to create a new central plot twist, ultimately leading to the creation of Curé Syndrome – a fictional phenomenon that could turn delusions into reality. This inclusion of Curé Syndrome completely changed the nature of the game. What had originally been a love story featuring supernatural elements such as premonitions and bells that could create time travel was now completely turned on its head.  Instead, the central reveal now was that all the events in the game were perhaps not time travel after all, but merely a delusion in the protagonist’s head. By introducing this harder science fiction element, the validity of previous explanations for the time travel were put into question, leaving players with the uncertainty of how much they played was true and how much was delusion.

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Curé Syndrome was also deliberately designed to be ambiguous, as the validity of the phenomenon was directly questioned in the story and never confirmed, leaving the audience with two possible interpretations of the plot – that there was actual supernatural time travel going on, or that everything truly was a delusion. This element was addressed in story as the concept that reality was subjective, not objective, and was representative of Uchikoshi and Nakazawa’s desire to leave certain plot points ambiguous and open to invoke audience speculation, leaving hints here and there for players to come up with valid but unconfirmed theories. Nakazawa explained the justification for this mindset was that leaving plot points open for speculation would lead to discussion over the game in the future that would keep players talking about it long after it had been released. In contrast, had they left clean-cut answers in the game itself, no such discussion would have occurred, and players would have likely remembered it as simply a good game and nothing more, which would have caused the game to be quickly forgotten. To this date, neither Nakazawa nor Uchikoshi have confirmed if there is a “correct” interpretation of the game. This mindset would form the core philosophy of future games in the series to varying degrees of ambiguity.

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To appease fans of Infinity who were waiting for Never7 at the time and might not have wanted to repurchase the full game for the little bit of additional content, these two scenarios were compiled and use as the base for a “port” of sorts for Infinity on the NeoGeoPocket: INFINITY cure. Due to the lower specs and screen of the NeoGeoPocket, only these two routes were included. In addition to its significance to the story, the title was chosen for its similarity to Memories Off Pure, another NeoGeoPocket title by KID released as a short prequel of sorts to Memories Off (which, much like Never7, would later be incorporated into Memories Off’s Dreamcast re-release). According to sources, there were actually plans for one more route called “Kurumi Cure,” but it was ultimately left out due to a lack of cartridge space on the NeoGeoPocket and for structural reasons, and it has never been released in any form since, nor have any details been released regarding its purported content except that it was meant to be a route from Kurumi’s perspective, much like Yuka Cure. Due to the limited space, Nakazawa and Uchikoshi were forced to re-edit and rewrite the content of their routes to fit space limitations. This simultaneous development of INFINITY cure. and Never7 forced the staff to work long hours in order to finish both on schedule. Furthermore, infinity museum, a CD containing Windows accessories based off of infinity, was also created and released on September 24th, 2000, containing a variety of art materials within.

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INFINITY cure. was released on November 23rd, 2000. While the overall content was praised, due to the obscurity of the NeoGeoPocket, INFINITY cure. was ultimately overlooked by a majority of players, mainly attracting players of Memories Off Pure. It would be a month before INFINITY cure.’s intended audience would see this new content, and the staff would receive the reception they had finally been awaiting.

Never7 -the end of infinity- A Retrospective (Part 1)

Today, April 1, 2019, marks the day that the 2000 visual novel Never7 -the end of infinity takes place. Never7 was the start of the famous Infinity series by the now-defunct company KID, followed by the more famous titles in the series, Ever17 -the out of infinity and Remember11 -the age of infinity. It was also famous for jump-starting the careers of its main creative team – scenario writer Kotaro Uchikoshi, and director/scenario writer Takumi Nakazawa. The game also has a very personal place in my own heart, being the first game I ever translated (albeit an unofficial fan-translation) that was the spark to my own career in the localization business. It taught me the ins and outs of translation, directing, and localization, led to the creation of Lemnisca, and was where I met teammates who I still consider close friends to this day. So to commemorate this game, I would like to spend the next few days covering a retrospective of the game and its production history.

WARNING: This retrospective contains spoilers all the way to the end of the game.

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Never7- the end of infinity tells the story of Makoto Ishihara, a 20 year old college student who, due to his truant nature, is forced to attend his college’s “Seminar Camp” – a seven day seminar spent from April 1st – April 7th on an unnamed island to the south, centered around building bonds with fellow seminar members. However, on the morning of April 1st, Makoto is plagued by a nightmare of a girl dying on April 6th with a bell clutched in her hand. He wakes up and dismisses it as a dream, but as he goes through the seminar and starts bonding with its members, he starts having more and more premonitions of the future that turn out to be correct, making Makoto wonder if his so-called “nightmare” wasn’t a dream after all…

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The Beginning of Infinity

Tokyo, Japan, 1999. Fresh off the development of their soon to be surprise success first original visual novel, Memories Off, Kindle Image Develop, more commonly known by the acronym KID, who had only dealt with handling the porting of adult visual novels to consoles until that point, was eager to continue venturing into the visual novel (known in Japanese as the “ADV”) market. In response, Kotaro Uchikoshi, the lead writer of Memories Off, conceived the idea for an original PlayStation visual novel known as infinity. While Memories Off was the story of a young man who learns to open his heart to love again after the tragic loss of the love of his life, infinity could be considered to be its antithesis, built around the concept of a protagonist who would prevent the death of the protagonist’s love through premonitions of the future. Much like Memories Off, this title would be a romance VN, whose ultimate goal was for the player to develop a relationship with its each of its heroines and end up as a couple with the girl of their choice. Uchikoshi had initially wanted to use more science fiction elements in the story, but was instructed by KID’s higher ups to de-emphasize those elements and focus on the romance and the heroines as the selling points. While the staff ultimately decided not to make infinity a sequel to Memories Off, they decided to leave in a few subtle references to the game that indicated the two could take place in the same universe, such as having Izumi mention herself as a former student of Sumisora, the game’s school, and featuring the main heroine of Memories Off, Yue, as a little girl. However, when asked, the staff neither confirmed nor denied that it took place in the same universe.

As the concept developed, the main idea changed from a protagonist who simply had premonitions to time travel. Instead of truly having precognition, it would turn out that the protagonist was in fact stuck in an infinite time loop where the heroine kept dying each time, leading him to go back in time to try to save her. In-game, this was represented with each character route having two parts; the first part being a four day common route followed by two days centering around the heroine. Upon her death, the protagonist would be sent back in time, and the second part would begin: a repeat of those six days with the protagonist attempting to use his knowledge to change history, save the heroine, and help her with the emotional issues surrounding her. Initially, the setting of the story was intended to be a peninsula that had been cut off by a rockslide in order to prevent the cast from fleeing, but due to staff members questioning why the characters wouldn’t just climb over the rocks to escape, this was changed to an isolated island during a week of rough sea weather.

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The development team’s staff was helmed by director Takumi Nakazawa, making his first original game debut as a director after having previously directed the Wonderswan port of the game Kiss yori…. The scenario draft was written by Uchikoshi, and in addition to him, the writing team was comprised of four other writers: Nakazawa (in his debut work as a scenario writer), Chabou Higurashi (also from Memories Off), Takeshi Hodoshima, and producer Kazuhiro Ichikawa. To this date, with the exception of Higurashi confirming he wrote the second loop of Haruka’s Route, the assignment of the routes to the writers remains a mystery. The character designs were handled by mangaka Yuna Kagesaki, probably most famous for her manga Karin (released in English as Chibi Vampire). The staff instructed Kagesaki to draw different face variations for the characters, but she misinterpreted these instructions and drew both face and sprite variations; an act that would go on to receive praise from players. The soundtrack was composed by KID’s resident composer, Takeshi Abo (who would go on to compose the rest of the Infinity series and would later compose for the famous Science Adventure series, containing famous titles such as Steins;Gate and Chaos Child). When composing, Abo first read the game’s story to get a grasp on its atmosphere and characters, and created music based off those, ultimately result in a lighthearted soundtrack with multiple suspenseful/tense tracks to match the game’s more surreal moments, described by Abo as “geometric.” A soundtrack CD was later released for the game which, in addition to the game’s soundtrack, contained a drama CD depicting a non-canon scenario taking place in the game’s world.

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infinity featured a voice cast consisting of both popular and new voice actors of the time: the late Tomoko Kawakami for Yuka Kawashima (famous for the leading role of Revolutionary Girl Utena), Yuki Matsuoka as Kurumi Morino and Haruka Higuchi (in one of her earliest roles before she later became famous from anime such as Azumanga Daioh and Bleach), Wakana Yamazaki as Saki Asakura (famous for the role of Ran Mori in Detective Conan), Kikuko Inoue as Izumi Morino (famous for playing Kasumi Tendo in Ranma ½ and Belldandy in Ah My Goddess), and Susumu Chiba as Okuhiko Iida (relatively new before he became known for roles in anime such as Gintama). The voice acting was directed by late voice actor Ken Yamaguchi, who also played a small part of a doctor on Haruka’s Route. However, due to the amount of voice acting the game featured, the voice recordings had to be compressed to fit onto a single CD, and to this date, the uncompressed recordings have never been used in any version of the game.

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infinity’s development deadline was scheduled for January 2000, a decision that made a number of staff members, such as Uchikoshi, concerned that their data would be lost with the feared Y2K bug, though no such errors ultimately occurred. After the game’s writing was completed, the staff had some disagreements about the game’s route order. Nakazawa wanted there to be a free route order as was traditional of romance visual novels, while Uchikoshi wanted a stricter order. After discussing their opinions, Nakazawa ultimately compromised by leaving the routes free to player choice (with the exception of Izumi’s Route, initially locked), but compensated by gradually increasing the difficulty of reaching routes by order, and by subtly showing the recommended route order in the opening credits of the movie by displaying the heroines in recommended completion order (Yuka->Haruka->Saki->Kurumi->Izumi).

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infinity was finally released on March 23, 2000. Unfortunately, the game’s sales did not match up to KID’s expectations, and the PR department blamed this on the fact that the team had been instructed to hide any trace of the game’s time travel gimmick from advertising to keep the game’s main twist a surprise. Because of this, players who may have been potentially interested in such elements never picked it up. Furthermore, even the finished product was met with a mixed critical reception by players; while they praised the time travel gimmick and the overall quality of most of the routes (particularly how each route contained links to the other routes and how most characters still had parts to play even outside their own route, as it was a common complaint in visual novels that said characters usually disappeared on every route asides their own), there was a sense of disappointment over the final route seemingly writing off everything that happened in the story as merely a prank, creating a strong sense of anticlimax and ended the game on a somewhat sour note and created contradictions with the game’s explanations of the time loop phenomenon. The game was awarded a score of 26/40 in Famitsu, Japan’s largest gaming magazine. To make matters worse, the game contained a fatal bug where Izumi’s Route could not be reached, forcing KID to quickly issue a reprint of the game with a fix of the bug (the fixed versions of the game were denoted with a star next to the logo on the CD itself), and also allowed players who’d bought the first version to replace their copies for free. Overall, infinity did not meet up to either the commercial or critical success KID had been anticipating, and was largely ignored in favor of Memories Off.

To be continued tomorrow…

Too Kyo Games 4Gamer Interview Translations (Kodaka, Nakazawa, Uchikoshi)

At the end of each year, the Japanese gaming news website “4Gamer” interviews Japanese game creators from a wide variety of companies: from major companies like Square Enix and Capcom to even minor game studios. In these interviews, the creators are asked about things they considered influential from this year, and discuss their aspirations for the next year.

This year, three members of Too Kyo Games: Kazutaka Kodaka, Takumi Nakazawa, and Kotaro Uchikoshi– were featured in this year’s 4Gamer interviews. I have translated their interviews and featured them in this post for those curious.


Kazutaka Kodaka

Representative work(s): Danganronpa series

1. What was the most admirable (or shocking) game released in 2018?

God of War.
One cuts thrived in 2018. One Cut of the Dead, a zombie-themed movie, was one of them.
For games, that one cut would be this game.
I recommend playing it while paying attention to see if it really is a one cut.


2. What media released in 2018 left the deepest impression on you?

One Cut of the Dead.
It makes me bitter to say this, but I have to give it to this movie, including its popularity.
The reason why I’m bitter is because I also once dreamed of being an independent movie director.
When I learned that this movie which was made almost like an indie movie had become such a hit, I wondered what the look on the face of the me who gave up on that dream would be like.


3. Which person attracted the most attention from you in 2018?

Tenshin Nasukawa
The first hero I’ve seen in a long time in all my decades of watching martial arts.
His stance when he challenges gives me the chills. I’d like to see him fight Takeru [Segawa] in 2019.


4. Please give a message about your aspirations for 2019 and for 4Gamer readers.

In 2018, we presented the formation of Too Kyo Games.
It is quite challenging for us to do with no backing, but I wanted to take on creating works with no protection whatsoever.
Whatever becomes of the company, we will create content the likes of which the world has never seen before.
Please look forward to it.

Takumi Nakazawa

Representative work(s): Root Double -Before Crime * After Days-, Ever17 -the out of infinity-, Punchline

1. What was the most admirable (or shocking) game released in 2018?

God of War.
I was rendered weak in the knees from the constant stream of super-dreadnought level production from the opening battle onward, the likes of which I’d never seen before.


2. What media released in 2018 left the deepest impression on you?

I cried twice when I saw it in the theater.


3. Which person attracted the most attention from you in 2018?

Yuusaku Maezawa
He attracted my attention in all sorts of ways (though I think it was the same for everyone).
It’s a shame they changed the Zozosuit from the initial model. I had been looking forward it.


4. Please give a message about your aspirations for 2019 and for 4Gamer readers.

This year, I transferred to a new studio known as Too Kyo Games.
We’re already working on multiple projects, but one of them, Death March Club, has already been announced.
I’ve been working on it with my fellow Too Kyo coworkers Kazutaka Kodaka and Kotaro Uchikoshi, along with other superb staff members. By putting our talents together, we are creating a very fun game.
The release is still a ways off in 2020, but we plan to start full-fledged promotion next year and gradually convey its appeal to everyone. Please look forward to it and put some pressure on us.

Kotaro Uchikoshi

Representative work(s): Ever17 -the out of infinity-, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Doors, Nine Persons, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

1. What was the most admirable (or shocking) game released in 2018?

Detroit: Become Human.
To put it in a single phrase, it was a game that left me feeling “envious.” Its structure was a kind any visual novel game creator has envisioned at least once, but usually never seriously considered presenting when faced with the generally expected costs. And what particularly surprised me was that this game barely reused any backgrounds. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And industry-wise, it fulfilled several conditions for a “concept that is difficult to pull off.” Despite that, writer/director David Cage succeeded. It was a very shocking game in the sense of “what sort of presentation skills are needed to pull off this concept?” And the story was very interesting too, of course!


2. What media released in 2018 left the deepest impression on you?

For anime, it would be Pop Team Epic. It had been a long time since I’d seen an anime this insane. “Bob Epic Team” was particularly crazy. It even made me want to make something as breakthrough as this… Eisai Haramasukoi! For movies, it would be Baahubali. I saw both The Beginning and The Conclusion. All the theatrical elocution was wack but cool, and I found myself so mesmerized I was taking notes. Perhaps it resonated with Japanese subculture with its alluring beauty of form aspects. Baahubali! Baahubali!


3. Which person attracted the most attention from you in 2018?

I thought NieR:Automata (it came out last year but I played it this year) was to die for.

Chiaki Mayumura
I think she’s probably a genius.

“Arita Generation” was hilarious.

Yuriyan Retriever
“Documental” was hilarious.

Charlie Brooker
Producer and screenwriter for Black Mirror. Personally, I find Black Mirror to be really amusing. Looking forward to season 5!


4. Please give a message about your aspirations for 2019 and for 4Gamer readers.

June 2018. I lost my wallet in Kabukicho, but it was returned to the police with everything still intact. July. I left my tablet PC in my airplane seat, but safely recovered it through the efforts of several people. September. My iPhone disappeared in Shibuya, and I thought it had been stolen, but the next day, I miraculously found it lying in a bush. December. I forgot my bag at a meeting hall, but through the cooperation of the organizer, it was safely returned to me… So my resolution for 2019 is “don’t lose anything!”
Incidentally, 2019 is the year AI: The Somnium Files will be released. I created it for visual novel fans. If you like visual novels, then I think you’ll enjoy this for sure! I am also eagerly working on Death March Club. This one is also to die for! In addition, I am also carefully toiling on titles I can’t announce yet. I hope they can be announced next year, so keep an eye out for them!

Too Kyo Games Unveiling Livestream Summary

Yesterday, at 7 PM JST, Famitsu hosted a livestream for the unveiling of a new gaming company, “Too Kyo Games“.

Members of Too Kyo Games:

Representative: Kazutaka Kodaka (Danganronpa)
Composer/Arranger: Masafumi Takada (Danganronpa, No More Heroes)
Character Designer/Illustrator: Rui Komatsuzaki (Danganronpa, Fate/Grand Order)
Illustrator/Character Designer: Shima Drill (Danganronpa, Fate/Grand Order)
Director/Scenario Writer: Takumi Nakazawa (Infinity series, I/O, Root Double)
Novelist/Scenario Writer: Yoichiro Koizumi (Absolute Despair Hagakure)
Director/Scenario Writer: Kotaro Uchikoshi (Infinity series, Zero Escape series)

Their main roles will be focusing on developing projects/original concepts, design work, scenario writing, music, and planning. They will also cross over into other medias, such as anime. They wish to create “strong IPs”, as well as delve into their own indie work.

Too Kyo Games began around October/November last year, and currently, they have four projects in the works.
Project #1:

*Slogan: “Kodaka & Uchikoshi Joint Scenario Project! ‘Extreme’ x ‘Despair'”
*Kodaka normally writes alone, but he’d wanted to do a joint scenario ever since creating the company.
*Uchikoshi heard many overseas fans requesting a collaboration from the two.
*Kodaka came up with the original concept, while Uchikoshi kneads it together. Currently in production.
*All the other members are involved as well, with the designs being split between Komatsuzaki and Shima Drill.
*The title, platform, genre, and release window are undecided. Kodaka asks for people to send their opinions.

Project #2 (Anime):

Slogan: “Everyone is a Villain.”
*Original project produced by Studio Pierrot.
*The director is Tomohisa Taguchi (Persona 3 movies). The scenario writer is Norimitsu Kaiho (School Live, Danganronpa 3). Kodaka is in charge of the plot.
*Going for a 90s action movie aesthetic, along with movies like Kill Bill and Snatch. Everyone is a villain. Only criminals show up.
*Concept art by Komatsuzaki.
Project #3:

Slogan: “Death game for kids, by kids”
*Illustrations by Take (Zaregoto)
*Elementary school kids in a death game. Incorporates children’s juvenile nature. Similar to the halcyon days of one’s childhood. Different from a normal death game, the likes of which have never been seen.
*Uchikoshi working on the scenario, while Kodaka is the senior supervisor. Koizumi is the secondary scenario writer, while Nakazawa is the director. Death game with the familiar Nakazawa x Uchikoshi combo.
*Films such as E.T. and The Goonies were an influence.
*The concept art incorporates the game’s message and themes. Many secrets are hidden, so maybe it will be fun to guess them.


Project #4:

Slogan: “Dark fantasy-esque adventure by Spike Chunsoft x Too Kyo Games”
*Kodaka wanted to continue working with Spike Chunsoft though he is no longer with them, so he came up with the project and was very enthusiastic about doing it.
*Wanted to play a detective adventure that takes place in a peculiar town where a murder case occurs. A dark fantasy with a world like something out of Tim Burton.
*Danganronpa members like Takada, Komatsuzaki, and Shima Drill are participating as well.
*Novelist Takekuni Kitayama, who came up with plot twists in “Danganronpa V3”, will be participating as well.
*Wanted to create the kind of world that would be difficult to describe.

Regarding the Danganronpa series, Kodaka said that he might go back to it if all his projects turn out to be a success, but if they turn out to be failures, he wouldn’t want to go back. Otherwise, he’d feel like he was just doing it for money, which would be rude. So he would rather wait and see first, but is up for the idea.


*Though not related to Too Kyo Games, Nakazawa also announced that he is working on an original anime as the concept writer and screenwriter.
*Genres are “two worlds”, “boy meets girl”, and “battle”, genres which Nakazawa has not delved into before.
*Studio and title of anime still unknown.
*On another note, Uchikoshi announces that production of “AI: The Somnium Files” will not be affected by any of this, and he is still working as its director.


(Credit for article images and summarized text goes to https://gamestalk.net/post-105114/)