INTERVIEW: Rising Star

How well does Rising Star’s Christmas line-up stand up compared to that of previous years?

We strive to improve year-on-year, and I honestly believe that we have a stronger line-up this year than the last.

Our autumn 2009 release schedule featured the same number of games that we’ll be releasing this year. However, with the exception of Muramasa, there weren’t as many high profile games as we have now – those with a prestigious background or development team, or with the same buzz surrounding the anticipated releases.

Last autumn’s products performed admirably, but this autumn we have a much better foundation from which to launch our marketing.

We have Rune Factory 2, a sequel to the critically acclaimed Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon; there’s Pang: Magical Michael, the return of an arcade classic; a cult hit with Deadly Premonition; Ivy The Kiwi, a new IP from an industry legend; a great RPG called Eldar Saga – and let’s not forget the juggernaut that is Harvest Moon.

All-in-all, I think this is one of the strongest autumn release schedules we’ve had and I am very proud to have the opportunity to bring these games to our territories.

Which titles do you consider to be the biggest potential hits, and why?

Every single one of our games plays a crucial role in Rising Star’s brand strategy: to provide the European public with high quality games from top Japanese studios.

This year’s perfect blend of established franchises and new IPs provides us with a strong line-up – it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint only one title.

We are interested to see whether Deadly Premonition will live up to its already established cult hit status when it comes out this autumn on Xbox 360.

Our stronghold franchise Harvest Moon is back with two titles; Frantic Farming on DS is a puzzler with a farming flavour, and Hero of Leaf Valley on PSP provides a new challenge on a resurgent platform.

Finally, we have Ivy the Kiwi, a title for both Nintendo consoles with each version offering a different approach to its quirky gameplay. As you can see, it is very difficult to choose only one title from this line-up.

We understand you’re particularly excited about Ivy The Kiwi. What makes this game special? How will it stand out from other games?

A title like Ivy The Kiwi doesn’t come by very often so we are delighted to publish it in PAL territories.

One of the reasons why we are so excited about Ivy the Kiwi and what really sets it apart from the rest is the instantly recognisable developer heritage. It was created in Japan by Prope, the highly respected studio led by Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka.

Ivy The Kiwi challenges players with fast-paced action, defying their reflexes and puzzle-solving skills. It also adapts itself perfectly to the unique characteristics of both Nintendo Wii and DS consoles as the controls have been developed to suit everyone’s needs – whether it is playing for short bursts on the go, or long multiplayer sessions at home with friends and family.

The variety of your line-up means that Rising Star will be marketing these titles to different audiences. What challenges does this present?

Our campaigns will be tailored around each specific product.

For example, Pang: Magical Michael is a game that has a unique and cherished history. It was a game, which many adults today grew up with and it has finally returned to the video gaming world.

These potential purchasers may be a little out of the target age group of the game itself, but let’s not forget that Nintendo has blown wide open the preconceptions of who a gamer really is. Now we have gamers in their 30s, 40s and older who own a Nintendo DS, and it has long been acceptable for adults to be seen playing games.

So while it goes without saying that we will promote the game to its core audience, we must not forget that we have this group of gamers where the name Pang may bring with it the powerful nostalgia factor.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Ivy the Kiwi. This is a game from the mind of Yuji Naka, but people won’t necessarily know who that is. The challenge here is to communicate the fact that it’s from the guy who had a hand in creating one of the most recognisable characters in gaming: Sonic the Hedgehog.

We will also feature all of these titles at this October’s expanded London MCM Expo to reach the masses.

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