White Album 2 PS3 Interview

For those who want to face society with all their strength: [Dengeki PlayStation] Presenting an interview with Aquaplus Director Naoya Shimokawa about White Album 2: The Other Side of Happiness, which has received high ratings in this publication!

—To start, please tell us why it was decided that White Album 2 would be ported to the PS3.

Naoya Shimokawa: This is a little bit vague, but right around the time immediately following the release of part 2 of the PC edition, we were thinking that, in the winter of this year, we would like to release a consumer version. As it happens, among the users of our company’s products, there are many people who don’t use their PCs for gaming. Because of that, and since we wanted to see as many people play as possible, the popularity of the PC version led us to consider porting it to the PS3. Before that, the preparations themselves had been coming dimly into shape since before the PC version went on sale.

—The PC edition drew extraordinarily high ratings from its users. What do you think is the primary factor in that?

Shimokawa: I think the “overwhelmingly enthralling story” could be about the sum of it. Apart from that, there aren’t all that many games that go beyond high school, and depict the growth of the characters over a long period of time afterward. Add to that the devices and directions of the scenario, all of the missed meetings happening at a level that could be inevitability or could be coincidence, but it’s impossible to tell… It’s a realistic human drama, in a perfectly depicted form.

—When you read users’ impressions on the internet, you definitely see an overwhelming number of people saying that they loved the story.

Shimokawa: But if it’s a question of whether you can praise it highly and recommend it to other people, the main story has a lot of elements that tighten up your chest, and it’s not necessarily the type of work that can be easily recommended. (laughs) In the case of romance-focused AVGs [adventure games], there are some people who prefer pure love and aren’t fans of love triangles, while there may be others playing the same game who like the reasoning component but not the romance component. However, I feel that this work has what I would call “an interest that surpasses genre.” For example, I don’t like horror movies very much, especially so-called “grotesque” types, but I’ve watched films in the Saw franchise, which is internationally praised highly, and it’s definitely interesting. It has the guro element, but it’s still interesting. I might call this game another work that stands at a point outside the fences of genre, and can give its own kind of enjoyment that way.

—The PC version was sold in two parts. Was that planned from the beginning?

Shimokawa: There were several different circumstances at work, but as I was reading the scenario in progress, I thought that breaking it apart would make things more interesting. So, there was an “intentional” component. Though I was definitely aware that there would be some backlash from users over the split.

—It seemed to me like the gap between the two parts served to heighten the emotional impact of the second part.

Shimokawa: I agree, since continuing into a second part means you can’t give a perfect, complete ending to the first part. When the second part was released, we also released it as a set with the first part, but I think the state of mind of the players who played the first, waited a year, and then played the second is completely different from those who played the whole thing as a set. Their reactions diverged a bit, and the characters they got attached to were different, too.

  • Experiencing The Other Side of Happiness all at once

—The PS3 edition collects the two parts of the PC edition into one volume. What do you think will be the appeal of that?

Shimokawa: I think the biggest merit is in being able to play this thing you want to enjoy from start to end, all at once. The way the PC version was set up had interest in the completeness of the “no one knows what’s going to happen next” element. But, though we considered using the same technique with the PS3 version, we realized that with spoilers around, there was really no point in splitting it. If we stopped the first part at an uncertain point, there was a possibility that people might just go find the info on the internet. Therefore, we decided to make the PS3 version a set, so that people could play the second part without getting any unintended preconceptions.

—By the way, is it set up so that you have a choice of what point to start from when you play?

Shimokawa: No, you start with part 1. Playing the first part is what allows you to be surprised and moved by the developments in the second part.

—What is the meaning of The Other Side of Happiness, the subtitle of the PS3 edition?

Shimokawa: The subtitle describes a concept that we’ve had for White Album 2 ever since the project’s initial planning stages. During my first meeting with Maruto-san [scenario writer Fumiaki Maruto], we decided that we wanted White Album 2 to depict “the other side of happiness.” I believe everybody was happy as a child, but once you grow up, there can be both happiness and unhappiness. The idea was to give a complex picture of what exists on that other side.

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