GameSpot @ Comic-Con 2008

July 25, 2008

The entrance of the Afro Samurai panelists could not have been more different. Panel moderator and producer Leo Chu led the discussion but started by introducing each panelist. The first to emerge, series creator Takahashi Okazaki was greeted by mild applause, took pictures of the crowd, and seemed very grateful to be so warmly received. His lovely translator, Aki was introduced and was greeted by applause and a few wistles. A deafening roar, thunderous applause and a standing ovation followed Samuel L. Jackson's introduction. For those who may not know, he lends his voice to Afro Samurai and his unfettered alter-ego Ninja Ninja. Two minutes later, after the crowd settled down, the panel began as it was announced The RZA (of Wu Tang Clan infamy) was stuck in traffic.

The Resurrection
From initial appearances, you'd never think this was a panel for a blood-soaked anime and manga series, but an intimate discussion with the most popular stars in the world. The session started with a discussion of the upcoming Afro Samurai Resurrection series. Resurrection picks up two years after the limited series ended, as the titular character is repenting for the many, many, many people he has violently killed. His attempt at redemption is cut short when a villainess (voiced by Lucy Liu) reanimates Afro's father to lead a zombie army and destroy the world. Mister Jackson raised the hype when he indicated, "It's pretty buck wild." Despite his many satire-laden statements about having the show for sale out of his car trunk, the series won't make its debut in Western markets until January of 2009.

Interests and Challenges
After a trailer, showcasing the upcoming Resurrection storyline, the discussion resumed about how the series has been put together. Grayscale, untranslated manga panels full of zombies, decapitations, and red blood cycle from a projector as the panel discussed the difficulties of putting together a successful series. Sam said getting Bob (his apparent pet name for series creator Takahashi Okazaki) to finish the story is almost as big of a stress to him as the weight he feels from the hype and excitement of trying to deliver a good sequel. Sam has watched Asian cinema and enjoyed Lady Snowblood. Afro Samurai is the marriage of the things he loves: violence, blood, sex, rock and roll, and all set in a post-apocalyptic world. From stage right, The RZA leapt onto the satge. Cheers erupted from the crowd as the series composer shook hands, gave hugs, and kissed the translator.

From there, Okazaki-san discussed his inspirations, including his long-time love of hip-hop music. He started doodling in school and on tissue boxes. From those iterative doodles, the character that came to be Afro Samurai was born. When asked, Okazaki told the story of how excited he was when his producer told him Samuel L. Jackson and The RZA were signing on for the localization of the anime. Bashfully, he said he couldn't believe it and thought it was a joke

The RZA got interested when he saw the toy in a New York City store. He found out about the collaboration opportunity. His favorite anime was Ninja Scroll. When The RZA heard Afro Samurai was to be done by the same action directors, he instantly signed on. For Resurrection, he really worked to bring a feminine flair to it. Channeling the old adage, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" he went on to say the music is intended to reflect the fury of the new villainess. The audio has been in production for months and RZA hopes to make the universe grow.

The Game
After an announcement that the 300-page manga is complete and should be in stores this September, the session turned to the part we were waiting for: the game. Not only will the manga's greyscale and bloodsoaked style be carried over, but The RZA will also have a few lines of dialgue. The trailer opens with Afro opening his eyes. Ninja Ninja declares it is "time to do what you do." The trash talking starts as the Afro Samurai's sword cuts deep into enemies, lops heads off, and ends with Kuma (the bear-headed samurai) jumping off a stone spire and out of frame. The trailer was definitely peppered with lots of body parts, blood, and weapons flying. In-engine cutscenes between Ninja Ninja and Afro looked impressive. Sam stated exactly what the room noticed, "you can cut people anywhere in this game."

A live, guided demo was hosted by a Namco Bandai producer. The demo was on the Xbox 360. Whether it was a demo or an actual level in the game was unclear. On-scree prompts showed actions mapped to the controller's face buttons. The X button was a light hit, holding X and Y resulted in a heavy slice during apparent context-sensitive sequences. As time slows, subtle strikes can be performed by using the left analogue stick. In every instance, enemies slice apart amidst streams of blood. Corpses bleed out on the ground and wounds spray blood.

Namco-Bandai has been operating with a 12-person team for two years. Now they are up to 50. The game is currently slated to make its debut on consoles alongside the Afro Samurai Resurrection on January 12, 2009. That is not too far off when the full anime series is going to be released. Stay connected to GameSpot to get all the latest information on this highly anticipated title.


July 25, 2008

July 25, 2008

July 25, 2008

After a surprisingly long line, we managed to get inside of Room 6CDEF just in time to catch the beginning of Capcom's panel about the making of Street Fighter IV. Seth Killian, legendary Street Fighter champion and senior manager at Capcom came out wearing a sweet red Ryu headband and briefly discussed having the fan's ultimate dream job and the 20th anniversary of the Street Fighter series. He then introduced the rest of the panel: producer Yoshinoro Ono and associate producer David Crislip.

Ono started off by talking about how pleased he was at the size of the crowd, and he apologized for making us wait so long for a new Street Fighter. The panel was pleased to talk about how the game was already done and out in Japan, and that they've got it on the floor in their booth ready to play.

More after the break...

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