While tactical RPGs and JRPGs are common enough to have a worldwide audience, some have had difficult gaining traction in the West. Tactical Soccer JRPGs have been around since the days of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and although a few have been able to find an audience outside of Japan, they still struggle in North America outside of Mexico, with 1992’s Tecmo Cup Soccer Game (a heavily Americanized version of 1988’s Captain Tsubasa, based on the anime and manga of the same name) and 2014’s digital only Nintendo 3DS enhanced remake of Inazuma Eleven being the most well known.
Ganbare! Super Strikers, an indie tactical RPG inspired by these past titles seems to be trying to change that with its international release. We sat down with creator, Rese, to talk about the games inspirations, going multiplatform, and the popularity of soccer in the U.S.
IndieHangover: Ganbare! released not too long after the 2018 World Cup, was this planned, or did you originally want to release it earlier?
Rese: The original plan was to release way earlier than I did, but things took longer than expected. At the beginning of 2018 I knew I would finish around the World Cup, so my goal was to release a week before it started. But in the end I couldn’t have it ready in time for that, so I ended up releasing just after the World Cup.
IndieHangover: So when some indies and heavily inspired by an already existing property, they can get into a bit of trouble — such as how —- got into some legal trouble with Saban due to their Power Rangers inspired game, Chrono Squad. Being heavily inspired by the Captain Tsubasa and Inazuma Eleven video game series, was copyright ever something you worried about during development?
Rese: I honestly never thought about copyright issues. Soccer RPG is a (very niche) genre after all and all I did was to build on top of it with some new mechanics that I thought would be a nice addition. Ganbare! Super Strikers doesn’t use any assets from any of those IPs whatsoever, so there shouldn’t be any legal issues.
IndieHangover: One thing I noticed is that there were no difficulty options, which can make it harder for newer players to get invested. What influenced this decision?
Rese: Your players have experience and level up as you play matches, which increases their stats. The matches also have secondary objectives that grant more equipment which can also improve your players’ stats and give them different special abilities. If someone is having trouble winning a certain match, they can always go back to previous ones and earn more experience and new equipment that will help them overcome the more demanding matches. This is a system that has always worked well with JRPGs, which normally don’t have difficulty options either, and that’s why I decided using it.
IndieHangover: I’d like to clarify your previous answer with a few follow up questions: Objectives only give items the first time they’re met, right? Which can put players at a disadvantage when only one or two teammates are learning a skill at a time and requires some grinding for more of the team to acquire those skills. Being JRPG inspired I would think grinding might be something players have to expect though, is that correct? Something else that it seems we both forgot to mention was how players don’t gain experience when the team loses or your players are the same level as the opposing team, I was wondering how you came to this decision?
Rese: You are right, objectives only give items the first time. These items are normally the key to win next matches, but you don’t really need to learn all the abilities with all the players.Players shouldn’t need to grind too much to win matches, but if someone is having problems winning a certain match, they can go back and earn some more experience and new equipment they might have missed. Also, players aren’t supposed to win every match at the first try. I have received feedback from different users saying that gaining no experience after lost matches is a bit too punishing, so I am changing that in the next update.The cap in matches was designed to avoid coming back to older matches with a very powerful team and being able to complete all the objectives very easily. But again, given the feedback from some of the users, I will either increase the cap in the next update or remove it completely.
IndieHangover: So players get to make and customize one character, as well as the team colors and logo, while the rest of the players on the team are predetermined. What influenced decision and why not make the whole team isn’t customizable to that degree?
Rese: The main reasoning behind it would be that you are customizing your avatar in a team you just joined, while the rest of the characters where already part of that team. I also didn’t want it to be a chore, customizing that many characters before even starting the game. I have had some feedback about the customization though, and it looks like it’s a feature that some people is very interested in, so I am considering adding it.
IndieHangover: The customizable characters position is also predetermined as a forward, why not let players choose which position they want their character to play?
Rese: I didn’t want to overwhelm new players with a lot of customizing options. When making decisions as a game designer I often choose whatever option I would prefer as a player.
IndieHangover: While Captain Tsubasa games have been around for a long time and have been on plenty of different systems, Inazuma Eleven has been exclusive to the Nintendo DS, 3DS, and Wii, with many being exclusive to Japan and sometimes Europe. Did this help inspire you to have an international multiplatform release?
Rese: As an indie, releasing your game on as many platforms as possible is always the best way to reach as many people as possible. Visibility on Steam for indie games these days is a big issue, but releasing on consoles, where you compete against less games, can help getting attention for your game.
IndieHangover: With Inazuma Eleven Ares coming to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in the U.S. and Europe in 2019, do you think it will be able to find more fans now that it will be on higher end consoles?
Rese: I like to think there is a niche audience that like games like Inazuma Eleven or Captain Tsubasa (maybe more in consoles than PC since those games have never had a PC release) that could like Ganbare! Super Strikers. I also do think that even though both games appeal to the same type of audience they still offer different things so people can enjoy both.
IndieHangover: What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to an aspiring indie developer?
Rese: Choosing indie developer as a career is very tough. There is a lot of competition out there and certainly not everyone can survive as an indie developer. I have a day job and I create my own indie games on the side, in my spare time. This way there is no financial pressure and I can make the games that I really want to make no matter how niche they are. But whether you are gonna do it as a hobbyist or as a full time professional, the best thing you can do is to start small. Build a few small games that will teach you what is involved in creating a video game from scratch to release and then go from there.
Ganbare! Super Strikers is currently available on PC via Steam and itch.io. It will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch later this year. You can follow Rese on Twitter. If you want to learn more you can check out our Spotlight on the game.