After its announcement on Microsoft's stage at E3 this year, it was hard to get much of a handle on Platinum Games' Scalebound, beyond it likely being a very good thing - especially for the Xbox One and its prospects in Japan and beyond. Listening to director Hideki Kamiya and producer Atsushi Inaba at a rushed roundtable at this year's Tokyo Game Show, I'm still not entirely sure what Scalebound is, though at least some of the idle speculation that's swirled around the game can have a little more direction now.
Kamiya and Inaba sit together in a hotel room beside a 50-inch TV displaying the Scalebound logo. That's all the TV is there for, though - there's no demo, no presentation and not even a recap of the trailer shown at E3 - leaving just a series of vague answers on what shape Scalebound will take.
Perhaps the most revealing is that this will be a different type of game for Platinum Games, a step or two removed from the slick, fast-paced and hard-edged action of Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and The Wonderful 101. "The main characteristics of the games I've put out require reflexes, intuitiveness," says Kamiya. "It might seem like they're more for advanced and skilled players. How does that change if we've got these gigantic beasts and monsters. It's not really that plus the monsters - that's not how I'm looking at it.
"The way we're approaching our development and building our game is unlike what we've done before. It's a completely new take on how we make this game. So in that sense this game, I don't look at it for just being for very skilled advanced players - it should appeal to a wider range of players. It's not going to have this very high standard, severe risk reward type of feel. The dragon element, the fantasy element, will hopefully attract a wider audience, and the combat system will match those expectations."
As the trailer suggested back at E3, the player will form a bond with monsters that fight by their side, and Kamiya offered up a little more detail on how that will work. "I can't say a whole lot about the detail of the control of the action you have, but you will have a very good sense of this being a living and breathing partner on your side," he said. "Whether it's through battle or the adventure, the relationship and the bond is going to be growing. Your player character and this dragon will form that bond, and in that sense you will have enough of a relationship, in that sense, and it's not just meant to be a tool for battle. It's not meant to be your pet on the side."
An active social element that can be shared like Dragon Dogma's pawns? It's vague - as was everything during the presentation - but it's at least certain that Scalebound is an Xbox One exclusive. Inaba and Kamiya offered a little more on the deal, and how it came about.
"To be exact, this idea, this game concept was not created for the Xbox One," said Inaba. "It's a concept we've been working on for a very long time. It's something Microsoft believed in, and saw the vision that Hideki Kamiya brought to this concept as a director. They saw promise, and they believed in the product, so there was commitment - and they were committed to make that investment in this creation. To us, with that agreement is that we want to support the hardware with the best content possible."
"As the director of the game, I want to add one thing," said Kamiya. "This concept has been with me even before Bayonetta, even before we started working on that game. It's really from the early days of Platinum Games. Fast forward to today, if you think of the various market conditions, where the industry is headed and what's trending, to be able to have this opportunity, to work on an original IP exclusive to one platform, it's a very rare and precious opportunity. For me, as a game director that's focussed on making this game happen, I look at it as a great opportunity and a challenge. I really want to make sure I deliver to people's expectations."