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  INTERVIEW TO YUMEKOBO
(X-X-1998)
 


Part One: This Blazing Star interview to the project staff, discuss the stage design, characters, and its relationship with Pulstar. It was featured in Neo Geo Freak magazine circa 1998.
Due to all the information related with the storyline and characters, we recommend to read the game review.
Interview from: http://shmuplations.com/


Please tell us about what makes Blazing Star special: its basic concept, selling point, etc.

Well, the finished version of Blazing Star is quite different from what we first planned, but some of our design premises from the get-go were: a unified world, lots of cool scenes, a hardcore gameplay system, and a charge shot. The selling point of Blazing Star, as well as it’s charm, is probably the supremely detailed, beautiful graphics. They’re so pretty, people will probably see them and think “Is this really the NEOGEO?” I really want players to enjoy taking the graphics in.

 

As a sequel to Pulstar, was there anything you paid special attention to, or were particularly aware of, in developing Blazing Star?

There wasn’t anything in particular that we tried to carry over from Pulstar, but we were careful to not make Blazing Star too difficult. The director of Pulstar told us “this time, let’s make an easy STG with a charge shot, that anyone can clear.” Strangely enough he completely ignored Pulstar, and wanted us to develop Blazing Star as its own, different game.

So please don’t think of it as a direct sequel; it’s more of a “gaiden” (side story). That’s also partly why we changed the title. Pulstar was complete and perfect in its own right, and was a fun game, but on reflection our director probably thought it was too difficult, too “hardcore.”

What was the biggest thing you struggled with during the development of Blazing Star?

Being on the Neo Geo, the sprite limit meant we couldn’t have as many bullets as we wanted sometimes, and the resulting sprite flicker meant some ideas had to be abandoned. Even now there’s some flicker in places. I’m sorry if it looks bad. Other than that, finding the right balance for enemy placement and attacks was the most difficult thing: too easy and the game would be boring, but when we’d try to make things more interesting, we’d often end up making it too difficult.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced when designing the mechs?

The designers’ biggest challenges were creating the textures, creating the animation, and reducing full-color sprites to 16 colors.1 They also complained about not getting design approval fast enough, and having to redraw the stage 1 boss three times! (sorry about that)

 

Which of the ships do you recommend players try?

The ship I would recommend is the Aryustailm, which is the best for scoring. I encourage everyone to try that ship out and see how much you can score without dying. Personally I also really like the Windina, which I think has a lot of depth to it.

 

Were the characters in Blazing Star modeled after anyone, real or fictional?

I’ll let our character designer Daikichi answer this.

“There was no particular model for Caster Mild. I tried to make his design look somewhat heroic, even though he’s a bad guy.

Leefa was modeled after Yuko Asahina from Tokimeki Memorial, at the (very strong) request of the planners. She has a bit of kogal personality too, a likeable, good girl. Probably.


The model for JB was the super-famous actor Jean Reno. One of the staff members is a huge fan of him, and one of his sketches of Jean Reno had a really good vibe to it, so I used it for JB.

Asayuki came from an original character I made a long time ago, for a game that never got released. I thought it would be a real shame if she was just buried and lost forever, so I used her here.”

…and there you have it. I thought they told us not to reveal all that though…

 

Do you have any interesting stories or anecdotes about how you designed the characters?

The characters’ profiles and backgrounds were almost all created arbitrarily, according to Daikichi’s hobbies and interests (Asayuki, especially).

 

Which characters are your favorites?

I’ll let Daikichi answer this one too: “Definitely Asayuki, since I have a lot of attachment to her. I actually drew three times the amount of rough sketches of her, compared to the other characters.”

Please give a final message to our readers.

Blazing Star isn’t just a game with improved graphics; it also presents a kind of gameplay distinct from Pulstar, fun in its own way. I hope everyone enjoys playing all the different ships.

And to all cosplayers: please cosplay these characters! (how in the world will you manage these costumes?!)




Concept art for Stage 5.



 



Parte 2: This is a 1998 Blazing Star developer Interview, with director Michio Sato. It was conducted by Japanese fans at an old forum.
Due to all the information related with the storyline and characters, we recommend to read the game review.
Interview from: http://shmuplations.com/

 

What is the meaning behind the title, Blazing Star? Is it related to the flower?


Naomi Yamazaki concept art.

It has nothing to do with the flower. I learned about that after the development was over.

Our company, yumekobo, didn’t know whether we would be able to make any more STGs after this, so I think that’s part of the meaning behind “Blazing Star” too. In the very beginning we were talking about this as a sequel to Pulstar, so “Pulstar Blast” and “Pulstar Plus” were other suggestions. But our team didn’t want to use the name Pulstar, because our new game had a different world and gameplay style. For business reasons, though, our President at the time ordered us to use Pulstar in the name.

However, SNK said that Pulstar hadn’t done very well overseas because it was too difficult, and they didn’t want this new game to be associated with that image, so they asked us to come up with a name for the overseas market. One of our ideas was Blazing Star. I remember some of the others were “ZERO HOUR” and “THE ZENITH.”

After that we changed the name for the overseas release to Blazing Star, but the President of SNK made the final call and said we might as well change the Japanese release to Blazing Star, too. Since Pulstar and Blazing Star make up a kind of “star” series, I’m glad we went with those names instead of the others.

What is that thing sticking out in the background, right after the game starts? Is it a rocket, or maybe the ruins of a tower?

The concept for the first stage was “a desert, with the remnants of a past war strewn about the landscape.” Our first draft of the stage only had craters, but that seemed a little empty, so we added that falling battleship.

 


The first boss appears after smashing through what looks like a tombstone, but what in the world is that thing?

I don’t think it’s actually connected to anything in the story. When we were developing Blazing Star, we felt like the appearance of the first boss lacked some oomph, so we asked the main designer of that stage to do something, and that stone is what he drew.


What is that plasma ball thing in the background, right before the third boss?

Yeah… what is that? I don’t think that’s something I suggested or requested. Daikichi, who handled the background for stage 3, drew a lot of interesting things for it. I believe the concept for that stage was “a broken down space station (orbital elevator)”, so I think it’s some kind of energy release or discharge that’s out of control.

 


What is that air fortress you see in the background of stage 5?

That’s actually where stage 6 (and stage 7) take place. It’s supposed to be this humongous structure, since a giant battleship can fit inside it. It’s where Brawshella lives. He made that fortress to protect himself.

 

If J.B. loves his family so much, why did he become a demon?

I think this is something you’ll understand (I hope) if you read the story, but basically JB puts the orders of the army above his own personal desires.

 

What do the cockpits of the various ships look like, given the strange bodies of the pilots?

The Windina’s cockpit is filled with water, and Leefa can swim around in it freely and control the ship. Part of her body is probably connected to the ship somehow.

This is a detailed part of the backstory that Daikichi and I never really fully decided on, but here’s some things I thought were interesting: the Hellhound has a mostly normal cockpit that Caster sits as you’d expect. The Aryustailm has a cockpit that one straddles like a motorcycle, and JB’s super long arms extend out, fitting snugly into the chassis of the ship. Asayuki was Daikichi’s pet character, so I can’t say what he had in mind for the Peplos, but personally I thought her cockpit would have all these cables, and Asayuki would look pretty pathetic there suspended by her wings.

 

What is Braushella’s gender?

Braushella is a boy. My idea for him was that he innocently imagines all these “demons” and his Mother (the first form of the stage 7 boss) then gives birth to his fantasies… something like that. Speaking of which, did you notice the tubes on the ceiling are pulsating? Those are pumping through the capsules that you see there in the stage background. The capsules are filled with the melted down organic goo of various living creatures, and the Mother then uses them as fodder for her attacks, and to create the zako she spits out… now you know!

 

Why do Leefa, JB, Caster, and Asayuki’s ships all have the “E.u.i.” marking on them?

Ah, that… I’m not sure when that was added, but when I asked our designer Daikichi about it, he said it was the “MADE IN BRAUSHELLA” trademark. (laughs)


For “various reasons” the original endings were cut from Blazing Star; 
they were intended to be re-added to the Neo-Geo CD version which never
materialized. In the concept art for this ending, Naomi and Kaoru are reunited.


           


 
         
         
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