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Designing Phantom Of The Kill’s Western Content

This is Tariq Lacy, product marketing manager for Phantom of the Kill, a game from the development team Fuji gumi Games.

I joined gumi with the intention to increase awareness of this unique title in an era when mobile games have found their way into the lives of people from around the world. Since joining, I’ve adapted the content of the videos and tutorials to appeal to more users, revamped and initiated new promotional campaigns, and collaborated directly with our Japanese developers to cater to the expectations of global RPG players. It is my pleasure to introduce you to the considerations we faced in localizing this title for you, as well as the design approaches we took on our way to shipping this very special project.

Phantom of the Kill is a brand new IP for gumi, a strategy RPG built from the ground up specifically with mobile devices in mind. This title brings you to a world where shards of famous weapons throughout history—such as Excalibur, Longinus, and Laevateinn—are reborn as legendary heroes. Players will uncover a deep turn-based battle system, and a massive story unlike any other on mobile devices. For fans of dramatic tales and complex plotlines, we have that in spades… but I won’t get into the story here just in case you haven’t gotten far enough!

Phantom of the Kill is a passion project for everyone here, from our engineers to our artists—and we’ve been working on it for a long time! We launched Phantom of the Kill in Japan around the end of 2014 with the intention of providing the Japanese market with a gameplay style we felt was sorely missing from mobile devices. While there are strategy games in the marketplace, and premium grid-based strategy games and ports certainly do exist, there is a big need in the market for a classic-style strategy game built for mobile devices in a free-to-play format. We believe that Phantom of the Kill is the only game of its kind on iPhones and Android phones, and endeavor to redefine the mobile tactical RPG by sharing it with the world.

We started development on the global version of Phantom of the Kill in early 2015, setting out to tackle a mountain of new challenges that were unfamiliar to us at the time, which went far beyond translating Japanese text into English. As an example, Phantom of the Kill originally featured an all-female cast, and that version features a separate world from that of the global version, which features male characters and the new environment.

You might notice that the male characters are actually based on the female characters. This would require us to reconsider the traits of not only these heroes, but of the legendary weapons that inspired them. I think very few other games have done anything like sort of design adaptation while successfully retaining the original vision. Through our efforts of bringing this title to a worldwide audience, we’ve effectively created two games set in the same world, and the entire experience comes together seamlessly.

I can’t imagine that these kinds of challenges are immediately apparent to even the most passionate gamers when they play a title from overseas. People know about the concept of localization—the exporting and adapting of creative works for new consumers in new markets—but gumi strives to set a quality standard for the concept of “culturalization.” When we culturalize a game, we do more than change the words so that it is understandable; we add new content, as well as optimize select features, to match the wants and needs of players in new markets, as entertainment should do.

We here at gumi believe we’ve taken a fresh approach to the challenging task of introducing a new game to a new market, and are excited to see players’ impressions once Phantom of the Kill launches globally.

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