Game Reviews

Project MBR Interview: Lunar, Grandia, & Gungriffon Veteran Yoichi Miyaji Discusses New Mecha Game


Recently, Sieg Games announced the upcoming multiplayer mecha game Project MBR, also launching a Kickstarter campaign to support its development. 

The game is created by veteran developers led by Yoichi Miyaji of Game Arts fame, producer of Grandia, Gungriffon, and the Lunar series. The game director is Ryuji Inomata, known for Gungriffon and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The music is composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, who also worked on Grandia and Lunar, and more recently the Ace Attorney series and the upcoming Loop8: Summer of Gods.

Last, but not least, the game’s world is created by Koichi Inoue of Sunrise fame, known for his work on Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, Armored Trooper Votoms, and more. 

To know more about this interesting project, we interviewed Miyaji-san, who provided more information about what we can expect from the game. 

Incidentally, if you want to help fund development, you can do so through Project MBR’s Kickstarter campaign. 

Giuseppe Nelva: We heard that you’ve already been working on this game for three years and have made a considerable investment to reach a playable state. Can you provide more details on the history of the project?

Yoichi Miyaji: The project started around 2018. It was a proposal from Inomata-san, who serves as the director. He is a creator whom Sakurai-san [Masahiro Sakurai] recognizes, having created Super Smash Bros. Brawl and other games for 25 years. Since the time he entered the industry, he had always wanted to create a robot game. And until about 2019, he and Sakurai-san and his team were passionate about playing arcade robot games in Japan. But the arcade games have been disappearing and there is no environment to play them. So they appealed to me to spend my life creating robot games, to which I responded. As an investment, I spent about 50 million yen [Editor’s note: over $370,000 at the current exchange rate].

Nelva: Some of the fans of your previous titles were surprised by the fact that Project MBR is a purely multiplayer game. Why did you decide to go that route?

Miyaji: We know that many fans of Gungriffon would want it to be a single-player game, and as we explained in the development process, Project MBR started by allowing Inomata-san to develop the game he wanted to realize. The game he wants to realize is not a single-player game; it is a game in which he and his five teammates fight against the enemy team, a game in which he can feel a bond with others. This is similar to the concept that we had realized for arcade games. We wanted to realize a game that would provide a sense of co-op combat similar to a survival game, and this is the game design we have today.

Project MBR
The mecha in Project MBR look like realistic successors to tanks. 

Nelva: Since the game is multiplayer, how do you plan to convey the backstory and world of the game?

Miyaji: The story and worldview of Project MBR are conveyed through digital materials and art books, and members (OTAKU), who have extensive expertise in creating such materials, designed the worldview by examining history, religions, and global risks that may occur in the future. We then considered the position of robotic weapons within the current weapon systems. 

Unfortunately, the setup of the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine portrayed in Gungriffon partly came true almost as a prophecy.

Nelva: What do you think are the most exciting aspects of this project?

Miyaji: We chose Kickstarter because we wanted an opportunity to form a fan community. The Japanese game industry has become fully focused on business, and the distance between fans and creators is far from what it used to be. I am very excited about the possibility of making that relationship as close as possible. Starting with this project, I would also like to build long-term relationships with fans around the world and create new JRPGs such as Lunar and Grandia, which are highly requested.

Nelva: What are the main sources of inspiration for the mecha included in Project MBR?

Miyaji: This is due to Inomata’s personal sensibilities, but he insists on the pursuit of realism, calculating, and designing shapes that would satisfy the performance requirements of actual robots. In addition, we take into account the impact on the worldview. The design concept of the U.S. military industry differs from that of the continental military industry; the MBT (Main Battle Tank) designs are good examples of these characteristics.

Nelva: At the moment, you announced a PC version and possibly a PS5 version if the stretch goal is reached. Are you considering the possibility of an Xbox version at all, given that many Xbox gamers feel nostalgia for mecha titles like MechAssault?

Miyaji: SIEG Games is already working on a game with support for 7 languages and all platforms including Xbox with Loop8: Summer of Gods, which will be released in June. We have no reason to deny that this is a possibility, and we are also looking into the possibility of supporting VR devices.

Project MBR
Your mecha can even transform into an aircraft. 

Nelva: Customization is usually a very important aspect in a mecha game, but that often makes balancing challenging in a multiplayer game. How are you approaching this challenge?

Miyaji: Balance is especially important. Gamers are very good at achieving customization and finding the best weapons. When we find a customization combination that breaks the game’s balance, we need to address it, for instance by changing the rules. This is a common practice introduced in analog TCGs.

Nelva: You mentioned that there won’t be a free-to-play model or loot boxes in the game, but fans of multiplayer games tend to expect long-term development after release and regular updates with new content and features. Is this something you’re considering, and how do you plan to fund it?

Miyaji: Game balance is very important, which is why we are not introducing F2P (Free to Play) or LootBox (Gacha). The way games are produced will change dramatically in the future and it will be based on a long-term relationship with fans. Creators will work for the fans. For example, sports are supported by fans.

Specifically, if a fan community is established, an annual pass will be issued to support the creator’s activities. We are convinced that games will change from a structure as an investment-oriented business to a fan community.

In this Kickstarter, we have received various levels of support from a $1 investment to a $10,000 investment, depending on the passion and financial position of the fans. This is what I mean by the fan community.

Nelva: “Project MBR” is a working title. Are you already thinking about what the final title might be? Perhaps something that could remind fans of the Gungriffon legacy? 

Miyaji: The title name MBR (main battle robot) comes from the name MBT (main battle tank). We would like to think about the final title together with the fans. It is a good idea to decide by voting or other means.The important thing is that it is a name that the fan community can be proud of.

Nelva: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about Project MBR?

Miyaji: Project MBR is still under-recognized and is just beginning to grow its fan base around the world. If the fans are willing to support this effort, the creators can work with their support. This will be a long road, but the game will continue to evolve. Not only this project, but games must become an asset that is created together with fans, not an entity to be consumed. This is my wish after working in the game industry for many years.

Full disclosure: As a massive fan of Japanese mecha (and mecha in general), Game Arts’ games, and Noriyuki Iwadare’s music, the author of this article backed Project MBR the second the Kickstarter became available. TechRaptor would like to thank Yoichi Miyaji for speaking with us about Project MBR.

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