Interview with Haru Akenaga, CEO of Idea Factory International, Inc., about Monster Monpiece

For years, titles that were published by Idea Factory in Japan were handed off to companies such as NIS America or Atlus for localization and subsequent distribution to the rest of the world. Many of these franchises, such as Hyperdimension Neptunia, Hakuoki and Record of Agarest War, have all blossomed large followings in other parts of the world. It wouldn’t be long for IF to see the wisdom in expanding their operations and localizing their own games, leading to the creation of Idea Factory International.

Monster Monpiece has the honor of being one of the first games released in North America under the Idea Factory International moniker and has been the talk of the town since its announcement given its… content. Now that the game has been officially released onto the PlayStation Network, it’s time to see for myself if the wait was worth it. But before that, I had a chance to pick the brain of the CEO of Idea Factory International, Haru Akenaga, on his thoughts about the game.

Diehard GameFAN: Why was Monster Monpiece chosen as the first North American localization for IF International? Do you think that the sexual nature of the game is a major obstacle for releasing abroad?

Haru Akenaga: Monster Monpiece was one of many Idea Factory titles that was offered to third-party publishers in the Western market. Unlike other titles, Monster Monpiece was not licensed due to its hardcore niche appeal and the extreme fanservice elements. It was very tough for third-party publishers to estimate the potential profit of this title in order to purchase the license, and we understand wholeheartedly. When we established Idea Factory International, we heard from many fans that they would love to see Monster Monpiece localized for Western markets, and so we decided that this would be the first title that we would localize. However, we did have to make the decision to censor some images in order to release this game. We are fully aware that some fans have strongly expressed their opposition to our decision to censor Monster Monpiece. Even so, we wanted to bring the title to our overseas fans who have been requesting its localization.

DHGF: In regards to some of the cards having to be censored during localization, what criteria did you use in deciding which ones needed to be altered?

HA: We replaced some of the art on the Monster Girl cards due to their youthful appearances. Also, we based our decision on whether or not the depiction of a particular body part was acceptable.

DHGF: Do you feel that Monster Monpiece is newcomer friendly in terms of appealing to gamers not normally accustomed to card-based gameplay?

HA: Monster Monpiece has a detailed tutorial, and the level of difficulty gradually increases, so it’s definitely a newcomer-friendly experience for those who haven’t played much in the card-battle game genre. It requires that a player be strategic, but the game’s systems are simple enough that it will be easy for new players to get a hang of the game and enjoy it!

DHGF: What’s the one aspect that you think gamers will find most appealing about the game?

HA: Monster Monpiece is a mixture of great strategic card-battling and distinguishing features that take advantage of the PSVita’s touchpad functions, featuring artwork from over 50 amazing illustrators on its battle cards. I have to say that this is definitely a hardcore niche title.

DHGF: What is the two player mode like? Is it strictly competitive or can players benefit from interacting with one another?

HA: Players can battle fellow players online using Ad Hoc or Network battle modes. When you start a battle, you can set your own rules. For instance, you can restrict the use of items, skills, and potentials, or you can set the HQ’s HP anywhere from 1 to 9. Depending on how you set the rules of the battle, battles will become more challenging to both parties.

Using the Network or Ad Hoc battle modes will allow players to collect an item called the Master Ring. When a player has 6 Master Rings, they can be traded in for a rare card pack, Seal Stone, or Rub P. Also, Seal Stones can be used to unlock some Monster Girl cards, so there are plenty of benefits to playing against fellow players.

DHGF: What is the plot of Monster Monpiece?

HA: Humans coexist with an unusual species called “Monster Girls” in the world of Yafaniel. May Espero, along with her best friends Elza and Karen, is training hard to become a master of Monster Girls at the Kanaguva Academy. After an encounter with a mysterious stranger, Elza becomes “Lost,” a victim of a strange affliction that plagues humans and Monster Girls alike. Elze and the Monster Girls in her service begin to steal the “Magus Quartzes” held in each of Yafaniel’s major cities. May decides to pursue Elza across the world in an attempt to cure her. However, May knows that if she fails to save Elza, the entire world may be at risk…

DHGF: Will there be any appearances by other Compile Heart/Idea Factory characters?

HA: A character that fans of Idea Factory titles are familiar with will make an appearance!

DHGF: What’s next for the team after Monster Monpiece?

HA: As we announced several weeks ago, we are now working on Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 for PlayStation Vita. We hope to bring more of our titles to the Western fans!

I’d like to thank Haru Akenaga for taking the time to answer our questions. As was mentioned before, Monster Monpiece officially released on the PlayStation Network this past Tuesday, so you can pick it up right now for your Vita. If you want more information on the game, there’s an official Monster Monpiece page up. Also, the Idea Factory International website has info on some of their other releases, including those published by other companies, so it’s a great resource in keeping up on their latest titles. Keep an eye on Diehard GameFAN for the official Monster Monpiece review!

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