Under the cover of moonlight, we speak with Atari’s Jeremiah Cohn, who is currently serving as the game’s product manager here in North America to find out more about what players can expect from Bullet Witch when it ships during the first quarter of 2007.With 2006 in the book and the so-called next generation of gaming now very much the current generation, we now begin to look to the horizon for what these new consoles will offer us in the coming year. Some of these titles are known, riding on an already well established wave of media and publisher driven hype. Others have not been so quick to stir the gaming public into a frenzy, though perhaps they may be just as deserving.
While 2006 was a trying year for struggling publisher Atari, the company saw some measure of next generation success with its Eden developed sandbox racing title Test Drive Unlimited. While far from a blockbuster, the game did garner a measure of critical acclaim (including eToychest’s driving game of the year accolade), and as such hopes are high at the storied video game company that success will continue with its upcoming next gen releases, namely Alone in the Dark, also by Eden, and AQ Interactive and Cavia’s neo-apocalyptic action game, Bullet Witch.
Set on a bleak version of Earth in the not too distant 2013, Bullet Witch is a third person action title for the Xbox 360 that tells a tale in which human kind stands on the brink of extinction as hideous demons create a tidal wave of destruction and havoc. Sure, it may sound like the kind of movie that haunts the Sci Fi channel in the wee hours of the morning, but as a game the concept is quite a bit more interesting. Recently we were able to speak with Atari’s Jeremiah Cohn, who is currently serving as the game’s product manager here in North America to find out more about what players can expect from Bullet Witch when it ships during the first quarter of 2007.
Hello, and thanks for taking the time to speak with us today regarding Bullet Witch. Before we begin, could you give us some of your background, what titles you have worked on prior to this project, and what your role has been on Bullet Witch?
Sure thing and thanks for asking! Currently I’m overseeing a bunch of titles for Atari including upcoming D&D Tactics and HOT PXL for the PSP, a new unannounced fighting game for the Wii, and of course, Bullet Witch. Before working with Atari I worked as a game designer on a couple of PC games – Thor’s Hammer published by MVP Software and Nox published by EA – I also spent quite a few years working in TV and Internet marketing.
Bullet Witch is described as a game that draws inspiration from both Japanese fantasy monsters and American horror. Can you break down exactly how these two genres are meshed together within the game’s narrative and underlying gameplay?
Yeah, Bullet Witch is a unique blend of both Japanese and American fantasy. The character designs and intricate plot are very involved and seem similar to some of the best Japanese games and anime. However Alicia’s outfit and mannerisms are very romantic/gothic and seem to me to be based on more Western mythos. Her ability to control the elements and spell arsenal are drawn from both Eastern and Western lore.
With this title being steeped, at least partially, in Japanese mythos, is there hope then that this will be one of the few titles that help the Xbox 360 establish a foothold within the Japanese video game market?
Well as you know the X360 still hasn’t really taken off in Japan like it has here. Still, Bullet Witch is doing very well there. To put it in perspective, if the same percentage of X360 owners bought Bullet Witch over here as did in Japan, we would have a mega hit on our hands!
The game seems to draw inspiration from other supernatural action titles such as Capcom’s Devil May Cry. Is this an accurate assumption? What are the key differences that you feel separate Bullet Witch from other third person action titles?
Bullet Witch is definitely inspired by some great games and brings some of the best elements from many of them together. At heart, Bullet Witch is an intense shooter with a really cool mix of magic spells and gunplay. The developers really tried to merge Japanese style and story with Western action and the result is a really unique and fun game experience.
Bullet Witch casts players in the role of a character named Alicia in what appears to a kind of near future apocalyptic setting. We’ve read stories that in this game, the fate of mankind rests on her shoulders. Why is she made to shoulder the burden of mankind? Is the whole of human existence that lazy in the future?
Well, yes and no. You’ll see that the people along the way are both frightened and angry at their current situation but you’ll also find out why our fate rests with Alicia. There is also a small group of resistance fighters that Alicia teams up with throughout the game who prove to be very helpful (though not entirely necessary) in defeating the larger enemies and bosses.
As for how society will be in the future I can’t comment, but some of us are lazier than others, I’d say.
As for why it all rests with Alicia, that’s a key part of the storyline that we’re not divulging at the moment. We’d tell you, but then we’d have to kill you.
It has been said that downloadable content will be provided for this game post release in the form of new levels and additional character costumes. Is this still the plan, and if so how soon and how often should players expect this content?
We are featuring 5 very sexy downloadable costumes (think School Girl) and a bunch of redesigned levels and missions.
Are you looking to this downloadable content to be free of charge, or will there be a premium associated with it? If so, have you decided on a ballpark cost players can expect in terms of Microsoft Points?
I’m going to stay out of specifics, but most (if not all) of the content will be free of charge.
What was the reason for the game to eschew multiplayer modes in favor of focusing solely on Bullet Witch‘s single player component?
Bullet Witch is very story based and has many elements of a role playing game (upgradable weapons, unlockable spells, power ups, etc). The developers decided to focus their efforts on the story and create a compelling and fully complete single player game experience.
What sorts of Achievements can players expect to unlock in Bullet Witch? Any of which stand out as particularly challenging or personal favorites perhaps?
There are multiple difficulty levels in the game and beating each of them unlocks Achievements. Players can also get Achievements by playing for a certain amount of time, collecting power ups, and in other ways you’ll discover.
In seeing Bullet Witch in action, it appears that the game makes heavy use of the Xbox 360’s physics engine. To what degree does physics play a role in Bullet Witch‘s gameplay?
This game is very physics-ambitious in that the title showcases different destruction each time, which not only knocks out enemies but can also provide cover depending on the situation. You can also create some pretty cool chain-reactions where one exploding car or truck causes others to explode which knock over other items, causing even more destruction! It’s really quite fun, and makes gameplay just that much more awesome. I think the physics is one of the best parts of this title!
All of the media we’ve seen from the game seem to feature Alicia brandishing the same giant gun, called a Gun Rod I believe. Assuming this is the key weapon that players will be using for the entirety of the game, what have the developers done to keep combat from becoming stale?
There are several upgrades to the weapon, as well as its use; it’s also used her spell casting A