Deep Labyrinth Interview

July 24, 2006

There was no shortage of role-playing games at E3 2006 in May. There were tall ones, skinny ones, even ones that climbed on rocks. But one of the more interesting – not mention ambitious – RPG efforts we had the pleasure of witnessing at the annual show was an upcoming title being localized by Atlus for the Nintendo DS called Deep Labyrinth. A first-person dungeon crawling RPG set to be released this August, the title was first introduced to Japanese audiences as a game for mobile phones, but has since been re-engineered to take advantage of the capabilities afforded by the Nintendo DS. We recently caught up with Atlus USA’s PR manager Zach Meston to get more information about this upcoming tale of a boy, his dog, and their epic – and touchable – adventure.

Hello, and thank you for taking time to speak with us today about Deep Labyrinth. What exactly was your role on this project?

My name is Zach Meston, and I’m the PR Manager for Atlus USA. I acted as the project lead and editor of Deep Labyrinth, thanks to my experience in localization as an editor for the late, lamented Working Designs.

So what other titles have you worked on in the past, and how has this project compared to those you have worked on previously?

At WD, I edited Alundra, Albert Odyssey, Vanguard Bandits, Magic Knight Rayearth, and both PlayStation remakes of Lunar.

How did Deep Labyrinth compare? It was my first localization of a portable game, and my first localization of a cartridge game, though text space and character counts weren’t an issue, as they so often are with handheld and/or cartridge stuff.

The biggest differences between this and my WD work: there was less text in Deep Labyrinth than in any of the CD games I worked on, and I didn’t take as many liberties with the localization as I would have at WD (no poop jokes or instantly dated pop-culture references).

So what was it about Deep Labyrinth that made Atlus decide that it would localize the game for the North American audience?

First, it’s really easy to pick up and play, especially for a role-playing game. Second, it has an amazing group of developers behind it. Third, it’s exactly the kind of game that our fans expect from us, and we always strive to give our fans what they want.

What, besides being a role-playing game for the Nintendo DS, is Deep Labyrinth?

It’s the inaugural title from a Japanese developer/publisher called Interactive Brains, founded by fellows whose resumes include a couple of classic Square Enix franchises. And I hope it’s the start of a beautiful relationship between us and them.

And Deep Labyrinth was originally created for cell phones in Japan, correct? Why did the developers at Interactive Brains see this as a good fit for the Nintendo DS?

They felt, rightly so, that the touch screen allowed the game to be as user-friendly on the DS as it was on cell phones, where ease of play is crucial.

I’m assuming much of the gameplay has been changed from the game’s cell phone roots, correct?

Not as much as you’d think. Obviously, the controls have been totally reworked to use the Touch Screen; the only thing you use the + Control Pad for is character movement. (If you’re a lefty, you use the A/B/X/Y cluster.) And an entirely new scenario has been added, which doubles the size of the game, and which incorporates DS features (such as the microphone) into A