An Interview with ‘Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls’ Director Yota Tsutsumizaki

Hello, friends. You may have heard the word that Apple Arcade recently added a Castlevania game to its line-up. I don’t usually make a lot of noise about it, but Castlevania is a very important series to me, one that my gaming interests have walked hand-in-hand with nearly from the start. So when I got the chance to interview Yota Tsutsumizaki, the director of the Apple Arcade version of Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, you can bet I took it. During his many years at Konami, Mr. Tsutsumizaki has worked on many titles including several Metal Gear Solid games. This is seemingly his first time handling the Castlevania series, so I was eager to pick his brain. Thankfully, he was able to make time in his busy schedule to indulge me.

TouchArcade (TA): Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role on Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls? And what are your favorite pizza toppings?

Yota Tsutsumizaki (YT): I’m the director of Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls (Apple Arcade version). Favorite pizza toppings? In Japan, we have a topping of mentaiko (spicy cod roe) and mochi, so if you have a chance to try it, I recommend it.

TA: How did the idea for Grimoire of Souls come about?

YT: We wanted to bring this title to life to reach a wide and diverse audience. Many people, including those who have never played the Castlevania series, can pick up this game easily and interact with one of our most popular franchises.

TA: Did you have any things you specifically wanted to achieve with this Castlevania game? Anything you wanted to avoid?

YT: We were able to release the title for Apple Arcade because of the feedback we received from many users after the soft launch. I am very happy that we were able to release this game thanks to the encouragement we received. This title is part of a long-standing franchise series that recently marked its 35th anniversary and has grown over the course of many titles in the series. I hope players will really get a sense of that history throughout the wide variety of characters that they will experience with Grimoire of Souls.

TA: What does this game have to offer fans of the classic linear action-based Castlevania fans? How about for fans of the later non-linear action-adventure Castlevania games?

YT: We did not adopt an exploratory platform for this game, as we focused on the fact that many people would play it on mobile devices. Exploratory games tend to have a relatively long play time per play session. Rather than designing a game that can be played for long stretches at a time, we focused on creating a game that is action-packed and can be played in small spurts whenever players have time.

TA: For those who have learned about Castlevania for the first time through the Netflix animated series, can they expect any familiar characters or scenes?

YT: This game will bring together many characters from the past series. Many of the characters you know will appear in this game. Also, with the support of many illustrators, we have included many wonderful new card illustrations, so we are excited to share those with our fans as well.

TA: How does this Apple Arcade version of the game differ from the version that was soft-launched a couple of years ago in Canada?

YT: We have upgraded a lot of the data in this game to support 4K for Apple Arcade. There are many new effects and characters as well.

TA: What were the challenges involved in making an original mobile Castlevania game?

YT: Since each character is the protagonist of a game, they have many actions to perform. We had to really focus on the characteristics we wanted to give to each character because if I had them all, the action would have been blurry. Many of the characters use whips, which as any Castlevania fan knows, is a staple for the franchise!

TA: Who is your favorite Castlevania character? Why are they your favorite?

YT: My favorite character is Richter Belmont. I played Castlevania: Rondo of Blood on the PC Engine SUPER CD-ROM2 for a very long time as a younger gaming fan. I loved the detailed presentation and stage branching the game offered and that provided plenty of inspiration for me as a development lead.

TA: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

YT: Castlevania has a 35 year history, and we hope that even those who are new to the series will be able to feel part of the charm offered through the variety of character interactions and story that are a part of this new title.

And there you have it! You can of course find Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls on Apple Arcade right now. It’s a bit different from the usual sort of games we see in this series, but it’s worth checking out if you have a subscription. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, there’s always the fine port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night ($2.99) as well. I’d like to thank Mr. Tsutsumizaki for giving us his time and words, and the folks at Hill+Knowlton Strategies for facilitating. And thanks to you, dear reader, for doing that reading thing that you do.

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