English transcript of our interview with Geraint Evans in Munich.
JPGAMES.DE: Every character from Persona 4 Arena has appeared in prior entries of the franchise except for Labrys. What can you tell us about her?
Geraint Evans: Labrys is really a central part of the story. But it is hard to describe her without making a spoiler. You discover the Midnight Channel about the same time, when your friends gone missing. In the case of Teddie he finds out that Kanj is gone missing. So he enter the Midnight Channel to look for him. And then he finds himself in a strange place and then he got locked in a cupboard. When Teddie eventually escaped is the first who came across-Labrys.
It is very hard to discover, if she a good or a bad person. But Teddie likes her and he want to be her protector in the game. But there is something bad happens to Teddie, because he is turned evil. And you don’t´t know on which side Labry is. There is an interesting relationship between Labrys and Teddie. She is a really central mystery in the game. But I can´t say more.
JPGAMES.DE: In Persona games the characters fight with the abilities of their persona. How will characters use their personas in Arena?
Geraint Evans: In Persona 4: Arena you fight with two characters all the time. You have a direct control over your main character, till you call your Persona. So it is like a Tag-Fighting game (like games from Capcom). So in Persona 4: Arena you use both characters at the same time and mastering how it works is the key to master the game. When you noticed that the all the attacks of Persona 4: Arena are will based of the kind the attacks of Persona 3 and Persona 4 as well, you are very close to a RGP. Unlike Persona 4 there will be no Social Links, but there is a relationship between the characters which you will see if you explore the story. You must use your brain, because you have the control over two characters, to find the right strategy.
JPGAMES.DE: Japanese players have already been able to get new costumes or glasses as DLC. Will Europeans get similiar content?
Geraint Evans: Yes.That is not a secret. You will get various colors for the characters and personas and glasses. It there is anything more? I actually don´t know, but this is possible.
JPGAMES.DE: Atlus Games have been known for their high difficulty level. How accesible will Persona 4: Arena be?
Geraint Evans: Very good, if you compared it with traditional fighting games. You got simple fighting commands and more complexing moves like Dragon Punches or other moves. There are some charged characters, but I think anyone can make it. There is a really good tutorial in the game. It takes you through every single step you can think of, like moving forward and backward, crouching, jumping and it explains the aliments. The tutorial explains everything with a great teacher very quickly. If you go through this, you get the knowledge very quickly. Not all fighting games do that.
JPGAMES.DE: Will the European release of Arena be region-locked?
Geraint Evans: Yes, the European-Version is region-locked too. It is hard to describe but I try to give the reason why. The content is the same, with Japanese textes and when you live in Japan, you get the games in US much cheaper. So it was the decision of Atlus to give a region-lock.
JPGAMES.DE: Why are the European and American Releases not simultaneous? And why is pqube the publisher for UK?
Geraint Evans: This is a boring answer. It is a long process to publish a game. The Japanese companies must find a publisher in other countries and they must make a lot of agreements. Once we determine that the game is ready, we must send a master copy off to the first-party publisher (Sony, Microsoft) . And so this process takes a lot of time. Zen United and pqube are partner companies, so pqube takes the distribution.
JPGAMES.DE: Will we get the US/JP Box-Art?
Geraint Evans: Yes, you will the Japanese Boxart with Labrys and Yu on the cover.
JPGAMES.DE: Have you planned a Limited Edition Release for Persona 4: Arena? If so, what goodies can we expect?
Geraint Evans: Yes! But I can´t tell much more about this. There will be a Limited Edition and a very Super Special Edition as well. I think, that fans of Persona and fighting games will like it.
JPGAMES.DE: In Japan, Persona 4: Arena got high review scores (like 36/40 in Famitsu). Do you think Western audiences will react similar?
Geraint Evans: Yes, I think so. Persona 4: Arena is unique because I think it is the first time that a game combine a fighting game with RPG elements. It has a visual impact and everything is very detailed.The persona series is amazing with strong characters. I love RPGs and together with a fighting game it is weird, this is the best thing for me. The quality is very high and it has a story for over 30 playhours.
JPGAMES.DE: You have worked in the Digital and Technology industry. How did you get to work on games?
Geraint Evans: Mostly we work on games, nearly only. We have a sister company called Kudan Limited where the other people come from. And when we come together, we work on AR and technologie. But we look forward to work on Japanese games. We love to work with games.
JPGAMES.DE: Would you publish games from any other genres?
Geraint Evans: Yes, we are looking for to publish other genres in the future.
JPGAMES.DE: How many employees work for Zen United?
Geraint Evans: There are six employees. There is me, the CEO of Zen United and we have a designer and a technology guy and more people.
JPGAMES.DE: How important is the feedback from your fans?
Geraint Evans: Massively important. We have strong contacts on Facebook and Twitter. Or we goinig out to see the people from face to face, like on the Animagic. We do special events, where you visit us to come to play. Especially for fighting and nich games we love to engage people.
JPGAMES.DE: Could you tell us something about future projects of Zen United?
Geraint Evans: Ähhhhhhhhhm…no.
I can´t really, I can´t. But yes, if you a fan of persona and TV fighting games and RPGs and any type of Japanese products then there will be something over the next six months or so. But I can´t tell more about this, I am really sorry.
JPGAMES.DE: What is your favorite game at the moment?
Geraint Evans: Recently I played older games. Like Grandia on the PSP. I love Grandia and Grandia 2. And Persona 4 for the PS2. I have forgotten how good it is but Persona 4: Arena has remembered me, and so I played Persona 4 again.