Available :Q4 2004

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Dev Diary #2 © BanDai Games
By: Roy Brewer

Ghost in the Shell is such a popular anime that we had to consider many factors as we developed a Ghost in the Shell video game. There was the collaboration with the creator Masamune Shirow and Production I.G (Kill Bill: Vol. 1 fame) Also we didn’t want to deviate from what the fans appreciate of the movie and TV series, yet we wanted to develop a cross over video game that would appeal not only to anime fans, but to avid gamer as well.

First of all, for those who don’t know, Ghost in the Shell is huge. There are two major animated movies and a TV series with the largest development budget ever. These two entities tell the story of a cyborg police force in the future. The major character (no pun intended) is Major Motoko Kusanagi. She is a hot cyborg cop that leads the missions of Section 9, a special task force assembled to combat cyber-terrorism. In a future, where computers are integrated into every facet of human life, the line between human soul and computer program has gone gray. Motoko and Section 9 are the watch dogs for such crimes as cyber-brain hacking and theft.

This story is not as new as you think either. Originally a manga (Japanese comic) created in 1989 by Masamune Shirow. It was adapted into an animation feature film released in the U.S. in 1995, and since September 2004 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence has been in theatres breaking records for an anime film at the U.S. box office. This is the original tale of the future in virtuality and A.I. which has influenced many others including the Wachowski brothers the creators of the Matrix to give us much of the sci-fi action we see today.

The development of this game was a big undertaking. The property is famous and there are a lot of people with high expectations. The creator Masamune Shirow has so many anime titles but Ghost is his most well known. He was pretty generous with allowing us creative freedoms. Mr. Shirow approved the conceptual designs and then let us roll with the game. Through collaboration with Production I.G the game was developed into the stunning action 3rd person shooter it is now.

Working with Production I.G was great. We had the opportunity to work together before. On the T.V. series we (Cavia) made the opening visuals. It was an easy transition; we had two members from the Production I.G T.V. series stationed with us, so that we maintain the atmosphere of the Ghost in the Shell series in our game.

Basically the game is based on the TV series setting but as it’s an original story. The game can stand alone by itself. The backgrounds and settings are taken from the TV series, if you have time check it out to see if you can find objects in the game from the TV series. For the enemy soldier’s design and motion, Cavia was given complete autonomy. We were all jumping around like little school kids to be allowed this great privilege.

Our main goal was to create a game world that would be different from other character licensed based games. We were thinking globally when we designed the characters and backgrounds. A strong focus was given to Motoko and her cyborg body. It was extremely difficult to mimic her super-natural abilities, but we are completely satisfied. This Ghost in the Shell game engine initially was a concern but well worth it. Everybody will be captivated by the game mechanics of Motoko, the height of the levels, and her acrobatics she uses to initiate her attacks and gameplay.

Also originally we thought of giving the game a more anime flair to it. However we went with high quality 3D graphics to make the transitions between game play and FMV seamless. We choreographed the arrangement between cut scene and gameplay to be very smooth. We are very pleased with it and have received great support from fans.

We paid extra attention to the movements of Motoko. Everything from her still stance to her audio keeps faithful to the original work. We remained true in both gameplay and movie sequences, but still accentuated their personalities for the game. In fact most of the inspiration for the game came from the movie and TV series. Some minor tweaking was done so the player can feel more emerged into the Ghost in the Shell world. Hardcore gamers will be impressed that an anime based title can be fun and engaging. We feel that we have a great cross over game that will satisfy not only anime fans but gamers of the action shooter genre.