Otome games are steadily gaining popularity outside of Japan, with releases such as Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth, and the breakout Korean hit Mystic Messenger making waves over the past couple years. However, not much is known about Ruby Party, the female-led development team at Koei Tecmo behind the Angelique series, which is widely regarded as the start of the otome game genre. In what hopefully will become a larger series, I’ll be translating interviews and other information on Ruby Party to help spread knowledge of this influential team!
This interview with a Ruby Party staff member comes from the Angelique: Tenkuu no Requiem (“Heaven’s Requiem”) Memorial Book. Tenkuu no Requiem is rather different entry in the Angelique series, as it’s the first and only Angelique RPG. Soon after its release, Ruby Party switched over to releasing otome game RPGs through the Harukanaru Toki no Naka de series. But since Tenkuu no Requiem came out first, the interview is full of interesting insights on how Ruby Party adapted the otome game formula for an RPG.
The general premise of the Angelique games is that the protagonist has been selected as a candidate to become the next queen to rule over the cosmos. In order to help her do so, she has a number of male guardians that you can choose to have her fall in love with or forsake in order to take up the role of queen.
Tenkuu no Requiem takes place after the end of Angelique Special 2, and was released for PC-FX in 1998 and PlayStation in 1999. The interview assumes familiarity with the series and characters – when necessary, I’ll try to provide information when I can. However, since I haven’t had a chance to play Tenkuu no Requiem, I’m going off what I was able to glean from the Memorial Book and some Googling.
The Road to Tenkuu no Requiem
– This is the first RPG in the Angelique series, isn’t it?
I: Before Angelique 3, we decided to do an unnumbered Angelique game. Since it’s not a main entry in the series, we wanted to try something a little different. Girls like adventure games and RPGs, right? So we thought, why not make an RPG where you need to do something with the guardians.
– Tenkuu no Requiem has a completely different mood than the previous Angelique games, which are generally very positive. For example, there’s Leviath’s rough past and endings where the characters part ways. What made you decide to go in that direction?
I: I think that sad stories are more moving for people than happy stories. However, we absolutely don’t want to do tragedies in the main Angelique games, because we want players to feel they can find happiness when they finish the games. But I wanted to try depicting how lovers look when they must part ways… Leviath’s past is the same way. I think to an extent things that are easy to understand have become standard and are treated as fundamental to the games. I decided to go this route to try and evoke sympathy for romances that have sad aspects to them.
– How did players react to the first tragic romantic ending?
I: Everyone was very sad. But as a result, they want to see the characters happy even more next time.
– It’s a shame since Arios only appears this once. (Translator’s note: There are many recurring romanceable characters in Angelique games, but Arios was created specifically for Tenkuu no Requiem.)
I: But hearing those opinions help us out, so we want players to tell us what they’d like to see us do with Arios. When we hear a certain opinion a lot, we try to act on it.
The Difficulties of So Much Dialogue
– As an RPG, this game has completely different systems from previous entries, doesn’t it?
I: It does. The party system, in particular. Because there are so many characters that that can be put in the party, there’s more dialogue possibilities than in a simulation game. For example, the dialogue changes depending on where the characters are standing. (Translator’s note: Players can choose whether to have characters stand in the front or back row)
– When I played the game, I was surprised by the amount of dialogue and how many different ways conversations could play out!
I: One of the reasons for that is the dialogue changes depending on the order you rescue the characters in. There’re also a lot of different lines for when you select “protect” in battle. It’s easy to imagine what Clavis would say when he protects Julious. But it was really difficult for characters that don’t interact much, like Marcel and Julious, or Ernst and Clavis. It has to be interesting, so we couldn’t have them say the same lines. It took a long time to come up with the dialogue.
– There’s so much to see because of it!
I: We’re pleased everyone thinks so. There were a lot of people who completed the game quickly. All the event CGs, too. They finished it faster than we thought.
– And the “view memory” option allows you to replay scenes. That gives you even more incentive to see everything.
I: That’s right. It makes you think, “I need to get them all!” It might be hard to complete all of the characters, but please give it a try.
– What events do you personally recommend?
I: Victor’s “determination,” Sei-Lan’s “family,” and Ernst’s “clever mouse.” I laugh more and more every time I watch these 3 scenes. Because another character is involved in setting the scene, it’s even funnier to read it unfold in the text.
The Characters of Requiem
– There are 16 male characters in Requiem. Did you have trouble coming up with Arios?
I: The characters of Angelique are fundamentally all good people. With Arios, we wanted to make a type of character we haven’t done before, so it was pretty easy. And a character’s style can completely change based on whether they address the protagonist as “-san” or “-sama.” Still, it took a few months before I came up with his personality. It kind of came to me as I wrote. At the beginning, he was a little more intense and had a terse way of speaking, but in the end he became a nice older brother type. He became an increasingly troublesome character as things went on. (laugh) But he got more fun as I wrote him, so I just went with that.
– Leviath’s knights are pretty popular, too. How did you come up with them?
I: I didn’t start by deciding the characters and then choosing their guardian counterparts. Rather, I thought something like, “let’s do this kind of person for Julious.” There are definitely characters that it’s okay if they don’t line up exactly, and characters it isn’t. For example, you can imagine Marcel becoming Giovanni, but it would be weird for Clavis to turn into a peppy character… That would feel like a parody. For the characters that we can’t mess up no matter what, we think about how they should be and decide that way. Like, wouldn’t it be funny if Julious was super aloof, or if Marcel talked like this… I took the biggest risk with Luva. He’s 26, but to turn him into a kid… (Translator’s note: The knights are clones of the guardians, though they are their own separate people. Thanks to hazukidesu for the clarification!)
– Speaking of supporting characters, Roxy is interesting too.
I: Roxy’s character had been decided since Special 2. He’s Ernst’s close friend. He’s probably very overbearing when it comes Ernst, so we thought a cheerful character might go well to balance things out. That’s how we came up with his older sister. Ernst, his older sister, and Roxy live a fun life together… But Ernst is always getting caught up in his sister and Roxy’s antics, and we wanted to keep that feeling for Requiem.
– The passwords in the PC-FX version has been removed from the PlayStation version, haven’t they?
I: That’s right. We wanted to keep them… But the PlayStation version focuses on obtaining individual characters, so we had greatly increase the friendship events. Because of this, we needed to remove something else… So we ended up taking out the password passages.
– Roxy is a character you become deeply involved with over the course of the game. Was that always the intent?
I: Originally, he was just supposed to be like a regular villager. However, we didn’t give him character art.
– If you showed his face, we’d want to date him! (laugh)
I: That’s right. If you show a closeup of his face and provide lots of chances to talk to him, Angelique players will think they can romance him. But we wanted to make it clear that was not the case. Still, there were more people who liked him than we thought there would be. It was pretty surprising.
What are the Popular Endings?
– I did wish the endings were longer.
I: There are a lot of characters! (laugh) It’s hard fitting 16 characters on a single disc…
– What are some of the most popular endings?
I: The secret merchant’s, Oscar’s… People seem to like the kiss scenes (laugh). Other than that, endings with touching seem to be popular. Like when Ernst says, “It wouldn’t hurt to go a little further.” When we get those responses, I start thinking about what I’ll have to do for the next one!
– The music also leaves a strong impression.
I: Yes, we had Michio Fujisawa, who is skilled with classical music, work with us. This time we wanted to go for a romantic, orchestral style… and I think it fits perfectly. The response from players has also been good.
– The themes for the planets are great, too.
I: He made 10 different themes for each planet for us to choose from, so he did over 100 songs just for the planets alone. During meetings, he’d play things on the piano and ask, “How’s this?” The main theme and love songs are especially important, so we had him change them numerous times. But he seemed to enjoy it. Now he says he likes Angelique!
If you make Mel stronger…
– This next question is about strategy. Can you provide any secrets for easily beating the emperor?
I: Actually, Mel is a really strong character. He’s just very weak starting out. When he levels up, his Love Love Flash ability changes. As he gets stronger, his Flash attack gets better. So it’s actually easiest if you have Mel in your party. Just be sure to level him up to about level 25 and put him out briefly at the beginning of the battle and again at the end. If you put in heavy hitters like Oscar and Victor, you’ll have a good balance. Sei-Lan, who is skilled in paralysis, or Luva, who reduces MP, would also be helpful. If you can coordinate those two, it’s the best!
Hard at Work on the Next Installment!
– I’m sure fans can’t wait, so what are your plans looking like for Angelique 3?
I: We’re working hard to meet everyone’s expectations. You’ll be able to romance all your favourites once again! There may even be some characters that are completely different from what we’ve seen up until now. There will be an announcement regarding new elements in the game soon, so please wait for that. We will definitely bring you something that doesn’t disappoint. We want to deliver an Angelique that is a completely different, fresh kind of Angelique.
– To close out, please say something to all the Angelique fans out there.
I: We hope to continue making games that make you happy to play. Please look forward to them.
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