To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the series, Koei Tecmo is releasing Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening for consoles and PC worldwide next month. In the lead up to its launch, I had a chance to not only play an early build of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening on PC for preview which you can read here, but also interview Koei Tecmo Games Producer Michi Ryu. This interview covers topics like why Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening took so long to get localized, Steam Deck support, the Switch port, English dubs, new features, and more.
Michi Ryu worked on Fire Emblem: Three Houses before Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening
I asked Michi Ryu about his career and what he has done at Koei Tecmo Games so far.
“I’ve been a musician, a programmer, a game planner, and many other things in multiple fields,” Michi Ryu says. “However, I’m a private person and don’t talk a lot about myself, so let me keep the rest a secret (laughs). Isn’t there a saying in the West that secretive people are attractive? (laughs). Before Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, I worked on Fire Emblem: Three Houses. If you enjoyed that one, I hope you will play Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening as well!”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is welcoming to newcomers despite being the 40th Anniversary game
I’ve enjoyed the series for years through its localized releases, but I was curious if Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening was welcoming to newcomers to the series.
“Many people think that strategy games are difficult, but in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, the retainers make suggestions and guide you,” he says. “If you follow their advice, you can proceed pretty well, so beginners will naturally learn and improve, and gradually the game will become one that they can play according to their style.”
“The base game has already been released in Japan and other Asian countries, and it has received a lot of positive feedback that it is easy to play even for beginners, so we hope that everyone in the West who is playing it for the first time will feel at ease and will be able to enjoy it.”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening’s Dominion feature is important
I was curious what his favorite feature in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening was as an anniversary title.
“‘Dominion’ is very important when describing the concept of this title, a living officer who thinks for himself and acts,” he says. “It is not too much to say ‘Dominion’ is the root system of this title. So I hope players will enjoy it. However, all the other features are also important, such as Submission, Council Official, Direct Talks, Battles, Sieges, and so on. I think that a good strategy game should have all the features in the game work together, and we did a great job in that way, so I hope players enjoy the entire game.”
Why Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening took so long to come to the West – production delays
When Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening was announced for Japan and Asia, I thought it would never be released in the West given Koei Tecmo being good about worldwide releases recently.
“We wanted to release the game simultaneously from the beginning, but due to the production schedule it was difficult to develop the game in all languages at the same time,” Michi Ryu says. “Since the title is still not well known overseas, we did not want to release a mediocre version due to the schedule, so we had to take our time to ensure the quality of the game. We apologize for the long wait, but it is a solid and interesting game so we hope everyone will enjoy it.”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening on Switch benefits from its portability and touch support
This is the first Nobunaga’s Ambition game to be localized and released on Switch in the West so I was curious if additional work had been done on the port.
“Portability is one of the Switch’s best features,” he says. “Strategy games can be paused at any time, so you can enjoy the game little by little in your spare time, and also touch controls are supported.”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening for Steam Deck is being worked on
I asked Michi Ryu about his thoughts on the Steam Deck and about Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening on Valve’s handheld system. It currently even shows controller button prompts and works well as of the latest update to the preview build I have.
“Steam Deck is a very attractive console, so of course we are working on it,” he says. “We hope you’ll be looking forward to it!”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening on PC does not have controller support though
Despite supporting the Steam Deck, it seems the PC version will not have controller support.
“The Steam Deck is being supported, but no controllers are planned for the PC version at this time,” he says. “My apologies.”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening has an English dub while most Koei Tecmo games don’t get one
I was curious what made the team decide to do an English dub for Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening given many recent more popular Koei Tecmo franchises lacked any English voice acting.
“I apologize that I can’t give you an answer about other Koei Tecmo titles because I think there are many reasons involved,” Michi Ryu says. “In regards to Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, English voices are supported because we want to make sure that everyone overseas enjoys the full experience of the game.”
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is definitely enjoyable for those who played Sphere of Influence and Taishi
I was curious what fans of recent localizations in the Nobunaga’s Ambition series should expect from Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening.
“As a successive title in the Nobunaga’s Ambition series, if you enjoyed Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence and Nobunaga’s Ambition: Taishi, you will definitely enjoy this game,” he says. “While inheriting the best aspects of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence and Nobunaga’s Ambition: Taishi, the concept of this title, a living officer who thinks for himself and acts, allows players to enjoy a new kind of experience. We have already released the game in Japan and Asia, and it has been very well received and one of the best in the series, so we hope everyone is looking forward to it!”
Fan feedback in Japan and Asia helped make Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening for the West better
I asked if the initial launch in Japan and Asia had any feedback that helped improve the experience for Western release.
“Definitely,” Michi Ryu says. “Our fans’ opinions are valuable and we take them into consideration. We also received a lot of valuable feedback from Japan and Asia. We introduced siege battles which there was a huge demand for, improved usability, adjusted the balance, and many other details. The English version of the game will of course reflect all of this, so we hope you’re looking forward to it!”
Nobunaga’s Ambition can come to Xbox if there are enough requests
I make it a point to ask developers I interview about potential releases on more platforms. We saw Xbox get Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII in the West, so I was hoping to see Nobunaga’s Ambition hit the platform. I got the same answer I usually get from these questions sadly.
“If there are many requests, it is something we can consider,” he says.
Older Kou Shibusawa Archives games can be considered for localization if the demand is there
I’ve been slowly buying many of Koei Tecmo’s older games on prior consoles and also on Steam. The Kou Shibusawa Archives bundles have many games that were released on console in the West, but the PC versions lack English support. I was curious if there were any plans to update them with English.
“If there are many requests, it can be considered,” he says. “Since the title is still not well known overseas, as it stands we do not know how much demand there is for it, though.”
It is important to develop for a hit globally, but Japan will continue to be an important market
I was curious about his thoughts on the current gaming landscape in Japan compared to a few years ago. I also asked about his thoughts on consoles and PCs in Japan.
“Games are becoming more global, and it is important to develop a game that will become a hit globally, but since we are working in Japan, there is no doubt that Japan will continue to be an important market,” he says. “The Switch is doing very well, the PS5 is spreading quickly, PC users are increasing year by year, and the situation has changed completely in just a few years. We would like to develop various titles to meet the needs of our players.”