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The Surprising Origins of Gravity Rush for PS Vita

Jeff Rubenstein's Avatar + Posted by Jeff Rubenstein on Mar 14, 2012 // Sr. Social Media Manager

Based on the sheer number of questions we get about Gravity Rush, it’s clearly one of the most-anticipated PS Vita games coming along in the next few months. Featuring stunning, cel-shaded visuals, Vita-tailored controls, and gravity-based gameplay, it’s no wonder that reviewers across the Pacific have awarded the game (known as “Gravity Daze” in Japan) high marks.

So when the game’s creators dropped into San Francisco last week for Game Developers Conference, I jumped at the chance to speak with them.


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In this conversation (shared with IGN’s Ryan Clements – look for his story soon at Vita.IGN.com), Game Director Keiichiro Toyama and Art Director Yoshiaki Yamaguchi talk about the game’s original platform (not PS Vita!), why they avoided an overly Japanese aesthetic, and the surprising inspiration for its unique gravity-based gameplay.

Ryan Clements, IGN: How did you get started on the project? What are your roots in the industry?

Keiichiro Toyama, Japan Studio: I was studying art as a student. I joined Konami as a graphic artist and become director on Silent Hill, and then joined Sony and worked on Siren: Blood Curse.

Jeff Rubenstein, PS Blog: The tonality between Silent Hill and Siren is so different than Gravity Rush. Did you get sick of scaring people? Or were there different emotions that you wanted to explore besides fear?

JS: Originally, the reason I was working on horror games was not by choice. The company asked me to make horror games because they were popular. I enjoyed it to some extent. But with advanced technologies, HD and the like, making horror games with a limited audience isn’t really cost efficient. You need more money to make big games like that, and so it was becoming challenging.

So I thought, I just wanna make something that I wanted to make when I was a student studying art. So that’s how I changed direction.

the creators of Gravity Rush/Daze

IGN: So is this a game you thought about a long time ago, and you’re finally getting a chance to make it, or is it something that you came up with after you left Konami?

JS: Before I joined Konami, I already had this idea, but it wasn’t too specific. I didn’t have any idea about manipulating gravity back then. But I had an idea of a girl floating in the air…

PSB: In my 30 years of gaming, Gravity Daze is the only game I’ve ever imported from Japan – [Personal note: Gravity Daze is all in Japanese, and I’d recommend waiting for the English version here]. The friend that sent over the game included an art book that contained a lot of different variations on the main character, Kat. How did you settle on her final appearance?

JS: The main character was the most difficult thing to lock down, so we thought a lot about it. If we made something completely Japanese, then it would be only acceptable to Japanese users, and we’ll lose audience in other territories. So we avoided that. We also wanted to make a female protagonist, but we thought that in other territories there are not so many female lead characters. But Lara Croft is pretty well accepted, and we thought that the reason she was is probably because she is exotic and serious. So we wanted Kat to have that exotic feel, and even though she’s tiny, we wanted to make her powerful and strong. Like a ninja: small, but agile. By adding that, we finally fixed the character design.

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PSB: I played a few hours of Gravity Daze – until my inability to read Japanese hindered me a bit. I felt that when you hovered in the air, and then picked a direction and shot off, it reminded me of Descent, where you’re in space and you can go in any direction. Then there are parts where you can levitate items and hurl them, not unlike Cole in the inFAMOUS games. What were your gameplay influences?

JS: The game I was most influenced by was Crackdown. I really liked the aspect of unlocking skills and becoming more powerful, and achieving a higher level of freedom as you become more powerful. Plus the open-world setting. I enjoyed moving in that game.

IGN: Was that open world setting decided right from the start, before the art came into place, or did that come later?

JS: It wasn’t decided at the beginning. We took a lot of different approaches. I requested not just falling vertically, but also horizontally. And we thought that an open world works better with that. This world is based in gravity, so it matches that the level becomes big not just vertically, but horizontally as well, so you can fall and travel in any direction.

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PSB: How did you decide which of PS Vita’s new inputs (touch screen, six axis gyroscopes) to use with Gravity Rush?

JS: Originally, we were making the game for PS3. We came across PS Vita along the way. We played around with it, and thought it was perfect for the game, and so we switched to PS Vita.

PSB: How have you and the team reacted to the really good critical reception (38/40 in Famitsu) in Japan?

JS: We had mixed feelings, actually. We achieved something that’s unique and brand new, and we feel that should get good reviews. But at the same time, this game a little niche… so we thought it was interesting that we got such high scores.

We’ve still got a couple more months until gamers here in North America will get to explore Kat’s world. Gravity Rush floats over to this contintent on June 12 of this year.

//Add Your Own

69 Comments   5 Replies

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51

+ RydogV on March 15th, 2012 at 11:14 am said:

Great write-up Jeff. Man this summer is gonna be nuts!! Last summer it was like gaming purgatory and this year it is like Fall 2011 with release after release of great games. Wicked!!


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+ ixnine on March 15th, 2012 at 2:54 pm said:

I’m really looking forward to this game. Thanks for posting the interview, there were lots of good stuff in it.


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+ ArchAngelMai on March 15th, 2012 at 3:23 pm said:

Any word on Dual Audio? I would like to see games on Vita get dual audio like many PSP games did. Games are ART, PRESERVE ART!

You can play the demo at Best Buy or Gamestop, I enjoyed it, though it would have been nice to hear it better.


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+ nityram on March 15th, 2012 at 4:15 pm said:

I’ve been playing this game for a few weeks thanks to my GF grabbing it for me while in Japan.
This is by far the best game available for the Vita. I also from the very start compared it to crackdown to my friends. I love the open world and collecting of gems to build up skills. It has some problems or things that i would like to add but they are minor.

It’s a real shame that this isn’t available in the US sooner. My other vita games have been gathering dust once i’ve played this (minus katamari). Everything honestly looks half-arsed and paltry in comparison. I hope other developers see this game and take it as a challenge to do even better for the Vita especially in the US.
Sony, do not underestimate the power of the American consumer. If you continue to treat us as second class citizens when it comes to this console it will be doomed to the same fate as the PSP.

Also, i think it is really silly to call this Gravity Rush in the US. Call the game what it is. What need is there to change it?


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+ Elvick_ on March 15th, 2012 at 4:40 pm said:

Can’t wait, but I have to. ):


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+ bennytokamelajr on March 15th, 2012 at 9:30 pm said:

English GD/R Demo found @ HK PSN ;)


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+ lpnum1 on March 16th, 2012 at 4:53 am said:

I Love my Vita and am looking forward to this game! Cant wait to get the demo up on PSN. The Vita feels like a very special handheld I’m hoping third party app support and great game releases continue to push this thing to the limit.


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+ warriorprincess8 on March 16th, 2012 at 6:50 am said:

Loving my Vita, Reason why I purchased it. Can’t wait for Gravity Rush already pre ordered and paid for. So glad I didn’t wait until this game was released to purchase my Vita, having mad fun playing Uncharted, Escape Plan and a few more titles. Gravity Rush will be the cherry on the cake, with more great games to come.


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+ BlueFlameBat on March 18th, 2012 at 3:21 pm said:

I have to agree somewhat with Eternal-CMO. I think it should still be made for PS3 as well (though if I had my way, it would probably be made for Wii, Wii-U, 3DS, DS, PSP, XBox 360, PC, MAC, and iPhone as well) instead of just VITA. It looks like an interesting game, but it’s not enough to get me to buy an expensive new handheld, and the play transfer between the PS3 and PS Vita seems like it should work just fine.

Where I disagree with Eternal-CMO is about Microsoft and Nintendo not doing this sort of thing. Microsoft has been whoring Kinect since its release with Kinect-requiring games and features that could just as easily been used with the communicator headset. Since the release of 3DS, Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel has been a real joke while the 3DS e-shop gets much more attention. I’m not saying Sony and Japan Studio are right, but they’re not the only ones with this flaw.


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+ cojoo24 on March 19th, 2012 at 12:35 pm said:

when is it going to be released with english subs in the japanese psn? i just switched psn accounts so i could play the demo and im seriously thinking about getting a digital card so i can buy the full game, but i think my ignorance of the chinese language would take some of the fun out of it lol


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+ swisstylez on March 21st, 2012 at 7:06 pm said:

the only reason why I bought the PsVita.


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+ GodLikeClarens on March 22nd, 2012 at 5:44 pm said:

Those of you who want the demo there are ways you can get the demo here is how

restore your psvita it will ask you at some point if you want to format memory stick select no
And now your vita will be like new turn it on set language date and time and when it ask if you have psn account say no make a new account pick hong kong as your country and finish setting it up when done restore your vita once again and dont forget do not format memory stick and once again it will ask if you have psn account click yes now enter the hong kong account you just made and get it go to store and download gravity rush demo its english because its the hong kong store the japanese store one is in japanese now download it on your system when its done just restore your vita once again and again do not format memory stick and when it ask for psn account say yes and enter your normal psn account and you will have gravity rush on your system you can do this over in case you wanna download some more game in the other store this works i use it to get gravity rush demo ragnarok adyssey demo also


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+ epizzati on March 22nd, 2012 at 7:41 pm said:

add me for vita games


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+ TomatoDragon on March 29th, 2012 at 7:20 am said:

One of my most anticipated games for the Vita. Was messing around with it at a Best Buy a little while ago. The art style and gameplay are top notch.


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+ TheTwelve on March 30th, 2012 at 10:14 am said:

As much as I like my PS3, the Vita allows a level of interaction with games that is very unique. So I’m happy that this game was moved from the PS3 to the Vita.

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+ Naijaplaya3 on April 1st, 2012 at 6:29 am said:

This game will definitely be a masterpiece
I hope you guys at SCEA pays close attention to this game and market the hell out of it
Vita owners are dying hard to get this game
just sayin


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+ MewMew09 on April 3rd, 2012 at 7:51 am said:

Wait, doesn’t PlayStation Home have a costume similar to her design?


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+ livingnightmare on April 3rd, 2012 at 7:24 pm said:

@GodLikeClarens, ya know we shouldn’t have to do all that to get a demo that’s already on units here in the US for retail demo. The demo is even in English, but for some reason it’s not being released to us. Maybe they feel there’s no need for the demo since so many people already want the game.


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+ MoshuaDeath on April 10th, 2012 at 10:35 am said:

Oh looky here a Vita game I’m excited for. Golden Abyss was somewhat of a let down :/ but it looked pretty I guess. It’s what you would have played before Uncharted 1. Now Gravity Rush/Daze, feels like it’s making itself important to the mobile industry- I can’t explain in words how happy I am to see the love of the Vita with a game like this (mostly because I’m too tired) but I played the demo and this is a day 1 purchase. I’m expecting a slight above average of 7.75-8.5 ratings out of 10.


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