JAST USA decided to hold a surprise panel at 11:30pm on the first day of Otakon 2009, where they pretty much reiterated what was said at Anime Expo for the main part of the presentation. However, after the raffle and during the question and answer section, a few more juicy tidbits managed to find their way out, including some information about a third game in negotations from Nitro+. Thanks to bayoab for the live stream and being on site.
After going into the presentation file and replacing “Anime Expo” with “Otakon”, the presenter was ready to start the presentation. The presentation started with an overview of what bishoujo games were and how JAST USA started in 1997 with importing J-Pop CDs. Next, the releases for the past year were reviewed and this segued into the announcement that Family Project is finally available and shipping now.
The presentation then moved onto future releases, with Cat Girl Alliance entering beta and scheduled for release this fall, Raidy II scheduled for release this winter, and it was noted that the project to bring out Cleavage was frozen due to the Japanese company losing the uncensored artwork. As for some of the games for which they don’t have a date yet, the Moero Downhill Night series of games are expected to be out soon. According to the presentation, the staff who worked on the CG animation for Initial D also worked on the CG animation in this game. Lastly, the presentation covered the Yukkuri Panic series of games, which will each be released in a combo pack consisting of a short bishoujo game and a short arcade game.
However, just like the Anime Expo panel, the panel presentation stops at a “One More Thing” screen, and then proceeds to talk about the previously announced partnership between Nitro+ and JAST USA. After showing the trailers for Zanma Taisei Demonbane and Jingai Makyo, the presenter noted that there’s a third game whose license hasn’t been finalized yet. The main presentation closed out with a statement from JAST USA that they’re really happy about the feedback from fans about which games they want. Furthermore, they claim that Nitro+ is happy to be represented by JAST USA in the US and that there is an American comic book for Saya no Uta in progress. Nitro+ is also supposedly really interested in getting Saya no Uta (which they consider their pet project) made into a Hollywood movie.
After the main presentation, a raffle was held for some items. Apparently a copy of Family Project and a male “stress relief toy” were both won by female audience members.
The question and answer segment, which wasn’t done at Anime Expo due to time constraints, brought forth some interesting information. The first question was about why JAST USA doesn’t try to get their games run through the ESRB. They explained that since they know they’re going to get an Adults Only (AO) rating anyway, the wait and headache involved with getting games cleared by the ESRB was too much of a hassle. When asked about running their games on Macs, the reply was that their games run great on Intel Macs through the use of VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop and that they also run well through the CrossOver series of products from CodeWeavers.
When asked about Raidy III, JAST USA says that they let the original publishers know that they are interested and that if the game gets released in Japan, they will be able to get it. Although the panelists couldn’t asnwer directly in response to a question about the budget of games Japan-side, they did talk about how some companies are small with only a few employees and some companies are gigantic, like Nitro+. Furthermore, it was noted that bishoujo game companies for the most part make their own game engines. Then, perhaps in response to recent events in the Japanese eroge industry, it was noted that one of the things JAST USA had to learn was to find game companies that are open-minded about the world who wants their games to be played by Americans. There are issues now with some companies who want to be left alone and don’t see the US as a market.
When asked about whether there was a market for non-adult visual novels, the response was that before the deal with Nitro+, JAST USA wouldn’t have been quite sure about the possibility of an all-ages visual novel market, and that there’s a downside to being an adult game publisher. However, with Nitro+ games, they would consider everything, as long as Nitro+ is interested. For example, Nitro+ is most likely going to want to see good sales numbers on Demonbane before they would consider bringing over CHAOS;HEAD. A later question revealed that CHAOS;HEAD is one of Nitro+’s crown jewels and that the rights lie with Nitro+ and another company (most likely 5pb.). Therefore, it would be tough to get this game.
When asked about otome games, the reply was that there is a market, but what can be released will depend on what JAST USA can get and what they think will be good. As for combo packages of figures and software, it was noted that this was a nice idea, but hard to implement. For example, most of the Nitro+ figures are out of print. However, JAST USA would be interested in doing what it can to do another print run of an Ignis figure.
As for rereleasing Phantom of Inferno, it was noted that the original Nitro+ game had no voices and that an unvoiced game in “this day and age” might not work too well.
Lastly, when asked about acquiring boys love (BL) games from Nitro+ CHiRAL, it was noted that sales results for the two BL games JAST USA has brought haven’t been very peachy. They’re open to the idea of BL games, and suggested perhaps to do a preorder campaign where if there’s enough preorders, they will get the game.
After the panel was over, conversations let loose the rumor that the third game from Nitro+, which is in negotiations right now, is apparently not a visual novel. This would yield a few possibilities:
- the two minigames from Sabbath Nabe
- a 3D mecha sequel to Zanma Taisei Demonbane called Kishin Hishou Demonbane
- a Mario Kart clone based on Demonbane characters called Azathoth D
- a 2D fighting game featuring heroines from Nitro+ games (and Saber) called NITRO+ROYALE
UPDATE: The Nitro+ flap from the JAST USA Dating-Sim Game Catalog that shipped with Family Project apparently has the NITRO+ROYALE title image as the background.