Worlds collide as the towering new monster collector game: Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher, a crossover between the Ultraman series and Monster Rancher, nears its launch date this October, and we were lucky enough to interview the game’s producer Kentaro Matano.
Kentaro Matano is a producer at Bandai Namco. He previously co-produced the anime fighting game Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure: All-Star Battle R as well as Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez, meaning he has a lot of experience with bombastic Tokusatsu projects. In this interview, he told us more about the development of Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher, more details on raising the kaiju, and the challenges of bringing the two franchises together.
Could you tell us more about bringing the Ultra Series Kaiju into Monster Rancher? What inspired you to make this crossover?
“I have been playing Monster Rancher from a young age and I’m a big fan of the title. While I was playing the new Monster Rancher on the Switch, I saw the news of the 55th anniversary of the Ultra series and I thought there was an opportunity, “wouldn’t it be interesting if we combined these two titles” and that was the start of the game’s development.”
What is the most difficult thing about creating an Ultraman and monster rancher crossover?
“There are two points we have to make here. The first is that the Kaiju are giant scary monsters that are really wild. This made us question how would you depict them as being able to be raised on a ranch, in a more peaceful setting. We put a lot of thought into how that would work.”
“The second one was regarding the vision. This kind of depiction is not something you often see in the Ultra Series. I had to discuss this a lot with the license holder Tsubaraya productions regarding the presentation of the monsters. After a long discussion, we were able to put over 200 fusion monsters in the game. That was another wall in development.”
What would you say are the main differences between raising the Monsters of Monster Rancher and the Kaiju of this game?
“Looking at the game cycle itself, they are almost the same between the Monster Rancher monsters and the Ultra Kaiju. The biggest difference is again the size of the kaiju compared to the Monster Rancher monsters. The presentation of the two is very different in-game because of that.”
With so many classic Kaiju from the Ultra Series, was it difficult to select which one’s would appear in the game?
“It was very difficult for me to decide! There are many ways to choose which kaiju to appear. There is of course popularity like how Gomora and Alien Baltan have to appear but we tried to not just use the popular older monsters. The team also selected some lesser-known kaiju from the newer Ultra series as well, so look forward to it.”
Will the NFC feature in the game [you can use the Switch’s built-in NFC scanner to create new kaiju] include various wares other than IC cards? Will we be able to use other cards?
“Other than IC Cards, as long as it has an NFC function it should work. Examples of this would be one of the Ultraman medal toys as well as other things in your daily life. We [the development team] can use our company id cards to make a kaiju. There is an exception though with amiibo, you cannot use amiibo for this game.”
How many monster fusions are available in this game?
“For the Ultra Kaiju themselves, there are more than 25 and for all the different combinations and fusions, it will be more than 200. It’s quite a lot!”
Continuing from the previous question, would you be interested in adding more Kaiju to the game, perhaps via DLC?
“At the moment there are no plans to add kaiju through DLC”
Do the kaiju also age in this monster rancher spin-off?
“Just like in Monster Rancher, the kaiju do grow and get older with each year. They even have a birthday every year!”
What are some interesting things to note about the battle system in the game?
“So regarding the battle system, the basics are all the same as Monster Rancher. For those that know, depending on the range between your monster and your opponent’s monster, the attacks that can be used are very different. You can strategize using that by taking advantage of placement. If your monster is better at close range, you always want to put them closer to your opponents. On the other hand, you may want to put them a bit further away because they may have stronger ranged attacks.”
“You also have the quantity of guts that you have to use for each attack. So the placement of the monsters and the usage of guts. Those are the most important points of the battle system of this game.”
Aside from the main tournament mode, will there be any competitive modes?
“Regarding the online itself, it is the same as Monster Rancher 1 & 2 on Switch in that you can upload your monster to the cloud and other players can download and fight them. This can be done vice versa as well where you can download and fight other people’s monsters. So rather than a real-time battle, you will have the option to download and upload your monsters.”
This game will be released during Monster Rancher’s 25th anniversary. How does it feel knowing the series continues to move forward even after all these years?
“For this question, I am answering as a fan myself as I am not a Koei-Tecmo person. As a fan, I am really happy to be able to take part in this Monster Rancher project and I am looking forward to fans from all around the world being able to enjoy this new game.”
Will players who are not familiar with Ultraman or Monster Rancher be able to enjoy this game?
“Of course! For people who are fans of Ultraman, they can enjoy knowing about each kaiju and their backstories but for people who are not familiar with the Ultraman IP, they can enjoy the monster rancher side of the game itself. Maybe the game may not be for someone that isn’t interested in monster collecting kind of games though.”
“The most important key feature in this game is raising a huge kaiju inside of your house, that is something you can only do in this game.”
Which part of the game are you most excited for fans to experience?
“As I previously mentioned, raising kaiju is something you can only experience in this game, there are no other media that let you have any experience with this. This is the only place you can really see the unseen more peaceful side of the kaiju, to see Alien Baltan eat something and then feel happy or Gomora being confused. That’s something you’ll only see in this game.”
We’re thankful to Mr. Kentaro Matano for taking the time to speak with us about Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher for this interview. I personally think it’s really unique to see the traditionally tough and aggressive monsters of the Ultra series ut into a setting where they act far more peacefully and dare I say, even kind of cute.
Kaiju have always been one of the most popular aspects of the Tokusatsu genre and I think a lot of fans, myself included, have fantasized about being able to raise one. To feed it, take care of it, and then sent it off to wage city-destroying war against other kaiju. Like a 50-foot tall cat. The two franchises really suit each other well and I’m glad to see them be brought together with such larger-than-life execution.
Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher will be available for The Nintendo Switch on the 20th of October 2022.
©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.
Developed by KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
Monster Rancher: ©KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD. All rights reserved.