With just a few short days before the Duel Masters Play's and Rockman EXE collaboration ends on August 18th, we are happy to bring you a fully-translated interview from Coro Coro Comics Online between Mr. Tomo (Duel Masters Play's director) and Masakazu Eguchi (Battle Network series scenario designer and other Mega Man games)
We also have a full playthrough of the collaboration, too! You can find everything and more after the break!
Thanks to Sidier for translating the interview for us!
Thank you for taking part in this interview. What led to the creation of this collaboration?
Tomo: Good question. The biggest reason is because in the history of the “Duel Masters” trading card game, its very first collaboration was with “Rockman EXE”.
We’d already announced we’d hold a collaboration but we wanted the first one to be something emblematic as a start. As the producer told us, and when asking the team, everyone agreed “how about we choose Rockman EXE?” That led to this collaboration.
What impressions did the collaboration back in the day leave on you?
Tomo: There’s a lot of people on the team that enjoyed the TCG “Duel Masters” and “Rockman EXE” so I felt like that the "direct hit generation" had a strong image of that event.
▲The impact of two of the biggest heroes of CoroCoro Comics at the time being made into a movie & co-starring was tremendous!
Tomo: Back then, they were working on the Rockman EXE hobby department at Takara, who produced all kinds of EXE merchandise. Apparently, the "Duel Masters" department and the "Rockman hobby" department saw each other as rivals!
▲The Battle Chip Gate was released alongside Rockman EXE 4.
I see. This time it’ll be a cameo in an app game. How will Rockman interact with the users and Duel Masters characters?
Tomo: Rockman suddenly appears in Duema City (which is the backdrop of Duel Masters Play's), and will encounter the player and Lupico, the main character of Duel Masters Play's. Rockman will learn about the “duels” that happen in the “real” world which is different from the Cyber World he lives in.
As he cooperates with the players to return to his world, he will learn that he’s not the only one who came to Duema City. This collaboration will be an adventure between Rockman and the player!
By the way, Duema City has been designed with state-of-the-art hologram technology throughout the city to allow you to enjoy the best of Duel Masters Play's at anytime, wherever, and with whomever you want! So while Rockman is not physically real in this world, he can still walk around the city just like a human being!
What kind of cards will Rockman use? Does he have any Legend Battle Skills?
Tomo: When we thought about what to do, the cards we settled on were those that "fit Rockman the best!” As for what deck he’ll use, you’ll know when the collaboration happens so look forward to it.
When you first heard about it, what did you think of this collaboration, Meijin Eguchi ?
Eguchi: I was very happy about it!
At the time “Rockman EXE”, a GameBoy Advance game series, and “Duel Masters”, a card game, collaborated and went beyond the boundaries of their media. "Rockman EXE"was made into a card and "Duel Masters" was made into a battle chip.
Also when I heard the collaboration was going to happen in the Cyber World setting from the Duel Master's game after so much time,I was very emotional about it: “we’re finally going to have a collaboration in the Cyber World!”
The original Duel Masters/Rockman EXE collaboration card coincided with the March 2005 CoroCoro Comic issue.
▲Duel Masters x EXE Collaboration card: "Forte, Brave Fear Lord"
Tomo: A card that destroys all “blocker” creatures.
People still remembered it fondly and the staff was like “oh yeah, there were Rockman cards”. And so back then we said, “if we’re going to do a collaboration with Rockman, let’s make Forte as a card!”
With this new collaboration, we didn’t just want tp add old cards; we wanted to make it more modern and nostalgic too.
Due the generational gap (between the original staff and the current staff), was the production staff aware of Rockman EXE? Did they know who or what it was?
Tomo: Yes, that was the big factor. It felt like “there’s only “Rockman EXE” as choice”!”
I see. And the enthusiasm from back then has been inherited into this new collaboration. What did you think of the collaboration back then, Eguchi?
Eguchi: Good point. “Duel Masters” also had articles published in the same magazine as us (Coro Coro Comics). DM was aimed at children too, so we were more like rivals. However, we were a game series and theirs was a card game. We did not fight over coverage in the magazine itself.
However, at events such as the Next Generation World Hobby Fair, we held tournaments for Rockman EXE as well as stage events. Sometimes I went to peek during breaks at the Duel Masters booth and they had huge tournament and overwhelmingly big stage events.
That always stimulated me, making me think “one day we’ll be as big as them!” And so the game staff also moved forward thinking, “let’s come up with a plan to make the tournaments exciting!”
The World Hobby Fair was a place were you could experience content first hand.
Eguchi: That’s true. You can see visitors reactions with your own eyes and see just how many of them attended the event. So one time I went, I was studying how to manage events and what's popular. (laughs)
The larger booths are held in the corner of the hall, so I said, "Let's definitely have a EXE booth in the corner next time!" (laughs)
So as the Rockman EXE series progressed, we really got more and more visitors steadily joining us at WHF.
How did you end up collaborating back in 2005?
Eguchi: I think that the collaboration began with the movie and then “let’s collaborate within the game” came up too.
EXE was a title we developed with the intent of eventually turning into an anime and a movie ever since it began.
When I heard that the movie would be released at the same time as the Duel Masters movie, I got very excited. My spirit was burning because it wasn't a standalone thing; “we’ll make exciting kids content together!” and “Let's work together to bring the most popular content from Coro Coro Comics to life!”
In terms of the movie collaboration, Rockman EXE 5: Team of Blues/Team of Colonel featured Duel Masters creatures as Battle Chips. How did you decide which ones you would feature?
Eguchi: During planning phase, we talked about “let’s add limited edition chips in the games”. So in “Blues” we had “Death Phoenix” (the card was “Death Phoenix, Avatar of Doom”, and in “Colonel” we had “Eternal Phoenix” (the card was “Eternal Phoenix, Phoenix of the Dragonflame”).
At first when I got the design drafts from Duel Masters… I was impressed at the talent of their artist. The drawings were well made and the effects so cool. We were thrilled but at the same time we are all like,“we’re supposed to recreate this as a sprite!?”
▲“Death Phoenix, Avatar of Doom”
▲“Eternal Phoenix, Phoenix of the Dragonflame”
On the battle chip screen, “Eternal Phoenix” looks like is wearing an armor, and “Death Phoenix” has an organic look to it. So at first we designed them with the idea of “Let's create our own data version of each monster.” However, due to limits of the GBA cartridges at the time, we didn’t have enough space so we couldn’t implement the idea.
For the battle scenes, we changed the colors of the center section of each phoenix. The idea was, “if we change the colors of each monster, we can add them in” and that’s what we did in the end.
▲In-game “Death Phoenix”
Also, in the case of “Eternal Phoenix” the name was too long so we shortened it to “Phoenix”. So there were parts we couldn’t do and we were a bit disappointed with ourselves.
If there were no limitations in storage each monster would look different from one another, right?
Eguchi: True. We really put a lot of effort into each design.
I want to ask you about the collaboration back in 2005. “Rockman EXE” encompassed games, hobbies and events; how was the relationship with the Rockman EXE manga serialized in CoroCoro Comic by Ryo Takamisaki?
▲ The Rockman EXE Manga (Author: Ryo Takamisaki )
Mr. Takamisaki made Rockman and Netto very cool in the manga and drew a lot of emotional scenes as well.
I did check his drafts to make sure he didn’t diverge too much from the world the characters are in. But I actually never had to correct him on that; I was the one who read it ahead of anyone else.
I guess you could call it “first reader impression”?
Eguchi: Indeed (laughs)
The manga was published in Coro Coro Comics on a monthly basis but as for the game, it was only once per year. I was envious, not wanting to lose to the stimulation of “we’re also making a good story” and “we can’t dispatch this until another half a year later”...
To celebrate the collaboration, we’re going to publish a few select episodes of the manga in Coro Coro Online. Please tell us what we should focus upon, Meijin!
Eguchi: Let’s see. To begin with, the friendship and sibling love that Rockman and Netto-kun have. The rivalry between Rockman and Forte, too. I think these are the best points.
As well as the “relationships between humans and Navis”. There are episodes that address the roots of the world so I think those are worth a watch too.
Thank you. Are there other things in CoroCoro Comics that you remember fondly?
Eguchi: When it comes to Coro Coro comics, the boss character contest is what I remember best.
▲ The contest in question, held in the 2001 Monthly CoroCoro Comic July Issue. A lot of original Navis, beginning with Gate man, King Man, Laser Man, Cosmo Man, Circus Man and others debuted there.
Eguchi: There were tons of submissions and they were all very interesting. Choosing a winner among them was very hard.
At the same time, I was more like “these are amazing!”. I did submit boss designs for the classic Rockman series when I was a kid and now I would be the one to choose the design! It was so amazing and I always looked forward to them.
Is there a boss that you have a fond memories of?
Eguchi: Hard question! But the one that “impressed” me was the first one we chose, Gate Man.
▲ Gate Man, featured in “Rockman EXE 2”.
His Operator is also named “Meijin”; is he based off you?
Eguchi: Yes… In theory! In theory, yes, but at first we were like “isn’t it bad if an employee stands out too much?” and so we gave him a mask at first.
Oh yes, he wore a mask like Rockman’s face guard.
▲ Meijin debuted in “Rockman EXE 2”. He had a red mask and a white coat.
Eguchi: Indeed. But since I ended up showing up in a lot in media -- events and Coro Coro Comics -- the reticence within the team steadily faded. We took off the mask and made him more “handsome” (laughs)
▲ Meijin in “Rockman EXE 5”. He doesn’t have a mask and wears a white coat.
It was also impressive that his Navi is different for each game, and his appearance changed too. Did his clothing style changed to fit his Navi?
Eguchi: Correct. The Navi is decided first and then we made the design for Meijin.
In “Rockman EXE 4” he wore a jersey and had a bamboo sword since his Navi was Kendo Man (laughs)
But since we were using Navis that won the boss character contest, when we began to add in many of them, it became harder to make him fit the Navi he used. So we settled for a “flat” design that’d match any Navi.
Thank you. Next question: there are characters based on the classical Rockman series within the Rockman EXE series. How did you decide on these designs or which characters you’d feature?
Eguchi: The Rockman series started with the original Rockman series, then there was the X series and the DASH series too. There are so many characters to choose from. But the boss content from the classic Rockman series was very unique, and an obvious choice was to make those charming characters be featured in EXE.
In terms of “timeline”, the world of Rockman EXE is supposed to exist as a parallel space-time to the “classic, robotic Rockman”.
The “classic” series is about a world with advanced robotics, with Dr. Light at its core. EXE is a world with advanced networking technology, and we built it wondering “what would the Rockman of this world like?”
I see. My experience was a little different. I played EXE first, then the classic series. So it was exciting to see Navi characters as robots!
Eguchi: Thank you. Our staff had many members from previous Rockman series and they often were saying “let’s bring this character from that game!”.
There’s a lot of charming characters in the Rockman series. Was there any criteria for their appearance in EXE?
Eguchi: There’s several. When considering characters, we took into account the elemental properties heavily featured in Rockman EXE. Fire, water, etc.
Taking the (elemental) balance into account, the element of the Navi -- the style in which Rockman transforms (Style Change and Soul Unison, etc) -- these were also consideried. For example, we'd say “we need a water Navi” and the next question was “which water character can we use?” We choose them in terms of game design.
Some were featured because the staff pushed for it. But most were due to game design reasons.
Which kind of characters did the staff pushed for?
Eguchi: Guts Man for sure.
▲ He was a boss in the very first “Rockman” game and he debuted in the Rockman EXE games as the Navi of Dekao Ōyama (Dex in English) in EXE 1. In the “Red Sun” version of “EXE 4”, there also was the Guts Soul, a Soul Unison.
“Rockman EXE” had a fresh RPG element and a battle system that were different from the previous Rockman series. I think the battles became even more interesting, especially when I learned about Program Advance (*1).
*1 : A special attack that can be triggered by combining certain battle chips.
Eguchi: Program Advance was definitely very card-game-like. For example, the royal straight flush from poker. So we made Battle Chips in alphabet order or a special combination to bring out a powerful move… the idea was there since the start.
Does Eguchi have a favorite Program Advance?
Eguchi: Good question. There’s a lot of flashy and cool ones, but I’d go with the most basic of them, the combination of 3 “Cannon” chips, the “Zeta Cannon”. I remember being very happy when I first saw it.
▲Program Advance that appeared in the Rockman EXE Series, from 1 to 3. If you select “Cannon A, B, C” in Alphabetic order…
▲ It turns into “Zeta Cannon 1”! You turn invisible during 5 seconds and you shoot powerful attacks with the cannon.
▲ You can get advice from the "expert" in Rockman EXE 3 Black.
Thank you for telling us so much about EXE. To wrap up, I’d wish for you to give us a message to the players who’ll experience this brand-new collaboration!
I hope you look forward to seeing how Rockman EXE will appear in “Duel Masters Play's”, how he’ll interact with the player, and what he'll do in the actual game.
Since the game is basically a card game, we asked ourselves "what's the most fun you can have with Rockman in a card game?" We've put a lot of effort into this one. We also have elements that will allow you to interact with Rockman and, to some extent, with Forte. In addition, there are skins of Rockman and Forte in the game that can change the player's appearance.
Also, there will be some "little collaborations", too, so if you can find them, the generation who played both "Rockman EXE" and "Duel Masters" will be able to enjoy them. Please look forward to the Duel Masters and Rockman EXE collaboration event!
Eguchi again: I'd also like to add, I think there’ll be both veterans and newcomers to the series.
If it's been a while, veterans will wonder what is their role in the world of Duel Masters, no? And newcomers will probably be happy if you they have an interest in Rockman character. I think the Rockman characters will play an active role in making the world of Duel Masters even more fun, so I hope you'll enjoy this game.
Thank you very much. The Duel Masters Play's × Rockman EXE collaboration event will begin in July 28 (Tuesday). Let’s all plug-in together on that day!
We have recorded a full playthorugh of the collaboration that consist of three battles (or three chapters if you prefer). The first two are against Rockman (Beginner and Advances level) and last battle is against Forte (Legendary level).
In the advanced difficulty, Rockman has a skill called "Rock Buster" and Forte has the "Chaos Nightmare" skill that will destroy all non-Darkness creatures at the start of the 5th, 10th and 15th turn. You won't see that skill in action in the video I recorded because I was using a deck mostly with Darkness cards.
Rockman and Forte can become yours for 4 Skin Chips that can be obtained by purchasing the Duepre x Rockman EXE Collaboration Set which cost 1000 Gems. This is the first time a playable skin have custom emotes in the game and you can see them in the video below.
Lastly we have a video with Rockman and Forte's new voice lines recorded for the game. The seiyuus from the Rockman EXE anime are back to reprise their roles, Akiko Kimura as Rockman and Keiko Nemoto as Forte.
Despite its dormancy, the Rockman EXE series continues to be relevant. First as part of the Rockman Live 2020 concert, then as part of the Rockman x Bakudan-yaki Honpo Collaboration with some merchandising and, later this year, the Rockman vs Forte statue.
Capcom continues to be seeking partners to produce products to commemorate EXE's 20th anniversary on March 2021. The future is exciting and we will be here to tell you about it!