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'I've never seen a character like Jack-O in any fighting game' - Ogawa on his love for Guilty Gear, the upcoming Revelator, his origins and more

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • August 11, 2015 at 3:25 p.m. PDT • Comments: 19

After the explosive EVO this year, we here at EventHubs made an effort to reach out to champions in the main stage games of the event. Our fourth interview we're publishing is with the champion of Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, Ogawa.

In this interview, Ogawa talks about his love for Guilty Gear, early fighting game experiences, thoughts on the upcoming Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator and more.

Please note that this interview was conducted in Japanese, and can be read in its original language at the end of the article. Find a snippet of the translated English version (courtesy of myself) right below.
MajinTenshinhan: How long have you been playing fighting games?

Ogawa: The first fighting game I played was Street Fighter 2 on the SNES. That was around 5th or 6th grade. Once I started middle school and began going to arcades, I barely played any Capcom games and focused my playtime on the King of Fighters series.

Well, I can't say I really understood the proper way to win back then, but just playing around with it was fun.

MajinTenshinhan: So, when did you start feeling "I want to play to win"?

Ogawa: That was in my high school years, when I encountered the game "Guilty Gear X".
Hit the jump to check out the rest of the interview.
MajinTenshinhan: You've been famous as a Guilty Gear player for a very long time, but have you ever been interested in any other fighting games?

Ogawa: For a while, I was playing Aquapazza quite a bit. I actually got beaten by Go1 at Tougeki 2011 and ended my run in the top 4. Then, in 2012, at the preliminaries at Tougeki I got 2nd place, where I was completely beaten by KojiKOG.

MajinTenshinhan: Compared to other fighting games, what is it that makes the Guilty Gear series so special?

Ogawa: The high degree of freedom, I suppose. Especially in Guilty Gear Xrd, there's barely any restriction to Roman Cancels, to the degree that it feels like the developers made it that way to tell us "Just do whatever you want".

It's not like there aren't any "best options" for situations, but there aren't any definitive answers, and being able to say that is a big part of what makes it fun, I think.

MajinTenshinhan: Guilty Gear Xrd is the first new game in the series in a long time. How do you feel it holds up to the older games?

Ogawa: I think it's the most well-balanced game in series history. Also, while Guilty Gear is a series where okizeme is very strong, there's a countermeasure called Blitz Shield in this game which is important to take into account.

While it can make me go "Man, this is so annoying" sometimes, that's part of what makes it fun, too, haha. Also, to be frank, my chosen character (Zato-1) being so good is fantastic!

MajinTenshinhan: You've been a Zato-1 user for a long time. What was it that led you to choose this character?

Ogawa: Back in Guilty Gear X, Arisaka Shinya (famous for teaming with MCZ|Daigo and Pachi at Tougeki 2003's Guilty Gear XX tournament) told me "Ogawa, you're very good at setplay, just killing your opponent off of one situation, so I think Zato-1 is a good fit for you" as advice, and that was the trigger for me.

Zato-1 is a very difficult character, so when I started playing him I spent a lot of time practicing against the CPU.

MajinTenshinhan: I see. Why did Arisaka-san give you that advice, do you think?

Ogawa: Hmm... When I was playing Super Street Fighter 2 X, I was a Vega player who did nothing but the Flying Barcelona Attack from different sides, so maybe he saw that.

Much like with Vega, my intention with Zato-1 was to use a "character of justice" to "crush the evil characters", but it seems the people around me think it's the exact opposite of that, haha.

MajinTenshinhan: Recently, Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- was announced. You've already been playing it at the location tests, how do you feel about it so far?

Ogawa: Both Blitz Shield and Dust->Homing Dash have been greatly changed, so I think it's important to research and try to find counterstrategies for those changes.

In particular, doing a Blitz Shield Charge Attack is very strong against okizeme, so I think that characters who aren't much affected by that might be strong now. Millia and Zato-1 don't seem to be all too affected by it, so I think they're both still good.

Conversely, Ino and Ky seem to have a lot of trouble because of it, so I think they might fall in the tier list. While the already existing characters haven't been adjusted, I think the character balance will still be changed up quite a bit.

MajinTenshinhan: While there haven't been balance changes to existing characters in Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, if there were to be any implemented, what would you like to see happen?

Ogawa: Hmm... I guess I'd like to see Millia get nerfed. Her mobility and okizeme is fine as it is, but I'd like for her Chroming Rose and Secret Garden to disappear when she gets hit.

Also, I'd like to see her defense be lower than Chipp's. If you make it so she's guaranteed to die from two clean hits, I think Millia players would be encouraged to play more carefully.

I mean, even Zato-1 has had times where he was considered bad, but Millia has been at the top for the entire Guilty Gear series, so seeing her nerfed just this once would garner no sympathy at all from me!

MajinTenshinhan: Conversely, are there any characters you think should get buffed?

Ogawa: Right now, I honestly can't say that I do. The balance in Guilty Gear Xrd is just that good. I don't know about the newly added characters, Johnny and Jack-O yet, though.

I can judge Johnny's power to a certain degree, but I've never seen a character who fights the way Jack-O does in any fighting game so far, so she might be completely average or she might be so good she breaks the entire game. Needs further research.

MajinTenshinhan: Interesting. Finally, if you were to be invited to any events outside of Japan, would you like to go?

Ogawa: I definitely would not go alone. If I go abroad on my own, I'm sure I would die, haha.

But, I do spend a lot of time thinking about how to make Guilty Gear Xrd's scene burn even brighter, so if I get the opportunity, I'd very much like to go. If anyone wants me to come, please invite someone else as well.

Huge thanks to Ogawa for agreeing to do this interview with us and also huge thanks to Akiki for getting in touch with Ogawa and helping to expand both my questions and his responses to make the interview as good as possible.

Continue below for the Japanese version. 下に日本語版があるので、ご覧ください。

魔人T: いつから格闘ゲームをやり始めたのでしょうか。

小川: 初めて遊んだのは,スーパーファミコンの「ストリートファイターII」で,小学5~6年の頃でした。中学校に入ってゲームセンターに通うようになった頃は,カプコンの格闘ゲームはほとんどやらず,「THE KING OF FIGHTERS」シリーズを中心にプレイしていました。まあ,当時はまだ勝ち方がわかっていなかったんですが,触っているだけで楽しかったです。

魔人T: では,いつ頃から「対戦で勝ちたい」と思うようになったんでしょうか。

小川: 高校時代に出会った「GUILTY GEAR X」です。

魔人T: 小川さんはもともと「GUILTY GEAR」シリーズのプレイヤーとして有名ですが,ほかの格闘ゲームに興味を持ったことはあるんでしょうか。

小川: 一時期は「AQUAPAZZA」をかなりやり込んでいましたね。とはいえ,闘劇'11ではGO1さんにやられてベスト4で終わってしまいました。あと,2012年に超闘劇で行われた予選では,小路KOGさんにスコスコにやられて,準優勝でしたね。

魔人T: ほかの格闘ゲームと比べて,「GUILTY GEAR」シリーズが特別なところは?

小川: 自由度の高さ,ですね。とくに「GUILTY GEAR Xrd」では,ロマンキャンセルの制限がほとんどなくて,開発側から「なんでも好きにやれ」と言われているような調整になっています。最善の選択肢がないわけではないけど,ほとんど答えがない,と言っても良いのが面白いところです。

魔人T: 「GUILTY GEAR Xrd」は久しぶりの新作ですが,従来のシリーズ作品と比べてどう思いますか?

小川: シリーズ史上,もっともゲームバランスが良いタイトルだと思います。キャラ差はあるかもしれないけど,システムがあまりにも強いおかげで覆しやすいんです。あと,起き攻めが強いシリーズではありますが,今回はブリッツシールドという対抗手段があるので,そこも考慮する必要がある。「面倒くせえな~」とも思うけど,そこも面白いところですね(笑)。あとは正直,自分のキャラクター(ザトー=ONE)が強いのも最高!

魔人T: 小川さんは昔からザトー=ONE一筋です。どうしてこのキャラクターを選んだのでしょうか。

小川: GGXの頃,ありさかしんやさん(※闘劇'03のGGXX部門にて,ウメハラ,パチとチームを組んだことでも有名)から,「小川はセットプレイ一回で相手を殺せるキャラが得意だから,ザトーが向いているよ」とアドバイスされたのがきっかけですね。ザトー=ONEはすごく難しいキャラクターなので,やり始めた当時はずっとCPU戦で練習していました。

魔人T: なるほど。ありさかさんは,どうしてそういうアドバイスをしたんでしょうかね。

小川: うーん,僕が「スーパーストリートファイターII X」でヒョーバル(※フライングバルセロナアタックしかやらないバルログのこと)の表裏二択ばっかりやっていて,それを見たからかもしれない。ヒョーバルと同じく,「正義のキャラを使って,悪のキャラを滅ぼす」つもりでザトー=ONEを使っていたんですが,周りからは完全に逆だと思われていたみたいですね(笑)。

魔人T: 新作の「GUILTY GEAR Xrd -REVELATOR-」が発表されました。小川さんは既にロケテストをプレイしているようですが,どう感じましたか。

小川: ブリッツシールド周りと,横ダス(※ダストアタック~ホーミングダッシュ)が大きく変わったので,その研究と対策が必要だと思っています。とくにブリッツシールドチャージアタックは起き攻め対策として強力なので,その影響を受けにくいキャラクターが強いんじゃないかと。ミリアやザトー=ONEはあまり影響を受けなさそうなので,まだ強いと思います。対して,イノやカイは結構困りそうだから,ランクが下がるかもしれない。既存キャラクターは調整されていないんですが,キャラクターバランスは大分変わるように思いましたね。

魔人T: 仰る通り,「GUILTY GEAR Xrd -REVELATOR-」では,既存キャラクターは調整されていません。もしバトルバランスが変わるとしたら,どういう風になって欲しいですか。

小川: ん~,やっぱりミリアを弱くしてほしいかな。機動力や起き攻めの強さはそのままでいいけど,こちらが攻撃を当てたとき,クローミングローズとシークレットガーデンを消滅するようにして欲しいですね。あと,防御力をチップ以下にしてほしい。2回攻撃を食らったら必ず死ぬぐらいにしてくれれば,ミリア使いはもっと慎重に戦うようになると思います。そもそも,ザトー=ONEでさえ弱かった時期があるのに,ミリアはシリーズを通してずっと最上位だから,1回ぐらい弱くなったとしても同情の余地はない!

魔人T: 逆に,強くした方が良いキャラクターはいますか?

小川: 現状はいないですね。GGXrdは,それぐらいバランスが良いゲームです。新キャラクターのジョニーとジャックオーはまだ良くわからない。ジョニーはある程度強さが読めるんですが,ジャックオーは今までの格闘ゲームの中ででも初めてのバトルデザインを持ったキャラクターなので,普通の強さに収まるかもしれないし,もしかしたらゲームをぶっ壊すほど強いかもしれない。研究が必要ですね。

魔人T: わかりました。最後に,日本国外のイベントに呼ばれたら行きたいですか?

小川: 一人では絶対に行きたくないです。一人で海外に出たら,死んじゃうのが目に見えている(笑)。でも,どうやったらGGXrdをもっと盛り上げられるのか,僕も考えているので,機会があったら是非よろしくお願いします。誰かと一緒に誘って下さい。

Previous interviews:
Rico Suave.

Photo Credit: Famitsu.

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