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Crim Studio Head Sawaki Takeyasu on STARNAUT, El Shaddai Development

We here at Miso love talking anime and games, but it’s not often we get graced with an amazing interviewee; this time, it’s acclaimed Japanese developer Sawaki Takeyasu. Formerly at the now-dissolved Clover Studios, Takeyasu created Crim and released titles such as El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron and The Lost Child. We had the awesome chance to talk with him as he detailed the studio’s newest game, STARNAUT, as well as answered questions about his history and game development.

Miso: First off, thank you so much for answering our questions! Can you briefly describe your games industry history?

Sawaki Takeyasu: I was inspired by Resident Evil thus I joined and worked at Capcom. My major works include:

  • Monster design and model production for “Devil May Cry”
  • Model production and promotional illustrations for “Steel Battalion”
  • Mech design for “Steel Battalion: Line of Contact”
  • Yokai design for “Ōkami”

Afterwards, I became a freelancer and did:

  • Character design for “Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse”
  • Character design for “Infinite Space”

After this, I established Crim Co., Ltd. and worked on:

  • Direction and character design for “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron”
  • Monster design for “GOD WARS”
  • Producer and character design for “The Lost Child”

In addition, I have been involved in many unreleased games up to the present.

What inspired you to create STARNAUT?

Vampire Survivors. Since I experienced the fun of that mass destruction of enemies, I really wanted to put that into 3D space!

What are the challenges of mixing bullet hell and roguelike gameplay together?

The challenge was how to generate a large number of enemies. Our main staff created a fantastic system that made it possible to realize this. I think without this, the success of this project would not have been possible.

Also, as a problem typical of survival games, the fundamental speed of friends and foes is slow, which can make the tempo of the action game poor. However, we were able to improve the comfort level with a system of nitro dash and nitro jump. I believe this has become a clear selling point that sets us apart from other survival games.

What are you most proud of in developing STARNAUT?

As a game, I take pride in what is probably a world-first: creating a survivor game as a full 3D action game. Also, in terms of the production process, this game was made by three main staff members. A great achievement was deciding to trust young people who had never made a game before and successfully reaching early access. People can always change. I want to continue to give opportunities to those who still haven’t got anything.

Early Access is something that is more prevalent with independent games these days. What made you decide on an Early Access release with STARNAUT?

In development, we found that relying solely on our own opinions led to a lot of subjectivity, causing us to overlook many aspects. By opting for early access, we now receive a wealth of opinions that make the game more interesting every day. Also, receiving bug reports has been incredibly helpful, more so than not having any. I believe this has significantly advanced our progress toward completion.

Your previous title, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, has recently received an HD re-release. Are there any plans to continue that series?

That depends on the feedback from our customers. Originally, “El Shaddai” was released 13 years ago, and I’ve already written novels that are about ten times the length of the game. If there’s a chance to turn those into a game, I’d like to take on the challenge. Similarly, if there’s an opportunity to expand the universe in a new IP like “The Lost Child,” set in the same world, I’d like to try that as well.

In your free time, what other games are you playing?

I’ve been playing Craftopia and “Unicorn Overlord” recently. Also, I’ve been getting into INDIKA. And of course, I can’t forget about Vampire Survivors.

8.         Where is the best place for updates regarding your future games?

Please check out the following:

Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers? Any future plans for the studio going forward?

“Starnaut” and “El Shaddai” will soon be connected in terms of their worlds. Please look forward to it. As for the studio, we intend to continue operating as an independent studio. However, this depends on the support of our fans. We want to meet our fans’ expectations by working hard to create even better content.

Thanks so much for answering our questions, Sawaki Takeyasu! You can purchase STARNAUT and El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron HD on Steam today. The Switch version of El Shaddai will be available on April 28, 2024. Stay tuned for more great gaming news here on Miso!

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During the day, Elisha is an aspiring businessman, but at night, he's a wacky freelance writer. Born into the world with a fleeting knowledge of rhythm games, he loves shonen manga and still wants Pushing Daisies to have some closure. For any manga/anime/video game inquiries, please contact him at edeograc (at)
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