Today on Industry Interviews, The Switch Effect sits down with Christina Will, the Lead Graphic Designer for NIS America to discuss their amazing Limited Edition (LE) collections for their Nintendo Switch releases. Currently, Disgaea 5 Complete, Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle, and Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon have received the LE treatment and fans can look forward to Penny-Punching Princess and The Longest Five Minutes arriving in 2018. When we saw that Penny-Punching Princess would be shipped inside a Gold Bar Box, it was clear that the design team knows how to make an LE truly feel special. So without further ado, let’s learn more!
Before we get into it, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the gaming industry?
Hello, thanks for taking some time to talk with me about our NISA Limited Editions! My name is Christina Will and I’m the Lead Graphic Designer at NIS America, Inc. In June of 2014, I walked out of Cal State Fullerton with my BFA in graphic design and right into my dream job at NIS America. Allow me to back track a bit here to tell you how the stars aligned for me. About a month before graduating, my Special Studies teacher brought in Alumni to talk about where they were at in the design world and to generally pump us up about graduating. Adam Johnson, who was the Lead Designer at NIS America at the time, walked in with his Limited Edition of Hyperdimension Neptunia lunch box and started passing his business card around. I flipped it over and loudly exclaimed, “Prinnies!” which caught his attention. After talking about NIS America for a bit, he then mentioned that they were looking for interns during the summer. Having been a fan of many NIS titles growing up, especially Disgaea and Rhapsody, I scrambled to get my résumé in the next day and the rest is history.
It all began with a lunch box…
NIS America has played a big role in localizing video games for the U.S. market. However, aside from just translation and making games available, the company goes one step further in producing high quality LE that are generally exclusive to the NIS America website. LE of games seems to be on rise in recent years. What do you feel are the contributing factors to other publishers going this route?
Well, standard edition games saturate the market and can be picked up from almost anywhere. So what can a company like NIS do to make our store the most appealing and the most rewarding to our customers? I think this is how the Limited Edition was born. This is an opportunity for us to give something special to the customers who are loyal to our online store. There are times when other retailers may beat our prices, but there are those that shop directly from us anyway. Those folks support us and keep our business alive and we certainly recognize that. So when we put our thoughts into building a Limited Edition, we take time and the consideration of our fans when deciding what to make. There is nothing cookie-cutter about our LE building process, as every game has something unique to offer.
For NIS America, what is the process that goes into determining if an LE will be made for a game?
We always try our best to make a Limited Edition happen for every game. It’s fairly rare to not make something special for any given title. The only factors that may prevent us from creating an LE would be a tight timeline between signing a game to release date, or a lack of creative assets for the title. We always do our best to include a soundtrack and an art book with every release, but that isn’t always possible. When that’s the case, we take some time to consider alternative ideas that could take the place of an art book and soundtrack. Penny-Punching Princess is a great example of this! The Soundtrack for Penny-Punching Princess was quite shorter in length in comparison to previous soundtracks we’ve provided in LEs, so we felt that we had to up the ante with this soundtrack. Instead of the usual jewel case and disc, we opted for a USB designed to look like a credit card, thus making the USB the main focus with music tracks as a bonus – at least, that’s how we hope it’s perceived! ^-^;
Is that a Gold Bar? Must. Own. Now!
Once that decision is finalized, can you walk us through how the items for each LE are selected?
This is a really fun process! Before we begin planning an LE, I first spend my time watching unboxing videos. This is a great opportunity to see how our fans receive our LE’s in candid, unfiltered reactions. I literally watch every unboxing I can get my hands on and take notes on how each item is valued and analyzed. This process is important because during the next phase of planning, I make sure to refer to these notes to influence our next choices.
After establishing what kind of assets we have to work with and whether or not we can make an art book and a soundtrack, we start a process of deciding the bonus items. Everyone volunteers ideas and I make a huge list on a white board. Some key go-to items are hard to pass up; such as lapel pin sets or cloth posters, which were items that unboxing videos usually highlight. But we try to go above and beyond the usual items. We go around and make everyone think of something that interests them, even if it seems like it may not be feasible. I think this process is so important because if left to my own devices, we’d probably only ever make the same three items! It’s thanks to the brainstorming session that we get ideas like Cladun’s foam sword or Penny-Punching Princess’s Credit-Card themed USB.
As stated earlier, Penny-Punching Princess, arriving in Spring 2018, will be housed in a Gold Bar box. A GOLD BAR BOX! That is very unique and something that is sure to get collectors excited. Of all the releases that have been released (regardless of system) or any that are upcoming, what has been your favorite one to work on?
I would have to say that working on the entire Danganronpa series has been the most exciting, in particular Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. I have also had the pleasure of working on Danganronpa 1•2 Reloaded and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. The best thing about working on this series is having limitless potential with creative ideas. With a game as bizarre as Danganronpa, I know I can come up with any crazy idea I want without anyone batting an eye. As so many folks love to cosplay these characters, it pretty much became my goal to recreate as many items from in-game as possible. With V3, working on the production of the backpack and the hat was my favorite part. I really loved working on getting every little detail right, right down to the distressed look on the brim of Shuichi’s hat. I want the fans to feel they have the most authentic cosplay items available.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls LE Goodies
Can you tease any future projects that Nintendo Switch owners can look forward to in the coming year past the two already announced?
Stay tuned and signup for our Prinny Bomb Newsletter for updates at www.nisamerica.com 😉
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share?
I sincerely hope that everyone looks forward to our limited edition releases, especially Penny-Punching Princess coming up soon! I am always looking for honest feedback and take all thoughts and concerns into account when making future decisions on our LE’s. Please enjoy!
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us and to allow us a peek behind the curtain. We look forward to all your future releases and 2018 cannot come soon enough!