Posted June 4, 2017 by Peter in Interviews

Interview with Joe Madureira (Battle Chasers: Nightwar)

Battle Chasers Nightwar logo
Battle Chasers Nightwar logo

When you sit down to speak with someone who used to write and draw for Uncanny X-Men, the Ultimates, and who created Battle Chasers, I’m hoping a little geeking out is permissible. “I used to collect comics in the 90s,” I happily said to Joe Madureira. “That was my day!” he replied, sounding genuinely happy in return.

We were speaking after I’d had a chance to sit down and play a demo of the game based on the Battle Chasers series, Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Taking characters from the comics – and adding a new face to the roster – the game has taken things in the slightly unexpected direction of a JRPG. Controlling a team picked from three of the six available characters, you advance through the story by exploring dungeons and fighting in turn-based battles against various creatures.

“Pretty much our whole team is into RPGs, and tactical based games [...] like Chrono Trigger or Fire Emblem, there’s just a lot of deep strategy to do the combat,” Joe explained when I asked about this approach. “And Battle Chasers is about a team, a group of people. For a party based game I think turn based works the best.”
Battle Chasers Nightwar screen
In combat, you have three resources to manage. Health, keeping your characters standing, is straightforward enough, as is the basic idea of mana to power special skills. However, when attacking characters also generate Overcharge, which on the most basic level works like “free” mana, giving extra points to spend without needing to dip into potions to restore it. If you play as thrifty as me – the kind of player who can end a game with an inventory of unused items – then having a method of breaking out the bigger moves does appeal.

“I used to play like you, where I was so conservative with it, and I would finish every game with like hundreds of phoenix downs and potions. That was one of the reasons we did overcharge was that we wanted people to not worry about [experimenting with skills].” However, there are more uses too – for example, swordsman Garrison has a skill that increases damage according to how much Overcharge is spent, benefiting holding back during longer fights for a big finisher.

The choice of team members is important too, with each one filling a role; these go against expectation though, as in the demo the hulking golem Calibretto had healing skills, while the child Gully was able to shield team mates and work more as the traditional tank. Characters not seen but due in the full game are Red Monika (“she’s a rogue, she has a lot of interesting abilities that revolve around incapacitating the enemy, or stealth – her dungeon ability is stealth and pickpocketing so you can steal treasure off of the monsters”), Knolan (“more of a traditional all-around mage that has lots of area effect spells”); and a character new to the series for the game, Alumon (“he uses dark magic, but he’s a hybrid defender mage, and he’s got a lot of debuffs”).

But the key to putting the team together isn’t just which characters you like the look of, but how they may work together. “You’ll want to experiment with different characters because of [their] synergies. There’s certain characters that work better with others,” Joe tells me when I asked about teams. “For instance, Knolan has an ability that can can detonate creatures that are on fire, so if they’re burning already he can make them explode and do area damage to each other. And do if you use [...] abilities that leave an enemy on fire for a couple of turns, and you have Knolan in your party, that’s a devastating combination.”
Battle Chasers Nightwar screen
Gameplay in the demo could be divided into three segments, combat, travelling around the world map, and exploring dungeons. Combat is pretty self-explanatory, happening inside a turn-based instance, with everything else around waiting until the fight is resolved before continuing. The world map is explored by wandering along routes with markers for explorable locations. Monsters also blocked some routes, requiring a fight to progress past them… or trying another path if feeling a touch out of your depth.

The explorable locations are viewed more in detail, with one member of the party representing the team as they avoid traps, find treasure, encounter puzzles, and fight, dodge, or tactically kite groups of monsters. You can cycle between the active members of your team, as each one has skills that can be used outside of combat – Gully able to stun enemies to dodge encounters, or Calibretto to heal the team, for example. The dungeons themselves are randomised, replayable, and have several difficulties to select, all built from several generated rooms and with extra details to add to the lore of the world; in the demo dungeon there was a simple puzzle, with a passage from a book hinting which of three boxes held the treasure of the long dead king, and Joe suggested there would be many more pieces like this. “You can complete the game and miss a lot of story events and lore and stuff like that.”

However, there is an overall story leading the team through the world, so while the dungeons are randomised, there are still certain required encounters – the boss of a dungeon you are directed to will be the boss you need to deal with, for instance.

Battle Chasers Nightwar screen

Cut scenes and story progression all carry the look of the comics.

There was a gap of several years between the Battle Chasers comic series taking a break, and the announcement of the game, but when I asked Joe if he had concerns about that, our conversation went through the change in comics culture generally. Because despite the hiatus, the game was pitched on Kickstarter and comfortably funded, suggesting a significant audience familiar with the series. But the comics and game do not directly cross over into each other.

“I’ve chosen not to cross them over too much, just this time because we want people who aren’t familiar with the comics – especially since the came out so long ago – to be able to enjoy the game,” Joe explained. “The story of the game is new, and the story in the comics will continue in the comics.” [note: the comic series stopped with issue #9 in 2001, but issue #10 and onwards are now being produced again]

“Obviously there’s a lot of the same characters, so if you’re a fan of the series there’s more to enjoy, but I do think that there’s a lot of crossover in just the consumers who buy comic books also… 99 percent of [comics buyers] have some kind of gaming console at home. But it’s not true the other way around. Just the gaming industry is so much bigger, there’s a huge cross section of gamers that just don’t read comics, or don’t even know where to buy them. Like, the comic industry isn’t what it was when I started, so… there’s not as many comics stores any more.”

This seems to be true in the UK as well as the US. Back in the 90s, there may not have been a large number of comics shops around north London, but there were enough to provide a choice of destination, and looking for a particular issue of something meant you could try several shops in a day. Now… the number have dropped, and while there are still some big stores, the small shops with a storage area for rummaging around in boxes for back issues seems to have disappeared. This seemed to run parallel with Joe’s experience too.

“In the States we have little convenience stores that would have [a] spinning rack with the comics, and they were just… around all the time. And if you stopped collecting for a few months and then you got the bug you could just go to the spinning rack, or go to the local shop and there were so many.”

Battle Chasers Nightwar screen

Stats are all presented as a book. This also includes various levels of information on creatures encountered, which increases the more you fight a particular monster.

But ironically, buying comics feels harder now, at a time when comics culture seems to be taking over other entertainment media – we both note how successful the Marvel Cinematic Universe is. “People will go see Guardians of the Galaxy and they’re like ‘hey! That’s there a comic about this!’ But they don’t go to the comics store to buy it. I mean, I guess now you can order it online or get the digital download of it. It’s an interesting time because I feel like I feel like digital will probably be the way, in the next ten years but it just hasn’t caught on yet.”

This comes full circle back to the game. Mentioning how comics culture has moved into the mainstream is fine, but Joe feels that this shouldn’t automatically be a factor in the game’s success. “Hopefully the game stands on its own as a just being a cool dungeon crawler,” he said.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar is due for release on October 3rd, and is being released on PC, PS4, XB1, and the Switch.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.