The Surprising Origins of Gravity Rush for PS Vita

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The Surprising Origins of Gravity Rush for PS Vita

Based on the sheer number of questions we get about Gravity Rush, it’s clearly one of the most-anticipated PS Vita games coming along in the next few months. Featuring stunning, cel-shaded visuals, Vita-tailored controls, and gravity-based gameplay, it’s no wonder that reviewers across the Pacific have awarded the game (known as “Gravity Daze” in Japan) high marks.

So when the game’s creators dropped into San Francisco last week for Game Developers Conference, I jumped at the chance to speak with them.


In this conversation (shared with IGN’s Ryan Clements – look for his story soon at, Game Director Keiichiro Toyama and Art Director Yoshiaki Yamaguchi talk about the game’s original platform (not PS Vita!), why they avoided an overly Japanese aesthetic, and the surprising inspiration for its unique gravity-based gameplay.

Ryan Clements, IGN: How did you get started on the project? What are your roots in the industry?

Keiichiro Toyama, Japan Studio: I was studying art as a student. I joined Konami as a graphic artist and become director on Silent Hill, and then joined Sony and worked on Siren: Blood Curse.

Jeff Rubenstein, PS Blog: The tonality between Silent Hill and Siren is so different than Gravity Rush. Did you get sick of scaring people? Or were there different emotions that you wanted to explore besides fear?

JS: Originally, the reason I was working on horror games was not by choice. The company asked me to make horror games because they were popular. I enjoyed it to some extent. But with advanced technologies, HD and the like, making horror games with a limited audience isn’t really cost efficient. You need more money to make big games like that, and so it was becoming challenging.

So I thought, I just wanna make something that I wanted to make when I was a student studying art. So that’s how I changed direction.

the creators of Gravity Rush/Daze

IGN: So is this a game you thought about a long time ago, and you’re finally getting a chance to make it, or is it something that you came up with after you left Konami?

JS: Before I joined Konami, I already had this idea, but it wasn’t too specific. I didn’t have any idea about manipulating gravity back then. But I had an idea of a girl floating in the air…

PSB: In my 30 years of gaming, Gravity Daze is the only game I’ve ever imported from Japan – [Personal note: Gravity Daze is all in Japanese, and I’d recommend waiting for the English version here]. The friend that sent over the game included an art book that contained a lot of different variations on the main character, Kat. How did you settle on her final appearance?

JS: The main character was the most difficult thing to lock down, so we thought a lot about it. If we made something completely Japanese, then it would be only acceptable to Japanese users, and we’ll lose audience in other territories. So we avoided that. We also wanted to make a female protagonist, but we thought that in other territories there are not so many female lead characters. But Lara Croft is pretty well accepted, and we thought that the reason she was is probably because she is exotic and serious. So we wanted Kat to have that exotic feel, and even though she’s tiny, we wanted to make her powerful and strong. Like a ninja: small, but agile. By adding that, we finally fixed the character design.


PSB: I played a few hours of Gravity Daze – until my inability to read Japanese hindered me a bit. I felt that when you hovered in the air, and then picked a direction and shot off, it reminded me of Descent, where you’re in space and you can go in any direction. Then there are parts where you can levitate items and hurl them, not unlike Cole in the inFAMOUS games. What were your gameplay influences?

JS: The game I was most influenced by was Crackdown. I really liked the aspect of unlocking skills and becoming more powerful, and achieving a higher level of freedom as you become more powerful. Plus the open-world setting. I enjoyed moving in that game.

IGN: Was that open world setting decided right from the start, before the art came into place, or did that come later?

JS: It wasn’t decided at the beginning. We took a lot of different approaches. I requested not just falling vertically, but also horizontally. And we thought that an open world works better with that. This world is based in gravity, so it matches that the level becomes big not just vertically, but horizontally as well, so you can fall and travel in any direction.


PSB: How did you decide which of PS Vita’s new inputs (touch screen, six axis gyroscopes) to use with Gravity Rush?

JS: Originally, we were making the game for PS3. We came across PS Vita along the way. We played around with it, and thought it was perfect for the game, and so we switched to PS Vita.

PSB: How have you and the team reacted to the really good critical reception (38/40 in Famitsu) in Japan?

JS: We had mixed feelings, actually. We achieved something that’s unique and brand new, and we feel that should get good reviews. But at the same time, this game a little niche… so we thought it was interesting that we got such high scores.

We’ve still got a couple more months until gamers here in North America will get to explore Kat’s world. Gravity Rush floats over to this contintent on June 12 of this year.

Comments are closed.


5 Author Replies

  • Thanks for doing this article Jeff.

    A lot of great information !

  • Can we get the demo up on PSN soon?

  • first fay buy/download :D

  • first day buy/download :D

  • Launch window my @$$, I’m probably gonna hold off on getting a Vita until this game comes out.

  • Really looking forward to playing this game on my PS Vita and I hope the demo comes out soon! Cool interview, Jeff.

    P.S When will we get word on the list of supported PSP games and possibly PS1 games for the PS Vita?

  • I’m really looking forward to this game myself. This will definitely be a day one purchase! Any idea if this will have the digital discount? Really hoping it does.

    @6 Sometimes there are things you should just keep to yourself. Telling Sony that you’re gonna hold off on buying their product on here is no different than just not spending the money on it. Only difference…you’re not being a “jerk” about it in the eyes of the general public.

  • Okay, this just irks my chain. How on Earth could they possibly think that there’s more potential on the Vita than the PS3? First off, PS3 has many more people playing on it and always will. Secondly, Vita may be a dramatic improvement upon PSP & handhelds in general, but PS3 is still superior in the hardware department; therefore, it has a lot more potential as far as less restrictions with software.

    Why didn’t they finish up the PS3 version & then work on the Vita afterward? It seems more and more that Sony is paying developers off, and giving them incentive not to work on PS3 titles & put all their resources toward Vita just so Sony can meet some sales quota.

    Sorry if I sound bitter or offend anyone, but I’m sick of getting the short end of the stick for having PS3 as my console of preference; you don’t see Nintendo or Microsoft doing this because its bad for business and for customers. First it was PSP getting more exclusives and downloadable content, now its Vita stealing titles right out from under the PS3 platform.

  • I thought Vita was supposed to be a seamless extension of the PS3 in the first place; playing the same titles on the same saved games, only when on the go. It’s more like Vita is stealing the spotlight from the PS3 at this point, and it sucks for long-time customers of Sony who originally paid more for that platform.

  • One thing I don’t get…I played an english demo of Gravity Rush on the display ps vitas at Gamestop, well before launch. Why can’t we just have that demo on the PS Store?

  • I’d heard rumors that this was originally going to be a SIXAXIS controlled game. Hopefully a PS3 port will come out in the future, because I’m not buying a Vita unless FROM announces a Souls game for it.

    Also interesting to see that Crackdown was influential in the game’s design. I can totally see it now. Japan Studio is one of the few japanese developers who can pick up on the strengths of western games.

  • Pretty much the one “must have” game on the Vita for me. That and all the Japanese ones that haven’t been announced for localization yet.

    Jeff, how come no post about Phantasy Star Online 2 coming to the Vita? That’s pretty AAA/ big time news.

  • Why are all my comments moderated? This system is whack.

  • Is the English version going to have more content since it’s taking longer to develop?

  • Cannot wait for this to finally come out.
    I also love that Sony encourages original ideas like this and allows them to come to fruition.

  • I love the art design of this game, so I’m buying.

  • This is the sole reason I actually got a Vita, as my PS3 is the only system that I really enjoy using. Seems a bit odd even to myself to get a system because of a game, but when I played the demo at a store, it just seemed special and unique to play. Back to the absurd crazy fun elements that made games so much fun when they first surfaced and attracted me to them as a kid. That is, before they became the redundant mess they so often are today.

    It’s also funny to see him say it started on PS3 as that was my first impression when playing it too, is that it seemed as if it were meant for it in the first place.

    Can’t wait for it to come out, and would love to see it one day taken and expanded on the PS3 as well. Certainly rekindles some of the lost joy in modern games much like Demon’s Souls did in 09. It gives hope for the future. :P

    Btw, does/will the final game disable the network similar to the demo or how super stardust does during a game? Message and friends system is still a nightmare to deal with on the vita but it would be nice to at least see how often we can expect to see games turn off network features in the future.

  • @D-Squad3

    Can’t argue with that, I got mine a bit prematurely after playing the demo. With how the current friends/messaging system is set up as well as the lack of PS1 support etc… there really isn’t a reason to rush. However I can safely say from playing what little I have (HK version is in english :P) its more than worth it. It is just such a fun and imaginative game that it just can’t be passed. :P

  • I tried an in store demo at futureshop and was pretty much instantly sold on this game. The only downside to it was being asked “do you need any help?” 3 or 4 times in the 5 or 6 minutes I was playing. Stupid pushy sales people…

    Oh and as someone who normally loathes motion controls in handhelds, I have to say, it actually felt really natural in Gravity Rush. That surprised me.

    Whenever I pick up a Vita this will be the first game I grab (yes, even over Uncharted).

  • Cool article, but still a long time to wait for this game. It is kinda a bummer if you ask me.

  • Good post, thanks, Jeff. I will be buying this. I love the beauty of cel shaded games. It was my favorite aspect of Wind Waker, but didn’t quite make up for having to always use that stupid little boat. The Vita launch & launch window game offerings are simply amazing. I believe unprecedented. I anticipate buying many more Vita games this year, so I can have an unwieldy backlog on 2 Playstation consoles.

  • This game can not come soon enough. I’ve been having a blast with my Vita, but this was what sold me on the Vita in the first place. One of my most anticipated games along with Persona 4: The Golden right behind it (I loved P4).

  • I am definitely buying this game on launch day! Maybe even twice or three times. Heck, I am willing to buy a Vita just for this! Only 3 more months to go.

  • Played the Japanese demo
    definitely the game I’m currently most looking forward to.
    must say, I’m enjoying the vita.
    pretty good launch lineup, but i’m expecting really great stuff on this baby over time

    Demon’s Souls 2 Vita PLEASE!!!!!!

  • Keiichiro Toyama is my favorite game designer. I’ve been liking him since 1999 when Silent Hill came out. I played all of his games. Silent Hill games, Forbidden Siren games, and now I’m eagerly waiting for his most anticipated game, Gravity Daze.

    I wish him luck on all of his projects.

  • I really liked Siren: Blood Curse — will there ever be a trophy patch for it?

    Not buying a Vita until there’s a new hardware rev that comes with better cameras and battery life, but this new games looks cool. If it were coming out for PS3, I would buy it.

  • I want to play this game right now!! meanwhile: Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Unit 13, UMVC3 and Escape Plan.
    i want modnation road trip but no online play… you guys know the rest… anyway, i really want this game. i only heard great things about it

  • played the demo and now sitting back and thinkin about it the games really not all that. im sorry but with the past month of dissapointment with the vita i was hoping that some polished solid games would be coming out and with gravity rush being the biggest upcoming game im kinda still dissapointed. last couple of silent hills where awfull and gravity rush i hope has at least the gameplay going for it because the art looks like doodles and sloppy remainders of a presentation of a game. ugh i hope things change for the vita soon and where is our remote play gaming????????

  • also im sure it will be 40 bucks when in all honesty alot of the games out for the vita should be 14.99 i hate how sonys ramming us.

  • @ wildcardej. A lot of the games should be $14.99? Where exactly did you pull that figure from? It’s amazing how people harp on about the price of VITA games but Nintendo gets away scott free charging $40.00 for remakes and ports and people never talk about them ramming anyone. Sony is giving you deep, engaging NEW games that aren’t ports or remakes and STILL you harp on about the price. What makes you think the games are worth $14.99? What other SOLID games are you waiting for? Please don’t speak if you have nothing sensible to say.

  • @ + plaztiksyke. Yeah because as we all know the VITA is a camera that plays games.

  • can’t wait to play this game, besides games like uncharted, katamari and unit 13 I feel theres nothing my vita can really do. i hope we can expect more apps as well

  • This game was the reason I bought the Vita! I’m really excited for it, even more so after playing with the demo a bit. I have one question (besides when will we get the demo): the demo had English subtitles with Japanese voice, will this also be true of the full game when it launches in June? I really liked the Japanese voice/English subtitles combination with this game.

  • @wildcardej You can’t be serious about anything you said. How much of Gravity Rush did you play? The tutorial area of the kiosk demo? Oh man you sure are the guru of games now! But that’s not even what gets me the most. You ragging on the art does. You clearly have no appreciation for REAL art, and are probably one of those lame CoD nuts that doesn’t like anything if it isn’t trying to be real (keyword: “trying”).

    Oh and $14.99 for for Vita games? While I wouldn’t complain if that was the case, it is pretty unrealistic to ask. It also makes you look like a self entitled jerk and cheapskate. Why is the Vita (a portable that could nearly push this gen’s console graphics) the one portable that should give you cheaper games than the rest of the market? I’m not following your logic here.

  • @Keiichiro Toyama he sould have stuck to horror games

    @plaztiksyke do you know anyone who owns a vita? i dought it since you would know the vita battery life is atleast 7 to 8 hours an the camera i would agree on since iphone has a way better one

    @lisatsunami really you like the graphics for wind waker? LMFAO, that game look awful, i don’t understand how anyone would like that kind of grapics, in my opion GTA 3 had better grapics an i also think zelda for nintendo 64 had better grapics then wind waker an gravity rush

    i might try the demo but based off a vid form japan an these pics i highly dought ill like it

  • Anyone else having problems adding funds? Error 80023102? Anyone?

  • I’ve also read that the designers were inspired by the genius French comic artist Jean Giraud (AKA Moebius) who, sadly, passed away a few days ago.
    I can definitely see his influence, and I love his work. I also loved the trailer for this game (filmed very close to where I used to live, in Budapest). This, along with LBP, is the reason I bought a Vita in the first place. Can’t wait for June!

  • ok first it was a launch title, then march 22nd now in frickin june…comeon!!!!!!!!!

  • Preordered and can’t wait until June!

    Game looks amazing, nice article!

  • I wanted to see more of that black-haired character on the headline because She. IS. HOTTT!

    What are your thoughts on this character, Jeff?

  • Here’s my money. Take it! Take it all!

  • Why is localization taking so long? I’ve had the demo for a long time. The game is already out in Japan? ….and last but not least where’s our Youtube app/HTML5 support?

  • Really looking forward to getting this. Gravity Daze and Ruin were two of the games that originally made me want a PS Vita, back when it was still called the NGP. (And I gotta say, really can’t understand all these name changes. Why is it that working titles are always more original or just plain better than what we end up being forced to buy it as?)
    Been enjoying Dynasty Warriors Next and I’m now halfway through Mutant Blobs Attack!!, which is hilarious and fun. I’ll probably jump into Super Stardust Delta for a while as well, before I finally plop down and run through U:GA. On top of Tales of Graces f, which is stunning (thanks Bamco!), I should be good on games until June. Can’t wait!

  • @jeff 5 months for translation? how does it take 5 months when a translator can translate a whole book in 1 day, so your saying everyone in what ever contry the company lives in are sooo stupid that it takes 5 months to translate

  • @juggalorider They save 5 months for translation, but that is not the only thing that they do during this time. Don’t forget because this game is an import, localization and local marketing will be needed here in the USA and in Europe.
    Even if you already know that the title is coming. the marketing team will not take any chances.
    And don’t forget, the ESRB wants it in English. And all the QA and testing that goes toward the final product.
    They pushed it back, but there is a good reason behinds it. Lets hope it doesn’t get push no further.

  • hope they bring it to PS3. Or even a sequel Gravity Rush 2 would be even sweeter on PS3 of course.
    Vita is cool and all but just a little pricey for me at the moment. But I think a Sweet Vita bundle would make my mouth water even more for it.

  • Man! I wish this was coming to PS3 still, so I could buy it! *sigh*
    But I understand the need to create killer apps and sell the Vita to people. I suppose I can’t get mad at that. I swear, I’m going to end up buying a Vita just for this game (I was *this* close to buying one at Best Buy just based on the demo).
    Still gonna wait awhile for a Vita. But THE MOMENT I get one, Gravity Rush is being purchased too!

  • I enjoyed the demo at Best Buy.

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