PAX East Hands-On: N1RV Ann-A

[Here for the Workprint, my name is Robert J. Kijowski] and I am speaking with-

Jacob Burgess: I am Jacob Burgess, I’m the Community Manager and Director of Operations for Sukeban games.

RJ: And we are talking about N1RV Ann-a-

JB: Yeah!

RJ: Which is the newest game from-

JB: Sukeban games.

RJ: Now one of my questions is that you had a title before this, VA11HALLA-

JB: Yes-

RJ: Where did the influence come from this game? The look, the feeling itself?

JB: Well a lot of it is based on anime and Japanese culture and a lot of this style feeds from the first game. It’s set in the same world. Chronologically, N1RV Ann-a takes place VA11HALLA but you don’t have to play the first game-

RJ: To enjoy the second game.

JB: Absolutely!

RJ: I do like the mechanic of fixing drinks! Personally, because I think there’s a humanistic element in it, especially if you go to any bar, contingent on the drink itself, a whole plethora of stories may emerge. Different drinks, like demon drinks people may have, more intense stories come out. You have the more mellow concoctions, where somebody may open up a little more… Was that the intent of this game?

JB: As far as I understand, 100%. In the conversations I’ve held with Sukuban, that’s definitely one of the intents on this.

RJ: The aesthetic influences- Neo-noir… is there a bit of Blade Runner influence on it?

JB: There’s a cyberpunk influence to it, but I’m not going to necessarily say Blade Runner. That is within the cyberpunk genre and this is there as well. I’m not going to draw a direct line from Blade Runner to this, though Blade Runner is usually when people are like- “Ah fucking cyberpunk! God sent! Fuck yeah, Harrison Ford! Is he a Replicant? I don’t fucking know! This is Cyberpunk.”

RJ: And there are so many fucking sub-genres, but so many beautiful things you can cull out of!

JB: Yes!

RJ: Especially with this game. It’s beautiful, it definitely sets a mood. Now is there in this game you would like to create more than others for the patrons of the bar?

JB: That a good question because in the first one, everything is corruption and bullshit, so when you come in, everything is crap outside!

RJ: Yes!

JB: It’s Cyberpunk, and you’re just finding out information from people that come into the bar! The same basic thing for this game, EXCEPT this is set in St. Lucia, which is this big resort town where everything is glitz and glam and looks really nice! But you still find out fucked up shit, but that’s in the background where you need to tease the world-building out of folks because everything is kind of polished and upfront. Like it’s really cool. So to answer your question about drinks- in the first [game], it was a bunch of chemicals that you put together and you made a drink.

RJ: Yeah.

JB: In this one, because it is a wealthier city, set in the same world, there are actual recipes and actual alcohol. You can still make some of the chemicals, but you actually have THEE STUFF… So I can’t answer your question… without spoiling anything. Sorry.

RJ: Okay, okay. I do like the fact that they give you the recipes. So you if actually wanted to make these while you’re playing it, have at it! That’s great! And I like that they have some really traditional recipes like your Black Russians, your White Russians-

JB: Oh yeah!

RJ: -Your Tequila Sunrise, and that’s just a great dynamic.

JB: Yes!

RJ: And do like in the story itself they mentioned things like body modifications, sparing no expense to live that lavish luxury. I think that adds a great element to the story itself. That does remind me of the Japanese cinematic culture of body modification, like Tetsuo the Iron Man and stuff like that. Do you think there was any influence on that? Maybe Akira or body modification? Not as insane or intense, but just a little bit-

JB: I would say comfortably yes, there was an influence in this.

RJ: Now, without spoiling anything, because I just played the demo and it’s amazing- what might there be an added element gameplay-wise that I have not seen yet?

JB: (pauses) I really enjoy how you phrased that question.. because almost no matter the answer I can give, it is going to give something away. Yeah! That was very, very clever and I enjoyed that, I’m not going to answer that question! That was really good though!

RJ: Thank you.

JB: That was REAL GOOD.

RJ: Thank you!

JB: I’ve done a lot of these interviews and that was *Muah!* That was fucking choice!

RJ: For those of you who can’t see it now-

JB: *Muah!*

RJ: -He just gave me the “Chef Kiss.” So thank you very much.

JB: Ohh, man that was choice. You’re a real son of a bitch, I love that!

RJ: I mean, I try-

JB: Good!

RJ: It’s that Jersey attitude, ya gotta have it!

JB: (laughs)

RJ: But I look forward to playing more of this game down the line. I will recommend it to anybody, especially because I’m a screenwriter and it’s VERY dialogue-heavy and I LOVE games like that.

JB: Thanks-

RJ:-Games where it does branch off in different areas, almost like a tree, it just goes off in any area-

JB: Yep.

RJ: And you control that. And depending on any answers that you give, you might get a different answer the next time, depending on the drink that you get!

JB: Yeah, it’s what dialogue choices and drinks you make.

RJ: So thank you for talking with me.

JB: It’s my pleasure, this has been cool.

RJ: Tell the people your name again.

JB: Jacob Burgess. I’m the Community Manager and Director of Operations for YSBYRDGAMES and the publisher of Sukeban games.

(I’ve also included the audio. It’s just so fun to hear.)


My first impression of the demo is it fucking lit, all definitions en pointe like a goddamned ballerina! Or on the rocks, if you like your libations cooled down. This game is super dialogue and story-heavy, so anybody that doesn’t want to click and make actual drinks (they give you the recipes so you can drink along with them), closeout your simple, basic-bitch Shirley Temple tabs out now.  This deals with real shit, complex storylines that can root in any direction depending on what you get the characters sippin’ on. This is the constitution of an evolved game from what I’ve played and its old-school graphics show that you don’t have to be all flash and lights to intoxicate me… Let that jazzy soundtrack do the talking!

All you have to do is tell me your story over a drink.

P.S. A very special shout out and thank you to not only Lena Leray of Stride PR but also the incomparable Jacob Burgess, who was a sensation to interview!

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski is a script writer who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He's written for pop culture and film websites alike. You can hear him on Spotify (After the Credits) and reach out on Instagram, X or by English Carrier Pigeon.

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