The original Steins;Gate visual novel was first released in 2009 for the Xbox 360 in Japan (of all systems!) Nine years later, Spike Chunsoft is on the verge of coming out with Steins;Gate Elite, an upgraded version of the visual novel which not only integrates scenes from the anime, but brand new animation from White Fox specifically for the visual novel. The game is being completely overhauled. In the first of Spike Chunsoft’s three panels, Tatsuya Matsubara, the producer of Steins;Gate Elite and the director of the original visual novel, made his first trip to the United States to give us an in-depth look at the game. With this brand new incarnation of Steins;Gate, the development team wanted to take a completely new approach. They went back and started from the beginning, trying to find a consistency between the animation and the massive amount of in-game text. While looking at the various different mediums Steins;Gate has been adapted into, such as a visual novel and an anime series, the development team wanted to create something that encompassed these smaller parts into a greater whole and be the definitive version of one of the most iconic narratives of our time. Because of the nature of the anime series though, there were many things that had to be cut while adapting it from the visual novel. The approach they decided was to take the best of both worlds, culminating in the creation of Steins;Gate Elite. One of the first steps the Steins;Gate Elite team took was to compile all the text in the game into an Excel file. There were 80k lines of text. Massive, huh? The team had to then ask themselves, how does the presentation match with the text? The blue text above signifies scenarios that required no changes; the text three cells to the right had to be slightly altered; the red text were scenarios that contradicted the original script and had to be re-worked. This in-depth analysis of the visual novel script was six times harder than the development team anticipated and took roughly six months to complete. On top of that, it took just as much time to write the new scenario itself. Here are two changes as an example. Instead of one talking scene taking place in the lab, it now takes place in the park. There was also a scene between Okabe and Kurisu in the lab where Daru was present; now he’s absent. White Fox, the animation studio behind the anime, created brand new scenes specifically for Steins;Gate Elite. The assets were all separated by layers so they could add and subtract as needed from White Fox. If they felt like the visual novel would be more consistent with the game, they’d use those assets. If the animation worked better, they’d go in that direction. Considering a number of character routes missing from the anime, they simply created those scenarios, collaborating with White Fox. It sounds like an incredibly complicated process, but the team seems to have been devoted to making the definitive version of Steins;Gate. The final part of the panel showed a comparison between the original Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate Elite. In the original lecture between Okabe and Kurisu in the visual novel, Kurisu goes far more in-depth with the theories of time travel and has a much more thorough debate with Okabe. In the anime though, we are only given a glimpse of this. Steins;Gate Elite combines the two, giving the latter far more depth. Milky Way Crossing Foreshadowing? While the 11 theories of time travel are referenced in the anime, they are never explained or explicitly shown; they are in the visual novel. This is incorporated into the animation during Kurisu’s lecture scene, and, the 11 theories of time travel will appear on the whiteboard in the final build of the game. Steins;Gate Elite was originally going to be released in North America in 2018, but it has since then made a “time leap” to early 2019. It will be released on the PlayStation 4, PC/Steam, and finally, the Nintendo Switch (!!!). Each version comes with their own unique bonus which will be available with every copy sold. The PlayStation 4 and the PC/Steam versions will include the Steins;Gate Linear Bounded Phenogram, while the Nintendo Switch version will be bundled with an 8-bit ADV Steins;Gate. All-in-all, from what we saw at Anime Expo 2018, this looks to be the definitive version of one of the most beloved stories of our time. I was able to ask Matsubara-san about the amount of research he had to conduct regarding the quantum theory, philosophy, and science behind Steins;Gate. He simply lifted his hands and showed me how large his stack of notes were. It was mind-blowing. Elite promises to be the best incarnation of the franchise to date. The amount of work Matsubara-san and the rest of the development team have put into the title is staggering, and all of that hard work will pay off. Steins;Gate is back and early 2019 cannot come soon enough.