If there’s ever a book that could appeal to readers of this blog then it is definitely The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers by John Szczepaniak. This is a book with a subject matter very close to my heart, an epic oral history of a side of videogaming that has gone largely unheard for too long. Yes, we’ve heard about the major players in the Japanese games industry – we’ve heard about the making of Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog – but what about the regular developers who made so many other great games but didn’t have the Western PR and marketing support to make their own stories heard? That’s what The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers is all about…
…Unfortunately, this book doesn’t yet exist.
The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter and is, at the time of writing, nearly half way to its goal of £50,o00, which will allow the writer to fly to Japan to interview various developers in person, hire a professional interpreter and print the book to various levels of quality.
Well, I’d urge anyone reading this to contribute what they can to the project as Yoshiro Kimura – of Little King’s Story and Chulip fame – has agreed to be interviewed. Not only that, Kimura, one of the nicest men in videogames, has invited the writer to go drinking with him. Aw!
Even if Kimura wasn’t involved, I would have pledged my support for this project. The people behind the most interesting Japanese games are often as interesting as the games themselves and I’m eager to know more about all of them.
Read Full Post »
Moon translation rebooted
A few people have been in touch to tell me about this, as far back as last October, but I’ve been a little bit distracted – not least by the fact that I no longer have the net at home. But enough about my problems… It seems that while this old Moon translation stalled, a new one is making much better progress. Actually, it looks as though the person doing the hacking is the same as on the new Captain Rainbow team. A good sign. And the person writing the translation is none other than Steve Martin. An even better sign. 😉
3DS e-shop delivers Lovedelic related games
If you have a 3DS then get yourself online and have a look at Freakyforms: Your Creations Alive! and Dillon’s Rolling Western.
The former is a rather ingenious little platform game that combines user generated content with Animal Crossing style fetch quests. It’s made by Hiroshi Moriyama the co-director of Chibi-Robo and has a similar feel in the way its world’s horizons gradually expand. There’s even a nice Chibi reference in there – remember the way a tin pan would randomly land on Chibi-Robo’s head when he tried to recharge? Well the joke is used again here. Maybe we can consider it a Moriyama meme in the same way Kenichi Nishi’s dog appeared in most of his games. If you have time then watch this Iwata Asks video with Motiyama, in which he explains Chibi-Robo’s influence on Freakyforms.
Dillon’s Rolling Western, meanwhile, was co-developed by Vanpool and only recently went live on the e-shop. I haven’t tried it yet for a couple of reasons – I don’t really care for tower defense games, and I’m low on cash – but I’d like to check this out purely because of Vanpool’s involvement. Dillon’s Rolling Western was announced a long time ago now so Nintendo has at least taken the time to polish it up. If you’ve played it then do let me know what it’s like in the comments below.
New Little King’s Story nearing release
Did I mention there’s a sequel to Little King’s Story? Whatever, it’s on its way to PlayStation Vita at the end of March (in Japan) and seems to be largely the same game but with a slightly more mature art style. What’s unclear is whether any of the original staff are involved. I don’t believe Yoshiro Kimura is and the permanently closed Cing certainly isn’t. The game is published by Konami and developed by the recently merged MarvelousAQL so I’m not sure if this strictly counts as ‘Lovedelic Life’ game. I’m sure it’ll still be a great game though, and if I had a Vita I’d definitely play it. A UK release was announced some time ago through Konami, though a firm release date is yet to be set.
Yasuhiro Wada forms new studio
Back when Harvert Moon (and Little King’s Story) creator Yasuhiro Wada left Grasshopper Manufacture, he went quiet for a little while. Now he’s on the scene again with a new studio called Toybox. The studio’s slogan is “We are gaming for Love, Peace and Earth”, which as a few people have noted is very Lovedelic. Yoshiro Kimura, a longtime Wada collaborator, left Grasshopper around the same time, so I assumed that he may also be involved with Toybox. But I’m told he isn’t. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing what this studio comes up with.
Read Full Post »
As Siliconera reports, both Yasuhiro Wada and Yoshiro Kimura have departed Grasshopper Manufacture after a little less than a year at the company. What’s the reason? Nobody seems to be saying but I’m willing to bet that the sheer weight of personality employed by Goichi Suda and Akira Yamaoka left little room for any personal creativity. But that’s just idle speculation.
As far as we’re aware, neither Kimura or Wada has produced any personal projects while at Grasshopper but I suppose it is possible that the pair has helped the developer become more productive. The studio has released two titles already this year (three if you include No More Heroes: Red Zone) and currently has a ridiculous five games in development.
Where will the pair go now? Who knows, but a small part of me hopes that they’re both off to help out on the recently announced sequel to Little King’s Story on PlayStation Vita – which I really should have reported on here had I not completely forgotten about it. A larger part of me hopes they do something wacky and unexpected. And an even larger part wants them to go make Moon 2.
Read Full Post »
As detailed here, the Smithsonian Institute is planning an Art Of Videogames exhibition and is asking the gaming community to select which games will be exhibited. And Little King’s Story is one of the games that has been nominated!
The voting process divides games into various categories, first era, then console then genre and asks you to pick one game from three nominated entries. You’ll find Little King’s Story under Next Generation/Wii/Strategy and you should DEFINITELY go there and vote for it. This brilliant game was criminally overlooked at launch and the more second chances it gets the better.
You should vote in every category while you’re there, however. I did and I was surprised by how much fun I had picking my favourites.
PS – If you don’t vote for Shining Force II in the Mega Drive/Strategy category then you’re dead to me.
Read Full Post »
Just as the title says… Get yourself to the Rising Star Games website, sign up as a Hoshi member and you can take a behind the scenes peek at one of the best Wii games around.
And that’s about it. See you in another month!
Read Full Post »
Posted in Art Style, Audio Inc, Chulip, Little King's Story, Punchline, Route 24, skip, tagged Akira Ueda, Art Style, Audio, Chulip, CING, Followars, Kenichi Nishi, Little King's Story, Punchline, Route24, skip, Space Agency on April 4, 2010|
1 Comment »
I’m super busy as usual and haven’t had chance to update the blog as much as I’d like. Thank Jesus for creating the big Easter break, so I can finally get stuff done. 🙂 Here’s everything of interest that I can recall happening.
- CING, the co-developer of Little King’s Story, has filed for bankruptcy.
What can I say? I’m really sorry to see such a talented developer go under, but then I’m not really surprised either. LKS aside, CING’s output has been a little one note. I loved Another Code when it was first released, but Hotel Dusk and Another Code R didn’t really do anything to evolve on the concept. Even though CING is now gone, we still have two more of their games to look forward to in the recently released Again: Eye Of Providence and Hotel Dusk sequel Last Window. I’ll be picking both up out of curiosity but I’m not holding my breath for either to be a swansong.
- Punchline’s website disappeared
I’m certain that Punchline was abandoned a couple of years ago, but the official website did stick around for a while until it finally went kaput at the beginning of this year. Incidentally, I recently picked up a copy of Chulip on eBay. It’s a wonderful little game, full of Yoshiro Kimura’s unique brand of humour and with a ‘go there, fetch that, please this guy’ gameplay that reminds me of Lovedelic and Skip’s best adventure games. The disc is widely and cheaply available on eBay so I strongly suggest you get a copy if you don’t have one already.
- Route24 has some new games in the works
Marvelous Entertainment is set to publish Route24’s first iPad exclusive game, Followars – a multiplayer RPG that will pull data from your Twitter account in order to generate stats. Marvelous got in touch with me a few days ago and asked if we could pass on a message from Kenichi Nishi. Here it is: “Hi to all Twitter and iPad’s fans! And even if you are not, hi to you too! To be honest, I don’t have any clue why you fight in Followars, I really wanted to create a fun game.
Right now, I’m still really busy trying to brush it up, see what works or adding new stuff but I’m confident that Followars will be a great social game so please give it a try!”. Personally I’m not that interested in Followars, as I don’t have a Twitter account and don’t intend to get one. Nor am I that bothered about Geotrion, another Nishi project currently in the works for iPhone and iPod Touch, since it seems to rely heavily on GPS functionality – another bit of tech I don’t use. If you feel differently then why not get involved in the limited beta test? Nishi does seem committed to the app store space, and I look forward to seeing what other unusual ideas he has planned – I just wish they were more character/story based, just because of my personal tastes.
- Nintendo released video of the new Art Style games
There’s still no release date for Skip’s latest experimental creations but we do have video! Check out Rotozoa here and Light Trax here. I’d originally written of the latter as a simple remake of bit Generations: Dot Stream, but the new 3D visuals definitely seem to give it that extra something. Speaking of Art Style, and 3D, surely Skip can cook up something really special and unique for Nintendo’s accidentally announced ‘3DS’ handheld? I look forward to being proved right.
- Space Agency development seems to be progressing
Akira Ueda at Audio Inc recently updated his blog with a pretty detailed look at Space Agency. I’m not sure if this project has acquired a publisher yet but I really hope it does. I’ve always loved the idea of a space exploration RPG but rarely find a game that can get the tone exactly as I want it. Star Control II and Puzzle Quest Galactrix are just about the only games in the sub-genre I’ve ever warmed to and, just recently, I was looking forward to Platinum’s Infinite Space only to find that it’s extreeeeeeeemly dull. Here’s hoping that Space Agency can get things right. I certainly seems to be good fun.
Read Full Post »
Cubed3 has an excellent new interview with Yoshiro Kimura, in which he discusses the making of Little King’s Story as well as a few other Lovedelic related issues. It’s an interview that’s fueled a rumour about Moon being remade – a subject that’s obviously very exciting for myself and anyone who reads this blog.
But exactly how likely is such a remake to happen? I emailed Kimura-san to find out and here’s what he had to say. Please note – I’ve tidied up the language a little since Kimura struggled to answer a rather difficult question in English.
“Oh, these kinds of rumor happen often. But it is half correct and half wrong. I do have an ambition to remake Moon. But, at the same time, I want to make something new immediately. I love my work both past and future. If I can remake something, someday then I wish it could be Moon or Chulip. But I do not know when I can realize such an ambition.
And I want to know that, if I remake Moon, who would want to play and how many people would love it? It was so nice for me during the Moon days.. it was a very important era of my life. Once I start to remember those days, tears drop from my eyes with happiness. I can honestly talk to people. I want play Moon again also, but it is so dificult for me to build a new version of Moon at this moment.”
There you have it. Kimura-san would love to create a remake of Moon (and even Chulip as it turns out) but it is not worth pursuing unless there is significant fan demand. So if you’d like to see a Moon remake more than a brand new and original project then you’re going to have to spread the word. Blog about it, write letters to games magazines and tell publishers like Marvelous, Rising Star and XSeed that you want to play a new version of Moon, and in English too.
And don’t forget to comment here too. I’m interested to hear if you’d like to play a remake or a brand new game. Let me know.
PS – If you’d like to read more from Kimura then check out the mini-feature he wrote about the making of Little King’s Story for Gamasutra. There are some neat revelations about the changes that were made along the way.
Read Full Post »