By Spencer . March 4, 2011 . 6:00pm
You already played the demo on PlayStation Network. Now find out the story behind Jikandia: The Timeless Land. Developer Opus Studio and publisher Idea Factory sat down to discuss the time setting PSP game. In this interview, we asked how they designed levels to support the feature and why they picked side-scrolling as the game’s genre.
So, you’re sitting down discussing a new project. How did those ideas evolve into Jikandia: The Timeless Land?
Opus Studio: In the city areas of Japan, everyone uses the train for their everyday commute. Like everyone else, our staff commutes via train, and we were talking about how it would be perfect if there was a game that we could finish in the time frame of our commute. That conversation was what gave us the idea for this game.
Idea Factory: In the initial stages of the concept, we contacted Opus for game development because of their experience with Half-Minute Hero—specifically, their experience with time as a gameplay mechanic. The plot of Jikandia was based on the word “time.”
Why did you want to make a side-scrolling action game?
Opus: First off, we’re fans of Metroid and Castlevania. During development, we also felt that there was a trend toward side-scrolling games like Shadow Complex and Bionic Commando.
IF: Most of the games we release are either SRPGs or games tailored specifically for the female market. We wanted to branch out into new markets—specifically action games. That worked out perfectly, since Opus excels at action games.
Weapons in Jikandia have different ranges and combo lengths. The glove, for example, deals a lot of damage, but you only get one hit. What’s your favorite type to use and which partners do you pick?
Opus: We recommend the bomb. Although the power of the hit may seem weak, and it’s tricky because you too can be hurt, if you time it wisely you can hit multiply enemies and deal massive damage. In regard to which characters we’d choose, we would pick Hako and Tsutomu. They can both attack at a distance and fire multiple shots. Hako’s bullets even have a homing function.
IF: We like the “throwing axe” the most. Although it’s pretty tricky to aim it since it flies pretty far, that long range is what makes it fun. We’d choice Kanna and Mayu for the characters. They can throw axes and arrows along with the protagonist to kill enemies! :)
Before players start a level they can set a time limit, which changes the level’s layout. How did you design stages with this concept in mind?
Opus: We wanted to make it so there were always pros and cons to every choice — whether you went for a lot of time, or not much time. Our focus was on making a game that could be enjoyed over and over.
IF: The events that take place on each stage will change depending on what time you set. We also wanted to make sure people would enjoy the various weapons and utilize the differently depending on the amount of time as well.
Balancing the game must have been difficult! Was there anything that you wanted to add (characters, levels, weapons) to Jikandia: The Timeless Land, but didn’t have enough time to add?
Opus: Since there were so many different characters and weapons, we had a hard time differentiating them from one another.
IF: There were some events and so on that we had to cut out, but to make up for that we adjusted the game so there would be plenty of replay value.
It seems like Opus Studio likes to utilize time as an element when developing games. What makes time so interesting to play with?
Opus: We believe that the concept of time is something that’s important to everyone. Time is strongly associated with the gameplay of most videogames. We aren’t particularly attached to time as a concept, but we do feel like it’s a fun theme to work with. If development could always stay within the timeframe we set for it, that would be great.
So far, Opus Studio developed a lightning fast RPG and a set your own time limit side-scroller. What other genres would you like to tackle?
Opus: Opus has developed a number of titles that aren’t tied to any specific genres. Of course we feel that it’s important to utilize the experience we’ve gained from previous projects on any future ones, but our goal is to create games that are loved by everyone, no matter how much time passes. We will continue to strive to create games that can live eternally in the hearts of our fans.