The Namco High Interview We Never Expected, Because Who Imagined This?

By Spencer . December 16, 2013 . 6:34pm

Namco High is, without a doubt, the wackiest game we’ve seen all year. Who would have ever guessed there would be a dating sim with a Taiko: Drum Master drum, Lolo from Klonoa, and the… Galaga ship. Siliconera was curious and talked to the Namco High team about developing the game.

 

Namco High is a pretty wild idea. What sparked the concept for a dating game with Namco characters?

 

image Andrew Hussie, Creative Director: When trying to come up with an idea, I consulted with my team of advisors. I said "What about a dating sim? Maybe we should do one of those." They asked me if I was sure. I said yes, absolutely. They said maybe I should think about it for a while, and see if I come up with any other ideas. I said ok. Months later they asked me if I had any other ideas.

 

I said no. They thought I was lying, but remained professional. Alright, how do you want to proceed, they asked. I told them to tell me all about dating sims. They asked what I wanted to know about dating sims. I said, what’s a dating sim? They said a dating sim was like a kind of interactive story where people, usually a variety of handsome animes, are guided into romantic situations by the player. I said, that’s what a dating sim is? They said yes. Why, what did I think they were? I don’t know. I was just picturing something better than that. They said they didn’t know what to tell me, that’s just what they are. I said that sounds pretty dumb. They frowned in agreement. Then I said this is going to be great.

 

image

 

And how did you get Namco Bandai to greenlight this?

 

I’m not sure if they actually did. I don’t think anyone is sure. 

 

image How did you get involved with this project and what’s the first thing you thought of when you heard Namco dating sim?

 

The first thing I thought when I heard "Namco dating sim" was, wow what a great idea I had! Boy am I full of great ideas. I got involved with it first by thinking of the (extremely great) idea. Then I got a bunch of other people to do the idea, thereby utterly absolving myself of any responsibility for the end product. Feeling awesome about that, I fell asleep in a comfy hammock for geniuses.

 

When I woke up, I discovered it had revolutionized the brand, and their stock shot up 1000%. Like any good producer, I was ready to heroically swoop in and claim full credit for this success, which was easier than it sounds, because frankly, I deserved it. The company honchos were so impressed with my moxy, the president literally stood on his desk, and lowered a crown onto my head. I am wearing it now. This answers your next question, which was going to be, "Why are you wearing a crown?"

 

How did you pick Namco characters for Namco High? There’s a pretty huge back catalog you can choose from.

 

Ananth Panagariya, Head Writer: When we had our initial writers meeting, we knew there were certain characters we definitely wanted (Galaga and a few others). After that we made two basic lists: potential story arcs we wanted to explore, and characters from Namco Bandai’s back catalog that looked interesting. After that it was a lot of mixing, matching and editing to nail down the basic outlines for each character. While we did want to use some big characters (Voldo!), we were happy to discover that because some of these properties had lain dormant for so long, we were essentially free to redefine them. Hiromi & Tomari were especially fun in this regard.

 

image So, you can date the Galaga Ship, a Taiko drum, but… Wonder Momo is missing?

 

AP: In many ways Amazona is defined by her rivalry with Wonder Momo, so it was interesting (and surprising!) to explore her character separately from that.

 

How do the Homestuck characters fit into Namco High?

 

George Rohac, Co-Producer: They’re the "weird transfer students".

 

Can you tell us about the gameplay? How do you get Valkyrie to fall for you? And what do you do when you’re on a date with Nidia?

 

Conrad Kreyling, Lead Developer: We modeled Namco High after style of game popular in Japan called a Visual Novel, which generally features a text box on the bottom of the screen, and portraits of characters on a stage. We also incorporated elements of classic dating sims, where the number of times or the order in which you talk to characters changes the outcome of the story.

 

Hey, Siliconera readers. Spencer here and thanks for reading our Namco High interview we have some codes to giveaway today so send us an email at siliconera at gmail dot com with "Namco High Giveaway" in the subject. We’ll send out codes to five lucky readers on Wednesday. Giveaway over, thanks for entering everyone!

 

What kind of stories will we see in Namco High? Can you tell us some of the video game references and jokes you snuck in?

 

AP: We wanted to include a variety of storylines and relationship types in Namco High. Depending on how you interact with the characters, things can turn out great… or not so great. The relationships in the game run the gamut between romance and friendship – there are 18 characters and we wanted to make sure there was a bit of variety. Don’t worry, though… you can definitely get with Galaga.

 

I can’t mention any specific references without giving anything away, we got some characters who had back stories that flipped into some fun jokes.

 

image OK, which character would you date?

 

AP: Kiss: Galaga, Marry: Galaga. Kill: Galaga. I’d hang with Hiromi and Albatross? There are a bunch of cuties in this game.

CK: It’s a (very) long shot, but Hiromi! The strong, silent type, her amazing color palette, and that bike! *swoon*

GR: George: Looks alone? Galaga, Personality? Nidia.

 

What Namco characters do you want to add to Namco High in the future?

 

GR: Adding anyone piecemeal would be really awkward. Working with an entirely new cast or a big influx of new characters would be great, but there’s so much to choose from. I think we can all agree though – Voldo.

AP: I’d love to write a few from Tekken, Soul Calibur & the Tales series. Maybe next time!


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  • Chiupon

    so they basically nixed more prominent namco bandai characters in favor of uh,….

    homestuck things

    okay

    • timpkmn89

      ShiftyLook doesn’t have rights to most of the franchises that aren’t in the game already. They’ve never done anything with Tales, for instance.

    • William Carpenter

      Nobody said one character replaced another.

    • Bunzi

      Popularity Power’s kind of a vicious cycle, imo. The really popular people are always going to have their place in “serious” crossovers like Namco X Capcom and whatsoever comes out after this – let the obscure guys run around and have some fun every so often.

  • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

    Galaga is going to be my true love in this game.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Leafy_Cam Leafhopper

      Considering Galaga is one of the only characters that was spared in this thing, I agree.

      • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

        Haha honestly despite the fact that people really are going I’M GONNA DATE THAT SHIP

        I actually super love Galaga the series, probably my favorite classic shooter game overall. I’m not going for Galaga cause it’s the most normal/different option from the dating sim genre.

        I just /really/ like Galaga. (’88/’90 is my favorite version, though.)

  • Guest

    I wanna make music with that taiko!

  • Seraph

    I’ve heard of shipping in fanfictions, but this is…. Pretty literal.

  • Ethan_Twain

    I am 1000% more interested in this project now that I learn it’s from the Homestruck folks. I actually like the idea of dating sims, but I have issues with a lot of the ways they’re executed. I’m not a hentai guy, I’m not into romance with those who are underage or look underage, I struggle with the way females are presented in a lot of Japanese media (I know it’s a different culture, but to me in MY culture is pretty freaking sexist), and on top of all that translations can be spotty at best.

    Easily my favorite in the genre is Katawa Shoujo – it did a good job with sexism and it was written by native English speakers so the script had a lot more spark than most anything I’ve found in a localized video game (much less a visual novel). It also had a “turn off sex scenes” option and I really appreciated that.

    So now there’s this – a date sim from the writer of one of the most divisive (but well written) works of our internet age. Starring a bunch of abstract old video game characters. So we’ve got a mix of weird art inspirations for the different characters, a native English script, and a dose of weird (dating the galaga ship?) that should be expected from the Homestruck creative mind.

    I’m in!

    • Illusive Bonesy

      homestuck is a bloody trainwreck

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        homestuck is interesting if nothing else

        • Kamakuma

          And I hear that again… xD can someone save me a Google search and tell me what it is? T.T

          • Serge

            Sorry, not even google can.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            Yeah I’m still in the earliest parts but it’s umm I don’t know
            I don’t know is basically what describes it

            It’s a webcomic but it’s also a game, a self playing game and you play this kid name john on his 13th birthday weird stuff happens lots of weird stuff happens
            It’s filled with self hating jokes, parodies, jabs and nods

          • Kamakuma

            Now im even more confuzzled. X’D But from all that was said im not sure what to think on it.

          • Eric Vilas

            From a really big Homestuck fan, it’s a webcomic that contains flash animations and likes to pretend it’s a classic command-based adventure game, to the point where the first commands were issued by readers. I’d suggest reading it, but don’t judge it until you get to at least act 3. It gets really exciting, really fast, and can be really random.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            That means you are starting to understand it

          • Al

            It becomes so much more than that. The format expands to become more of an epic than a simple, quirky comic. The earliest parts bear almost no resemblance to the later storyline: the fact that it is extremely long allowed it to evolve massively and become an extremely unique art form: it’s more than a webcomic, because the traditional webcomic is just sort of a comic book, but online…
            Also, don’t let the fans scare you away. Don’t ever let unruly fans scare you away from trying something new. Even if much of the fanbase focuses on things like shipping and “my fantroll is MARRIED to Dave Strider”, the plot is very complex. You don’t have to be a fan of the hentai-yaoi-whatever-the-heck-you-call-it to be a fan of Homestuck.
            The humor is similar to the comic’s predecessor, Problem Sleuth, which follows a simpler storyline and, while it is very complex, lacks some of Homestuck’s depth. However, some of the humor gets pushed to the side as the plot gets deeper and scarier: however, it is never quite forgotten. (see: the heart wrenching character deaths that were portrayed as jokes).

            And even if you decide Homestuck is not your cup of tea, take a listen to the music. It’s amazing, and you don’t have to be a fan of the story to appreciate those *sweet jams*.

            Even if you don’t read Homestuck, you can probably appreciate the characters in the Namco High game. It’s going to be super cool, and I can’t wait to see what this team put out.

          • Ethan_Twain

            I would say that it’s one part webcomic, one part choose your own adventure book, one part classic adventure game, one part experimental fiction, and one part microsoft excel.

            Does this appeal to you? You don’t know. You CAN’T know. You haven’t experienced anything like this before. You owe it to yourself to try. You’re as likely to be repulsed as hooked, but you can’t know which you might be until you give it a whirl.

          • Rynnon

            some people are both hooked and repulsed

    • ChiffonCake

      Katawa Shoujo is not a dating sim.

      • Ethan_Twain

        How is it not? I mean, I’m obviously no genre expert, but it’s a visual novel in which I guide my single male protagonist to choose an anime female to romance and pursue that romance by clicking through endless reams of dialogue with only the occasional multiple choice question posed to me. There are multiple endings for the different females, and (I think) multiple endings within each female’s story. There are naughty bits, melodramatic bits, comedy bits… what genre criteria doesn’t it fit?

        • ChiffonCake

          >I’m obviously no genre expert
          So you acknowledge that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and then you kep talking anyway?

          Compare KS to something like Love Plus (which is an actual dating sim), and you’ll see the difference.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Enough, let’s not split hairs here — which is indeed what they are to a Western audience. You named a genre of which we have seen two legit released games of its specific type in the states. One title released ages ago, in the days of slapdash translations, now only findable in pirate copy form. The other a horrid localization with plenty of things cut, by a first generation Tokyopop.

            Sh*t, we haven’t gotten enough ‘date sims’, ‘visual novels’, ‘kinetic novels’, ‘sound novels’ or ‘Japanese adventure games’ to separate ourselves into Survivor Tribes. Let’s not attack each other over any of them.

          • Snowskeeper

            Sorry. Deleted my earlier comments.

          • humbleElitist

            If taken more literally, “I’m not genre expert”, does not imply total ignorance, just a lack of total knowledge.

            Stating that one is not an expert in cars, and then stating that something has properties that a car is generally believed to have, and then asking what properties of a car does the thing not have, is
            imo
            a completely valid way to give ones argument/reason to believe that a thing is a car.

            Generally, I would assume that a dating sim is defined as:
            “A game in which the core gameplay element is dating.”

            It might be the case that “katawa” has more important gameplay elements
            (I wouldn’t know, seeing as I know nothing about the game. note however that this does not aeffect whether I am qualified to talk about points of reasoning, just any claims I make about the things the arguments are based on)
            and if it is not the main gameplay element, then I might conclude that it is not mainly a dating sim.

            Although I have no statistics to prove it, I would expect that the majority of people who have never played a dating sim would expect “dating sim” to include any game with the main gameplay element being “(innacurately) simulating dating”

            Though those that have more of an interest in these types of games (note: not intended to sound judgemental, I don’t know how to word it in a way less likely to be interpreted as such though) may have a more precise definition, I don’t think this would be the “common” definition (per person, not per use).

            As such, I believe the definition I gave is at least somewhat valid.

            And therefore, that “yeshhua”‘s comment is likely fairly reasonable.
            (given of course that the game indeed contains those elements. I assume that if it did not, you would have responded to those parts of their comment.)

            Respectfully,
            user.

          • ChiffonCake

            That definition sounds about right, but KS doesn’t have any gameplay. It’s a visual novel.

          • humbleElitist

            In your definition of gameplay, does a “choose your own adventure book” have gameplay? The comment by the other person seemed to suggest some amount of “player” choice

            There are probably multiple reasonable definitions of gameplay and of game, and I would think some of them would include choose your own adventure book style things, though there are of course those that wouldn’t.

            *shrug*

          • ChiffonCake

            I wouldn’t consider that gameplay, no.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            Dude lol anything with a choice between romance options is a dating sim there are varying degrees of it.Some have gameplay and some are just simple vns

          • Guest

            I don’t think you could call Skyrim a dating sim.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            Umm last time I checked the main goal wasn’t to hook up with people in skyrim.

          • Guest

            “Dude lol anything with a choice between romance options is a dating sim”
            Your words.
            In Skyrim, you can marry several people.

  • Jettythesunfish

    This might be just me, but the fact that it’s from the same guy who did Homestuck rubs me the wrong way. Especially since he took the liberty of sticking his own characters instead of other “datable” candidates.

    I don’t think I’ll try this game anyway. Being a Klonoa fan, I’m quite bothered at how “tsundere” Lolo is looking.

    • Serge

      Have you ever read Homestuck? No just the first panel or the three first panels, but a complete chapter?

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        naw the hipster thing to do is to hate it

      • freezestar

        I remember reading part of it a long time ago, and it was okay, I didn’t like how it jumped around a lot, but it was okay. What I hate are the fans. Also, Mr. Hussie sounds very full of himself in this interview.

        • wendelscardua

          It’s a thing called Humor. In more serious interviews and videos he doesn’t seem full of himself at all.

      • AkuLord3

        Because he can’t hate it unless its those reasons…RIGHT

        • Snowskeeper

          That wasn’t what he said. In fact, he didn’t say Jetty wasn’t allowed to hate it at all. He asked whether Jetty had actually read the comic. Many people, when asked this question, respond with “no, but I know it sucks because *insert asinine reason here*.

      • Jettythesunfish

        I don’t care for it.

        • Serge

          Thanks for the answer :)

      • ChiffonCake

        I’ve read it up to the middle of Act 5 or something, and I feel the same way as Jetty there.

    • Tectonic Robot

      I don’t see why it’s a problem homestuck characters are present. No one’s forcing you to interact with them, after all; you have to pay to do their datelines, for goodness sake!

  • Spirit Macardi

    … And no one thought to ask the big question of why Lolo is massively out of character in this?

    She’s shy but incredibly kind-hearted, with a drive to realize her dreams despite her personal insecurities. What about that screamed “bitch” to the designers of this game?

    • Jettythesunfish

      Seriously…this is just too out of character NOT to notice…

      • Spirit Macardi

        Doubly surprising since the Klonoa comic on the same site isn’t bad at all. It knows who the characters are and what makes them tick for the most part. Even the far lesser known ones like Chipple.

    • Chiupon

      it’s a point of her development i’m assuming. the site says “It is so hard to get a read on this girl; does she care about anything? What could possibly have happened to her to make her so distant…?”

    • Tectonic Robot

      Have you tried the game yet to ascertain whether she’s out of character or not? Her story path is free, ya know.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Can confirm she is indeed pretty nasty and snarky with her comments to the ‘MC’.

  • Muffum

    I like how Hussie failed to actually answer a single question posed to him.

    • Bigabu Beaze

      What a hussie.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      And yet what he said was likely entirely truthful. :P

  • Gael Summers

    Tbh I have no interest in this until I see a Tales of character

    • Serge
    • Ethan_Twain

      Nah, that seems boring. A Tales of character is basically just a normal anime themed date sim character. There are already lots of those. I’m more excited about the weirdness this game is embracing – I would love to see them keep away from Tales of or Super Robot Wars or Gundam – all the anime franchises Namco owns or works with.

      • Gael Summers

        I’m glad my interests seem boring to you.

        I want to date a Tales character because I like the Tales of series, not because they’re “anime themed”

        • Carl B.

          Same here. Seems like a lost opportunity if they don’t include Tales characters. I actually clicked on this article because I wanted to find out which Tales of characters were in it….and was floored when I didn’t see any.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          I just can’t see how any of those characters would fit in the environment of this game at the moment. It really is all about the the humor style of the webcomic — right down to the layout of the panels.

          • Gael Summers

            Made this just now: “Believing that 2 pencils equals twice the writing power, Lloyd Irving is a straight-D student. He seems like a pretty nice guy once you get past his poorly written essays about justice and strange obsession with coffee”

            I don’t think the tales series is lacking in humorous characters. If it’s due to legal/licensing issues, that’s reasonable. But is it really that hard to see a Tales character in it?

      • Carl B.

        Wow, I can’t downvote you enough Yesshua. Wow…simply WOW.

        They can have their Galaga ships and obscure background characters. I won’t be interested until Rita Mordio (Or any of the females from Vesperia, at least) are there.

        Wow….still shaking my head over your comment.

        • Ethan_Twain

          I get that you may be a fan of Tales and/or Japanese date sim games, but isn’t it cool that this game is doing something different from that? I love that the characters here are weird, drawn from a ton of different styles of inspiration, and totally unlike what I would find in another date sim game.

          Tales characters, I mean… did you read the interview? The notion of guiding handsome animes through romantic situations was the baseline that they decided to get away from. An infusion of handsome animes (because lets face it, all Tales characters qualify) would just make this game more normal. More like other date sim products on the market.

          I for one am excited about this something different.

        • Snowskeeper

          I love how three sentences out of this five-sentence post are you badmouthing his post, without actually explaining why it’s so terrible. Fine, you have a different opinion; that doesn’t mean you have to be an ass about it.

      • William Carpenter

        I agree wholeheartedly. As much as I like Tales of, I think what they’re doing here with Namco High is super interesting. Tales of and Soul Calibur and Tekken characters would sort of ruin the experience for me.

  • makubexnas

    Went i think about dating sims……………….i had something else in mind.

  • RavenholtEX

    I’m waiting to see if they announce KOS-MOS from Xenosaga as a dateable character before I jump on board with this. Until then, I’m not terribly interested.

    • timpkmn89

      It won’t be. ShiftyLook doesn’t have the rights to Xenosaga.

  • MSJ

    fuck andrew hussie and homestruck, that steaming pile of SHIT <3

  • Rytan

    I’m still confused by this. Yet, I actually want to play it. Huh.

  • Aristides

    Is no one excited about Burning Force being present in this game? 0-0 This project sounds so crazy I love it. Does this even have a release date?

  • Michael Alexander Seiler

    I like how many people focus on Andrew Hussie and forget that there are a bunch of other people that do the writing. Like for example Magnolia Porter, writer and artist of Monster Pulse.

    • Snowskeeper

      “Andrew Hussie, Creative Director”
      He has a very major role here, which is why people focus on him.

      • Michael Alexander Seiler

        That may be, but there’s a team of writers. So whatever “influence” people fear he had on the game is tempered by the people he worked with.

  • Yan Zhao

    They could’ve made this a pretty popular thing if they included more um…popular and attractive characters from their popular series like Tales, Xenosaga, Tekken, Soul Calibur e.t.c.

  • Snowskeeper

    http://www.andrewhussie.com/comic.php?sec=archive&auth=Andrew&cid=aids/00000.jpg

    Also Andrew Hussie.

    He’s capable of good art, excellent writing, etc. Homestuck is drawn like that intentionally, for the same reason the website is named “MSPAINTADVENTURES.”

    I get that a lot of people don’t like Homestuck for whatever reason, and that’s fine; it’s not exactly for everyone. But don’t judge this project on the fact that Hussie is involved; he’s an excellent writer and artist.

    • Jettythesunfish

      “He’s an excellent writer and artist.”

      That’s rather subjective, don’t you think?

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        Eh he does alright for himself

      • Snowskeeper

        In the same way that saying “J.R.R Tolkien is an excellent writer” is subjective.
        I’m not putting him on the same level as J.R.R Tolkien, but you see my point. If you don’t like his work, fine, but he’s certainly competent.

  • Junko Enoshima

    I find it pretty cool that Hussie is making a few games now. Good for him! :)

  • Terry Torres

    Downvote this if you don’t see what’s so funny about excluding characters that are actually popular.

  • Nakker

    this is really interesting. I don’t know much about visual novels and dating sims, although I have a little experience with them, but I know enough to know that people who like those genres will think that this is weird, less points for it being made by Homestuck’s creator and even less points for popular namco bandai game lovers, such as the “tales of” series lovers. But the point is, it’ll be weird, and that’s why I think it’ll be fun: it’s a brand-new experience. It’s so weird that it’s a new experience. Maybe if I knew more about the characters in the game ,i’d think differently. But considering this is made up by people who make web-comic and are great artists too, I’ll give it a shot; just like when I bought games without even know what they were about, no reviews nor anything, and deciding on my own if it was worth it.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      Hey, just think about how weird Hatoful Boyfriend, the pigeon dating sim, was and then think about how huge of a success it was because of that weirdness.

      Being weird can be beneficial, especially in visual novel type games.

      Though they do have to have good storylines. That’s what made Hatoful Boyfriend shine, its storyline was extremely well crafted.

      Hopefully, Namco High is similar in that respect.

  • Tectonic Robot

    From what I’ve been hearing about the game so far, it’s apparently quite well written, if you’re into that sort of stuff, I guess.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    Guys lets completely end the discussion on what makes a dating sim here. We have now moved completely off topic. Thanks.

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