The origins of El Shaddai come from the Book of Enoch. The game? That idea was from Ignition’s headquarters in Europe and was decided before Sawaki Takeyasu, lead designer, started working on the title. "Once we received the theme, the team began to brainstorm. We wanted to create a look that did not represent a single country or culture. Our goal was to design a distinct, one of the kind type of world, and we started with a fantasy art for the game’s visuals," Takeyasu said to Siliconera in an interview.
Takeyasu and the team at Ignition Japan designed the game with a trippy watercolor look. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is peppered with visually striking scenes like Enoch, in a 2D perspective, leaping on waves to get from one area to the next. While El Shaddai has 3D combat scenes, a good chunk of the game is 2D platforming. The development team stuck to the original plan throughout the entire design cycle, but there are a few elements Takeyasu mentioned that didn’t make it in the final game.
"If I could go back, I would add more gimmicks to the game. There were a few things I was testing to make the design even more adventurous. Because we lost programmers and we had to finish the game by a deadline there were gimmicks that I was ready to implement, but didn’t make it in," Takeyasu revealed. "These were small things, but I think they would have made the game richer. For example, one idea I was planning is when Enoch needed to climb up players could build something like a staircase out of a tower of blocks. Another thing I was planning was to have Enoch break through wall after wall to get through one area to the next."
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron soared to popularity in Japan thanks to a meme where Lucifel asks Enoch if he’s wearing enough armor. The Internet phenomenon was a surprise, but a welcome one according to Takeyasu. "Because Ignition is a small publisher, especially in Japan, people wouldn’t notice a new game from them," Takeyasu said with a humble tone. "The video phenomenon over the Internet really helped us get the El Shaddai brand recognized and I’m very thankful for the fans for helping us with this."
With El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron finished, Takeyasu and I started talking about the new hardware announced at E3. "I like the PlayStation Vita. I think this is because I like hi-tech gadgets," Takeyasu said while pointing to his white iPad 2. "The way you can use the device with the touchscreens and other control schemes are fascinating."
"How would you make an El Shaddai game for Vita," I asked.
He paused for a bit before answering, "It would be interesting if you could make a sliding motion on the screen and you could wipe or change the colors. I think, I would do something like that if I had a chance."