Fossil Fighters: Champions follows in the footsteps of another Nintendo franchise, Pokémon. Instead of collecting Pikachu’s pals, Red Entertainment’s game is filled with Vivosaurs, dinosaurs players revive by chipping away at fossils on the touch screen. Fossil Fighters: Champions has a story to follow, but finding more powerful dinosaurs is the game’s soul. Whether its searching for hidden stars or catching monsters, collecting is a commonly used carrot on a stick gameplay mechanic. But, as a game designer, how do you make a player want to continue collecting even after the credits roll?
"I think the secret is to get players to feel close to the dinosaurs and to add variety to the dinosaurs so that players are interested in them on an individual basis, whether it’s because a dinosaur is cool, cute, strong, or whatever," Shunichi Ii, Director of Fossil Fighters: Champions at Red Entertainment, said to Siliconera in an interview. "One way to get players to keep playing the game is to have them enjoy combining different dinosaur members. Battles have many unexpected combinations and ways of fighting. We can get players to continue to enjoy the game by including dinosaurs and techniques that at first don’t look very useful at all."
Red Entertainment added reptiles, trilobites, and prehistoric fish like the coelacanth to up the variety of fossils for players to find. There are also hidden "chickens" in Fossil Fighters to find, but only if your Vivosaurs reach a high enough rank. A chicken against a fire-breathing theropoda doesn’t sound like a fair fight on paper, but these deceptively cute creatures are powerful.
"To make the dinosaur combinations interesting, we worked really hard to make sure that the battles are balanced. We had specially assigned staff members responsible for adjusting the battle balance, and we spent a lot of time adjusting the dinosaur’s strengths," Shingo Matsushita, Director of Fossil Fighters: Champions at Nintendo added.
As a fan of dinosaurs, I asked Il why Red Entertainment wanted to make a game with them? I mean giant lizards were cool when I was a kid, but their fanfare tapered off after the Jurassic Park rage. Il answered, "the biggest appeal of dinosaurs and fossils is that the remains of enormous life forms are buried in the earth! We let our imaginations run wild when creating the colors and patterns of the dinosaurs, and we added monster-like elements, such as the ability to breathe fire."