With Half-Minute Hero Second coming out in just a few hours and Senran Kagura: Portrait of the Girls in the pipeline, Kenichiro Takaki is a busy man. (He was too busy to go to E3!) We managed to pull him away from his work to talk about the Half-Minute Hero series and how he created the Xbox 360 version, Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax.
How did the Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax project begin? Were there any improvements you wanted to make for a console version?
Kenichiro Takaki, Producer: Originally we had set out to make a mobile game with a smaller scale that anyone could enjoy. As we were doing so, we received such good feedback from players that we decided to try for something that even greater amounts of people could enjoy.
When we started to work on the console version, we first tried our hands at adjusting the art style. We knew that we wanted to go for a cartoon look for the game, but there were so wide-sweeping decisions and fine adjustments we had to make in order to reach a style we felt best fit Half-Minute Hero.
Then there’s the network support that comes with Xbox Live. Of course we put in the requisite network score rankings, but what we really wanted to do was see how this retro JRPG would work in multiplayer, so we put that in, too.
The multiplayer really isn’t something that relies on only your gaming skills. You also need to work with other people, and be quick to adjust to new problems and obstacles in the field. We really think that this is a fresh type of gameplay that will be new to a lot of players.
Why did you want to bring Half-Minute Hero to Xbox 360 and how do you feel about working with Microsoft’s hardware?
The original PSP version actually started out with a PC targeted codebase, and with the relatively easy portability between XBLA and Windows, the opportunity to bring the game to the 360 was there. Actually development was very smooth.
Usually, when starting out with hardware that you haven’t developed on before, just getting an image on the screen can be a big challenge. With the Xbox 360, though, we were immediately able to get things drawing onscreen. Development pretty much continued like this without any big problems.
What inspired the new Neo Cartoon graphics?
Probably the biggest influence from the get-go was Castle Crashers. We started out by basing the style on that, adjusted it to fit our own unique style, and came to what you can play today.
How did you adapt the other modes – Princess 30, Knight 30, and Evil Lord 30 – into the style of Hero 30?
I’m actually a very, very hardcore gamer. I love and play every type of game genre out there, so I was surprised when we got so much feedback from players of the original game that they had such a hard time with Princess 30, Evil Lord 30, and the like. When we were working on the original PSP game, we did our best to make these modes straightforward and simple, but maybe we didn’t do enough…
So for the XBLA game, we went back to the drawing board. We really wanted the most amount of players to be able to play this game to the very end, so we set out to fit everything into the Hero 30 setting. We might catch some flak for doing this, though…
I have to ask since I see it appear in our comments so often… why isn’t there a PS3 version too?
I’ve been wanting to do a downloadable version of this series for a long time, but it was difficult trying to get the green light to proceed. There was a lot of time spent trying to figure out a way to bring this to fruition, but without much success.
Out of all this, I met with Richard and Tange-san, a producer, from Microsoft. They really enjoyed Half Minute Hero, and wanted to be able to develop an installment of the series together for XBLA. With Microsoft’s support, we were able to finally come out with a downloadable version of Half Minute Hero.
Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax is available for Xbox Live Arcade now. For more about the next game in the series, Half-Minute Hero Second, read our interview with Takaki-san.