Elebits is one of Konami’s new franchises born on the Wii, but it’s coming to the DS later this year. However, Elebits: Adventures of Kai & Zero is completely different from the room destruction simulator Konami released in 2006. The DS game is a touch screen action RPG where you solve puzzles with the assistance of magical Elebits. What happened? Gregg Nolan, Product Manager at Konami, took the time to explain the developmental shift and give us a glimpse into the future of the Elebits series.
Elebits on the Wii was a pick up and play game, but Elebits: Adventures of Kai & Zero feels like an action RPG. Why the change?
The first Elebits was a really good learning experience. I think there were some difficulties when the first one came out. One, because it was the first release, it’s hard sometimes difficult to come up with a stellar franchise right off the bat, you know? Two, the producers were trying to create something that took the capabilities of the Wii, the Wii remote and nunchuck, and integrate that in a game as well. There was maybe less thought about the game story and the gameplay mechanics. How we can use the Wii remote functionality was a little bit of a priority. The second release on DS, the producers took a step back and said let’s take a good look at what feedback we got from customers, buyers, retail, and press. We started almost from scratch with a more compelling story and thought about what worked well in the first game. You know the Elebits, the capture elements of the game and how they can translate to make it a stronger experience which translates well to the DS.
On the DS we have new super Elebits can you tell us about them?
They’re called Omega Elebits. Let’s back up. In the game there are two kinds of Elebits. There are your standard Elebits which contain your source of energy. They contain lots of power which you’re capturing to power your bus to get you back home. In the game you also seek out Omega Elebits. There are 50 different kinds of Omega Elebits. The way you receive them is you complete different tasks in the game. As you complete these tasks – say for example one of the tasks in the game is you have villagers that are stranded on an island and they are surrounded by fire. You need to flood the area so the fire goes out and they can escape. As they escape they give you an Omega Elebit, which in this case is a fire Elebit.
What happens then is that Elebit becomes part of your menu system and you can call on him at any point in time to use his fire abilities, to burn down trees, to remove barriers, and to take out obstacles. In the game there are 50 different kinds of Omega Elebits. There is everything from an Elebit who freezes water so you can cross streams. In points in the game where you’re in a cave and another Omega Elebit will turn darkness into light. There is one that makes you run fast. There are all these different Omega Elebits who give you special powers along the way.
In the game do you find all 50 of them or are some of them secret and you have to backtrack to find them as a post game experience?
You will be able to find all of them. The idea of the Omega Elebits seemed really cool. We didn’t want to make Elebits: Adventures of Kai & Zero a game that was too difficult. We want it to be a pick up and play, fun experience that anyone can play. You are going to find the Omega Elebits when you need them.
So there won’t be any hidden Omega Elebits like an ultimate one that causes meteors to crash to the ground?
I will say there are some secrets, and I’ll leave it at that.
Which one is your favorite Omega Elebit?
That’s hard to say. The way that the game is set up is you’re going to find the Omega Elebit that’s right for the scenario you’re in. The way the producers created the game is the story, the map, and the obstacles you come up against are really compelling and really exciting gameplay. The Omega Elebit they put in that place for you to find or utilize fits really well. It’s a really cool experience. Of course, the fire Elebit is really cool. He’s virtually indestructible. He can burn down just about anything.
In the title there is Kai and Zero. Who’s Zero?
Kai is the main character from the first game. If you remember his family is the story that surrounds in the first game. Zero is his little buddy. He’s new for the second game. Kind of looks like a marshmallow. He’s the one that actually goes out and captures the Elebits for you.
You can then use these Elebits to power devices and solve puzzles?
How do you think the fans of Elebits are going to react to the change? Do you think they are going to be overwhelmed or did the Wii version leave gamers longing for more?
That’s a great question. We actually put some screenshots, game description, some teaser stuff on IGN a few weeks ago and it was really cool to read some of the comments people left. A number of people were excited to have another Elebits experience. A lot of them said I wish this was released on the Wii, which you know isn’t completely out of the question. That’s probably going to happen in the future
A lot of people also said they loved the first game, but it was repetitive gameplay and they stopped playing it halfway through. The good news is they enjoyed the game to play halfway through. The bad news is they found it repetitive and didn’t finish. With the second game, like I said the producers and game designers really went back and taken all of this feedback into creating a very compelling story. In the first game basically the repetition was opening objects, opening doors, throwing objects to find these Elebits. It was basically the same thing over and over again, just a different environment. The second story is unique in that you travel through different maps to different locations, kind of Zelda-esque. The really compelling part is using the Omega Elebits to make it a supernatural experience.
Wait you said Elebits is probably going to come out for the Wii? Do you mean there is going to be Elebits: Adventures of Kai & Zero on the Wii or is there going to be a brand new Elebits game?
This is also a good question. One question I’ve asked of our producers and we sat and discussed this. There are a lot of press and fans that enjoyed the first game on the Wii and my question to my producer and the game designers was is the DS story the new direction for the franchise? Mukaitouge-san who is the producer of the first one basically said that the DS experience will be the next direction for the next DS experience. The first Wii game will be the story and the starting point for the next Wii game. There will be two stories that happen in tandem, one on the Wii and one on the DS. They will overlap with characters, environments, and things like that, but each platform will have its own experience.
For the possible Wii game have you thought about using DS features or codes where you can use the DS game to unlock something on the Wii game?
Yeah, all publishers and developers are looking for ways to be innovative in the gaming space. The more we can integrate the two platforms through codes or whatever the better experience it’s going to be for our fans and gamers. Of course, this is something we’re looking at. The story for the next Wii title hasn’t been completely nailed down yet so as far as more details on your question I can’t speak to it.
So far we’ve seen Elebits on the DS and the Wii, but have you thought about the PS3? You could use the Sixaxis controller.
I think what the producers wanted to do is really create a strong second title. Create a story, gameplay, and a really strong experience before branching out on a whole bunch of platforms. The producer of the game – this is his baby you know? He wants to do it well. There are some games that you see that are launched on every single console, on every single handheld. Sometimes it’s done well. Sometimes it isn’t. I really think the producers took a lot of care in the second experience and wanted to do it well on the DS before branching it out any further.
It seems like Konami has really big plans for Elebits. Do you see it as one of the core franchises?
As a product manager for Elebits, I certainly hope so. We’re pretty early on in development of this franchise so it’s really hard to say, but the reaction we’ve gotten from fans and the press has been phenomenal. We certainly appreciate the support of the press and fans. That’s what’s going to make this a greater franchise. The better job we do will translate into a better experience for you and for fans. That will take the franchise to the next level.
Speaking of Konami franchises we haven’t seen anything with Dewy for awhile. Can we expect him to pop up on the DS?
I would say you should keep your eyes open for Dewy. I’m not sure what platform he will be on, but it’s definitely been discussed. I can’t say that anything at this point is on the schedule, but there have been talks about a second Dewy.
Images courtesy of Konami.