Otomedius Excellent comes out tomorrow and we sat down with the team to discuss Konami’s moe shooter. Let’s meet them! Koji Igarashi, perhaps best known for his work on the Castlevania games, is the producer of Otomedius Excellent. Arcade veteran Takashi Hamano created the series and Sgt. Frog creator Mine Yoshizaki is the game’s character designer.
While Konami was a pioneer with arcade shooters, Konami took a break from deep space. Why did you want to return to genre?
Takashi Hamano, Otomedius series creator: At the beginning, I wanted to release content, which had kind of media mix elements. Then I chose the shooter genre, which was one of our specialties. Actually, the long interval between developing of previous title made me anxious, but that also made me not to be mired in the past in a way so I could achieve developing a new type of shooter for Konami.
How did the Otomedius project begin and were there any other ideas for characters aside from lady… ships?
TH: First I had the basic idea of beautiful ladies plus side-scrolling shooter. I researched artists when I created the characters, then finally reached the conclusion, Mine Yoshizaki-sensei. Since Yoshizaki-sensei himself was a fan of shooters, he had tons of ideas.
The main characters were fixed very smoothly. I remember that our considerations concentrated on ladies, not happened going off on other ideas much.
I was a bit surprised to see Otomedius Excellent slated for North America. How do you feel about the international release and was this always the plan?
Koji Igarashi, Producer: We did not plan originally for the release in North America. However, we received the opinions that they would like to play this in US more than what we expected, so we decided to do it.
The characters are totally designed for Japanese market, but I think there are lots of users who comprehend this game, so we look forward for the release.
The girls of Otomedius have a lot of personality. Can you tell us how you created the characters and which one is your favorite?
Mine Yoshizaki, Character Designer: This is a side-scrolling shooter, so what I cared most about that the design and silhouette of the characters from the side view.
I like to use Anoa the most while I’m playing. But, when I’m asked for my favorite character as a whole, I like them all.
I think for newcomers, shooters are difficult to get into. Many games moved to flooding the screen with bullets to challenge veterans while other players get flustered. What do you think of this and how did you balance the design of Otomedius Excellent to suit both groups?
KI: Many of shooters today are called "Bullet Hell" with lots of bullets targeting you on the screen. So, we adjusted bullet path based on the original Gradius for Otomedius Excellent.
We created this game with the wish that newcomers can enjoy on the concept of Otomedius. There are difficult levels, but we want users to enjoy the fun of shooters by playing the simple mode. In easy mode, players have the force field from the beginning, so it makes easier for the users to play.
The only Gradius projects I’ve seen are the pachislot machine and the mobile phone tactics game Gradius Arc. Will we see an Otomedius sequel or a new Gradius title? Are more games "scrolling" through development?
KI: No comment about the next title in this series. As you know, the side-scrolling shooting game does not have a big market. However, this is also a market where long standing fans exist. Based on that situation we have to consider what kind of business should be suitable for that genre.
How did Kokoro Belmont come about? Was Konami considering any other guest characters aside from the ones included in Excellent?
KI: Basically, I always discuss and consider characters with Yoshizaki-sensei. From the beginning of this series, we wanted to bring the characters from Konami IP into the world of Otomedius. So, it was natural to come up the idea to have the character from Castlevania.
MY: We brought Emon Five as a playable character from the action game, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja as a surprise in the previous title. So, in the same way, we thought the guest in the next title must be from Castlevania. It is always hard to choose a character because there are many attractive characters in Konami IP.