People find them cute, but behind their baby-like appearance pandas, like all bears, are dangerous animals. You wouldn’t want one as a pet unless it was in a video game like National Geographic Panda. In Namco Bandai’s DS pet simulation you raise and care for a virtual panda. Since it’s a different from Namco Bandai’s usual works on and because pandas are adorable as they are vicious I spoke with Hirofumi Motoyama, Producer at Namco Bandai, about the title.
Where did the idea for National Geographic Panda come from?
Since the Nintendo DS is enjoyed by a wide range of customers, I thought that a game involving pandas would help bring families together. Pandas fascinate people and bring smiles to faces around the world. I thought that National Geographic Panda would be a game would make people smile and I decided to make the game.
What makes National Geographic Panda different from “Nintenpandas”?
The main difference is National Geographic Panda lets players interact with an exotic animal that you would not normally have as a pet. The game allows players to experience a different form of communication than giving orders with gameplay. The pandas are inquisitive and want to learn different abilities. You must help them as they struggle for the first time until they grow proficient at a given talent. Also, the game is rich in content with pictures and articles provided by National Geographic.
How do you take care of your panda?
In addition to treating their pandas in a loving manner, players are able to buy items through an in-game store with a daily allowance. These items include food, drink, toys and clothes.
What happens if you do a poor job taking care of your panda?
I hope you don’t find out! One thing I can say is that if you poke your panda’s face or tease it too much, he will dislike you and start running away.
There are many silly and fun accessories for your panda, although I think it is better to discover them for yourself.
Are there any Namco accessories or Easter eggs like a Katamari toy to play with?
No, the game does not have any Namco specific accessories or Easter eggs.
How are new accessories unlocked?
Players are able to unlock and buy new accessories in through the Nintendo DS’ internal clock. Every day you play the game, you will receive an allowance as well as a gift or National Geographic article. The idea is that every morning players will wake up and spend a few minutes with their panda.
How did National Geographic partnership come about? Did Namco Bandai contact them with the idea?
We were already developing a panda game when National Geographic approached us to discuss opportunities that would expand their presence within the videogame industry. They were interested in developing a partnership that would incorporate our entertainment experience with their educational expertise. The rest is history.
Did National Geographic give any development feedback?
National Geographic did provide us with feedback and they were gracious enough to provide us with articles and photos to include in the game.
No, the National Geographic content is exclusive for the North American version.
Other than being in English, are there any other features in National Geographic Panda specifically for the North American version?
Yes! The North American version has exclusive National Geographic articles and pictures as well as a bonus DVD, Secrets of the Wild Panda.
Is Namco Bandai planning on developing more animal care games or a Pac-Man caring game?
A Pac-Man caring game sounds very interesting! There are no current plans to make more animal care games, but National Geographic Panda is packed with daily presents, events and skills for your panda to enjoy. I hope that everyone who plays National Geographic Panda will love their pandas for a long time.
Images courtesy of Namco Bandai.