Namco High is, without a doubt, the wackiest game we’ve seen all year. Who would have ever guessed there would be a dating sim with a Taiko: Drum Master drum, Lolo from Klonoa, and the… Galaga ship. Siliconera was curious and talked to the Namco High team about developing the game.
Namco High is a pretty wild idea. What sparked the concept for a dating game with Namco characters?
Andrew Hussie, Creative Director: When trying to come up with an idea, I consulted with my team of advisors. I said "What about a dating sim? Maybe we should do one of those." They asked me if I was sure. I said yes, absolutely. They said maybe I should think about it for a while, and see if I come up with any other ideas. I said ok. Months later they asked me if I had any other ideas.
I said no. They thought I was lying, but remained professional. Alright, how do you want to proceed, they asked. I told them to tell me all about dating sims. They asked what I wanted to know about dating sims. I said, what’s a dating sim? They said a dating sim was like a kind of interactive story where people, usually a variety of handsome animes, are guided into romantic situations by the player. I said, that’s what a dating sim is? They said yes. Why, what did I think they were? I don’t know. I was just picturing something better than that. They said they didn’t know what to tell me, that’s just what they are. I said that sounds pretty dumb. They frowned in agreement. Then I said this is going to be great.
And how did you get Namco Bandai to greenlight this?
I’m not sure if they actually did. I don’t think anyone is sure.
The first thing I thought when I heard "Namco dating sim" was, wow what a great idea I had! Boy am I full of great ideas. I got involved with it first by thinking of the (extremely great) idea. Then I got a bunch of other people to do the idea, thereby utterly absolving myself of any responsibility for the end product. Feeling awesome about that, I fell asleep in a comfy hammock for geniuses.
When I woke up, I discovered it had revolutionized the brand, and their stock shot up 1000%. Like any good producer, I was ready to heroically swoop in and claim full credit for this success, which was easier than it sounds, because frankly, I deserved it. The company honchos were so impressed with my moxy, the president literally stood on his desk, and lowered a crown onto my head. I am wearing it now. This answers your next question, which was going to be, "Why are you wearing a crown?"
How did you pick Namco characters for Namco High? There’s a pretty huge back catalog you can choose from.
Ananth Panagariya, Head Writer: When we had our initial writers meeting, we knew there were certain characters we definitely wanted (Galaga and a few others). After that we made two basic lists: potential story arcs we wanted to explore, and characters from Namco Bandai’s back catalog that looked interesting. After that it was a lot of mixing, matching and editing to nail down the basic outlines for each character. While we did want to use some big characters (Voldo!), we were happy to discover that because some of these properties had lain dormant for so long, we were essentially free to redefine them. Hiromi & Tomari were especially fun in this regard.
AP: In many ways Amazona is defined by her rivalry with Wonder Momo, so it was interesting (and surprising!) to explore her character separately from that.
How do the Homestuck characters fit into Namco High?
George Rohac, Co-Producer: They’re the "weird transfer students".
Can you tell us about the gameplay? How do you get Valkyrie to fall for you? And what do you do when you’re on a date with Nidia?
Conrad Kreyling, Lead Developer: We modeled Namco High after style of game popular in Japan called a Visual Novel, which generally features a text box on the bottom of the screen, and portraits of characters on a stage. We also incorporated elements of classic dating sims, where the number of times or the order in which you talk to characters changes the outcome of the story.
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What kind of stories will we see in Namco High? Can you tell us some of the video game references and jokes you snuck in?
AP: We wanted to include a variety of storylines and relationship types in Namco High. Depending on how you interact with the characters, things can turn out great… or not so great. The relationships in the game run the gamut between romance and friendship – there are 18 characters and we wanted to make sure there was a bit of variety. Don’t worry, though… you can definitely get with Galaga.
I can’t mention any specific references without giving anything away, we got some characters who had back stories that flipped into some fun jokes.
AP: Kiss: Galaga, Marry: Galaga. Kill: Galaga. I’d hang with Hiromi and Albatross? There are a bunch of cuties in this game.
CK: It’s a (very) long shot, but Hiromi! The strong, silent type, her amazing color palette, and that bike! *swoon*
GR: George: Looks alone? Galaga, Personality? Nidia.
What Namco characters do you want to add to Namco High in the future?
GR: Adding anyone piecemeal would be really awkward. Working with an entirely new cast or a big influx of new characters would be great, but there’s so much to choose from. I think we can all agree though – Voldo.
AP: I’d love to write a few from Tekken, Soul Calibur & the Tales series. Maybe next time!