You may not recognize the name, but Yuke’s has been in North America for many years. Their studio in Japan is behind THQ’s WWE wrestling games and Konami’s Rumble Roses series.
But wrestling isn’t their only bread and butter. Yuke’s Company of America opened up, a US publishing arm that shuttled out D1 Grand Prix for the Playstation 2 last year. Their second title, Neves also comes straight from their parent company in Japan. So what’s the deal with Neves? And will we ever see that Berserk game Yuke’s developed for the Playstation 2? We went straight to Ken Koyama Manager of PR/Product Development at Yuke’s Company of America to find out the answers.
Congrats on building the Yuke's name this holiday season with Go! Sports Ski and Neves! Let's talk about the latter first. Where did the title's name come from? It's quite different than HameKomi Lucky Puzzle DS.
KK: The titles name came from the number SEVEN. NEVES is SEVEN spelled backwards. The game revolves around 7 pieces so we wanted to some how include that into our name. Since it is a puzzle game having SEVEN spelled backwards seemed appropriate. On top of that it is a strange name and it kind of sticks in your head.
Where did the idea for Neves come from?
The idea came from the actual Hanayama Lucky Puzzle game. We met with Hanayama and signed an exclusive deal with them. We were always fans of their toy puzzles when most of us were younger. Tangram puzzle styled games have been a mainstay for kids growing up in Asia for generations.
For the uninitiated, Tangram is a puzzle game that originated in ancient China. The game consists of the player arranging wood blocks to form specific silhouette patterns of shapes, objects, and things. It’s very challenging and plays on your spatial awareness and cognitive thinking process.
When I first heard about Neves I thought of Daedalian Opus (aka Puzzle Road in Japan) from the Game Boy did the development team ever check it out?
I can’t say if they have our not, but I’m sure someone out of our 120 strong Japanese development team probably checked it out in their lifetime.
What is the most difficult puzzle to solve in Neves?
Any puzzle in Level 3! Just Kidding. It’s different for everyone. I feel that any silhouette that is solid shaped like a box or triangle is difficult. You don’t get many clues with straight edges. Any of the pieces can go in at any angle!
And what's your favorite?
Any puzzle in Level 3! Just Kidding Again. I would have to say the Diamond. That one took me a while to figure out. It’s one of the more challenging puzzles in the game.
Is Yuke's going to develop more DS games in the future?
Of course. We will always continue to develop for all platforms. We hope to bring exciting and original games that appeal to all gamers over a broad-spectrum of home console and portable gaming venues.
Let's switch gears to the Playstation 3. Do you think we will see a follow up to Go! Sports Ski? Or more motion controlled games from Yuke's?
I really can’t talk about Go! Sports Ski since it is not our own published title. We do hope to develop more games with motion controls like Go! Sports Ski.
What do you think about WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade? Is Yuke's planning to create games for either of these platforms?
Yes and Yes. We are hoping to develop some titles for both WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade. We feel that the online market will continue to grow and grow. Our company definitely wants to be apart of that growth. We are excited for the online market.
Didn't Yuke's develop the Dog Island for the Wii? Is Yuke's USA planning on picking up the project?
Unfortunately, I am unable to talk about Dog Island for the Wii due to current contracts in place. I can tell you that it is a game that many on the Wii will enjoy. If your dog fan then this game is right up your alley.
Speaking of the Wii, how does Yuke's feel about it? Are you going to support it with more titles?
We are excited about the Wii. We feel that the Nintendo Wii will expand the market to a broader demographic for gaming. It’s exciting to see the Wii doing so well. We hope we can provide many games for the Wii that anyone and everyone will enjoy.
What about the Berserk game for the Playstation 2 that Yuke's made in 2004? I know there are fans of the series here dying to get their hands on an English copy.
Again, I’m sorry to say that I can not talk about it due to contract situations. I can say that I am still a fan of the game and the anime. I would love to see Berserk for the US market.
Is Yuke's USA branch only focused on localizing Yuke's titles or are there plans to start licensing games from Japan?
No, our plans are much broader than just localizing games. We hope to develop and publish a host of titles in the near future. YUKE’s Company of America is dedicated to brining diverse and exciting titles for the North American audience.
If you could license any orphaned game from Japan what would be your pick?
Well any game that brings us revenue. Just Kidding. There are so many I wouldn’t know where to start.