Kenichiro Takaki known for his work on Senran Kagura and before that Half-Minute Hero recently opened up a new studio in Japan called Honey ∞ Parade. Siliconera caught up with him to talk about plans for his studio, making a third person shooter, and if Uppers would ever leave Japan.
Congratulations on starting your own studio, Honey ∞ Parade Games. How should we pronounce this?
Kenichiro Takaki, Studio Lead: [Laughs] You just say “Honey Parade” the ∞ is silent.
How many games do you have in development? Are you planning to create other games aside from the Senran Kagura series?
Yes, we will not only focus on the Senran Kagura series. There are lots of titles in development. I can’t quite remember which ones have been officially announced yet.
While you are known in the West for creating Senran Kagura, you also made Half-Minute Hero and the Japan-only music game IA/VT. What other kinds of games do you want to create?
I want to continue the Senran Kagura and Valkyrie Drive series. Recently, I had my first child and now that I have a child of my own maybe now it is time I want to challenge myself to make a family oriented game.
What can you tell us about this family game you’re thinking of?
Maybe it will be something similar to the Pretty Cure series in Japan. I’ve always been a fan of Sailor Moon so maybe something about magical girls or girls that fight in battle, but without the fanservice aspects.
Speaking of other titles you’ve worked on, are there any plans to bring Uppers outside of Japan?
We are still working on it, but we haven’t been able to get it localized yet. It is something I want to do and I’m pushing to make it happen. Hopefully, we will have something to say in the future, but we have nothing to say at this time.
Will you ever make another Half-Minute Hero game now that you have your own studio?
Of course, I would like to make another Half-Minute Hero game, but with the studio one of my goals is to raise up some of the people that worked under me. There are several assistant producers I’ve worked with and I have been asking them to contribute ideas and we will see if we can try to make games out of them. I’ve been focusing on what the other members of my studio want to create and if one of them said we want to make another Half-Minute Hero game I would be all over it.
What ideas have you heard that piqued your interest?
Hmm… it’s a secret. You’ll just have to wait for it. [Laughs] But, there are good ideas coming.
What can you tell us about your experiments with HD Rumble on Switch?
It is difficult to make something great with HD Rumble, but the possibilities are really impressive. We are working hard on it and having fun with it.
What do you want to do with the Senran Kagura series on Switch that you haven’t been able to do before?
HD Rumble is specific to Switch and we want to make new things with it. We also want to use Switch to try out different genres and brand new kinds of games on Switch.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is actually a different kind of game too. We don’t see many third person shooter games developed in Japan and this one uses water guns.
I am a big fan of shooters and ever since Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus the Senran Kagura series has been picking up popularity in the West I thought it would be a great opportunity to try a new genre. Even though the [third person shooter] genre is not popular in Japan, because Western fans are supporting the series this is something we could use to expand the franchise and I also wanted to try something new that I wouldn’t be able to do if I was just making games for the Japanese audience.
Shooter games have a different kind of technical skill level where you’re moving an analog stick or mouse with precision to execute headshots and so forth. How did you design Peach Beach Splash to take in account for players who like Senran Kagura, but may not be familiar with the genre?
In the beginning, one of the ideas we had for making a Senran Kagura shooter was instead of having headshots we would have boobshots or buttshots. Because it is difficult to aim just right, we have wide range weapons where you can hit without precision aiming. The game does have an option to switch between auto-aim and manual aiming so people who are confident in their abilities can play that way. Other things we have done for players who aren’t familiar with the genre is adding friendly fire which is advantageous in this game. You can shoot enemies to take them down or you can shoot your teammates and power them up by making them wetter. Players who aren’t so good at the game can focus on helping out their teammates and if you shoot a teammate by accident it isn’t a bad thing.
While we were making this game, Splatoon was released and became very popular in Japan. I think the third person shooter genre is growing and it’s a fortunate coincidence we were making this game at the same time.
When you saw Splatoon’s release did you fine tune Peach Beach Splash based on your impressions of it?
Hmm…. not really. There wasn’t anything influenced by Splatoon. The original design for Peach Beach Splash was shooting the girls and getting their clothing wet. We just stuck with that idea.
There is also a card mechanic in the game that changes your abilities. Players get these cards randomly so how did you balance this system?
The main way to do it is iterating over and over again, playing the game again and again to get just the right balance. The game is already out in Japan and even after we released it we had patches that tweaked the game based on user feedback.
What card combination would you recommend for players?
There are shield cards, one for creating a shield around yourself and one for breaking other players shields. Having these in your loadout is very useful. I usually pick those and then fill the rest with attack cards.