The Pomona based publisher first came on my radar when they released Raiden III. I really started to keep a close eye on them when we discovered GameFly listings for The Monkey King and Kiki Kai World. Fast forward a year and Heavenly Guardian (aka Kiki Kai World) is half out the door. The PS2 version is out, the Wii version is coming along with the Monkey King: The Legend Begins in the future.
Inside UFO Interactive’s mothership, I had a chance to speak with Michael Yum, Assistant Project Manager at UFO Interactive, about the two games and address a few rumors. One of them deals with the Monkey King 2 and the other Elminage.
The discussion began with the back history on Heavenly Guardian.
How did UFO Interactive release a PlayStation 2 version of Heavenly Guardian? I thought Star Fish only released the Wii version in Japan.
We bought the rights to the US Kiki Kai Kai title for the Wii. When Square Enix took away the rights, we changed the games characters and backgrounds. Since we owned the rights to the US release, we can control which platforms they will release on. Japan opted not to release it on the PS2 and we brought it here as an exclusive.
Are there any differences between the PS2 build and the Wii version?
The only difference between the two version are the controls. The Wii version has an extra Wii Remote feature that lets you flick the Wii Remote in a direction to perform the blizzard in that same direction.
Did UFO Interactive make any changes to the US version of Yukinko Daisenpuu?
There are no differences between the US and Japanese versions. We had the text translated and it was a straight port.
Why did UFO Interactive change the game's name from Kiki Kai World to Heavenly Guardian?
We had to change the title because the Kiki Kai World sounded too much like Kiki Kai Kai. We didn’t want any problems with Square Enix and felt a new title would best fit the game.
I noticed the Monkey King went through some cover art changes. Is the core game being altered from the Japanese version?
The Monkey King game has went through a lot. First off, the game was supposed to release last year. We pushed the game further into Q2, 2008 so we can expand the marketing strategies. The American audience was just not aware of the Monkey King character so we felt that releasing the game after a new movie which I cannot say, would help people recognize the character. The actual game play is perfectly intact and has not been changed. Just to let you know something on the side that has not been released yet, the US version of the game will feature stuff not seen in the Japanese version. There is an added Reverse Mode and a new stage. You are the first to know.
When will we see the Monkey King in stores? How much will it cost?
The Monkey King still does not have a concrete release date, but we are certain on a Q2 2008 release. We still do not have a retail price point, but are leaning towards $19.99.
I saw UFO Creative Group in Hong Kong is working on "the Monkey King 2". Can you tell us anything about it?
They are developing new concepts for a possible sequel.
What about "Mini Chinese Restaurant" for the Nintendo DS?
The Mini Chinese Delivery game is something that is not associated with us.
What is UFO Interactive’s relationship with Starfish? It seems like you are publishing a lot of their titles.
We work very closely with Starfish and publish their games in the US.
I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but a number of gamers are hoping for a localization of Elminage. Are you working on one?
We have not heard of Elminage. Thanks for the heads up and we will be sure to look at this title. We are currently expanding in a fast rate and looking for games of all nature. We will be making some announcements soon for our future titles. There are a lot of surprises for hardcore fans.
Is UFO Interactive internally developing any titles?
UFO Interactive is currently publishing titles and looking into development.