Umihara Kawase game designer Kiyoshi Sakai recently found two prototypes of the game made on Sharp’s X68000 computer, and uploaded a video detailing the development history of the original game. [Thanks, DenFamiNicoGamer!]
According to Sakai, the original vision for Umihara Kawase was completely different compared to the current series formula, with the only connection being Umihara Kawase’s design as that was the first thing decided upon.
Back in March of 1992, Umihara Kawase’s first prototype was created as something of a ripoff of Dig Dug, but featuring the overhead view of Dig Dug II. There would be rivers and lakes in each level, and the player would have to dig trenches where water would flow and defeat the monsters in each stage. Umihara Kawase was also going to be able to shoot water at the enemies while standing in the river, although this idea never made it into the prototype. The prototype was ultimately scrapped as it was too intensive on the computer to let the player make their own waterways.
The second prototype was made in April 1992, and the map was made to be more maze-like in a Tower of Druaga fashion. Players would still be able to change the way the water would move to defeat enemies by destroying walls to change the path of the water.
Umihara Kawase would also be able to jump and defeat enemies by jumping on their heads, then throwing them off the sides of the stage. However, this prototype idea was also scrapped, as it still didn’t seem fun enough.
After this, Sakai then decided to scrap the whole ‘using water to rush away and defeat enemies’ concept, choosing to go with more basic but technical gameplay.
Instead of having Umihara Kawase shoot enemies, Sakai settled upon the idea of her grabbing enemies and reeling them in with a hook. After also thinking up other functions the hook could be used for if attached to walls or the ceiling, the base for Umihara Kawase’s final game design was completed.
Check out the prototypes in motion below:
Umihara Kawase was released for the Super Famicom and PC.