In an interview with 4Gamer, Bokujou Monogatari creator and Happy Birthdays developer Yasuhiro Wada talked about some “game-like” changes made from Birthdays the Beginning to Happy Birthdays, and later on talked about why he left Grasshopper Manufacture to create Toybox.
Here’s the highlights:
4Gamer: I see. So as a ‘renewal’, what sort of elements were added? Earlier, you mentioned making things easier to understand…
Yasuhiro Wada: “In Birthdays the Beginning, I wanted to make something that was very simple, but rather than a game, if ended up feeling more like a simulator. That is great for people who enjoy things playing out in front of them, but I received requests and feedback for more game-like elements. That’s why this time clear objectives have been provided.”
4Gamer: And that is the Happy Star system, then.
Wada: “That’s right. In the previous game, by picking up randomly spawned items, it would drastically change the environment in some way, but this time it has all been changed to “Skills”. Star Energy is required to use Skills, and by progressing in the game, it slowly builds up.”
Later on, Wada discussed the addition of a Navigation System to the game which tells players the exact requirements to get particular creature species, and the different mindset that the current generation of gamers have compared to his more old-school way of thinking.
4Gamer: Oh, that’s true. I remember needing to go through a lot of trial-and-error in Birthdays the Beginning.
Wada: “The game was designed that way not out of malicious intent, but so that players would not be confused by too much information at once, which was why as much was hidden as possible. However, in the end it just led to the difficulty of the game increasing. With the Navigation System, you are able to see all the information needed for particular living creatures to be born.”
4Gamer: So it’s now easier to aim for particular creatures. Still, I feel that it might be too forgiving now. Isn’t there fun in finding out the particular requirements for yourself?
Wada: “That’s right. I felt the same way, and in the previous game, I couldn’t get out of that particular way of thinking. However, that might be an outdated way of looking at things. The goal of this game is to have as many people play the game as possible, so in order to better match the tastes of current gamers, all the information is displayed. This is because the core part of the game isn’t in that aspect, and so it’s not like the game will be less fun as a result.”
Finally, Wada revealed a bit about why he left both Marvelous and Grasshopper Manufacture to create Toybox.
4Gamer: What caused you to leave Marvelous?
Wada: “While I felt that game creation was my job, Marvelous operates on a hierarchy of experience, and gradually I was forced to take a more managing role. Then, I was completely cut off from developing games myself, and was stuck in a dilemma. During this situation, Goichi Suda from Grasshopper Manufacture invited me to make games together, and I changed companies.”
4Gamer: That’s right, before Toybox, you worked at Grasshopper Manufacture.
Wada: “Yes. Around that period of time, Grasshopper was making several big titles like Shadow of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw. Although I changed companies in order to go hands-on with development, with the abundance of creators already at Grasshopper I ended up taking a managerial role.”
4Gamer: So you couldn’t develop games like you wanted to.
Wada: “With that experience, I realized that at my age and with my resume I would end up taking a managerial role no matter what. Yet I still wanted to make games, so I thought that the only way would be to create my own company, which we now know as Toybox.”
It is interesting to contrast Wada’s experience in hindsight with his statements from back when he worked at Grasshopper, in an interview with Siliconera back in 2010. He also talked about his game creation philosophy in an Ask-Me-Anything on Reddit in 2016.
Happy Birthdays releases in North America on June 5, 2018 for Nintendo Switch. It releases in Europe on June 8, and a few months earlier in Japan on March 29.