We talk with Sega developer Wow Entertainment about its upcoming GBA, GameCube, and Xbox titles.
While Wow Entertainment is a new name in the gaming industry--it was officially christened a short while ago when Sega's various teams were spun off from the main company--its work speaks for itself. Originally known as AM1, Wow has amassed an impressive body of work over the years. Its arcade titles include the House of the Dead series, Sega Bass Fishing, Sega Strike Fighter, Wild Riders, Vampire Night (for which it teamed up with Namco), and a dog-walking sim. Its recent console offerings have included Sports Jam, Alien Front Online, Sega Bass Fishing 2, and the upcoming Vampire Night port for the PlayStation 2. In addition, given Sega's new business model, the company will be branching out to develop on all gaming platforms. House of the Dead 3 is on its way to the Xbox, and a new version of the Sega puzzler Columns, dubbed Columns Crown, will find its way to the Game Boy Advance soon.
We were able to chat with President and CEO Rikiya Nakagawa at Wow's offices in Shibuya about Wow's current plans for multiconsole development. Thanks to Rikiya Nakagawa, Noriko Yamada, Takuya Tsunomura, Shinobu Shindo, Yusuke Suai, and Gwen Marker for their time.
GameSpot: Why did you decide to develop for the Game Boy Advance?
Rikiya Nakagawa: Sega was a hardware maker, and we had to support our hardware. So it was a dream of ours to make games for handhelds.
GS: What kind of support will Wow give the Game Boy Advance?
RN: We are working on two titles for the GBA at this point.
GS: In addition to Columns or including it?
GS: What is the other game?
RN: A pinball type of game based on the House of the Dead world. It's still in development.
GS: How long did it take to develop Columns Crown for the GBA?
RN: Almost six months.
GS: What were your goals when making Columns Crown for the GBA?
RN: Additional features, which are so important. Arcade games let you play just one game for three minutes on one coin. But consumer games require [players] to pay some amount of money. So, to satisfy them, we have to add variety to the game.
GS: So will you have a set plan for supporting the GBA?
RN: At the moment, we can do a lot of things for a lot of hardware. We're currently doing two titles for GBA, but it may change depending on the situation.
GS: What's it like working with the GBA hardware?
RN: Well, the advantage of the hardware is that players can take it anywhere, so we want to make a game that's easy to play anywhere, like an airplane, hotel, and [places] like that. And [since] the GBA has the potential to be connected to the GameCube, making one or two games for the GBA will be a good study to understand the potential for a GameCube game.
GS: Speaking of the GameCube, is Wow working on anything for that console?
RN: What I can tell you right now is that Wow is now working on two titles for the GameCube. I think you'll hear something on [one of] these in the future. The other is in the beginning development stage, so I can't talk about it.
GS: But these are original titles?
GS: How would you feel about porting over some of your arcade games? Wild Riders, for example.
RN: Well, talking about Wild Riders, a direct [port] from the original arcade game is not so appealing for the consumer market. So if Wow really makes consumer games based on WR, we'll have to spend a lot of resources to think about giving it additional features. So we're considering it, but we're not sure if we'll do it.
GS: How will you balance arcade and home console game development? Or are you focusing only on one of them?
RN: As you know, Wow is now working on various hardware and porting to home consoles. I just don't want to settle on one platform because we want to do a lot of things. We want to have flexibility. A puzzle game, for example, would be a good title for a portable system or home console. But an arcade game may not be as good a fit if you do a direct conversion for the home console, because home console games need a lot of additional consumer modes. So when I select each game and the platform it would be on, I want flexibility.
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