Skies of Arcadia Legends Q&A
We catch up with Overworks to talk about its upcoming role-playing game for the GameCube.
We had the chance to catch up with Rieko Kodama, producer of the upcoming Overworks game Skies of Arcadia Legends, to find out what's in store for the game. The original Skies of Arcadia was released in November 2000 for the Dreamcast and is one of the console's finest games. Skies of Arcadia was an RPG in the mold of some of the old-school classics that many gamers cut their teeth on, which is hardly surprising when you consider Kodama's track record. A veteran member the Sega internal development team formerly known as AM7, Kodama goes way back, having served as a planner on the original Phantasy Star for the Sega Master System. Since then she's been associated with some of the company's biggest hits in Japan, such as the Sakura Taisen series. We sat down with Kodama in Japan during the Tokyo Game Show to find out how the upcoming GameCube game is coming along.
GameSpot: How has development on the GameCube version of Skies of Arcadia been going?
Rieko Kodama: We're at about 80 percent complete right now. We're bug-checking at the moment.
GS: How big is the team that's working on it?
RK: We started with about five people, but it obviously changed as development progressed. The maximum was 20 people.
GS: Was that comparable to the size of the Dreamcast team?
RK: Yes, it's about the same size.
GS: What other games have the members of the team worked on?
RK: They've worked on a number of games on the PlayStation 2 and even the GameCube to a certain extent, and the original Skies of Arcadia on the Dreamcast.
GS: Are you using any of the Dreamcast code for the GameCube version?
RK: Well, I can't go into too much detail, because it's confidential. We are using some, so it's not entirely new, but it's been changed for the GameCube.
GS: Have there been any challenges in bringing the game to the GameCube?
RK: Because of the hardware differences between the Dreamcast and GameCube, there were some technical issues in bringing the graphics over, but we managed to work through them.
GS: Were you able to preserve the high visual quality of the Dreamcast version, specifically the color?
RK: Yes, almost perfectly, I think. However, the colors are slightly different between the two versions. It's not on purpose, but because of the hardware differences, the colors have sometimes been changed slightly. The GameCube's polygon-processing power has also allowed us to do some new things visually as well.
GS: Will the game have progressive scan support?
RK: No, not this time.
GS: Will it have Dolby Pro Logic II support for its audio?
RK: No, we wanted to do both of those things, but time was tight.
GS: What kind of graphical enhancements can we expect from the GameCube version as a result of the powerful hardware?
RK: Basically, there aren't tremendous differences, but the characters will benefit from the extra polygons.
GS: What can you tell me about the game's content? How much of it will be what we played on the Dreamcast, and how much will be new?
RK: Well, you'll encounter some new characters, and the reputation system will work slightly differently in the GameCube game--we're going to expand on it. You'll also have a new kind of fish to collect that will be a challenge.
More GameCube Enhancements
GS: How much of the original team is working on the additions to the game?
RK: All the same members are working on it.
GS: Should we view Skies of Arcadia Legend as a "director's cut" or a sequel to the original game?
RK: I'd say it's best to think of it as a director's cut. We've added some things to the game to expand on the original Dreamcast version.
GS: Why did you decide to make the additions that you did?
RK: User demand. We listened to feedback from fans of the original game and decided to add new collectible items to make it more appealing to Japanese children.
GS: How are you handling finding the chams to feed Cupil without a VMU?
RK: We're doing that in a few ways. You'll hear beeping from the television and feel the controller vibrate. You'll also notice that Cupil's animation will change and see the chams onscreen now.
GS: Will he still evolve the same way?
GS: Will the game feature any online functionality, such as downloadable elements for the game?
RK: We're not going to have online components in the game, but we're going to make sure to include that content in the game. It will be up to players to find it.
GS: Will there be more content in the GameCube version?
RK: We're thinking about some things right now.
GS: Will there still be a Pinta's Quest minigame?
RK: No, that won't be included.
GS: Will the game have any kind of connectivity?
RK: No, not this time.
GS: Have you ever thought of doing a Game Boy Advance game of Skies of Arcadia?
RK: Yes, it's something I've thought about.
GS: Aside from the new game content, will there be new pieces of music as well?
RK: Yes, we'll have several pieces of new music.
GS: Will there be any changes in how the game plays in the GC version? Will the combat still be turn-based? Will the exploration work the same?
RK: Yes, we've added some things, as I mentioned, but the core gameplay will stay the same.
GS: Will we see a Skies of Arcadia 2?
RK: Yes, we would like to do another one.
GS: How do you feel about the original game's performance?
RK: In terms of Japan, because the Dreamcast's target user age was high, I think maybe the game didn't connect with that audience.
GS: What are you proudest of in the original Dreamcast game?
RK: Everything was created by the members of Overworks. I was most proud that we created everything ourselves--every aspect of that world came from us.
GS: What did you learn from that experience?
RK: Well, it isn't something I've learned, per se, but the process of game creation is very hard, even though it's a pleasure for me to do. It's something I experienced from the process of making Arcadia from scratch with the team. It's different from making games using established licenses. It's gamble to do something original because you don't know how users will react to it, but it's a great experience for me to do something from scratch.
GS: Thanks for your time, Rieko.