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Pandora's Tower interview - we want players to feel Elena's suffering

The director of Pandora's Tower explains how he came up with the idea while eating his lunch

Tomoko Nakayama:

In order for the player to get immersed into the game and its world, we avoided using many characters and creating a complex story. We put a lot of effort into Elena's lines in the Japanese version of course, but the European version has received the same treatment as well. With the Japanese version we learned that depending on the voice actress and by using slightly different expressions and tones for each line, the feelings that the players have toward Elena can change. So for the European version, after discussing it with the staff at Nintendo of Europe, we decided to consolidate Elena's character by performing many re-recordings, without limiting our options to a voice recorded only once.

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Elena is suffering from an ancient curse that is slowly mutating her into a monster, and the only way that Aeron can save her is to feed her the hearts of 13 guardians that reside within a sinister series of towers. What was the inspiration behind this dark story?

Toru Haga:

The story is based on the classic idea where you start an adventure in order to save somebody that you love, and then go back to your ordinary life once it's over. We thought that it was important to have a basic structure like this, where many people can easily understand and feel attached to the story.

Then, when we had to think about what the player should save her from, we came up with the idea of the monster curse. Her pain can be perceived from the outside, so we thought that this was a good way to have the players imagine what she's going through and to genuinely feel like they want to save her.

We adopted the idea of eating monster meat as well as an element to give the players a better understand her agony. Actually I came up with this idea while eating my lunch on a Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train). Eating is an ordinary action for everybody, so I thought that it would have been an element that the players could identify with.

I think that we've succeeded in making players understand Elena's suffering by showing her painfully eating the meat.

Can you tell us more about the towers that you fight in

Toru Haga:

The first three towers are based on the image of wood, earth and water, and later on there are other towers that represent fire and metal. This is a reference to the Asian 'Wu Xing' (Five Phases). The 'Yin and Yang' is also a part of this motif, and there are towers that feature together the 'front' and 'back' of all the five elements mentioned before. We have prepared some puzzles related to this motif that you should definitely try out.

Tomoko Nakayama:

The towers will gradually become bigger, with stronger enemies and more complex traps. However, you will still have to go back on a regular basis to the Observatory for Elena. Mr. Haga has explained the 'Yin and Yang' (front and back) motif, and I'd like the players to pay attention to the tower's main design, where the first half is based on the male image, and the second half is based on the female image. The towers based on the female image are actually those with stronger enemies...well, which means that women are stronger then men (laughs).

Rather than a basic action-RPG, Pandora's Tower lets you bind and lasso enemies with the Oraclos Chain. How did Ganbarion come up with this innovative use for the Wii Remote?

Toru Haga:

The chain idea came up while discussing about what we should focus the action part of this game on. At that time we wanted something that could let you do many things with simple controls, and the chain ended up being the best solution as it can be used to move, to fight and to trigger gimmicks around the stage.

It also proved to be a proper solution for making good use of the Wii Remote, as you can take aim with the pointer and swing around/throw thanks to the accelerometer. Because of this I think we were able to provide a higher degree of freedom in the action with a set of new refreshing controls.

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3 comments so far...
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  1. callum2003 Tuesday 10th Apr 2012 at 16:20

    Looks a bit gruesome to me

  2. RedDwarf Tuesday 10th Apr 2012 at 21:18

    Great reading, Will be buying this for sure just not as soon as It comes out.

  3. benjymc Wednesday 11th Apr 2012 at 20:46

    Wow this game looks deep. I like games that try to make you feel for the character, you enjoy the game much more when you feel that you can connect to them but this sounds pretty dramatic too.

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