As you might remember if you read our review of the game last month, Little King's Story had some serious development pedigree working behind the scenes. The game counts luminaries from Super Mario RPG, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy XII, Dragon Quest VIII and Mario & Luigi among its development team. The man responsible for coming up with the idea and bringing this dream team together is no slouch either, being one of the most influential figures in the Japanese gaming industry. As well as creating the absurdly successful Harvest Moon series, Yasuhiro Wada is also the director of Marvelous Entertainment, the company responsible for No More Heroes among many other classics. We sat down with him to find out more about how Little King's Story was created.
ONM: How did the idea for Little King's Story first come about?
Yasuhiro Wada: The original idea was mine. The final game we developed is based on that original idea but it was mostly conceived by Kimura-san and the development team. I had been involved in the planning until the basic prototype was made but after that, I left it all up to the development team until the fine-tuning at the end.
ONM: How did you go about putting the team together? Was there anyone you wanted on the project who said no?
YW: First of all, I talked with Miyagawa-san from CiNG and invited Yasunaga-san who created World Neverland (a cult PlayStation life sim) as a planner. After that, I invited Kimura-san on as a producer to let him lead the project and he invited Yoko Shimomura for the music, Kaiba-san for the design and Kurashima-san, and the other staff. Nobody said no because they are all my old friends. I think I put together the ideal team!
ONM: What games did you look to for inspiration? An easy comparison can be made with Pikmin. Are you a fan of that game?
YW: I think my original idea was more inspired by Sim City or Age of Empire. Pikmin is a great game and made the real time strategy genre understandable and approachable for consumers. I love it but, to be honest, I don't think it was in my thoughts. You might think Little King's Story has some similar elements to Pikmin but I'd say the fact that both games try to make real time strategy accessible is the main thing that they have in common. The battles are one of the important parts of the game but it's not as if it is all of the game. You can also enjoy building your kingdom and the fantastic story too.
ONM: How easy was the development process? How long did the game take to make from start to finish?
YW: We had a tough time in development. It took two and a half years, meaning we added one more than we originally scheduled. It's actually more than three years if you include the planning time too.
ONM: We really love the character design in the game. Where did the team get their ideas from? What was the thought process?
YW: Thank you. To tell you the truth, in Japan, I've heard some people say that the game's target audience is unfocused because the character design looks like it's aimed at casual gamers while the design of the gameplay looks like it's for core gamers. Kimura-san was responsible for the character design. He had the motif of a European puppet play always in mind and he tried to create the characters based on that, so that as many people as possible in the world could relate to it and enjoy it. I am very proud of his work, as well as Kaiba-san and Kurashima-san who did the actual graphic design.