Konami talks Turtles
9th Jun 2003 | 14:27
Konami may have acquired a reputation as something of a serious developer over the last few years, with moody epics like Metal Gear Solid and the Silent Hill series, but nonetheless the cutting edge Japanese publishers retains a playful touch.
Early 90s nostalgia buffs, readers of the original "dark" comic, or perhaps just people who like to use the phrase "Cowabunga" in conversation will no doubt have been delighted by the news that Konami is to create another videogame based upon the fleetingly stratospheric Ninja Turtles.
Coming to every format imaginable in October, could 2003 turn out to belatedly be the year of the Turtle? We collared Yuji Kojima, director of the new project, and Yasushi Kawasaki, Producer, to learn just what to expect from the new title.
Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a straight forward action title, or will it have adventure elements that add depth to the experience?
The basic storyline will be based on the new US TV animation series. But there will also be some original story elements, too.
Where does it fit into the Turtles series? Does it take place before or after the events we've already seen?
It's based on the TV animation series, so it's the beginning - they have the Foot ninja clan characters, they're still fighting against Shredder - those parts are adapted from the TV show.
Has the new game been influenced by the classic arcade game in any way?
You fight using a simple configuration which lets you do lots of moves, that's the main thing they adapted from the arcade game. The team behind this game is new, but there are advisors who worked on the arcade game helping out.
Obviously the Turtles have been around for a while - why does Konami think they're still relevent to gamers in 2003?
The first reason is that the new TV series proves people are still interested. This animation is different from the older show: it's darker, cooler, more serious, and they focus on the Turtles as dark heroes, rather than the funny, silly charcaters from before. So with that content they're targetting older kids, 8-14 years old, and they decided to adopt that more serious content into a videogame.
What technology does the game use?
It's Renderware, as developed by UK company Criterion. I think it's one of the first times that Criterion's technology has been used by another company.
So are the Turtles popular again in Japan?
They're not as popular in Japan, but we're focusing more on the US market as well as the European market.
Are there plans to incorporate connectivity between GameCube and GBA versions of the game? That seems to be in fashion at the moment.
There will be a password system for use when linking up between 'Cube and GBA. There will be a hidden mode but I can't say any more.
Obviously cel-shading is very popular at the moment with lots of companies doing it - we're just wondering if Konami is planning on doing anything different with the Turtles game to make it stand out from the crowd?
The reason why we used cel-shading is they we want to look closer to the TV series. We're not thinking of trying to do something especially different from the other publishers.
We've been told there will be a two-player option, but is there a chance of simultaneous four-player action?
Basically they're thinking about concentrating on the two-player mode - the main reason for this is scheduling...
What does the multiplayer entail - is it fighting each other, fighting enemies - what can we expect?
Besides the main adventure there's a Vs mode where you can fight your friends. So there are some hidden moves that you can use to fight against your enemies.
Can we expect Zelda-style depth to the cel-shaded graphics?
We used a Kung Fu master for the motion capture, which looks very smooth. Cel-shading is a very challenging process because making the background look real leads to problems with the look of the character. So they really made the backgrounds look like the TV backgrounds.
What is it about the Turtles that makes them appealing to TV and videogame audiences?
At the beginning of the project we received all of the material to do with the Turtles from Mirage Studios, and as we read the comic we learnt about the four main characters, how cool they are, how funny they are, and we really got into the story.
So we understood that there are hardcore Turtle fans who are into that story rather than the looks. The looks of the Turtles are not that appealing when you first see them, but as you read the content of the story you like it.
What do you think about Sony's handheld PSP console?
I'm not sure about the US market, but in the Japanese market you have to take a train to work, and there are many people who would enjoy using it to kill time. So it will be a big hit in Japan, I think.