Gamasutra had a chance to talk to Konami's Castlevania
series producer Koji "IGA" Igarashi at the recent GameStop Expo trade event in Las Vegas - the retail employee-only event which included a Konami presence in its considerable layout
During the course of this interview, IGA, who started his association with the Castlevania
series with Symphony Of The Night
and has since worked on multiple titles in the series, including the acclaimed Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
, discusses new DS projects, XBLA possibilities, and Odin Sphere
's 2D success.
So how did you find out about the GameStop Expo, and what made you want to come to it?
This discussion first came from our sales team at Konami Digital Entertainment US, and they requested that I attend, because they thought that it would promote the game more, and that it would matter to the core fans of the franchise -- that it would be a good idea to come.
You're just about the only developer that is here, and you were stuck signing autographs for a very long time. Were you happy to see the fans?
A lot more people lined up for my signature than I could ever imagine, and I think they're really happy!
Since the Castlevania series is most popular in the U.S., do you think that it's very important to come and to meet the fans like this?
Yes, like you said, the U.S. market is the biggest for the franchise so I do think that it is very important to come.
Now, the last time we spoke was around the time of GDC, in March, and you were talking about how Dracula X Chronicles was sort of an experiment to see if a linear-style Castlevania could work. Now that you are probably about done with development, and it's coming out soon, how do you think the experiment worked?
It's been in development, and hasn't been released yet, but I do think that it has been a successful experiment. Obviously, though, the final success factor will be how well it sells. I'm hoping it'll sell well.
From a development perspective, the American audience is a tough audience. Taking the cross-cultural development into account, is that a challenge for you? How do you consider appealing to an American audience when you're working from Japan?
Of course I listen to users in America, and their feedback. Actually, I listen to feedback from everywhere. But I don't develop games based on the markets; I develop games based on what I find exciting. I just develop based on what I love.
A lot of these classic series that have been with us for many years have been coming back to us, either on Xbox Live or on Virtual Console, but it seems to the gamers who love them like them the way they were, and obviously Castlevania has had a few struggles trying to update on the PlayStation 2. Do you have a path started yet, for what you want to do in the future?
Based on 3D, or 2D, or...?
Anything. How do you bring it forward from here?
The bottom line is that the Castlevania
series is an action-based game. My main goal is to improve upon that, and that is something that I am always thinking of and discussing; how to do that, to get to the next step.
In terms of Konami right now, as a publisher, are you satisfied right now with their support? That, working within the "confines" of Konami, can you do what you want to do with the series?
Right now, I want to make the Castlevania
franchise into something bigger. In that sense, Konami has supported me.
At GDC you gave a speech that 2D is not dead; the speech was very well attended, and everyone seemed to love it, but is the DS the only place we're gonna find that? Even the PSP typically has 3D graphics and 2D gameplay. What is the future of 2D gaming? Do you think that it will bounce back? Like Odin Sphere, which I'm sure you have heard a little bit about, surprised everyone by being a 2D game. Does that surprise you? Do you think that it can happen again?
First, in regards to Odin Sphere
: yes, that was a very great game that was very successful. I think that it was popular not because it was an action game; it got more popular because of the characters. I think that's what made the game, so while it did surprise me, and it did really well, and I'm happy for it, I don't really consider it a 2D action game. Then, in regards to the DS and 2D gameplay: Odin Sphere
is one way of doing it, but to do something like that on next-gen hardware, a next-gen console, it is very difficult. Maybe right now, with the downloadable content like Xbox Live, I think that is a new avenue that we can keep an eye on.
Obviously there is a lot of speculation and wondering what could happen to the Castlevania series; anything from packaged software for the PS3, to an Xbox Live game. It's up in the air right now? Obviously you haven't announced anything, but how do you see it?
Right now we have a DS team working on something that we hopefully can discuss more in the future. In recent times, most of the Castlevania
releases have been on handhelds, so that is something that we have to consider.
I'm asking not just from the perspective of one who is interested in Castlevania, but from the perspective of developers who want to make 2D games. To keep them alive, what do you think would be the way to go?
A lot of people think of 2D development as something that's simple, and very easily done, but think of all the assets, all of the small details, all of the little things that make it a really good game.
I was at the Microsoft GameFest, and they had amateur games that were made by indie developers; one guy, James Silva, made a game called The Dishwasher -- a 2D action game, with a guy that has multiple, different weapons. Now, it's not gonna be as good as Dawn of Sorrow, probably, but at the same time it shows that it can be done. What do you have to say for the people working like that? To prove they can do it, and that there's a future in 2D gaming?
If you are a small guy, just developing, then just develop something that you love!