I also thought the graphics were really easy to see because of all the contrast. The characters are simple geometric shapes, they're easy to see. Is that another concern you had when designing the game visually?
TK: I actually didn't give all that much thought to visibility. (laughs)
TK: The goal was more to create a bright, cheerful game world. I did have one other reason for wanting to go with 2D graphics, though.
Complex 3D games were really the norm at the time, and we had this large character and wanted to keep the controls simple.
With 3D, you have to worry about things like getting the camera behind the character, or whether or not to give camera control to the player, and you wind up with a lot of superfluous controls.
Going 2D was my attempt to side-step all of that.
And this was mostly to appeal to the audience you were looking for, and to appeal to your own vision? Is that how you decided on these things?
TK: Well, this was the first game I'd been in charge of designing from start to finish. I mean, I've been tinkering around on PCs making little things since I was a kid, but this was the first game I'd designed as a product for sale.
One thing I've kept with me from childhood, though, is a desire to make something that would take the people of the world by surprise. I'd wanted to work for a game company ever since grade school, and it was around this time I first started making games in BASIC on the PC. I'd have my friends play them, and then ask what they thought.
What games inspired you at such a young age to want to become a game creator?
TK: There were a couple of Japanese games for the PC like Hydlide and Xanadu, as well as a text adventure game for Apple computers called Transylvania.
You know, the type of game where you enter a noun and a verb to say, "Do this with this." It had werewolves and all sorts of good stuff in it. At any rate, I had a lot of games. (laughs)
What was it about games as a medium that inspired you? What about games made you think they would be something you could use to surprise people?
TK: When I first had that impulse to create something that would take people by surprise, I wasn't thinking about games specifically. Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved inventing things, like making little robots and things. That movie from the 80s, Short Circuit, starred a robot, and it really made an impression on me.
That was one of my favorites when I was a kid, too.
TK: I heard each one of those robots cost about $160,000 to make. I actually ended up making a robot of my own, based on the one from Short Circuit. I brought it to school to show my friends, and people flipped out over it, which I thought was cool.
What's funny, is that the games you listed are relatively complicated games like RPGs or text adventures, but LocoRoco is so simple and easily understood, it lacks that hardcore sensibility. I just find it interesting, how you got from enjoying games like Xanadu to making a game like LocoRoco.
TK: Well, I've been a big fan of games since way back, but I also sort of kept an eye on the industry. From where I stood, it seemed like a lot of the games coming out were very similar to each other, and that didn't seem like a good thing to me.
Once I entered the industry myself, I felt like I had a responsibility to create something new. I remember feeling that really strongly: that I had to do something, anything, so long as it was different.