Yoshiro Kimura is a game director with a different way of looking at the world. His 2002 PlayStation 2 game Chulip, unreleased in the U.S. until 2007 due to translation issues, puts the player in the role of a cherub who cheers up the inhabitants of a town by kissing them.
His latest game, Little King's Story, was recently released for the Nintendo Wii in North America via XSeed and Marvelous. In the game, you play as a young boy who becomes a king and must, in a strategy/simulationy sort of way, lead his townspeople to improve their kingdom and eventually take on the world.
He respects Shadow of the Colossus creator Fumito Ueda and Fable impresario Peter Molyneux -- and counts Katamari Damacy developer Keita Takahashi among his friends.
While Little King's Story hasn't gotten a lot of popular notice in the West just yet, it's a creative and appealing game with a subversive sense of humor that currently sits with a quite impressive 87 rating on Metacritic.
Gamasutra recently had the chance to talk to Kimura about his influences and inspiration for the creation of Little King's Story, as well as find out more about what direction his left-of-center development style might take in the future.
We also present pages from his sketchbook -- which he brought to our interview -- that show the games he's worked on in the past, as well as new ideas forming in his head that may become games of their own one day...
When I look at Little King's Story, it's very charming, but it's still kind of a very niche oriented game -- kind of like your PlayStation 2 game Chulip was. How can you market this kind of game, and to whom?
Yoshiro Kimura: [laughs] One of the things that I love to do, is I like to give an impression to people who play the game.
And the tendency lately is to go more realistic, make more movie-like games. But because of that, I wanted to go in the opposite direction and stand out.
I really liked the storybook graphics in the intro. I think it's really quite nice looking. I just hope that people won't think that it's only for kids.
YK: That was one of my concerns as well. The real essence of the game -- it has a lot of dark humor, ironies, and all the boss characters are unique in a way that all the adults can like look at it and enjoy it, too.
It just didn't really make sense if it was a realistic character doing those things, so we wanted to make it cute, to make those things more humorous.
I just hope that people will actually get to play it because the Wii is such a tough and oversaturated market right now.
YK: I did get a lot of the same questions with that, but I kind of made it towards the hardcore gamer in my mind, in the beginning. In the very beginning of the game, it's really simple. Everybody can start playing, but the difficulty curve just jumps up. Because the final boss is ridiculously hard.