3DS | Ubisoft / AQ Interactive | 1 Player | Out Now
26th June 2011; By KnucklesSonic8
This month saw the overseas release of Cubic Ninja, a game developed in Japan by AQ Interactive. During the time leading up to its launch, though, I was already intrigued by the idea of this quirky title thanks in part to the cheesy promotional commercials created for the game. So I decided to get in touch with the development team to find out more about Cubic Ninja, not only for the benefit of our readers but also because I, too, wanted to learn more about this relatively obscure project. Project Director Ken Awata was kind enough to answer my list of questions in preparation for the game's release. If you're like me and have had looming questions about the game's structure, I'm sure you'll appreciate the following Q&A.
Ken: I was the Director on Cubic Ninja. It took about two months to get from the game's initial concept to the start of actual development, and then it was another six months after that to complete it.
So what's the main premise of the game?
It's an action game about a square, box-shaped ninja who infiltrates a fortress full of traps and other gimmicks to rescue a kidnapped princess.
Sounds fun! So, for the benefit of those that don't already know, how is the game controlled? And what sorts of special features will be incorporated?
The controls are really simple! All you have to do to play is move the 3DS system in your hands. My four-year-old son was able to pick it up right away and instantly started having fun rolling the ninja around. Other features in the game include a time attack mode and a level editor for making your own custom levels.
You'll unlock new characters as you clear the game's levels. There's a rubber ninja, a heavy ninja, a slippery ninja, and so forth. The slippery ninja is very useful for the time attack mode, although it can be difficult to get him to stop moving!
You'll also unlock the traps that are featured in levels as you beat them, allowing you access to those traps in the level editor.
What would you say is the game's most unique or endearing feature? You know, besides the quirky hero!
The most important feature is the control method. While there are other games that use left and right tilting controls, in Cubic Ninja you can also move the character toward and away from the screen. It's also a lot of fun watching someone else play the game. Because of its unique controls, you can always tell right away when someone is playing Cubic Ninja.
The main character is, essentially, just a simple cube. His shape was chosen specifically for how it works with the game's simulated physics-based gameplay. Starting with the basic cube shape, we added beveled edges, subtle curvature to the sides, etc., to give the character a more interesting look. As a result, I think we came up with a pleasing character design that can be easily drawn by anyone, including children.
Our motif for game environments was modern, European-style furniture. We didn't compromise on shapes or lighting, and really took care to make sure the finished visuals looked natural on the 3DS' LCD screen.
We also worked to create audio that would blend in naturally with the gameplay. I feel we were able to produce music tracks that feel good to listen to, and don't grow tiring even with extended play. For this I'm very grateful to our sound creator! As for the character voices, more than a few people have asked me with surprise, "THIS is what a cubic ninja sounds like?!" :D
To use the level editor, first you set the basic boundaries of your level, and then you place traps inside of it. You can navigate the editor with either the 3DS' buttons or touch screen, whichever you like. Although I'm sorry to say you can't navigate it with the motion controls...
When you've made a level, you can convert it into a QR Code, which is a kind of two-dimensional bar code. If another player scans your QR Code with their 3DS' camera, they can play your level. It's really simple.
What sort of potential do you think this title carries in comparison to other 3DS titles, and how do you predict Western audiences will respond to this new IP?
Of all the new features of the 3DS, we focused on its motion controls for Cubic Ninja. We want to show players that the 3DS is capable of other cool stuff, besides its 3D visuals! I suspect that Western players like moving their bodies more than Japanese players do, so I hope they fully enjoy "grooving out" to the gameplay. And I think the sharp, cute design of our little ninja protagonist will appeal to the perceptive tastes of players in the West (and especially in the UK).
And finally, is there anything else about the game you'd like to share with our readers?
Sure! I'd really like to share some of our original illustrations of CC, the main character.
Thank you so much, Ken, for your informative answers and thank you also to Abbass Hussain for organizing this opportunity for us! I recently received a review copy of this game courtesy of Ubisoft, so you can look forward to a full review of Cubic Ninja in the coming weeks ahead. So now that that's settled, I say it's time I get to playing, don't you? I hope you guys enjoyed our interview!