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The Magic Obelisk

WiiWare | Game Arts | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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6th September 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

The Magic Obelisk was considered, by many, to be a unique puzzle-platforming experience when it hit the WiiWare service. I thought highly of it when it came out, and it's still one of the most impressive titles to ever arrive on this platform. And so, it was such a privilege for me to be able to communicate with the developers about this project they worked on. Here are the answers to the questions I posed.

Could you tell us a little bit about the team?
Takahiro: We are all very fond of games. During lunch time, we get together to play some times fighting games and other times RPG with portable game machine. Some of our staff are absorbed in social applications. 
We are also very good friends with each other in private. We go to see movies together, taking trips, and going on tour by car. 
Such staff is developing games together, bringing new and interesting ideas with them.

What was your inspiration behind this project?
Originally, one of our graphic designers likes the shape of shadow made by the light of candle and watching its wavering. From there, the idea of character moving in the shadow was made, and after that, we elaborated it as game design. 
And, this is the concept art that our graphic designer initially drew. The project began from this concept art.

Could you tell us a little bit about the game for those that are unaware of it?
The main character of this game, Lukus, is a tree spirit who can only move around while in the shadow. He lives in the world where many spirits and animals are all living together in harmony, and he is gifted with the ability to transform into trees and can't wait to use his power to help somebody in the world. He wants to travel the world to find the perfect spot to take root and become a tree---but the problem is, he can only move around while in the shadow.

So, Lukus travels with a tree spirit named Popo, who is a light spirit and can move around stages freely, without worrying about light and shadow. Popo can shine his light near the mysterious obelisks to create shadows so that Lukus can walk to continue the journey. 

There are more than 30 stages, and it will be your mission to take control of Popo throughout the game and guide Lukus to each stage’s goal while moving only within the shadow. You can help him by shining your light near the mysterious Magic Obelisks, allowing you to create and connect shadows.

If you are having trouble moving the guide cursor to where I want to make a shadow, try to move Popo to the opposite side from where you want to make a shadow. The light from Popo's body, cast against the magic obelisks, is what creates shadows. Think about controlling Popo, rather than controlling the shadows of the magic obelisks.

Do you think the game shares some similarities with games like Klonoa?
We feel the part of the game that the main character goes on journey with a spirit friend and by being helped by such a travel companion is similar to the game like Klonoa. However, what’s unique about The Magic Obelisk is that player does not control directly the main character, Lukus. As mentioned before, you take control of a light spirit and Lukus’ travel companion, Popo. Controlling Popo to make shadows in which Lukus can move and guiding AI controlled Lukus to each stage’s goal is what this game is all about. I think there isn’t any same type of game available in the market now.

What aspect of the game are you most proud of?
There are a lot of them, so it is difficult to pick one up. However, we believe the new game system is the one, that is, leading to the goal main character who can only move in the shadow, by making shadows with the control of light.

Did you have any fears going into final release, especially in terms of market potential?
We have some concern of whether the game created by ourselves is accepted by players. We feel that it is worthwhile to try a new system of game instead of conventional system of controlling characters directly.

What motivated you to bring this title outside of Japan?
We want this game to be played by not only players in Japan but also those in varieties of countries. It is our belief that fan factor of game is borderless.

What were some of the reasons behind the name change the game got for localization?
We have been sticking to the title “Shadow Walker” from the beginning, and we used this title for the Japanese market. In Japanese, “shadow” means shadow made on the ground by the cast of light and it does not have negative meaning. When localizing this title, we thought that the original name would give different or wrong impression, and we decided to use the name of “The Magic Obelisk” for the North American version.

What do you think about the reception the game has received, both positive and negative?
We have received pretty good reviews from consumers and the media, especially about the unique concept and detailed graphics of the game. At the same time, we have received many requests regarding on-line gameplay, which we will take account of in the future.

It's great to hear that you plan to continue developing for WiiWare. Do you have any hints for what the future may hold?
We are considering various game concepts for not only WiiWare but also other platforms. 
We cannot disclose them now, but we would like you to look forward to them in the future.

If you could improve one thing about the current WiiWare scene, what would it be?
Personally speaking, I would be delighted if there were more simple system that enables game players in any levels to purchase WiiWare games more easily.

What are your thoughts on the WiiWare catalogue in Japan? Do you think some games have potential in other regions? Which games did you have in mind?
I think there are some interesting games only available in download in Japan such as “Discipline” with unique world and real FPS “Madsecta”. Those are Japanese games that players in other countries can enjoy.

Thanks once again for taking the time to do this interview with us! Do you have anything to add for our readers?
We would like those who have not played this game to join Lukus and Popo travel through the world. 
If you have played this game, please check time you spent to clear Stage #16. Our staff is clearing this stage in 39 sec. Some stages are designed and can be played with short cut routes drastically, which enables players to play it again in different routes. 
If you find any unique route to clear a particular stage, please record your gameplay and upload it onto YouTube. This will surely surprise us.

A big thank you to Takahiro Nishi, Saeko Inoue, and the rest of the GAME ARTS team for making this interview possible! I'm sure our readers have enjoyed reading your satisfying answers as much as I have. We eagerly look forward to seeing more original concepts from you guys in the future! 

The Magic Obelisk
Review | Screenshot gallery | Interview | Trailer | Preview | Feature

Takahiro Nishi was talking to KnucklesSonic8
For more information on this title or the developers, click here.

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