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Natsume

Interview
30th September 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Not too long ago, we were able to catch up with the guys over at Natsume for a quick Q&A. Graham Markay was kind enough to respond to our questions. Read on as we inquire about their current approach towards WiiWare, some of the titles they've released thus far, and what their plans are for the future.


Wiiloveit: Greetings! Would you mind telling 
us about some of your titles and where your focus has been as of 
late?

Graham: Thank you very much for giving us the chance to tell you more about some 
of our WiiWare titles!  Most of our WiiWare titles have been based on our 
established franchises, such as Reel Fishing and Harvest Moon. It was our 
goal to offer something that both new and veteran players would enjoy. In 
addition, we also have Moki Moki, which we’re very excited about. It has 
always been our focus to offer games that we feel will make everyone happy 
and that the whole family can enjoy.

Let's discuss your first WiiWare game for a bit. Harvest Moon: My Little Shop can definitely be classified as a spin-off 
title for fans of the series. Where did the idea for this project spring 
from?

Well, it's a spinoff of the Harvest Moon series, but I think that fans and 
newcomers to the Harvest Moon series will both be able to enjoy it 
equally. You certainly don't need any prior knowledge of the Harvest Moon 
series to enjoy the game. There are plenty of returning characters who 
fans will get a kick out of, but it's set in an all-new town and the story 
is focused on a fun new group of characters.

Our idea for Harvest Moon's first foray into WiiWare was to make a game 
that was a little more tightly focused than the standard Harvest Moon 
experience, and something that took the gameplay in a new direction. So we 
de-emphasized the farming elements a little and shifted the focus to the 
experience of running a shop. And running the shop means taking on a lot 
of mini challenges that'll have you swinging, shaking, pointing, and 
tilting the Wii Remote in a variety of creative ways to make towering ice 
cream cones, fresh and delicious juice, and wildly decorated eggs.

What demographic did you have in mind with this title?

It skews a little younger than the average Harvest Moon game, since 
there's a bit less reading and a bigger emphasis on pick-up-and-play 
minigames. Players of all ages should be able to enjoy the fast and fun 
gameplay, though.

Surely there were risks involved in releasing this title. Were you fearful 
at all about the response the game would get (particularly from those who 
have never played a Harvest Moon game before)?

The Harvest Moon games have always been very welcoming to newcomers, so 
that's an area where we weren't too worried. When the game was in 
development, I think a bigger concern was that we might lose too much of 
the Harvest Moon flavor that fans know and love. Seeing the final product, 
though, we're very happy with the balance the game strikes. The new 
gameplay elements deliver the fast-paced pick-up-and-play fun that people 
expect from a WiiWare game, but the crop growing, animal raising, and 
bright and colorful atmosphere all keep the game feeling distinctly like a
Harvest Moon title.

What prompted you to use mini-games in lieu of standard gameplay?

Well, we already have two "proper" Harvest Moon games on the Wii, Tree of 
Tranquility and Animal Parade. For WiiWare, we wanted to do something a 
little different, something that was more focused and better suited to the 
kind of fast and fun pick-up-and-play experience that most people are 
looking for in a WiiWare title.

Why did you decide to include DLC in the final product?

DLC was a way to offer players who were enjoying the game the chance to 
expand their experience and get more life out of it. It was a great way to 
be able to throw in some more fun characters and exciting options for 
expanding the shop.

Do you think 'My Little Shop' would benefit from a demo on the service?

Of course! We'd actually love to have demos for all of our WiiWare games.

Moki Moki looks like a simple, yet fun little game. Can you tell us what 
inspired you guys to bring this to the service?

When we were looking at titles to pick up and publish, Moki Moki was one 
that quickly caught the attention of our whole office. It looked pretty 
simple at first, but once people picked it up and started playing, they 
didn't want to put it down. The level designs are wildly imaginative, and 
we kept playing just to see what sort of wacky challenges the game was 
going to throw at us next. It's just got that old-school appeal where the 
gameplay is extremely simple to grasp, but the places it goes from there 
are endlessly imaginative.

What did you try to include to motivate the average player to keep coming 
back?

The game has 100 levels, and every one delivers a pretty unique new 
challenge, so conquering each level should take an average player a good 
long while. And it’s definitely worth it to see what sort of wild and 
imaginative challenges the game is going to throw at you next. And once 
you do beat every level, there's that old-school appeal of going back and
trying to best your high score. And Moki Moki actually gives you two 
scores to beat: you can aim to improve your best time, or try to make it 
through the level while losing fewer Moki.

Let's talk about Reel Fishing Challenge for a bit. What were your 
expectations with the title pushing into development?

We knew the series has a lot of loyal fans, so we thought it 
would do fairly well, but I think it's safe to say that the game's runaway 
success has been a thoroughly pleasant surprise.

How do you feel about the response towards the game? Why do you think the 
game has been doing so well for so many months?

Obviously we couldn't be happier with the game's success. Fishing is a 
natural fit for the Wii Remote, and I think Reel Fishing's reputation for 
delivering a top-notch fishing experience time and time again certainly 
helped the sales of Reel Fishing Challenge. There was definitely an 
element of luck in there as well; it was the right game at the right price 
at the right time.

Why do you think the game has been doing so well for so many months? How 
have sales been faring for each of the titles you've released thus far?

We are happy with the performance of each of our WiiWare titles, but that 
is not to say they couldn’t be better. It has always been our formula to 
offer unique and entertaining games, therefore all of our WiiWare titles 
set themselves apart from the other WiiWare games offered. 
There are a 
lot of great WiiWare offered today, but we feel our titles are great for 
players looking for something different.

What other plans do you guys have as far as WiiWare development is concerned?

Currently we are working on a WiiWare title that will be released later 
this year. Moving forward we hope to offer a variety of unique and 
entertaining titles for WiiWare.

Do you have any plans to pursue development on the DSiWare platform? Thank 
you very much for your time! Would you like to say anything to our 
readers?

We have been looking into DSiWare and hope to have something in the future.



We'd like to thank Graham, Tina, and the rest of the Natsume team for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. We truly appreciate it! Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing more projects from you guys in the near future. Natsume really does offer WiiWare experiences that are different from the norm, and that in itself is commendable. Have you tried any of their WiiWare titles yet? Why not try one today!

Graham Markay was talking to KnucklesSonic8
For more information on these titles or the developers, click here.
 
 


 
 
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