iNiS' first game was Gitaroo-Man for the PS2: an incredible, critically acclaimed music game. The game was so fresh and inventive that iNiS really thought they had a winner on their hands: they were happy. And then the game bombed. Up to three people, myself included, purchased the game--but that certainly wasn't the success that iNiS was looking for. Undoubtedly, they felt down. The team started work on a new music action game, pitched it to Nintendo, and that was immediately rejected.
OUENDAN!!! The team needed inspiration. They needed help. That's where ouendan comes into play: these Japanese cheerleaders are highly respected individuals in Japanese society. A game based on the art of ouendan would be where the team would go. With the Nintendo DS newly announced, the team knew where they'd go next.
This early concept shows everything the designers wanted to do: the ouendan are proudly standing, aiding a student studying for exams. Yes, it's the first level from Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!
An early sketch of the motions the ouendan would perform.
With the game design firmly in mind, iNiS went back to Nintendo and pitched Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! in Flash form. Nintendo loved it! Unfortunately, the level they showed didn't make it in the final product. Why? Well, let's just say that this dog (pictured) wouldn't be too happy (or alive) if you failed.
Early concept art.
More concept art.
While the Japanese audience understands the concept of ouendan, the American audience certainly didn't. To make a localization, the team looked towards a variety of inspirations, including The Village People.
That didn't go too well, as seen by this horrifying (but hilarious) concept art.
Eventually, by looking at Men In Black, and The Blues Brothers, iNiS came up with a cooler agent-themed style.
More concept art.
The commander was inspired by Charlie's Angels. The term "Agents are go!" was inspired by NASA's: "rockets are go."
And now, a bonus! Images from the sequel:
Longest title ever?
Yes, the sequel will feature another ouendan team for you to face against! The game promises new improvements, but iNiS was obviously tight-lipped. Hopefully we can expect more info soon.