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Joystiq interview: Rygar's Keisuke Kikuchi


Maybe Tecmo didn't receive Nintendo's marketing materials. Rygar on the Wii ignores the elderly, girls and casual gamers. This is meant squarely for the adrenaline-loving Spike TV-watching crowd. At the helm of this project is Keisuke Kikuchi -- a man who wants to bring a darker edge to the franchise and give Wii owners something that might, in fact, make players build their muscles. So much so that the game is being subtitled Muscle Impact in Japan. Seriously. Read on.

Why is it called Muscle Impact in Japan?
The Japanese title is going to be Rygar: The Battle of Argus. But after that will be "Muscle Impact." He wants to know what you think about it.

It's interesting, to say the least. Maybe, it's strange?
Well, do you think its Japanese?

It's very Japanese.
To elaborate on why we decided to include "Muscle Impact" in the Japanese title, was because we want players to feel strong and tough in this installment of Rygar. There's a bold statement behind it. With the foreign title, simply adding "The" to "The Battle of Argus" will probably translate what we're trying to do without adding more words to it. But, in Japanese, we wanted to make it more strong and add a really "tough" word to it. We want you to really feel the toughness.

Maybe players will feel stronger?
Well, take a look at my muscles! (Laughs.) Although, because we don't have a playable ROM here yet, you can't see how big they are yet!

Gallery: Rygar: The Battle of Argus | 16 Photos

But, as you can see, we redesigned the main character accordingly with the concept. First of all, we wanted that powerful image -- a very muscular image. In previous installments, the colors and textures of this character was completely different. This new one has a lot more grays and dark and white colors to it, and that's also to go with the background palette for the new Rygar.

And also, from our standpoint. The character is very easy to see in the game, and his actions in the game, depending on how you control him. We wanted it to be very clear your actions translate very well on screen.

Traditionally, Tecmo has supported PlayStation and Xbox platforms due to the hardcore fan base. What initially made you move to the Wii?
Last year, when we worked on Super Swing Golf, we did a lot of research on the controls, a lot more than what we needed for golf games. I looked even deeper into the controls and the characteristics of the Wii Remote and the Nunchuck. When I looked at all the characteristics and controls of the Wii, I saw that Rygar would be a good fit. I saw that there were a lot of titles being used where the Wii controller was being used as a weapon or a sword. I would like to think that this disc armor, one of the biggest selling points of Rygar, would be a really good fit with the Remote, being able to swing and attack and defend with the disc armor. So, with that in hand, this would make it a fresher, newer gameplay experience within the Rygar series. It looked like it would be the perfect match, not just using a traditional controller. Using the Wii Remote as one of your controlling weapons would make it a better and richer gameplay experience. That was the main reason why we decided to take it to the Wii.

So, somehow developing Super Swing Golf allowed you to come up with ideas for Rygar?
Well, I got a little tired just swinging the Wii Remote like a golf club. (Laughs.) So, I started trying different directions and movements.

Do you think there's an audience on the traditionally family-friendly Wii for a dark game like Rygar?
I do agree that Wii is portraying an image of a family-friendly console. But that means it's somewhat lob-sided. For a console that has so much to offer, I do believe the library has to be a little bit more balanced. Titles like Metroid Prime and Resident Evil are being developed for Wii, and Rygar fits right into it. The character and what you can do with him is perfect for the Wii. It has a direct input, and you can see the character reacting to your actions, so that's why I think it's a perfect fit for the Wii.

What will players look like when playing the game? What actions will they perform?
So basically, there are two different modes in the game: Gladiator and Conquest Mode. For example, in Gladiator mode, the vertical swing will have the character swing vertically. The horizontal swing will give players a wider range of attack. If you press a button, the attack will go right into the ground. Depending on the strength of your swing, it will actually size of the impact. The stronger you swing, the more muscles you build, and the bigger the attack.

So players should try to use their arms as much as possible? Or can you be lazy and just sit down and play?
In Gladiator Mode, there's absolutely no way I want people to just sit down and play. It's all about your strength and power and showing that on screen. Gladiator Mode is essentially your fighting mode, and I intend everyone to be standing up, swinging their arms, building their muscles. In Conquest Mode, you will be following the story, so there will be some ups and downs; it won't be fight-fight-fight all the time. There are combo attacks using the A and B buttons and continuous attacks. So, there's a little bit of strategy behind which combo attacks you'll execute. It might not be as strong and tough as Gladiator Mode, but I hope everyone will keep Wii Remote in hand and challenge themselves.

When can we expect Rygar to hit store shelves?
That's the toughest question! (Laughs.) I don't have a definite date yet. We're trying to target the end of this year, but there's a good chance it'll end up next year. There's obviously a lot of things that are brought to life in the Wii version. For example, in the PS2 version, the enemies were more creature based. As you can see, the Wii version has brand new enemies that are more human-based; they're a lot more like you. You're going to have a lot more different ways to attack your enemies. We want to show off Rygar as well as we can, even on the Wii console. We're still making a lot of tweaks, but there's a lot of new elements. Hopefully, we'll be able to make it by the end of the year.

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